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MoD Denies Okruashviliís Russian Paper Interview
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 17 Oct.'06 / 16:51

The Georgian Ministry of Defense denied on October 17 that Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili was interviewed by the Russian newspaper Versiya (Version).

Russian news agencies were intensively quoting Okruashvili from the alleged interview on October 16. Okruashvili allegedly said that Georgia is ready for war with Russia and if the latter launches hostilities against Georgia it would be a disaster for the Russian army.

Although Okruashvili’s interview could not be found on Versia’s website on October 16, the alleged interview was later posted on the newspaper's website on October 17.

“[Irakli Okruashvili] was not interviewed, and this is yet another provocation coinciding with the visit of NATO officials to Moscow,” the Georgian Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

But in an interview with RIA Novosti news agency Ruslan Gorevoy, a reporter from the Versia newspaper and an author of the interview with Okruashvili, claims that he has audio recording of the conversation with the Georgian Defense Minister.

He said that he has traveled in Georgia together with a group of Ukrainian journalists who were invited by the Georgian authorities. Gorevoy said that he was incorporated in the group as a Ukrainian journalist and Okruashvili did not know that he was from the Russian newspaper Versia.

The alleged interview triggered some Russian officials to comment.

Chief of Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Yuri Baluevksy said if Okruashvili’s "hands are itching, he should understand all the aspects of what would happen if Georgia launches a war against its citizens, against Russian citizens on the territory of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and against [Russian] peacekeeping forces."

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