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Search for Allegedly Downed Aircraft
/ 25 Aug.'07 / 15:20
Civil Georgia


The Interior Ministry made an official statement on August 25, but it failed to shed light on the circumstances surrounding reports of an unidentified downed aircraft.

“On August 22, when Georgian airspace was violated, we fired warning shots; the overflight ceased then,” Shota Khizanishvili, an Interior Ministry spokesman, said. “We call on Russia and the international community to jointly investigate the violation of Georgian airspace.”

He said that similar violations of the airspace over upper Kodori Gorge occurred on August 20 and on August 21 as well. He did not give further details.

News first broke late on August 24 when Tbilisi-based Rustavi 2 TV reported that a Russian aircraft had been shot down by Georgian forces in the upper Kodori Gorge on August 23 (Khizanishvili, however, said the violation of airspace had occurred on August 22).

The wreakage of the aircraft hasn't been found yet, as it crashed in a remote area of the gorge, reports said. Witnesses, however, told Rustavi 2 TV via phone that they saw black smoke coming from the crash site.

It is also unclear whether it was a Russian or Abkhaz aircraft. Abkhaz forces were holding military maneuvers, involving at least two army helicopters and two aircraft, near the Kodori Gorge at the time.
 
Aleksander Drobishevsky, an aide to the commander of the Russian air force, has dismissed the reports as “yet another provocation.” The Abkhaz side has also denied it.

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