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Georgia Demands Russian Apology, Compensation for Drone Shootdown


Georgia is demanding that Russia apologize for shooting down an unmanned Georgian intelligence aircraft over Abkhazia last month.

Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze called in Russia's ambassador, Vyacheslav Kovalenko, in Tbilisi Tuesday and also demanded compensation for the drone.

U.N. investigators released a report Monday saying that radar records showed a military aircraft headed back into Russian air space after the shootdown over Georgia's breakaway republic of Abkhazia.

Russia's Foreign Ministry expressed doubt about the reliability of the evidence in the case. In Denmark, visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called on Georgia to hand over the videotape of the shootdown to the U.N. Security Council.

Russia has denied any involvement in the April 20 shootdown and insists that Abkhazian separatists downed the aircraft.

The U.N. report also criticized Georgia for sending drones into the area, saying the move violates a 1994 cease-fire that ended fighting between Georgian forces and Abkhazian separatists.

The cease-fire agreement permitted Russian peacekeepers to enter Abkhazia and another pro-Russian Georgian border region, South Ossetia.

Russia's decision last month to strengthen ties with the regions and boost its military presence in Abkhazia has led to a sharp rise in diplomatic tensions between Moscow and Tbilisi.

Georgia has vowed to bring both separatist regions back under central government control.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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