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2 Oct, 2006 07:37

Georgia to free spy charge officers

Georgia to free spy charge officers

The OSCE said all charges against four Russian officers accused of spying in Georgia would be dropped. Georgia agreed to hand over the officers to the international body, according to a spokesman for Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili.

They will be handed over to the agency in Tbilisi.

The decision came just hours after Saakashvili played down growing tensions with Russia. After the officers were held on Wednesday, Russia protested against the arrests, accusing Tbilisi of using them to divert attention from Georgia's internal problems. Local elections are due later this week.

Georgia's interior ministry released video material it claimed showed that one of the Russian officers was linked to a bomb attack at a police station in the Georgian town of Gori. Russia questioned the authenticity of the videos.

Moscow recalled nearly all of its diplomats and their dependants from Georgia, and announced suspension of a scheduled pull-out of troops from two military bases in the country.

Alexei Yaroshevsky, Russia Today correspondent in Tbilisi, said the acting chairman of the OSCE was arriving in Tbilisi at about 4 pm local time and was expected to meet President Saakashvili. “After that, there will be a press conference and as far as we know, only cameras, not journalists, are allowed inside, ”the correspondent said.

“The arrested officers will be handed over to the OSCE representatives,” he added. “We can’t say now for sure what time that will happen.”

“This is not actually anything unexpected for the experts in Tbilisi,“ Yaroshevsky noted. ”They suggest Georgia could be backing down and could be speeding up the extradition of the arrested officers to Russia. But the main thing is that the officers will leave Georgia.”