Russian Lawmaker under Fire in Conflict Zone

(Civil Georgia/Itar Tass)–Georgian Deputy Security Minister Gigi Ugulava refuted on August 4–reports that Georgian troops fired on Andrei Kokoshin–who chairs the Russian Duma’s Committee for CIS affairs.

According to the spokesman for South Ossetia Special Functions Ministry–the incident took place in the South Ossetian conflict area–near the village of Sarabuk. Pliyev said the car was attacked by Georgia.

"According to the information available to us–the passengers in the car–Andrei Kokoshin and the co-chairmen of the Joint Control Commissions are alive," he stated.

After the car came under fire–Georgian interior troops stationed in conflict zone heavily shelled Sarabuk. The village was fired on from a detour road. There have been no reports of civilian casualties–the spokesman’said.

Georgia refuted the accounts saying that the Ossetian side opened fire "in the direction of the Georgian peacekeepers–and the Georgian side responded to it," Ugulava told a press briefing. "This will always happen in case of an attack."

"I declare with full responsibility–this was a provocation masterminded by the Ossetian side," Ugulava said–adding that had Georgia been notified of Kokoshin’s visit to the breakaway region–it would have ensured his security.

Meanwhile Interfax reported that the Georgian navy is ready to obey President Mikheil Saakashvili’s order to prevent any vessel–except those on humanitarian missions–from entering territorial waters near the self- proclaimed republic of Abkhazia–Koba Bochorishvili–commander of the Poti marine division of the Georgian coast guard service–said on Wednesday.

"We did receive the president’s order that vessels that have violated the border should be stopped in territorial waters near the Abkhaz coasts and that fire should be opened on them if they disobey orders," Bochorishvili said. This warning also applies to passenger boats that could travel from Sochi to Sukhumi–he said.

"Fire should be opened on all vessels that enter the Sukhumi port without the Georgian authorities’ agreement. They should be sunk," the Georgian president said at a news conference on Tuesday.

The Russian Foreign Minister reacted sharply on Wednesday in a statement that said any attempts to inflict damage or infringe the lives of Russian citizens "will be adequately rebuffed."

"Official Tbilisi has taken an unprecedented step," the ministry stated. "This warning is addressed also to Russian tourists who make excursion trips by sea from Sochi to Novy Afon and Sukhumi."

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