Georgia has given four Russian soldiers accused of spying over to mediators from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The quartet were paraded at a ceremony in the courtyard of Georgia’s Prosecutor-General’s office before being taken away. The OSCE has now called on Russia to match Tbilisi and take steps to ease tension caused by the diplomatic row.
But Moscow has responded by cutting transport links in a bid to isolate its neighbour. Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili, says he has no doubt the spying allegations are true: “I want to make it very clear, the accusations – we have a very well founded case, its a very solid case of espionage, subversion, trying to destabilise my country,” he said.
Georgian authorities also say they are ready to hold high level talks to defuse the crisis. However, such negotiations seem a long way off according to Russian Parliament President, Boris Gryzlov. He says “the hostile actions of the Georgian government are a step towards a state terrorism.” Relations between the two nations have been increasingly tense since Saakashvili was elected two years ago after pledging to join NATO and the European Union.