Georgian media seek to discredit Russian peacekeepers - Army

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MOSCOW, October 18 (RIA Novosti) - Georgian media are conducting a massive campaign to discredit Russian peacekeepers in the zone of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict, a Russian Army official said Thursday.

Col. Igor Konashenkov, an aide to the Army commander said some Georgian media reported on Wednesday that Russian peacekeepers have tried to extort money from civilians, while on Tuesday they said that three officers from the CIS peacekeeping force were detained on drug trafficking charges.

He said these allegations are untrue and the Army command regards them as being aimed at "discrediting the peacekeepers in the public's eye."

"Obviously, this information campaign is being driven by certain forces that are attempting to destabilize the situation in the troubled region," he said.

Georgia has repeatedly expressed its intention to regain control over Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which broke away in the early 1990s. It has also accused the CIS peacekeeping force, mainly represented by Russians, of backing separatists.

Georgia has called for the peacekeepers to be replaced by a neutral international force.

The UN Security Council unanimously approved an extension of the mandate for its observer mission in Georgia on October 15 by another six months, until April 15, 2008.

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