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Georgia says three Russian aircraft penetrated its airspace -1

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Georgia's Defense Ministry said on Sunday that three aircraft allegedly penetrated its airspace from Russia.
(Recasts, adds details in paras 3-7)

TBILISI, November 4 (RIA Novosti) - Georgia's Defense Ministry said on Sunday that three aircraft allegedly penetrated its airspace from Russia.

"The airspace was violated at about 11 hours in the morning local time. Three Su-24 planes penetrated Georgia's airspace from Russia in the area of Stepantsminda and Shatili," a Defense Ministry spokesman said.

The spokesman said the planes flew 3-4 kilometers (2-2.5 miles) deep into Georgia and stayed on its territory for about a minute, adding that the Georgian Defense Ministry linked the airspace violation to the military exercises, which Russia was holding close to Georgia's borders.

However, Russia's Defense Ministry denied Georgia's reports that Russian aircraft had allegedly penetrated the Georgian airspace.

"There can be no talk about the violation of the Georgian airspace by aircraft of the Russian Air Force. Considering the situation in Georgia and the ongoing military exercises in Russia, all flights by Russian Air Force planes have been placed under strict control," said Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky, an Air Force spokesman.

In a similar incident last summer, Georgia accused Russia of violating its airspace and dropping a missile at a radar station near the border with breakaway South Ossetia. The missile did not explode, and Russia denied the charges as a provocation to disrupt peace efforts in the conflict zone, where it deploys peacekeepers.

Now that the political situation in Georgia has deteriorated, with the opposition demanding the resignation of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, the latest claim by the Georgian authorities is seen as an attempt to distract public attention from the latest developments in the country.

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