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    Russian soldier's death at Georgia base blamed on gun mishandling

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    Military prosecutors investigating the death of a soldier at a Russian base in Georgia believe it was an accident, a spokesman said Wednesday.

    MOSCOW, January 3 (RIA Novosti) - Military prosecutors investigating the death of a soldier at a Russian base in Georgia believe it was an accident, a spokesman said Wednesday.

    Andrei Bobrun, the Chief Communications Officer for Russia's North Caucasus Military Command, which is conducting the inquiry, said Alexei Dmitriev died overnight while on duty at the Akhalkalaki base, in southern Georgia, presumably as a result of gun mishandling.

    "According to preliminary reports, the serviceman's death resulted from gun mishandling," Bobrun said. "But the military investigators are looking into other theories, as well."

    Georgian television network Imedi reported earlier that Dmitriev had committed suicide. It also said the Russian Embassy had asked Georgia's Defense Ministry to bring the serviceman's body to the capital, Tbilisi, for a forensic examination.

    Russia has two Soviet-era bases in Georgia - in Akhalkalaki and in the Black Sea port of Batumi. Both will be pulled out of the post-Soviet Caucasus republic by the end of 2008, under a bilateral agreement signed last March.

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