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    Russian expert says Georgia falsified facts in missile incident

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    A Russian military expert said Wednesday that Georgia falsified facts in accusing Russia of dropping a missile on its territory earlier this month.

    MOSCOW, August 29 (RIA Novosti) - A Russian military expert said Wednesday that Georgia falsified facts in accusing Russia of dropping a missile on its territory earlier this month.

    Tbilisi claims that two Russian aircraft violated Georgian airspace on August 6, and dropped a missile near its Gori radar site, an accusation Russia has denied.

    "The Georgian side has forged facts," Pavel Akulyonok, an Air Force engineer who worked in a Russian expert team investigating the incident, told a RIA Novosti news conference.

    He said many parts of the missile which usually remain after an impact could not be found.

    Igor Khvorov, chief of staff of the Air Force, told the news conference: "Most parts of the missile were absent from the place where it fell. Even considering that part of the unexploded missile was subsequently blown up [by the Georgian side], its fragments would usually remain, they would not disappear," said Khvorov. "We have been unable to find two thirds of the units that should have remained."

    Khvorov said the trees around the impact point had not been damaged by fragments. "This means the missile stuck into the earth without exploding, while it was technically supposed to have blown up. So could it have been buried there? We have received no answer," he added.

    An expert group, consisting of Air Force officials and missile specialists from Estonia, Poland and the U.K. - three EU states that all have strained diplomatic relations with Moscow - earlier concurred with Georgia that an unexploded missile found in the south Caucasus country was Russian-made and launched from a plane flying from Russia.

    The international experts said the plane launched a Kh-58U air-to-ground antiradar missile made in Russia, but did not confirm that the plane was Russian.

    "There were remains of other missiles among the fragments we saw. We noticed a unit colored red with an inscription in English. This once again proves that it was a random selection of fragments, because foreign-made components could not be used in military products under Soviet and Russian regulations," Khvorov said.

    According to Tbilisi, the missile was discovered in the village of Tsitelubani, 40 miles northwest of the Georgian capital and near the border with breakaway South Ossetia. The 1,400-pound missile has added to tensions between Georgia and its former Soviet ally Russia, which Tbilisi accuses of supporting the separatist region.

    After Georgia announced its find, Russian authorities denied they had made any flights in the area, and a group of Russian experts sent to the region said photographs of missile parts provided by Georgia showed that the missile could not be either Russian or Soviet. South Ossetia's leadership said the plane was in service with the Georgian Air Force, and had violated the province's airspace.

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