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    Three Russian officers detained in Georgia to be expelled - official

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    TBILISI, February 9 (RIA Novosti, Marina Kvaratskheliya) - Three Russian officers detained in South Ossetia Wednesday will be deported from Georgia, Georgy Khaindrava, the country's minister for separatist conflicts, said Thursday.

    The Russian Defense Ministry said Wednesday that Georgian military police had detained three Russian officers who had traveled to Georgia to investigate an incident on February 1 in which Georgian military police had detained a Russian peacekeepers' truck.

    "They were stopped on their way to Tskhinvali, the capital of [the self-proclaimed republic of] South Ossetia, near the village of Tamarasheni," a ministry spokesman said.

    The Georgian side said the officers had been detained because they had no Georgian visas. When the situation was settled and Georgia agreed to issue visas, it turned out that the officers did not even have passports.

    "We cannot stamp visas on their foreheads, so they will be deported," Khaindrava said.

    The minister said although the Georgian and Russian governments tried to settle the problem swiftly last night, Russian officers were not authorized to cross the Georgian border without passports.

    The incident on February 1 began with a road accident involving a convoy of peacekeepers and a car owned by a Georgian driver. After the accident, hundreds of armed Georgian policemen and soldiers arrived on the scene, and confiscated the Russian truck until compensation had been paid.

    Russian troops are stationed in the zone of the conflict between Georgia and South Ossetia, which erupted in the early 1990s, as part of the Joint Collective Peacekeeping Forces.

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