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Georgia releases all three Russian officers

TBILISI, December 21 (RIA Novosti) - Georgia has released all of the three Russian military officers taken into custody on December 19 in the country's capital Tbilisi, a spokesman for the Russian troops in the area said Wednesday.

"The detention of the Russian officers was a misunderstanding. They have been released and the matter closed," said Vladimir Kuparadze.

On December 19, Georgian military police stopped a car with three military officials, who were detained and taken to a local military police station. The Georgian side said the officers did not have visas.

The Russian Foreign Ministry denounced the arrests as acts of provocation, pre-planned with the aim of thwarting recent positive advances in dialogue with Georgia, including on military issues.

Russia maintains two bases in Georgia, but is set to completely withdraw them by 2008. Their continuing military presence is a source of irritation for many pro-Western local politicians, many of whom also want the republic to pull out of the Commonwealth of Independent States, a loose alliance of 11 former Soviet countries.

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