Georgia Frees Peacekeepers

TBILISI, Georgia -- Georgian authorities on Wednesday released four Russian peacekeepers who were detained on charges of carrying unauthorized weapons to a buffer zone near the breakaway region of Abkhazia.

Georgian officials said they would keep the load of anti-tank missiles they seized from the Russians late Tuesday. Zaza Gorozia, the local governor, said the Russians were not authorized to take the weapons into the area.

Russian Colonel Igor Konashenkov said the detention of peacekeepers and their cargo violated the existing agreements on peacekeepers' deployment in the region.

In footage broadcast by Georgian and Russian television, burly men in plainclothes descended on a Russian military truck, dragging young soldiers out, taking their weapons and putting one of the Russians face down on the ground. The Russians looked stunned and did not seem to offer any resistance.

Konashenkov denounced the detention. "It will foment tensions in the region, hurt mutual trust and undermine the peace process," he said in televised remarks.

President Dmitry Medvedev and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili spoke by phone Wednesday. In the conversation Medvedev called the incident "acts of provocation" and "unacceptable," the Kremlin said in a statement. Saakashvili promised to look into the matter.