Bastrykin: Mercenaries Fought for Georgia

ST. PETERSBURG -- Citizens from NATO member states, including the United States and Turkey, fought for Georgia in the five-day August war, Investigative Committee Chief Alexander Bastrykin said Monday.

A senior security official in Tbilisi dismissed the statement and said by law only Georgian nationals could serve in the country's armed forces.

Asked to list the nationalities of the foreign fighters it believes were involved, Bastrykin said, "America, the Czech Republic, Chechnya, the Baltic States, Ukraine and Turkey."

Some had conducted training for the Georgian armed forces, Bastrykin said. "There were also two snipers ... one from Ukraine and, I believe, a Latvian woman," he said.

He said the presence of foreign fighters was a criminal offense and said he would bring it up at a meeting with representatives of Interpol.

In response, Georgian National Security Council Secretary Kakha Lomaia said, "It's really difficult to comment on such absurd statements."

"There are only Georgian citizens in the Georgian army, as it's a legal requirement.

"The statement that almost half of the world was fighting in our army in August is just a fantasy of those in the Russian leadership who would like to justify killings of the peaceful population," Lomaia said.