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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

3,000 Combat Uniforms Seized by Customs




Russia's customs service has seized 15 tons of combat uniforms bound for Georgia on suspicion that they might be intended for Chechen rebels, but Georgian officials denied the claim Friday.


The cargo, shipped by a U.S. company to Georgia via Frankfurt, Germany, and Moscow, was addressed to David Penn, the U.S. military attache in the Georgian capital.


The State Customs Committee suggested that the real recipient of the 3,000 sets of fatigues might be rebels in Chechnya, which borders Georgia. It said that Georgia had failed to confirm that it ordered the cargo, Itar-Tass reported.


In Tbilisi, Georgian officials said they had been expecting the shipment, intended for the National Guards, and accused Russia of distorting the incident to further damage bilateral relations.


"We tend to think that by fanning the incident, another unfriendly gesture toward Georgia is being made," a Georgian Defense Ministry spokesman said. "Certain circles in Russia have recently been trying to find various arguments to prove Georgia's ties with Chechnya."


National Guards chief Dzhemal Chumburidze said that 3,000 uniforms have been promised by Givi Zaldastanishvili, a leader of the ethnic Georgian community in the United States.


Penn met with Georgian officials to say he wasn't expecting the cargo and expressed surprise that his name was mentioned in connection with it, the Defense Ministry spokesman said.