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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Georgians: Russians Sell Arms to Foe

TBILISI, Georgia -- Security officials in Georgia said they had caught a group of Russian soldiers trying to sell arms to Chechen militants.

Georgian television broadcast a videotape showing two soldiers loading ammunition and weapons onto a truck Tuesday at the Russian base of Vaziani, which is 30 kilometers north of Tbilisi and only a few kilometers from the Chechen border.

Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev, however, said Wednesday that "according to the data that I have at hand, no such thing happened."

However, he said the allegation would be "scrupulously" investigated.

Russian military prosecutors at the Vaziani base have opened an investigation, but said they have not been given a chance to question the soldiers arrested by Georgia, Interfax said.

Federal Security Service spokesman Alexander Zdanovich said the videotape was a "falsification," Interfax reported.

"Military counterintelligence officers had previously verified the stocks of arms and ammunition in the Vaziani base and did not detect any discrepancies," he was quoted as saying.

The head of Georgia's anti-terrorist security force, Levan Kenchadze, said Tuesday the soldiers were trying to sell 50 boxes of unguided missiles, machine guns, grenade launchers, pistols and boxes with 55,000 rounds of ammunition.

Georgian officials said the soldiers planned to sell the weapons to Chechen guerrillas by driving the truck to the mountainous border region.

"Today an attempt to take out weapons from a Russian military base in Georgia to Chechnya was foiled," the Georgian parliament speaker, Zurab Zhvania, said at a news conference.

"The fact proves that weapons have been sold from Russian military bases."

Russia has accused Georgia of helping the rebels by allowing them to ferry reinforcements, weapons and other supplies across remote mountain passes into Chechnya.

Georgia is the only foreign country bordering on the breakaway Russian region.