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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Georgia Sends Sochi Warning

Georgia's parliament speaker warned the Russian government against involving the breakaway province of Abkhazia in preparations for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in response to media reports that Abkhazia could provide construction materials and workers for building facilities.

"Any joint projects between Moscow and Abkhazia failing to take into account Georgian interests would not only draw Georgia's negative reaction, but would call into doubt the rightfulness of the selection of the Olympics' site," Speaker Nino Burdzhanadze said Thursday.

Russian officials have not proposed plans to involve Abkhazia in preparations, but Sergei Shamba, the foreign minister in the separatist government of Abkhazia, told Georgian television Thursday they were eager to offer construction materials and labor.

Georgia also accused Russian authorities on Thursday of withholding evidence in the investigation of an attack on a disputed gorge on its de facto border with Abkhazia.

Georgia says Russian helicopters were involved in the March 11 attack on the Kodor Gorge, a charge Russia denies. (Comment, Page 11)

A report by a UN-led panel published this month reached no conclusion as to who was to blame.

After the United Nations Security Council consultations on Abkhazia, Georgia's ambassador, Irakli Alasania, called the attack an "act of war against Georgia" and urged Russia to cooperate fully with the investigation.

"The Russians withheld some information," Alasania told reporters, including radar records containing flight information from the attack. He said trace numbers from munitions found at the site could be traced if Russia would cooperate.

The Russian government has denied any involvement and has suggested Georgia itself might have been behind the attack.

Abkhazia, a small, lush province on the Black Sea coast just south of Sochi, has run its own affairs since breaking away from Georgian government control in a war in the early 1990s. It has support from Russia, but its claim to sovereignty is not internationally recognized.

AP, Reuters