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Last Updated: Saturday, 30 September 2006, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
Russia suspends Georgia pullout
Russian officers in Tbilisi court
The Russians are accused of spying on Georgia's military installations
A senior Russian army commander says Moscow is suspending the withdrawal of its forces from Georgia, amid a spying row between the two countries.

Russian forces were to pull out of two bases in Georgia by 2008, but the commander said the security of troops could not be guaranteed as they left.

Four Russian officers detained in Georgia have been charged with spying

Russia has denied the accusations, and is evacuating all its staff from the Russian embassy in Tbilisi.

Deteriorating relations

On Friday a court in Tbilisi charged the four officers and ordered their detention for two months pending investigations.

Russia has denounced the arrests, called for the release of the four officers and urged the United Nations Security Council to take action to restrain Georgia.

Georgian police have continued to maintain the cordon around the Russian military headquarters in Tbilisi which has been in place since Wednesday.

Relations between Georgia and Russia have deteriorated since President Mikhail Saakashvili came to power in Georgia after the Rose Revolution nearly three years ago, said the BBC's correspondent in Tbilisi Matthew Collin.

Mr Saakashvili wants to have closer ties with the West and to join Nato, something that Moscow opposes.

Nato and the United States have called on both countries to calm the situation, our correspondent said

But while the Russian officers remain in custody and Georgia shows no sign of backing down, the crisis looks set to continue, he added.


SEE ALSO
Q&A: Russian-Georgian ties
29 Sep 06 |  Europe
Country profile: Georgia
06 Sep 06 |  Country profiles

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