Georgia arrests 20 suspected Russian spies

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The Independent Online

Georgia has arrested twenty people on suspicion of spying for Russia, it was reported last night.

Citing an anonymous source in the security services, Reuters said that the detainees, all of whom are Georgian citizens, are suspected of being part of a spy ring that passed secrets to Moscow. A source in Georgia's ruling National Movement, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the arrests had taken place.

The incident is likely to further enflame tensions between the two countries, which fought a short war two years ago. Georgian government officials have repeatedly warned about the threat posed by Russia's intelligence services, while Russia accuses Georgia of aiding Islamist militants in its restive Northern Caucasus region.

In March this year, a North Caucasus military court found two Russian lieutenant colonels guilty of spying for Georgia, the latest in a long line of such cases.

Speaking at a hastily convened press conference, Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili said that no comments would be made about the report until next week.