Russia-Georgia crisis looms

Moscow (AFP) - A diplomatic crisis was looming yesterday after Russia accused Georgia of shooting down an unarmed Russian helicopter, killing some 50 people, most of them civilians. The Russian Foreign Ministry called for an immediate inquiry into what it termed 'a brutal provocation', adding that consequences 'cannot but influence relations between Georgia and Russia', Itar-Tass news agency reported.

The helicopter was shot down on Monday in the Georgian region of Abkhazia, where Georgian troops have been fighting ethnic Abkhazian separatists since August. Georgia denied that its forces were responsible, and instead blamed Abkhazian secessionists.