A thorough investigation by Georgia's Ministry of Internal Affairs and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has confirmed that, contrary to initial reports, the helicopter transporting a U.S. Senate Delegation led by Senator John McCain was not fired at on August 28, the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi said on September 5.
“It appears that another helicopter that was on the way from Tbilisi to join the Senate delegation helicopters in western Georgia was the intended target of the missile. Representatives of the FBI cooperated with the Georgian Government from the onset of the investigation of the incident,” a U.S. Embassy statement reads.
The Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs said on September 3 that an escort helicopter, accompanying a second helicopter with President Saakashvili and a group of visiting U.S. Senators on board, was targeted by an antiaircraft missile. Saakashvili and the U.S. senators were en route to the Svaneti region in northwest Georgia.
“A Strela-2 anti-aircraft missile was fired at the helicopter over the village of Avnevi [breakaway South Ossetia]. The shell exploded a close distance from the helicopter,” the MIA said, adding that the exploded shell was found and handed over to the U.S. side for further investigation.