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Russia Wants Consular Access to its Citizens Accused of Spying
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 18 Nov.'10 / 23:05

Russia denied on November 18 that its diplomats were able to visit four Russian citizens held in Georgia on espionage charges.

Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister, Nino Kalandadze, said on November 15 that a Russian diplomat was able to meet with one of the arrested Russian citizens and added that there was no problem with arranging a meeting with others as well in case of request.

"Nino Kalandadze's remarks have nothing to do with the truth," Russian Foreign Ministry's deputy spokesman Alexei Sazonov said on November 18.

He said that Moscow, through its interest section at the Swiss embassy, requested for consular access to its citizens on November 12.

"Still there is no response on that request," Sazonov said. "Russia still insists on consular access as it is envisaged by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and also by elementary norms of civilized relations."

Georgia said on November 5, that 13 people, including four Russian citizens, were arrested for spying for Russia.

According to the Georgian Interior Ministry, four Russian citizens are: Armen Gevorkian and Ruben Shikoian – both were top executives of the Batumi branch of Saybolt Core Laboratories Company; Petre Devrishidze, a businessman from Kobuleti, Adjara Autonomous Republic and Yuri Skrilnikov, described by the Interior Ministry as a liaison officer of the Russian military service.

Skrilnikov was arrested in May, 2010. In mid-October that court in Batumi found him guilty of currency forgery and sentenced him on October 7 to 18 years in prison. At the time the Russian Foreign Ministry condemned the verdict as "yet another provocation against the Russian citizen" who in the past served in now already closed down Russian military base in Batumi.

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