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Georgia Accuses Russia of Holding 5 Fishermen, Demands Their Release

Georgia on Wednesday accused Russian authorities of illegally detaining five Georgian fishermen and demanded their immediate release.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry said five men were detained Tuesday while fishing in Georgian territorial Black Sea waters off the town of Anaklia. It said the Russian authorities accused the men of illegal fishing.

"A chain of Russia's extremely dangerous and dirty provocations still continues, and it has acquired a clear form of hunting people," the ministry said in a statement.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said that Russian coast guard detained nine fishermen off the Black Sea coast of Abkhazia and handed them over to Abkhaz authorities. He said those detained lacked proper IDs and fishing permits.

Neither Russian nor Georgian officials offered any explanation of the differing figures.

Moscow has recognized Georgian breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent nations following a five-day Russian-Georgian war last year. Russia has deployed its troops to both regions, and Russia's coast guard also patrol Abkhazia's Black Sea coast.

Nicaragua and Venezuela are the only nations that have followed suit in recognizing of the two regions' independence. The U.S., the EU and the rest of the world consider them part of Georgia.

Georgia also accused the Russian troops in Georgia's breakaway province of Abkhazia of firing on a minibus that carried a four-year-old child to a hospital along with several other people. The ministry cited local residents as saying that several people were wounded during the incident that occurred early Wednesday. The claim could not be independently verified, and the Russian Foreign Ministry didn't comment on that.

Russia and Georgia fought a five-day war over South Ossetia and Abkhazia last year.

Russia recognized Georgia's breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent nations after the war. Nicaragua and Venezuela are the only nations that have followed suit. The U.S., the EU and the rest of the world consider them part of Georgia.