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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » November 26, 2008
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Presidential Convoy Under Fire in Georgia
November 26, 2008   
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Three bursts of machine gun fire were shot off near a car in which President Lech Kaczyński was traveling in Georgia Nov. 23. The president wasn't harmed. He had gone to Georgia for events marking the fifth anniversary of the Rose Revolution that saw Mikheil Saakashvili taking over as president of the country.

Before the official celebrations began, the two presidents unexpectedly set off for a refugee camp close to the Georgian-Ossetian border. The visit had not been planned beforehand. The convoy was driving along a narrow mountain road when shots were fired. "There were three bursts of fire from a machine gun," Michał Kamiński, a senior official in the president's office, later said. No one was hurt, and the president "kept a cool head." The Georgian military arrived promptly and the convoy turned back for Tbilisi.

Who fired the shots and who was the target? "The people in the column don't really know what happened," said Piotr Paszkowski, a spokesman for the Polish foreign ministry. "The vehicles were very clearly marked. Georgian soldiers were riding in the front, perhaps the shots were fired at them, or maybe they were warning shots, fired into the air," Kamiński added.

Why did the president go to such a dangerous area? "To see that the Russians are present at locations not covered by the peace plan. They shouldn't be there at all," said Kaczyński at a press conference. He said he could tell from the shouts that the shooters were Russian. "If anyone in Europe had any illusions that the Russians have changed their conduct [in Georgia], they should come here and see for themselves," Saakashvili later told Polish reporters.
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