Georgia 'ordered airport bombing': Russian MP

1st March 2011, Comments 0 comments

A top Russian lawmaker provoked a furious reaction from Georgia Tuesday after alleging that Tbilisi organised a January airport suicide bombing, in the latest strife between the two arch foes.

The suicide attack on Russia's largest airport on January 24 killed 37 people and has been claimed by Doku Umarov, the leader of militant rebel group the Caucasus Emirate.

But a senior lawmaker said in an interview with a state newspaper that Umarov is "at most an intermediary" in the explosion's plot.

Alexander Torshin, deputy speaker of the Federation Council upper house of parliament, told a state newspaper that it was Georgia that had organised the blast.

"The act of terror was organised from abroad," Torshin, who also sits on the high-profile National Anti-terrorist Committee, told Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily.

"In my opinion it was Georgia and its ruling regime... Saakashvili does not hide his hatred towards us," he said, referring to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.

The Georgian president's spokeswoman, Manana Manjgaladze, called the remarks "a habitual, preposterous accusation".

"It is a deliberate provocation -- an absolutely groundless statement," added Deputy Foreign Minister Nino Kalandadze at a press conference.

Torshin is known for heading the parliamentary commission that investigated the three-day hostage crisis in a school in North Ossetia's Beslan, which ended with deaths of 380 of more than 1,000 hostages in 2004.

Torshin hinted during the Beslan investigation that a "foreign security service" was implicated in the hostage crisis, though without naming the country.

His commission's report concluded that the deaths were not the authorities' fault and was widely criticised by locals who said their testimonies were ignored.

Russia has yet to pinpoint the organiser of the Domodedovo airport attack, which was carried out by a 20-year-old native of Ingushetia, an impoverished region in Russia's North Caucasus.

© 2011 AFP

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