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...Saakashvili, who was swept to power following street protests over fraudulent elections in 2003, has firmly aligned the former Soviet republic with the West and wants his country to join NATO, an aspiration that is scorned in Moscow.
The Georgian Interior Ministry also said Monday that on Aug. 28 a helicopter carrying Saakashvili and a delegation of U.S. senators led by John McCain (R-Ariz.) was fired on by South Ossetian forces -- a charge that was quickly rejected by U.S. officials.
"The shots were fired at a different helicopter, and Senator McCain's helicopter was nowhere near where the incident took place," said a spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi.
Georgian officials said that an antiaircraft missile was fired at the delegation's helicopter and that fragments of the missile were handed over to U.S. authorities. But the embassy spokesperson said the FBI had looked at the claim and dismissed it.
McCain met with South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoyty during his visit but described the encounter as "not productive."