Monday, September 29, 2008
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 29 Sep.'08 / 21:25
Erosi Kitsmarishvili, a person who once owned Rustavi 2 TV and was President Saakashvili’s administration insider, said a political force that would be an alternative to the current “discredited authorities” should be established.
Kitsmarishvili served as Georgia’s ambassador in Moscow, before he was recalled in July. Kitsmarishvili, who has never been a career diplomat, was dismissed by the Foreign Ministry in mid-September. He was the President’s close ally and was Saakashvili’s key strategist ahead of the January 5 snap presidential elections.
Kitsmarishvili used a newspaper interview published on September 29 in the largest-selling Georgian weekly Kviris Palitra, to unleash criticism of his former allies for as he put it a failure to avert war with Russia and also for degenerating level of democracy and freedom of media. He said that level of democracy was higher in the last years of Eduard Shevardnadze’s presidency, than it was now.
“People like me should no longer be part of this government; they should be opponents of these authorities with which the resource of relation has been exhausted,” Kitsmarishvili said.
“There are many interesting persons both within and outside the current authorities,” he continued, but did not specify the names. “We should create an alternative to these authorities. That is my position, because today we have discredited authorities.”
He said that this alternative was needed in order to restore political balance in the country and to create kind of a checks-and-balances system.
“I will be one of them who will implement this; the current reality [that has emerged after the August war with Russia] will help this process, as well as the political forces – which are in the process of establishment and part of them has already established themselves,” he said.
Kitsmarishvili said that the war could have been averted if President Saakashvili had listened to senior western diplomats and if he had not gone into the Russian trap.
“I, as the last ambassador of Georgia to Russia, want to stress that the Georgian authorities did not take into account the position of top diplomats regarding the conflict resolution issues,” Kitsmarishvili said. “Hence, I, who stood aside these authorities, despite numerous disagreements want to announce that there is no place for me to stay with the Saakashvili’s government… and I distance myself from him [President Saakashvili].”
He also said that planned “public activities,” but added he was not ready at this point to specify details of his future plans.
When speaking about the August war, Kitsmarishvili recalled Georgia’s UN ambassador Irakli Alasania’s efforts to push for the peace plan with Abkhazia.
“In case of implementation of this plan, we could have averted bloody scenario of events,” Kitsmarishvili said.
Also in this context he mentioned that ex-parliamentary speaker Nino Burjanadze; Irakli Alasania and “the Georgian diplomats” in general “have not been listened” by the senior decision-makers in the Georgian authorities.
He also suggested that “little chances” would have still remained for averting the war if Burjanadze was the Parliamentary Chairperson.
Kitsmarishvili is a founder of the Rustavi 2 television. He gained significant political weight – although he never was an acting politician - after the 2003 Rose Revolution as his television station sided with then opposition leaders and played key role in those developments back in November, 2003. He said that next day after ex-president Shevardnadze stepped down on November 23, Mikheil Saakashvili, Nino Burjanadze, Zurab Zhvania and he met and distributed powers and responsibilities in post-revolution Georgia. Kitsmarishvili has claimed that his role – as a participant of the Rose Revolution “project,” as he called it - was to oversee observance of the verbal agreement reached between the leaders.
Kitsmarishvili had to give up the television stations, supposedly, after disagreements with Zurab Zhvania, the late Prime Minister.
In the newspaper interview, Kitsmarishvili acknowledged having disagreements with Zhvania and even said: “we have parted ways as enemies.” He also said that he did not believe Zhvania’s death in February, 2005 was just an accident; “It was a murder,” he said, but did no elaborate further on the matter.
Kitsmarishvili’s criticism of the Saakashvili’s administration comes two weeks after the same newspaper published an interview with ex-Prime Minister Zurab Nogaidlei, who also under the pretext of the August war lashed out at his former allies. Nino Burjanadze, the ex-parliamentary speaker, stopped short of directly accusing the authorities for the August war, but said she had “tough questions” which needed answers from the government.
Giga Bokeria, a deputy foreign minister, and an influential figure within the administration, hinted that losing of official posts was the reason behind the critical remarks of former allies.
“It is strange that such criticism coincides as usually with the fact of losing bureaucratic posts,” he said in an interview with the Kviris Palitra also published on September 29. He declined to comment why Kitsmarishvili was dismissed.
Kitsmarishvili, meanwhile, has claimed that before quitting the Saakashvili’s administration, he had been offered a new post – which he refused to specify – but declined.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Ombudsman Speaks Out
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 26 Sep.'08 / 12:10
Georgia is not "ruled correctly" and it is necessary to replace the existing "authoritarianism" with real democracy in order to save the country, Georgian Public Defender Sozar Subari said in a statement issued on September 25.
"We reiterate our readiness for cooperation and open dialogue in order to change the existing authoritarian system with democratic governance, as well as to establish the rule of law in the country," Subari said. "To achieve this, we should employ all forms of peaceful protest to persuade the government."
The public defender also speaks about the August events and the human rights situation.
"Despite the president's promise to dedicate his presidency to the re-unification of Georgia, now the Ksani Gorge – now known as Akhalgori district – the Kodori Gorge, Didi and Patara Liakhvi Gorges and Prone Gorge have been added to the list of lost territories," the statement reads.
Subari blamed authoritarian governance for this development.
"New disasters are to be expected in the event of a continuation of authoritarianism," the public defender said. "The Russian model of authoritarian governance in Georgia, which envisages a unilateral and forceful settlement of problems inside and outside the country, is a fifth column responsible for Georgia's failure."
“The government that is locked within it, which listens only to itself and respects only its own judgment, has lost the capacity for proper decision-making; Russia took advantage of this and has executed its long plotted perfidious plan of conquering our territories. Our country and its people have fallen prey to these processes,” the statement reads.
It also said that the authorities, who lost the August war, are only thinking about the PR side of things.
“Even if there had been the smallest ground for optimism for the government - as if human casualties, loss of more territories, burned villages and a new wave of IDPs counted as a victory for the authorities - accelerating the process of unifiying the country and its prosperity, wisdom and common sense require that shouts of “we won”, concerts and celebrations should be postponed until at least even the contours of this victory are visible,” the public defender said.
He said that under current conditions the only way out is “to face the truth“ and to analyze what has happened in reality.
“Intolerance of different opinions, a tunnel vision, the side-lining of the law and permanent complacency have become the rule of life of the current system of governance. The culture of listening to different opinions, discussions, disputes and dialogue has been lost even among the authorities themselves,” Subari said. “The authorities are not interested in understanding what people think about them; they want that people constantly listen to their speeches about what the authorities think about themselves.”
“Georgia is not the property of the government; it belongs to each citizen,” he said. “At this time, silence and inactivity is equal to a crime.”
“Root” Democratic Reforms
The public defender said that under current conditions the only way out of the situation was to carry out “root [and branch]” democratic reforms, instead of making “pseudo-democratic” changes. Subari also said that a new wave of democratic reforms announced by President Saakashvili aims “at painting facades.”
He stressed that the democratic freedoms and human rights situation had worsened in the country; there are no courts, different opinions are persecuted, no fair elections are held, property rights are violated, so-called “elite corruption” is in place; no freedom of assembly or freedom to demonstrate is provided for; TV stations are completely controlled by the authorities; “all power is concentrated in the hands of the president and several leaders;” intimidation of citizens has become a lever in the hands of the authorities.
“It is especially cynical that all this happens under the banner and on behalf of democracy,” he said.
Subari also said that the authorities had “silence[d] the information space” and replaced it with “propaganda.”
“As a result, instead of receiving actual information, from dawn to dusk we are doomed to listen to the propaganda that “Misha is cool”, everything is fine, that we won and that Georgia will soon blossom,” he said.
In order to achieve “irreversible democracy," the public defender urged the authorities:
• To immediately stop persecution of people with different opinions;
• To set up fair and independent courts;
• To establish the rule of law;
• To provide freedom of speech and expression; to abolish state control over TV stations; to prevent state interference in media activities;
• To develop a fair elections code; to create the environment necessary for holding free and fair elections;
• To create a free and competitive political environment;
• To de-politicize law enforcement agencies and the Prosecutor’s Office;
• To provide checks and balances between various governmental branches; to distribute presidential power;
• To grant real functions to local self-governance bodies;
• To introduce the principle of government responsibility and accountability to society; freedom and accessibility of public information for each citizen;
• To ensure the inviolability of property rights;
• To create a stable, free, competitive business environment;
• To ensure freedom of assembly and association, and the right to protest;
Simultaneously, in a message to friendly countries and international community, the Georgian public defender noted that “Georgian people do not deserve an authoritarian regime… Georgia is ready for democracy.”
“Help us in [developing] democracy! Help us in persuading the authorities that declarations of the attributes and principles of democracy only on paper, while [at the same time] establishing an authoritarian system in reality, will lead the country towards catastrophe,” Subari said.
[See the Opposition reaction here]
Saturday, September 6, 2008
French Minister of Foreign Affairs Bernard Kouchner has voiced opposition to the presence of a US fleet in the Black Sea. At a press conference in Avignon summarizing the results of an informal meeting of heads of Ministries of Foreign Affairs of EU member nations, he said that the presence of the US fleet in this region "serves no purpose. We need to defuse the situation," specifying that the crisis "can only be resolved politically, not by war ships."
Commenting on Vice-President Dick Cheney's announcement that the US would allocate $1 billion to Georgia, Kouchner said: "I am happy for this, but what does this change? We are also giving a lot of money for restoration (of Georgia); we're not competing." Story from Bloomberg.
The US is planning to establish permanent naval bases on the coast of Georgia. Currently, there are intense negotiations between the US, Georgia, and Turkey concerning the future presence of war ships in Poti and Batumi.
According to Georgian sources, the bases will be designed for quick response. Another purpose for the bases is to provide security for the energy corridor, which crosses Georgian territory. However, Turkey's position on this issue is not yet clear as it is afraid of the Russia reaction.
After the crisis surrounding South Ossetia developed, 7 NATO war ships entered the Black Sea. Just yesterday, the flagship of the 6 vessel US fleet the "Mount Whitney" docked at the port in Poti.
Nino Burjanadze, the former parliamentary speaker, said it was too early to say if the crisis could have been avoided.
“I need serious analysis. I need answers to the questions,” she said in an interview with Reuters on September 5 after speaking at Columbia University in New York.
When asked what would happen if it does turn out to have been avoidable, she said: “In this case, I don't wish to be in the place of the government.”
“I can say it's very difficult to imagine a good position for the president of a country that has such big problems,” Burjanadze said. “I don't think that he feels himself comfortable and well or stronger than he was before.”
“However, we, the Georgian people, do not consider the government as victims only and, of course, the time will come for a sober assessment of what went wrong in Georgia.”
She said that she had met with President Saakashvili “few days before the crisis.”
“I expressed my views and my vision. I was sure that Russia will attack if there will be any kind of military action from the Georgian side, and I saw that Russia wanted to provoke Georgia.”
“I always thought there is no military solution for Ossetia and Abkhazia because Russia will fight, Russia will send troops, Russia will send arms, Russia will send aircraft.”
“I understood that it's a real disaster for my country,” she added.
[A little background, Burjanadze was once a very popular politician. She rose to power with Saakashvili and was seen as his closest ally. However, she shocked Georgia when she decided against running for re-election in the Parliamentary elections last May. It looks like she had seen the writing on the wall.]
Friday, September 5, 2008
"Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko knew that Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili had plans to attack South Ossetia several days in advance, and even discouraged the Georgian president from making such a move; however, he himself has not admitted to this. Therefore, Yushchenko is complicit in the genocide which occurred in South Ossetia." The statement was made on September 4 during a round table discussion on the topic "Ukraine's Role in the Recent Events in the Caucasus" by member of the Ukrainian Communist Party Leonid Grach, reports an IA Regnum correspondent.
At the same time, the politician stated that the Yushchenko administration is trying to hide the truth of the events in South Ossetia. "When the war first broke out, the people could get the truth, a departure from the usual disinformation. There were dozens of cameras and not even enough seats for journalists in the hall. But as soon as we tried to call things by their own names and say the truth, there number of journalists dwindled to half of the number here at this 'round table'. This is just yet another example of the ruling party, led by Viktor Yushchenko, preventing the truth from reaching Ukrainian citizens," noted Grach.
Nicaragua has become the first country after Russia to officially recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Today, September 5, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega released an official decree recognizing the independence of these republics, reports the Associated Press.
Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia on August 26.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
‘Time for Tough Question has Come’
|Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 4 Sep.'08 / 19:06 || |
• Open letter calls for public debate;
• Usupashvili: Saakashvili fell into Russian trap;
• Targamadze: special commission should study mistakes.
Some public and civil society figures, as well some politicians, have said that the time has come to ask tough questions of the authorities about what led to war and to the subsequent grave results for the country.
An open letter, published by the Georgian daily Rezonansi on September 4 and signed by over eighty individuals and organizations, has called for the launch of a public debate on recent developments.
The letter, signed by representatives of human rights groups, academic circles, journalists and some public figures, says that “for a broad public debate on the problem” it is necessary “to set the Georgian Public Broadcaster free of the authorities’ censorship.”
“Extensive propaganda is currently underway, blaming the catastrophic consequences [of the conflict] on everyone – an aggressive Russia, an ignorant West (which, it is claimed, ignored the Georgian leaders’ warnings); the opposition; Russian spies, etc. – everyone, but not the authorities themselves,” the letter reads.
Then it lists some questions, which the signatories say, should be answered by the authorities, including, why it happened that the Georgian side “despite the U.S. administration’s warnings, fell into the Russian trap.”
The letter blames the Georgian authorities for “the catastrophic consequences” and says that “the authorities, which have in fact prepared the ground for these consequences through its non-professionalism and anti-democracy, are now claiming that what has happened was impossible to prevent.”
The signatories of the open letter include, among others, the Georgian Academy, an opposition-leaning, non-governmental group uniting actors and some intelligentsia figures; the Human Rights Centre; the Former Political Prisoners for Human Rights; the Equality Institute; and the investigative reporting group Studio Reporter.
Also on September 4, MP Giorgi Targamadze, the chairman of the Christian-Democratic Party and the leader of the parliamentary minority, said “the time has come to launch a debate and [make] decisions – without hysteria – about what has happened.”
“To make appropriate conclusions and draw lessons, it will be essential to create a special parliamentary commission to scrupulously investigate mistakes made at political, strategic, tactical, and operational levels,” Targamadze said in a statement.
He also said that Russia had been gradually preparing the ground for an invasion of Georgia, but he also partially put the blame on the Georgian authorities, saying that their rhetoric and policies had been “designed to finally reintegrate the Tskhinvali region into Georgia by using force.” Targamadze added that it was now “hard to prove that Georgia didn’t start the war.”
Targamadze also said that Georgia’s western partners should “not allow the government of Georgia to use a so-called ‘iron hand’ policy against the opposition.”
Echoing some other opposition politicians, Targamadze said that President Saakashvili’s proposal for an anti-crisis group with the involvement of opposition parties would only be effective if it worked on broader “democratization” issues and not just on overseeing the distribution of humanitarian aid for the victims of the conflict.
Meanwhile, Davit Usupashvili, the leader of the opposition Republican Party, said in a newspaper interview, published on September 4, that he was sure President Saakashvili had “[fallen] into a Russian trap.”
“It seems to me that Saakashvili was misled by someone telling him that the Russians would not intervene in Tskhinvali on condition that we would stop our active measures in respect of Abkhazia,” he told the daily Rezonansi. “That is my impression, because otherwise it is unclear how it was possible to fall into this trap if there were no guarantees that the Russians would not intervene.”
Usupashvili also said that “the time has come to ask questions and to find out the truth.”
“But it should in no way be interpreted as a demand for the immediate resignation of the government,” he added. “It may be even worse to raise the issue of a change in leadership in the near future.”
Speaking in Parliament on September 3, Nika Rurua, a senior lawmaker from the ruling party, said that recent developments needed to be thoroughly investigated “professionally, without any political stage show.” “That should in no way be part of some political populism,” MP Rurua, who is the deputy chairman of the parliamentary committee for defense and security, said.
He was in particular speaking about the military aspects of recent events.
MP Rurua said the extent of the damage inflicted on Georgia’s defense capabilities and military infrastructure would be made public soon. Reforms, necessary due to shortfalls revealed by the conflict, would also be publicly outlined, he said.
Tsotne Gamsakhurdia, middle son of the first president of Georgia [Zviad Gamsakhurdia], has been charged on two counts: according to clause 314 of the Georgian Criminal Code ("Espionage") and clause 135 ("Plotting with the aim to overthrow a legitimate power"). The charges were announced by the accused's defense attorney Keti Bekauri, reports "Kavkaz-Press."
According to Bekauri, Gamsakhurdia is already talking, having refused his right to silence. "He denies the charges and will not plead guilty," said the attorney. Gamsakhurdia was arrested the evening of September 3 at the Tbilisi airport, returning via Baku from Moscow where he has been living these last years. Gamsakhurdia has been under investigation since November 2007. Back then, the General Prosecutor of Georgia accused him of attempting to organize a coup and of communicating with Russian special services. Gamsakhurdia is accused of spying for Russia.
Earlier, on August 22, after the active phase of the military operation in South Ossetia had already ended, the United Opposition warned that Georgian authorities might soon begin once again to search for internal enemies. The worries were brought out by a statement made by Saakashvili's wife Sandra Roelofs in which she said that "the opposition protests in November 2007 were financed by Russia."
One of the leaders of the United Opposition, secretary for the party "Movement for a United Georgia" Eka Beselia stated that the Georgian authorities would soon begin to search for internal enemies and any artificial link between the Georgian opposition and the Russian special services. "This is an attempt by the authorties to find an escape from the current situation, to overcome the crisis. It will be necessary for the authorities to find internal enemies, but I am absolutely sure that it won't be successful, just as it wasn't in November when they even made films about Russian agents in the Georgian opposition," she noted.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
I hope my blog has been a useful tool for those looking to find alternative sources of information on this summer's Russo-Georgian conflict. Over 95% of my translations came from Russian sources, but that is only because so little of the Russian perspective of this complicated war made it into the Western media. If the reverse were true--that is, only the Russian side was being told, and not Georgia's--then I can assure you 95% of these translations would have come from Georgian sources.
I lived in Georgia for almost 9 months over 2007-08 and care too much about this little country to see it destroyed by its president; sadly, the Western media has been complicit in helping Saakashvili do so by being all to eager to repeat his version of events without giving so much as a mention to Russia's. Fortunately, that is beginning to change. Today, this article ran in the New York Times (be sure to read the whole thing).
In this day and age of instant communication, where information is at our fingertips, we may believe that the truth is immediately accessible. But in reality, this flood of information is not very helpful if it is all coming from one source, in this case, Georgia's president.
One of the greatest lessons we should take from this is that language is and will remain a barrier. If we as Americans wish to continue to play the lead role in international affairs, then it is vital for us to speak the languages of the countries we decide to work so intimately with. When we so arrogantly expect foreign leaders to know English, we make ourselves vulnerable to people like Saakashvili. We literally hear only what we want to hear.
This is my notice that beginning today, I will no longer be translating at the rate I have been doing so. Today I leave for California to visit relatives, and later in the month, I will be returning to Chicago to resume studies at the University of Chicago. I hope to continue to translate one or two articles a day, but there will certainly be days without activity. I hope that my need will diminish as the Western media begins to be more balanced in its coverage. My wish is that my blog will remain as a historical record to the events before, during, and after the Russo-Georgian War of 2008.
Georgia continues to carry out provocations in South Ossetia. According to the president of the republic Eduard Kokoity, a Georgian special forces team was recently disarmed by divisions of the Ministry of Defense. "They were going to carry out a diversionary strike in the village of Аrtseu [Арцеу] under the guise of being Georgian policemen," stated Kokoity.
The president also noted that the leadership of the republic was not indifferent to the fate of the Georgians who are still living in South Ossetia. "We will do everything in order for them to live in security. Humanitarian aid is being sent to the Lenigori region today. There we are discussing pension ssues, restoration issues, and the function of Georgian schools. Georgian children will learn in the Georgian language," stated Kokoity.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Sochi, 2 Sep -- RIA Novosti
It's time for the US to reevaluate its relations with the current Georgian administration, following aggressions which left more than 1,000 people dead, stated Dmitry Medvedev in an interview with the Italian television company RAI.
Georgia launched an offensive in South Ossetia, after which Russia was forced to enter the conflict zone to reinforce its peacekeepers. On August 12, the end of operation "Enforced Peace" in Georgia was declared.
"I believe that in light of these events, it is time for our American partners to reevaluate their relations with the current administration, especially since it has put Georgia in a difficult situation, destabilized conditions, and unleashed aggressions, as a result of which many people died," said the Russian president.
The fact that there was no mention of Georgian aggression in a resolution passed by yesterday's emergency EU Summit creates the possibility for a recurrence of what has happened. The opinion was expressed by Gleb Pavlovsky, president of the Effective Policy Fund, at a round table discussion in Moscow on September 2, reports an IA Regnum correspondent.
According to the political scientist, the outcome of the recent EU summit is double-edged. "On the one hand, Europe has managed to avoid absolute American dictatorship. Poland and the Baltic States couldn't impose their own position on the EU and have temporarily receded. On the other hand, nowhere was Georgia's aggression mentioned. All the world can see that this paves the way for a replay of events," notes Pavlovsky.
Pavlovsky believes that Russia should draw all possible conclusions from what has happened, including military conclusions. "Europe's request for Russia to withdraw Russian armies from the security zone on Georgian territory would create a real risk for a recurrence," the expert asserts.
"We have made greater concessions to Europe. In fact, it was only the request of President Sarkozy that prevented the real outcome of operation 'Enforced Peace'--the arrest of Saakashvili as the main perpetrator of the war. This was a serious compromise which we now regret," believes Gleb Pavlovsky.
Sukhumi and Moscow plan to sign an agreement in two weeks on the establishment of a Russian military base on Abkhazian territory. The statement was made by Abkhazian President Sergey Bagapsh at a press conference, reports an IA Regnum correspondent. According to Bagapsh, the Abkhazian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is currently drawing up the documents. The President of Abkhazia assigned responsibility for events in the Caucasus to those Western countries which armed Georgia.
According to this RIA Novosti story (in English), Abkhazia does not plan to establish Russian military bases as previously reported.
The Russian General Staff is describing conditions in the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict zone as relatively calm; however, it is impossible to say the same for the situation in South Ossetia. The statement was made today, September 2, at a Moscow briefing by Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs representative Andrei Nesterenko. He noted that activity had been observed among the Georgian forces and that the command of the Georgian Armed Forces continues to restore the fighting capacity of its divisions.
Based on reports from troops on the ground, Nesterenko spoke of an incident last night that took place not far from a peacekeeping post in the Karaleti region. As Nesterenko explained, Georgian forces carried out provocative actions directed against the Russian peacekeepers. He assumed that the incident was specially organized. The representative believes that such actions do not help to stabilize the situation in the region.
Nesterenko also commented on the escalating situation regarding a fleet of NATO war ships off the coast of Georgia. Three of the vessels are American, and one each belong to Poland, Spain, and Germany. He reminded journalists that, according to an international agreement, only three Black Sea NATO countries--Turkey, Romania, and Bulgaria--have the right to deploy as many ships as they wish to other Black Sea nations, as they are coastal states.
Monday, September 1, 2008
Russian soldiers did not allow passage of humanitarian through a checkpoint near Karaleti, Shida Kartli administrators tell "Interpressnews."
The shipments were destined for Georgian villages, among them the remaining residents of Patara [Lesser] Liakhvi Gorge. Shida Kartli governor Lado Vardzelashvili made the Russian blockade known at today's "Live Chain" mass demonstration.
Interpressnews [Georgian news agency]
"Georgia is withdrawing from the Joint Control Commission (JCC) for Georgian-Ossetian Conflict Resolution and requests the immediate withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from the territory of the former South-Ossetian autonomous oblast." According to an IA Regnum correspondent, the announcement was made in a statement released the evening of September 1 by Georgian State Minister for Reintegration Issues Temur Iakobashvili.
"In accordance with the resolutions passed by the Parliament of Georgia on July 18, 2006 'Concerning the peacekeeping forces deployed on Georgian territory' and on August 28, 2008 'Concerning the occupation of Georgian territory by the Russian Federation,' as well as with item 3 of Order of the Georgian Government No.552 signed on August 29, 2008, the State Minister for Reintegration Issues has been authorized to declare that Georgia is withdrawing from the Joint Control Commission for Georgian-Ossetian Conflict Resolution, created according to the June 24, 1992 agreement 'concerning the principles of resolving the Georgian-Ossetian conflict'," says the State Minister in the release.
"The aforementioned decisions were made after the Russian Federation, by its own hostile actions, disregarded all the peacemaking documents, which had been accepted at a bilateral level and within the limits of the CIS. Accordingly, the Georgian MFA has carried out procedures for the unilateral termination of the agreement 'Concerning the principles of resolving the Georgian-Ossetian conflict' of June 24, 1992," the statement notes.
"After this, the Joint Control Commission for Georgian-Ossetian Conflict Resolution ceases to exist, and all protocols and agreements made in the framework of the JCC have lost their validity; the mandate of the JCC has been abolished, and therefore, the immediate termination of the so-called 'peacekeeping operation' in the former South Ossetian oblast and the immediate withdrawal of divisions of the Russian army from Georgian territory should follow," the statement reads.
"At the same time, the government of Georgia states that it remains committed to the positions outlined by the president of France in the ceasefire agreement, which are presented in the corresponding letter from Nicolas Sarkozy and enclosed explanations," emphasizes Iakobashvili.
Official representative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Andrei Nesterenko said today that Russia has evidence that Georgia has begun to rearm.
"The restoration of Georgia's military which suffered during the conflict," emphasized the diplomat, "is happening under the guise of humanitarian aid. There is the suspicion that the aid may not be intended solely for civilians, but also for the military, and it will go towards restoring the weakened armed forces."
"Therefore, we have expressed the necessity to consider imposing an embargo on shipments of arms to Georgia," added Nesterenko.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov proposed such an embargo today.
"In order to prevent a relapse of violence in the region, Russia will continue to take measures to punish the guilty, so that this regime [of Saakashvili] will never again do harm," said the minister, speaking before students at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, "First of all, it would be wise to impose an embargo on arms shipments to this regime, until a new administration transforms Georgia into a normal state." Lavrov reminded listeners that it was precisely this military aid, which the US rendered to Georgia, "which encouraged the irresponsible and unpredictable regime of Saakashvili."
According to Nesterenko, "Russian peacekeeping forces are now undertaking additional security measures."
"For this purpose, the buffer zone around South Ossetia is being provided with Russian peacekeeping posts with a total personnel of up to 500 persons," he said, quotes ITAR-TASS.
The US "will continue to provide Georgia with significant financial and political support." The statement was made today in Brussels by US Assistant Deputy Secretary of State Matthew Bryza in an interview with Georgian journalists which was later broadcast on the Tbilisi television company Rustavi-2.
"The US condemns the actions of Russia in relation to Georgia and the invasion of Georgian territory by Russian armies. The US will continue to provide Georgia with significant financial and political support," noted Bryza.
Responding to a question on "what decision will the EU make on Russia," he said: "I don't know what decision the EU will make concerning Russia. That is the prerogative of the leaders of EU member countries. But I do know that the EU will provide Georgia with significant economic and political aid, and that is very important for the development of the country," quotes ITAR-TASS.
The international organization Human Rights Watch has determined that Georgia used cluster bombs against South Ossetia. As the Associated Free Press reports, the statement was made by representative of HRW Bonnie Docherty. Earlier, Russia was blamed for using cluster bombs; however, the representative of the General Staff of the Russian Federation has denied these allegations.
The deployment of military forces to unstable regions does not bring any calm and does not help find a solution to the problem which we have here. The opinion was expressed by official representative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Andrei Nesterenko on September 1, at a Moscow press conference, commenting on the presence of a fleet of NATO ships in the Black Sea, reports an IA Regnum correspondent.
Nesterenko said that sending ships armed with formidable weapons to the region cannot be considered as a stabilizing measure. "If the ships leave, it will be interpreted as an effort to de-escalate the situation, but the gathering of armed forces is always unequivocally contrary to resolving issues surrounding stabilization," said Nesterenko.
Currently, there are around 10 naval vessels from NATO member countries on the Black Sea.
Official representative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Andrei Nesterenko refused to comment on a report by Deputy Chief of the General staff of the Russian Armed Forces Anatoly Nogovitsyn that an American passport was found in the South Ossetian war zone. As an IA Regnum correspondent reports, at a Moscow briefing held today, September 1, Nesterenko emphasized that this question belongs to the representatives of the General Staff.
Speaking of concrete military support from the US for Georgia during the war, Nesterenko stated that for the time being, there is only the instance of 2,000 Georgian soldiers transferred from Iraq to Georgia by US military transport aircraft. However, Nesterenko also reminded journalists that the US administration considers Georgia as one of its allies and rendered it various types of military assistance, from equipping its armies to providing training.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
President Dmitry Medvedev recently gave an interview to several Russian television companies. The head of state announced the five principles of Russian foreign policy and once again commented on his decision to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
The first principle, President Medvedev believes, maintains that Russia recognizes the superiority of the basic principles of international laws which define the relations between civilized peoples. "And in the framework of this position, in the framework of this concept of international laws, we will develop our relations with other states," noted the president of the Russian Federation.
"The second is that peace should be multipolar. Unipolarity is unacceptable; domination is inadmissible," emphasized Dmitry Medvedev, "We cannot accept such peace-building in which all the decisions are made by one party, even if that party is a serious and authoritative one, like the United States of America. Such peace is unstable and threatens conflict. The third is that Russia does not want conflict with any country. Russsia does not intend to become isolated. We will develop our friendly relations with Europe, the United States of America, and other countries of the world as much as possible."
"The fourth is the unconditional priority for us to defend the lives and dignity of our citizens, wherever they may be. Our foreign policy shall proceed from this priority. We shall also defend the interests of our business communities abroad," said Dmitry Medvedev, "And it should be clear to everyone that if someone makes aggresive sorties, he will get a response. Finally, the fifth: Russia, like any other country, has regions in which there are their exclusive interests. In these regions are situated countries with which we were traditionally connected by friendship, good-hearted relations, and especially historical relations. We will work very attentively in these regions to develop such friendly relations with these states, with our next-door neighbors. These are the five principles of our foreign policy. The future depends not only on us, but also on our friends, on our partners in the international community. They have a choice."
The truth of the situation in South Ossetia is on Russia's side, and Russia is acting within the framework of moral and international laws, stated Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Regarding the tense international situation that has resulted from this problem, he recognized that there was "a lot of emotion." However, "we have not yet seen any practical steps being made which might speak or testify to a cooling of the situation." "I hope that this won't be the case, but in any case, the truth is on our side," stated the Prime Minister.
"We are behaving absolutely morally and within the framework of existing international laws," he continued, "Therefore, if someone from Europe wants to man the guns of someone else's foreign policy interests, please, we can't insist enough." "But I think that, as they say in these situations, charity begins at home, and I think even this rough principle will guide us, and above all, our European partners," emphasized Putin.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Georgian State Minister for Reintegration Issues Giorgi Iakobaskhvili announced Georgia's withdrawal from the Moscow ceasefire and separation of forces agreement signed on May 14, 1994. According to a press release distributed on August 30, "the Georgian State Minister for Reintegration Issues declares that the Moscow ceasefire and separation of forces agreement signed on May 14, 1994 has lost all relevance."
The statement also noted that this decision was made based on resolutions concerning "the peacekeeping forces deployed on Georgian territory" and "the occupation of Georgian territory by the Russian Federation," which were passed on July 18, 2006 and on August 28, 2008, respectively, by the Georgian Parliament, as well as an extraordinary order of the Georgian government on August 27, 2008. In addition, the Georgian government supports the 6 point Medvedev-Sarkozy peace plan and declares that it should be regarded as the only relevant document concerning Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region.
President Dmitry Medvedev explained Russia's motives for recognizing the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia to UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown in a phone conversation. The conversation took place at the initiative of Britain, reports an IA Regnum correspondent at the President's press office.
As was noted, when Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili unleashed aggressions against the people of South Ossetia, he fundamentally changed the situation of the last 17 years. That is, he ended the ongoing attempts to settle relations between South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Georgia. It soon became clear that in order to guarantee the safety and security of the South Ossetian and Abkhazian peoples, especially in light of attempts by Saakashvili's regime to remilitarize and his vengeful declarations, immediate intervention was necessary.
At the same time, Dmitry Medvedev emphasized that Russia is fully abiding by the 6 points of the Medvedev-Sarkozy plan. Russia not only supports the presence of OSCE observers, but even supports increasing their numbers. And in the interest of international monitoring of the current Georgian administration, Russia looks forward to maintaining constructive dialogue with the EU, other international organizations, as well as individual countries. During the conversation, the issue of international cooperation was raised. Medvedev confirmed that Russia entirely supports the efforts of the international community in achieving the Millenium Development Goals (MDG) and is eager to participate in sessions of the UN General Assembly on fulfilling MDG.
Saakashvili said late on August 29:
President Saakashvili said on August 29 Georgia needed, what he called, “a patriot act” to deter possible attempts of government overthrow through foreign intervention.
Speaking with the local authorities in the port town of Poti late on August 29, where the Russian forces maintain two outposts, Saakashvili said that Russia’s major goal in Georgia was to overthrow his government.
“It obvious that their goal was not taking over Tskhinvali, which is Georgia’s provincial town - only few people in Russia may know where it is located,” Saakashvili said at the meeting, which was televised live by the Rustavi 2 TV. “Their [Russia’s] goal was to take over Tbilisi and to overthrow the government.”
He said that Russians made it clear even publicly few days ago – apparently referring to the Russian Foreign Ministry’s August 26 statement in which it said “the Saakashvili regime does not at all meet the high standards set by the world community” and added it was sure that “sooner or later” the Georgian people would have “worthy leaders.”
Saakashvili said that he planned to propose the parliament to develop “the patriot act” and added that this new legislature – details of which he did not elaborate – would no way infringe the civil liberties.
“This will be carried out under the condition of maintaining democracy; freedom and liberties,” he added and repeated it for coupe of more times.
He said that the act was needed to prevent “external attempts to destabilize the country.”
The first time when the ruling party politicians started talking about the need for, what they called, “a U.S. Patriot Act-style” legislature, was in the summer, 2006, shortly after the Kodori events.
When some opposition politicians condemned the Georgian forces crack down on rebel warlord Emzar Kvitsiani’s militia groups in the upper Kodori Gorge in July, 2006, they were immediately labeled by the ruling party politicians as traitors. Nika Gvaramia, who is now the Justice Minister, and at that time was a lawmaker, said on July 29, 2006 that the Parliament had to develop “a legislature similar to the one which is in the United States, I mean the Patriot Act… which will be directed against treacherous statements against the motherland.”
The issue, however, was shelved shortly after that and no one has ever raised the matter again up to now.
Also on August 29, President Saakashvili said that the authorities should revise decision on suspending funding of several parties from the state budget.
“We should finance the political parties and impose strict control to prevent any funding coming from the foreign countries – I mean from one particular country,” he said obviously referring to Russia.
In a highly controversial move in July the Parliament passed an amendment to the law that denied six opposition parties, which boycotted the new Parliament, state funding. The move was mainly perceived as a punishment for those opposition parties, which refused to enter into the new Parliament, citing that the May 21 parliamentary elections were rigged.
President Saakashvili said on August 29, that there have been “certain disagreements” over the party funding issue, but these disagreements, he said, should now be removed.
He also said that despite of “some exceptions,” the opposition political groups in general acted in a very appropriate manner at the time of the Russian invasion.
Friday, August 29, 2008
The water supply of the capital of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali, will be fully restored over the next two weeks, stated Tskhinvali mayor Robert Guliyev at a a press conference at the international press-center "Tskhinvali - 2008." As an IA Regnum correspondent reports, the mayor said that water lines which supply water to Tskhinvali have not yet been repaired.
"There was a small accident which we quickly discovered and it will be taken care of by the end of the day. Besides this, during the bombardment of the city, one of our so-called small tanks, holding around 1500 cubic meters, was damaged. Presently, the North Caucasian brigade is working to restore it and we hope to have it operating again in the near future. Soon, water volume will increase, water pressure will rise, and within two weeks the entire city will be provided with potable water," said Guliyev. According to him, city authorities have signed a contract with Pyatigorsky giving them permission to begin drilling artesian wells in the southern part of the city. "Wells are very important as they are Tskhinvali's water reserves. In the near future, the restoration of other city works will also be addressed," noted the mayor.
The Center for Sociological and Marketing Research (CSAMR) "SOCIUM" conducted a research study between August 27-29 of 34 experts from scientific research institutes and faculty of institutes of higher education in Tbilisi.
The [Georgian] experts were asked the following questions: "Do you or do you not support the military operation of the Georgian government 'Clean Fields' in South Ossetia?", "Do you or do you not support the military operation of the Russian army in Georgia 'Compulsion to Peace?'" and "Do you or do you not support the decision by the Russian Federation to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia?"
CSAMR "SOCIUM" received the following responses:
Responses to the question: "Do you or do you not support the military operation of the Georgian government 'Clean Fields' in South Ossetia?"
19 respondents support - 56%
5 do not support - 15%
10 no answer - 29%
Responses to the question: "Do you or do you not support the military operation of the Russian army in Georgia 'Compulsion to Peace?'"
4 respondents support - 12%
23 do not support - 68%
7 no answer - 20%
Responses to the question: "Do you or do you not support the decision by the Russian Federation to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia?"
2 respondents support - 6%
26 do not support - 77%
6 no answer - 17%
Comments from the respondents:
-Russia clearly overstepped its bounds
-Georgia has been broken into pieces by the West and Russia
-Georgia has fallen victim to the Russian-American standoff
-Yes, Georgia truly aspires to NATO membership so that this organization might defend Georgia's sovereignty, and what can Russia do to stop it?
-Russia, unlike many other countries, had enormous leverage on reintegration in Georgia. But for some reason, investments came in from Turkey and America, and not from Russia.
-In Georgia, many of us waited for a reasonable decision from Russia, even in the conditions of extremely confused policy from Saakashvili.
-Georgia does not bear enmity towards the Russian people, but there are a few crude politicians among the ruling elite, first and foremost those who do not understand the situation in the Caucasus.
-Georgia will never come to terms with the annexation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. This is Georgian soil.
-The conflict between Georgia and Russia can only be decided by our Patriarch; politicians can't do anything.
-Instead of an Orthodox Russia helping an Orthodox Georgia to improve economically, to draw more closely culturally, Russia turns to aggression. We don't take delight in America, but no one will protect us any longer. And we ourselves are in no condition to do it.
-We need Stalin to reconcile the people.
-Russia more than anyone is guilty of the breakup of the Soviet Union, where there were no such large-scale inter-ethnic conflicts. The same Russia is trying to extinguish the fires in the fragments of the late great country like a "bear in a china shop." [a play on words--Medvedev means "son of a bear"]
-Russia could have bought Georgia's economy by means of investments. But this was done by Turkey, America, just not the Russians. But the Russians sent us armies.
-It's clear that the interests of America, NATO, and Russia crossed--and Georgia was held hostage.
-The Georgian leadership handed over its people to the Americans. And it should bear full responsibility for the breakup of Georgia.
-If Saakashvili and his band were adequately eliminated by the Russians, then there wouldn't have been aggressions against South Ossetia.
-It's necessary to remove the Americans, and then everything will fall into place.
-Georgia is not being occupied by the Russians, as Saakashvili is saying everywhere, but rather by NATO led by the US. And even it [NATO] receives funding from them.
Supreme Mufti of Russia calls on the Islamic world to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia
Chairman of Russia’s Central Muslim Spiritual Directorate Talgat Tajuddin [Tadzhuddin] has called on regional spiritual leaders to render the much needed aid and support to the people of South Ossetia and to all who have suffered in this humanitarian catastrophe on the territory of this republic, says the press committee of the Directorate.
The Supreme Mufti of Russia also called on everyone in the Islamic world to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. "Russian Muslims, just like our compatriots, support Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's decision to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which was done for the peoples of these republics, and we call on the international community and the Islamic world to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in the name of peace and stability in the Caucasus," stated Tajuddin.
"From the very beginning, the Central Muslim Spiritual Directorate (MSD) of Russia has condemned the perfidious aggressions against South Ossetia by the Georgian leadership, who unleashed full-scale war on a distressed Ossetian people," said Tajuddin, "The blood of Russian peacekeepers, of hundreds and thousands of civilians, women, children, and the defenseless elderly was spilled here. In the ruins of Tskhinvali and in the peaceful settlements, the genocide of an entire people was truly carried out."
"We, like all just peoples in the world, cannot accept double standards regarding these events, when a few transoceanic figures try to make our country look like the aggressors and raise tensions," believes Tajuddin, "Russia was and is a guarantor of peace and stability in the Caucasus. Russian peacekeepers were shot in the back while carrying out their virtuous duty."
80% of all structures in the capital of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali, suffered damage as a result of the Georgian attack on South Ossetia, stated mayor of Tskhinvali Robert Guliyev at a press conference at the international press center "Tskhinvali - 2008." As an IA Regnum correspondent reports, Guliyev noted that "currently, we are working hard to survey all homes." "You know that the city suffered bombardment from "Grad" rocket artillery systems, in addition to mortars and artillery fire. As a result of this, 80% of all available housing in the city suffered damage to roofs; as for the premises themselves, a minimum of 60% were damaged.Virtually all residences in the southern suburbs of the city and virtually all private neighborhoods suffered significant damage," said Guliyev. He said that everything was being done to provide victims with the basic need of temporary housing.
On September 2, Russia and South Ossetia will sign a treaty of friendship and cooperation between the two states, according to which a Russian military base will be established on South Ossetian territory, reports the speaker of South Ossetia's parliament Znaur Gassiyev. According to Gassiyev, questions of the number and duration of stay of these bases on South Ossetian territory, in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of South Ossetia (RSO), will be left to President Eduard Kokoity.
China has been informed of the political motives behind Russia's decision to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Deputy foreign minister Alexei Borodavkin made the comment regarding the outcome of a meeting with Chinese Ambassador to Russia Liu Guchang, reports the Chinese newspaper "People's Daily."
The two parties discussed Abkhazia and South Ossetia's situation after Russia's recognition of their independence. The Chinese have been informed in detail of the political and legal motives for Russia's decision, and they express their understanding.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
The restoration of Georgia's armed forces is being done with direct support of foreign states. The statement was made today, August 28, at a Moscow briefing by Anatoly Nogovitsyn, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, reports an IA Regnum correspondent.
According to Nogovitsyn, the British NGO "HALO Trust", whose mission is to remove mines, trained Georgian mine clearers. And experts from Ukraine provided Georgia with technical services to bring back online the communication systems of Georgia's ground forces.
In contrast, Russia is strictly observing the principles of the resolution of the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict and continues the withdrawal of its forces to their positions, noted the representative of the General Staff.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin does not exclude the possibility that the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict could have been provoked by certain forces in the US in order to give one of the presidential candidates an advantage. Putin expressed his opinion in an interview with CNN.
"If my guesses turn out to be true, then there is the suspicion that someone in the US specifically created this conflict with the aim to aggravate the situation and give an advantage to one of the US Presidential candidates in this competitive election," stated Putin.
Russian General Staff: Georgian statements that Russia prepared for war well in advance without basis
"Statements from Georgia saying that Russia prepared for aggressions against Georgia well in advance are obviously false and have no basis in fact," stated Anatoly Nogovitsyn, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, commenting on statements from Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili saying that Russia had been preparing for armed aggressions against Georgia since 2007 and that Georgia has documents to prove it.
As an IA Regnum correspondent reports, Nogovitsyn stated: "Let them show these documents, we're prepared to examine them. But they will turn out to be baseless statements. Let this rest on the conscience of those who make them." He also noted that Russia itself has at its disposal powerful evidence of Georgia's preparations for military operations against South Ossetia and Abkhazia. "Based on valuable articles seized in the war and intelligence from investigations, we are prepared to prove that Georgia prepared for war well in advance and was the first to begin aggressions," stated the representative of the General Staff.
Minsk will soon support the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The statement was made to journalists in Moscow on August 28 by the ambassador of the Republic of Belarus to Russia, Vasily Dolgolyov. According to him, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko will make an announcement of support. "I think most likely today, and if not today, then tomorrow," he said, speaking on when the announcement is likely to occur.
As IA Regnum reported earlier, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko today spoke for the consolidated position of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) on South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and also reaffirmed his alliance with Russia. In a statement to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on August 28, the head of the Belarusian state expressed his opinion that it would be expedient to submit this issue for consideration to the Collective Security Council of the CSTO, whose next session is scheduled for September 5, and to accept the consolidated position of member states.
Lavrov: Russia not urging other countries to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia
Russia is not actively encouraging other countries to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Sergey Lavrov, head of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, made the statement today, August 28. According to him, negotiations are not being conducted on this account. "Unlike some of our Western partners, we prefer each country to think for itself," he emphasized. "We are perfectly aware of trips by American emissaries to other countries and that they are educating them on America's position. Such rudeness does not have a place in our political tradition," declared the minister.
Today at a press conference in Minsk, the Russian ambassador to Belarus Alexander Surikov stated that "Russia is counting on Belarus to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia." "To recognize or not to recognize their sovereignty--this is the sovereign right of Belarus, but we, to tell the truth, are counting on them as the closest partner of the Russian Federation," noted the diplomat.
Russia believes that it would be expedient to invite the leaders of the newly formed states of South Ossetia and Abkhazia to a session of the Permanent Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). As Anvar Azimov, permanent representative of Russia to the OSCE, told journalists, this would help create an objective picture of the situation which has arisen in the region. However, the Russian representative expressed doubts that this initiative would be supported by the secretary of the OSCE.
Residents of the village of Rukhi in the Zugdidi region [near Abkhazia] are waiting for the release of Georgian soldiers captured by Russian forces near the Enguri Bridge. According to an "Interpressnews" correspondent, they were to have been released today at 10:00. However, more than an hour later, local authorities are still waiting for their release.
The soldiers have not yet been brought to Rukhi, but according to official sources, it is only a matter of time and they will definitely free them today.
22 Georgian soldiers were captured by Russian occupiers at the port in Poti 10 days ago and they were transfered to the Senaki military base. Later, 12 of them were released. The rest, however, were held prisoner by the Russians in the village of Urta and then the Gali district.
Interpressnews [Georgian news agency]
"In consideration of the free will of the Ossetian and Abkhazian peoples and guided by the provisions of the UN Charter and other international documents, I signed a decree on behalf of the Russian Federation recognizing the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia," stated Russian President Dmitry Medvedev today, August 28 in a piece he wrote entitled "The Right to Self-determination: Why I was compelled to recognize the breakaway regions of Georgia," published in the newspaper "Vedomosti."
As Medvedev notes, Russia's decision to recognize the independence "was not easy and was not done without fully appreciating the consequences." The President emphasizes that the potential consequences were weighed against a sober estimation of the situation--the history of the Abkhazian and Ossetian peoples, their freely given support for independence, the tragic consequences of the last few weeks, and the international precedents for similar actions." In his piece, the Russian leader reminds readers that after the breakup of the USSR "Georgia immediately deprived the autonomous regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia of their autonomy. Can you imagine that the Tbilisi government closed the Abkhazian university in Sokhumi because they said that they didn't have a genuine language or history, so what use was a university? Having recently gained independence, Georgia began a vicious war against its own minorities, deprived thousands of people of their homes, and sowed seeds of discontent which would only grow."
In Medvedev's opinion, Western countries certainly had an effect on "the aspirations of South Ossetians and Abkhazians for freedom. They brought themselves closer to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, whose first step was to destroy the autonomy of yet another region, Adjara." "Western countries," the Russian president reminds readers, "hurried to recognize Kosovo's illegal proclamation of independence from Serbia. We consistently pointed out that after this it would be impossible to explain to Ossetians and Abkhazians (and dozens of other groups in the world) that this was beneficial for Kosovo Albanians, but it would not be beneficial for them. In international relations you cannot have one set of rules for one group and another for the rest."
Dmitry Medvedev emphasizes that Russia had no choice but to introuduce its army onto South Ossetian and Georgian territory after the events of August 7 and 8. "This war was not our choice," emphasizes the president, "we do not have any designs on Georgian territory. Our army entered Georgian territory in order to neutralize those bases which were supporting the attacks, and then they left. We restored peace, but we could not extinguish the South Ossetian and Abkhazian peoples' fear that Saakashvili would continue (with partnership and encouragement from the US and other NATO member countries) to talk of rearming his forces and restoring control over "Georgian territory." The presidents of the two republics appealed to Russia to recognize their independence."
In the conclusion of his piece in "Vedomosti," Medvedev emphasizes that Russia has friendly feelings towards the Georgian people and hopes that Georgia "will one day find leaders who are worthy of them, who will care for their country, and who will establish feelings of mutual respect among all peoples of the Caucasus."
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
The following is a translation of rupor_naroda's most recent livejournal blog post. He appears to be in favor of Russian annexation of South Ossetia. I translated his earlier posts written during the invasion of Tskhinvali earlier this month. They can be found here.
"To be honest, no one believed that they would recognize us. I thought the soonest this could happen would be after 2-3 years. Medvedev has demonstrated will and steadfastness. At last Russia became more decisive. This should have happened a long time ago. From now on, a new chapter begins in the history of Russia and Ossetia. I think the next to recognize South Ossetia will be Belarus, and as a result we will enter into the alliance of Belarus-Russia-South Ossetia. The phase of collecting Russian soil is beginning! Medvedev and Putin--collectors of Russian soil!"
South Ossetia will ask Russia to establish a military base on its territory, stated South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity at a press conference at the international press-center "Tskhinvali-2008" in the capital of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali.
As an IA Regnum correspondent reports, the president noted that as of now, only Russian peacekeepers and their reinforcements are located on South Ossetian territory. "As for a Russian base, I want to say that I, as president of the recognized government of the Republic of South Ossetia, will request the leadership of the Russian Federation to establish its own military bases on South Ossetian territory," stated Kokoity.
"Moral admonitions from Western colleagues regarding Russia's position on South Ossetia and Abkhazia are a cause of bewilderment," stated head of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov to journalists on August 27. The head of the foreign policy department of the Russian Federation thus made it clear that Moscow was open to dialogue with the West.
Speaking about some of the statements coming from Western governments concerning Russia's recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Lavrov stated that "they are not factual and fail to address the issue from which all of this began." "They completely ignore the reality that we lost thousands of innocent civilians and peacekeepers who were operating with the support of the OSCE," emphasized Lavrov.
By its latest actions, Russia has boosted the ratings of President Mikhail Saakashvili and rescued him from the fallout of the egregious mistake, for which he is responsible, of beginning "unprepared military actions against so-called South Ossetia," stated ex-president of Georgia Eduard Shevardnadze on August 27 at a press conference in Tbilisi.
According to Shevardnadze, the categorical statements of the Russian leadership addressed to Saakashvili have boosted his ratings in Georgia "by ten fold," as the nature of a Georgian does not tolerate meddling in his affairs. "By recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russia actually rescued Saakashvili from the fallout in Georgia itself of the egregious mistake he made of beginning military actions against so-called South Ossetia." In the opinion of the ex-president, as a result of this new turn of events, the US and Russia are not ready for a change of leadership in Georgia as they are now too busy resolving much more important issues.
The first president of Abkhazia Vladislav Ardzinba congratulated the people of Abkhazia on their recognition of independence. Here is his full statement of congratulations:
"My dear compatriots! The day August 26, 2008 will forever be remembered in the history of our country as a major milestone marking this truly epoch-making event--the recognition of the independence of the Republic of Abkhazia. In order to realize a century of expectations and hopes that our people might one day know free existence and development, we had to endure the distressful and thorny road of national-liberation struggle. The burden of this heavy ordeal has been carried on the shoulders of many generations for the sake of freedom and independence. Many true patriots of our homeland have sacrificed their lives for this sacred struggle. During 1992 and 1993, when the Georgian aggressors tried to destroy our statehood, hundreds, thousands of worthy sons of the Abkhaz people stood up to defend our Fatherland. And in this struggle we were aided by many volunteers from our sister republics in the North Caucasus. The South of Russia, our foreign compatriots. The domestic war of the Abkhaz people ended with the exile of the Georgian occupiers from the territory of our republic. We admire the memory of everyone who put their lives before the altar of victory!
Today, the multinational people of Abkhazia celebrate one more great victory. We are inspired by the courageous and wise decision made by the political leadership of Russia. The declaration of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Anatolevich Medvedev recognizing South Ossetia and Abkhazia is in full accordance with international laws and norms. I am confident that soon we will hear of similar decisions from a number of other states. From the bottom of my heart I congratulate the people of Abkhazia and our brothers in South Ossetia, who endured all the horrors of Georgian aggression, on this long-awaited victory. Abkhazians and Ossetians are ancient indigenous ethnic groups of the Caucasus whose history and culture go back a long ways. Their right to sovereignty and political self-determination is supported by the centuries-old tradition of statehood. I warmly congratulate the peoples of the Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of South Ossetia on the recognition of independence! I pray for peace and prosperity for our states. Peace, stability, and well-being for the entire Caucasus and Russian Federation!
The recognition of the independence of South Ossetia has been supported by many ordinary and sound-minded Georgians in Georgia itself and in Russia. The statement was made by South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity at a press conference in the international press center "Tskhinvali - 2008." As an IA Regnum correspondent reports, Kokoity made it clear that his speech was not about the Georgian authorities.
"Georgia's reaction absolutely does not interest me; the reaction of the Georgian people interests me. After the President of Russia signed the decree recognizing the Republic of South Ossetia, many Georgians from Georgia and Russia called me with words of thanks and congratulations. This speaks to the truth that not all Georgians are infected with nationalism and fascism, not all Georgians support the irresponsible politics which the Georgian leadership has been conducting, which could drag the international community and the US into a very serious stalemate if they don't change their present course," said the president. He expressed his condolences for the families and those close to the soldiers and officers "who carried out the orders of the criminal leadership of Georgia and were killed here in street battles in Tskhinvali." "The Georgian leadership is responsible, as are those who support Georgia, who armed Georgia, and who trained these soldiers to kill. Georgia should realize its tragic mistakes, for the sake of its own people and for its own sovereignty," noted Kokoity.
The Russian Ministry of Defense is accusing Georgia of violating South Ossetian air space. As Anatoly Nogovitsyn, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, said in a press conference, on August 26, peacekeepers stationed in the conflict zone observed an unmanned Georgian drone, reports an IA Regnum correspondent. The aircraft remained within the area which is under Russian responsibility for around 30 minutes. Nogovitsyn explained that the drone entered the territory of South Ossetia from the south and headed northwards.
This path precisely follows the route of peacekeeping forces, said the deputy chief of the General Staff. In Nogovitsyn's words, Tbilisi's latest actions demonstrate that Georgia does not intend to exclude the possibility of future aggression. Russia, on the other hand, is fulfilling its obligations and continues to withdraw its divisions from the region to their places of permanent deployment in the Russian Federation.
Naval vessels of the Russian Black Sea Fleet continue to carry out the task of securing Abkhazia's coast. The statement was made at a Moscow press conference by Anatoly Nogovitsyn, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, reports an IA Regnum correspondent.
According to Nogovitsyn, as a result of the recent increase of NATO member country vessels in the Black Sea, the Russian fleet has begun to track the movements of these ships.
Nogovitsyn reminded journalists that in 1936, a convention [i.e. the Montreux Convention] was established concerning the status of the Black Sea. This document defines the number of naval vessels and duration of their stay for countries who do not have territory bordering the Black Sea. According to this convention, NATO can no longer continue to increase its fleet on the Black Sea. The maximum tonnage of these ships is not to exceed 45 thousand tons. The maximum duration of stay in the Black Sea is 21 days, after which a rotation must take place.
Georgian law enforcement agencies do not have control in 31 villages in Didi [Greater] and Patara [Lesser] Liakhvi Gorge, owing to the fact that residents cannot return to their own homes. This story is being carried in the Georgian media.
Refugees from the gorge are camped out in 50 tents set up in the center of Gori and in kindergartens. It is estimated that 5,000 people are living in the tent city; tomorrow, the International Red Cross will provide them with a cafateria. By evening, electricity will be provided.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev gave an interview to the French television company TF-1. Answering a question whether or not the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by Russia is an indication of "Russia's return to imperial tactics, the return of the empire," and if it "limits" the sovereignty of Georgia, he said:
"Empires, as a rule, aren't revived, and to grieve about the imperial past is a serious error... I believe that Georgia should be a normal, full-fledged state. As for its sovereignty, that, naturally, is a difficult question, and it will be ultimately defined by its relations with its neighbors. But after what has happened, the situation has of course changed, and in this sense, Georgia is entering a new era. Georgia, it seems to me, should draw certain conclusions from what has happened: it is a serious lesson of how it is necessary to build relations with your next-door neighbors and with the peoples who once were a part of Georgia."
Gunfire lasting approximately half an hour was heard in villages in the lower part of the Gali district.
As it was later determined, the fire came from representatives of the Abkhazian armed forces. They were drunk, celebrating the signing of a decree recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
Currently, no gun shots are being heard, but in spite of this, residents are choosing to leave the area.
Interpressnews [Georgian news agency]
Georgia planned to attack Abkhazia if its campaign in Tskhinvali succeeded. The statement was made today, August 26, at a Moscow press conference by Anatoly Nogovitsyn, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, reports an IA Regnum correspondent.
According to Nogovitsyn, valuable maps, which evidently demonstrate preparations to take Abkhazia by force, came into the possession of the Russian army. As the general told reporters, the operation was intended to be carried out in one day. Following day one, according to Nogovitsyn's sources, the command of the Georgian forces planned to leave for the city of New Athos and then to occupy the capital of the republic, Sokhumi. Nogovitsyn drew attention to the detail that artillery bombardment should precede any ground invasion. The signal for commencement of operations, or 'H-hour,' would have been dawn, from which the operation took its name--'Morning Dawn,'" said Nogovitsyn. But, according to Nogovitsyn, the Georgian leadership did not go ahead with the forceful resolution of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict only because the blitzkrieg in South Ossetia failed. "Thanks to the courage of the Russian peacekeepers, the actions of South Ossetia's top brass, and the decision to introduce divisions of the 58th army into the conflict zone, we managed to prevent Georgian aggression against Abkhazia," said Anatoly Nogovitsyn.
Mikhail Gorbachev: Recognition of Abkhazian and South Ossetian independence -- "Saakashvili's fault"
Russia's recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is the consequence of the Georgian leadership's aggressive actions against the people of South Ossetia. The statement was made today, August 26, on TV news channel "Vesti" by ex-president of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev.
Gorbachev believes that Dmitry Medvedev's decision was made in light of the events of the past few weeks in Tskhinvali. "All of this is a result of those events, everything lies on the conscience of President Saakashvili, the Georgian leadership," said the ex-president of the USSR.
Earlier IA Regnum reported that on August 26, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. [Read Medvedev's speech here]
"By so acting, Tbilisi surrendered Georgia's claim to territorial integrity," stated Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov today, August 26. Lavrov believes that Russia had no choice but to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
"Georgia demonstrated its unwillingness to abide by agreements, but Russia did not give in to provocation and continued to search for a compromise," noted the head of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As "Vesti" reports, Lavrov reminded viewers that historical Ossetians, Abkhazians, and Georgians lived together in one body in the framework of another state--at first the Russian Empire, and then the Soviet Union. After the breakup, the autonomous republics had the right to determine their own status.
Russia is not frightened by the possibility of the beginning of a "cold war," but neither is she aspiring to it. The statement was made today, August 26, by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in an interview with Russia Today, commenting on the possible fallout from recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia. "Nothing frightens us, including the prospect of a cold war. But we don't want one, and in this situation, everything depends on the position of our partners," he noted.
In Medvedev's opinion, the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia was recognized in complete accordance with international law. "Each case of recognition is by nature a unique one. The particular situation of Kosovo, the particular situation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia," emphasized the president. "If the West wants to preserve good relations with Russia, they will understand the reason for our decision."
"Russia has completely fulfilled its 6-point obligations under the so-called 'Sarkozy-Medvedev' peace plan," the head of state reminded viewers. "Our armies have withdrawn from Georgia, except from the so-called safety strip."
[Read Medvedev's speech on recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia]
Residents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia greeted Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's announcement of the recognition of the independence of these republics with joy. The capitals of both countries have turned into improvised stages for mass gatherings. People are congratulating one another, many of them with tears in their eyes. Leaders have joined the people. The people are waiting for President Sergey Bagapsh.
A few minutes ago, the president of Russia signed a decree recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In Medvedev's words, "Saakashvili chose genocide as the solution to his own political problems." "Russia stepped in to stop the destruction of the Ossetian and Abkhaz people. Russia showed patience and equanimity. We repeatedly called for a return to the negotiations table," stated Medvedev, noting that these appeals were ignored both by NATO and the UN.
[Read Medvedev's speech in full]
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia amounts to the annexation of Georgian territory, stated the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, Giga Bokeria, reports Reuters. "This is the open annexation of territories which are part of Georgia," he said.
Russia officially recognizes independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, calls on others to follow example
The following is a complete transcript [translated by me] of the speech made by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who today, August 26, approved the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The transcript is taken from the President's official site.
"Dear citizens of Russia!
You, of course, know of the tragedy in South Ossetia. The night attack by the Georgian army on Tskhinvali left hundreds of our peaceful citizens dead. Russian peacekeepers died performing their duty of protecting women, children, and the elderly to the very end.
The Georgian leadership, in violation of the UN Charter, of its own obligations according to international agreements, senselessly unleashed a conflict whose victims became civilians. The same fate awaited Abkhazia. Obviously, Tbilisi was counting on a blitzkrieg which would present the international community with a fait accompli. The most inhumane way was chosen to achieve this goal--to annex South Ossetia through the destruction of an entire people.
This was not the first attempt. In 1991, President of Georgia Gamsakhurdia with the slogan "Georgia for Georgians"--just think about these words--ordered the storming of Sokhumi and Tskhinvali. Thousands killed, tens of thousands made refugees, villages leveled--that is what happened then. It was Russia who stepped in to stop the destruction of the Abkhazian and South Ossetian people. Our country became the intermediary and the peacekeeper, striving to reach a political solution. Accordingly, we began with the recognition of Georgia's territorial integrity.
The Georgian leadership chose a different path. The breakdown of talks, ignoring agreements once reached, political and military provocations, attacks on peacekeepers -- all of this contributed to the breakdown of the framework of operations established with the support of the UN and OSCE.
Russia showed patience and equanimity. We repeatedly called for a return to the negotiations table, and we did not abandon our position even after Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence. But our persistent requests to the Georgians to agree to the non-use of force against Abkhazia and South Ossetia went unanswered. Unfortunately, they were ignored by NATO and even the UN.
Now it is clear: a peaceful resolution to the conflict was never a part of Tbilisi's plan. The Georgian leadership methodically prepared for war, and the political and material support they received from their Western patrons only served to strengthen their sense of impunity.
On the evening of August 8, 2008, Tbilisi made its choice. Saakashvili chose genocide as the solution to his own political problems. In doing so, he eliminated all hope of peaceful co-existence of Ossetians, Abkhazians, and Georgians in one state. The people of South Ossetia and Abkhazia repeatedly expressed in referenda their support for the independence of their own republics. We understand that, after what has occurred in Tskhinvali and what was planned for Abkhazia, they have the right to determine their own destiny.
The Presidents of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, based on the results of referenda and at the request of their parliaments, appealed to Russia to recognize the sovereignty of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The Federation Council and the State Duma [of Russia] voted to support these appeals.
In view of this situation, it is necessary to make a decision. In consideration of the free will of the Ossetian and Abkhaz people, guided by the provisions of the UN Charter, by the 1970 Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations Between States, and the 1975 CSCE Helsinki Accords, and by other foundational international documents, I have signed a decree on behalf of the Russian Federation recognizing the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Russia calls on other states to follow her lead. It is not an easy decision, but it is the only way to protect the lives of people."
Monday, August 25, 2008
Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II has requested the leadership of Russia "not to ratify" the resolution passed by the Russian parliament "concerning the Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali regions."
In his statement, the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church particularly said : "For the welfare and future of the two countries, the Cathlicos-Patriarch of all Georgia requests the President and Prime Minister of Russia not to ratify the resolution passed by the Federation Council and State Duma, as it is lacking any legal or historical basis," reports ITAR-TASS.
In the next two days, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev could sign the resolution recognizing the independence and sovereignty of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Immediately after Russia, Iran, Belarus, Venezuela, Cuba, Syria, and a couple dozen other states will also recognize the republics.
On August 25, the State Duma of the Russian Federation, at an extraordinary plenary session, passed a resolution urging the President of Russia to recognize the independence of the Republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Several hours earlier, a similar resolution was passed by the Federation Council of the Russian Federation.