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.
South Ossetia has never violated the territorial integrity of Georgia, stated South Ossetian Minister of Foreign Affairs Murat Jioev at an international press conference in the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali. As an IA Regnum correspondent reports, Jioev noted that in its struggle for independence, South Ossetia has always adhered to international standards.
"In the breakup of the Soviet Union, many new states were created, including the Republic of South Ossetia, and it is not any fault of South Ossetia that this was the case. From the very beginning, we have put the facts before us and have had to find political and legal substantiations of our independence. I assure you that during all these years, we have never once done anything in violation of international law. However, Georgia has only responded to our legal actions with aggression and infringements on our rights," noted the minister. He also reminded reporters that in 1990 Georgian authorities repealed all legislation which had been passed during the Soviet Union, "that is, they abolished the entire legislative record by which South Ossetia had been included in the Georgian SSR." Jioev noted that on February 19, 1992 a referendum was held in which 99% of voters favored the independence of South Ossetia and that on May 19, 1992 South Ossetia declared its independence. "Let me be clear: we have not violated the territorial integrity of the Georgian State, as Georgia itself repealed all legislation by which South Ossetia was included in the Georgian SSR. And during the period of the independent Georgian state between 1918-1922, South Ossetia was not part of Georgia," asserted the minister.
The Georgian army is concentrating forces near the Kodori Gorge. The statement was made by Deputy Minister of Defense of Abkhazia Anatoliy Zaitsev. According to him, there eight thousand men have already gathered.
More precisely, there are two groups, consisting of six and two thousand persons. Zaitsev noted that Abkhazia was prepared to face any possible aggression. At the same time he said that the armed forces would not be reinforced in accordance with the ceasefire. Zaitsev believes that this most recent activity is a result of Georgia's desire to seek revenge. "Georgia has unequivocally declared that it will not accept defeat and will do all it can to regain its lost positions," he emphasized. Anatoliy Zaitsev did not give the date of a possibly military strike, repeating that Abkhazia was fully prepared to fend them off.
The Georgian leadership does not appreciate the importance of the issue of the recognition of independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by Russia with due seriousness, stated "New Rights" party leader David Gamkrelidze at a press conference. In Gamkrelidze's words, concrete steps which Georgia has not yet taken are necessary. Diplomatic ties should be severed with Russia and all other countries recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia; the peace-keeping mandate of the Russian army should be abolished; and the divisions of the Russian army which remain in the republic should be given the status of occupiers.
The leader of "New Rights" believes that Georgia should also press the UN to evaluate Russia's actions harshly and levy sanctions against Moscow. "Members of the G8 should revoke Russia's membership. The US should pressure Moscow, including by putting visa restrictions on its citizens. The EU should consider excluding Russia."
He noted that if Tbilisi fails to achieve these objectives, then any attempt to defend the territorial integrity of the country by diplomatic measures will fail. Gamkrelidze also noted that the Georgian leadership was forcibly returning refugees to Gori, without providing any security guarantees. "Those who wish to return to Gori shall, but the rest should stay where they are," noted the leader of "New Rights."
Some residents of Gori, afraid of being forcibly returned to the city, have fled to Armenia, and are seeking the services of accredited embassies in Yerevan to find refuge in a third state.
An atmosphere of jubilation reigns in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The citizens of these republics are celebrating the recognition of independence won by blood. On August 25, the Council of the Federation and the State Duma of Russia recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
The proceedings of the Russian State Duma were broadcast live over loudspeakers in the theater square in Tskhinvali. As an IA Regnum correspondent reports, it is strange to see the celebrations against a backdrop of ruins. The residents of the republic gathered on what remained of the square after the Georgian invasion and drove through the streets of Tskhinvali waving South Ossetian flags.
In the capital of Abkhazia, people are congratulating one another. Music and high spirits can be found everywhere.
Russian president could sign recognition of independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in next two days
In the next two days, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev could sign a decree recognizing the independence and sovereignty of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, reports an IA Regnum source in the Caucasus. According to this source, immediately after Russia's recognition, Iran, Belarus, Venezuela, Cuba, Syria, and a couple dozen other states will also recognize the republics.
It is worth noting that as of today, Kosovo, which unilaterally proclaimed its own independence from Serbia, has been recognized by only 43 states.
Earlier today, the Russian State Duma, during an extraordinary plenary session, supported an appeal to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to recognize the independence of the republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The resolution passed unanimously. Russian MPs have called on legislators of UN member states and international parliamentary organizations to support the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as autonomous, sovereign, and independent states, adding that the recent armed aggression by Georgia against South Ossetia makes it necessary.
A few hours earlier, a similar appeal was made to the Russian president by the Council of the Federation.
According to the South Ossetian Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Georgian armed forces are concentrated near the Leningori region of South Ossetia. Fire from a Georgian special forces unit occasionally falls on Ossetian villages, but there have been no casualties. Nevertheless, fearing the saboteurs, many residents have left their homes for the forest.
South Ossetian law enforcement agencies have deployed additional forces to the region to prevent any sabotage.
The Russian military has new evidence that Georgia was preparing for aggressions against Abkhazia. The statement was made on August 25 at a Moscow press conference by Anatoliy Nogovitsyn, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, reports an IA Regnum correspondent.
According to Nogovitsyn, the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces has received solid evidence of Georgian plans to resolve the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict by force. "Currently, this information is being processed. At the briefing on August 26, a detailed plan of Georgian agression against Abkhazia will be revealed to journalists," said Nogovitsyn.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
The Parliament of Georgia today, August 23, during a special session extended the state of war in the country for another 15 days--until September 8, reports an IA Regnum correspondent. The general consensus among the MPs is that the state of war should be in effect until Russian forces pullback to their previous positions.
The state of war was put into effect in Georgia on August 9, originally intended to last 15 days (until August 24), as a result of fighting on its territory. The parliament says Russia's actions amount to "armed aggression" and "the occupation of territories." The MPs don't exclude the possibility that the state of war could be further extended, noting that it all depends on Russia's next steps.
Several strong explosions took place today, August 23, in Tskhinvali near camps set up by employees of the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations and the Central Republican Hospital. As ITAR-TASS reports, it is believed that a weapons warehouse or munitions depot blew up. According to the news agency, fire engines have departed for the scene of the incident.
Journalists are also stationed near the stockpiles of seized weapons where the explosions took place.
Settlements in two regions of South Ossetia came under Georgian fire today. The radio station "Echo of Moscow" was informed of the incident by Irina Gagloeva, head of the South Ossetian Press and Information Committee.
On August 10, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili gave a ceasefire order in the Georgian-Ossetian conflict zone.
Expert: Russia to do everything to ensure that independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia recognized by at least 50 countries
Head of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov has statemed that Russian recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia will depend on Georgia's next steps. Saakashvili was most recently warned not to cooperate with NATO; however, the Georgian leadership will most likely not change its politics. Ara Papyan, former Armenian Ambassador to Canada and director of the analytical center Modus Vivendi, stated the following in a conversation with an IA Regnum correspondent: "Russia will do everything so that the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is recognized by around 50 countries, at least as many as for Kosovo," he emphasized.
Papyan expressed the opinion that Armenia should hold a neutral position concerning the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, noting that the validity of the independence of Karabakh depends not only on the principle of a nation's right to self-determination, but also on the decision that was made by the League of Nations to demarcate the Armenian-Azerbaijan border along ethnic lines. The expert also emphasized that, in any case, the precedent of an independent Abkhazia and South Ossetia will help solve the Karabakh conflict.
The expert stated that the annexation of Karabakh, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia by either Azerbaijan or Georgia made them "captured territories" in violation of international law. He also noted that the Soviet states were never recogized individually by the international community and that the USSR itself wasn't recognized until 1924. Therefore, in the opinion of this political scientist, the annexation of Karabakh by Azerbaijan and Abkhazia and South Ossetia by Georgia is in violation of international law. He also emphasized that the internal borders of the republics after the formation of the USSR did not create separate states, but simply marked administrative boundaries and hence are not subject to international law.
Friday, August 22, 2008
The active participation of Western nations in modernizing the Georgian army was a powerful impetus for Tbilisi to unleash its aggression against South Ossetia. The view was expressed today at a Moscow press conference by Anatoliy Nogovitsyn, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, reports an IA Regnum correspondent.
He noted that during Mikhail Saakashvili's presidency, the process of re-equipping the national armed forces became a large scale affair. In two years--from 2006 through 2007--the Georgian army doubled in size, and the defense budget grew to $900 million. According to Nogovitsyn, despite existing international agreements banning the delivery of offensive arms to countries involved in conflicts, a number of Western governments have delivered such arms to Georgia. 40% of Georgia's military technology is classified as "offensive." Russia has repeatedly expressed concern over the rapid militarization and has tried to draw the attention of the international community to this. However, arms continued to be delivered to Georgia.
As the high-ranking official of the General Staff said, Western partners have often called on us to observe treaties concerning ordinary armed forces in Europe; however they believe that they themselves can ignore them. Nogovitsyn particularly emphasized that Georgia had prepared for a military campaign against South Ossetia. As proof, he displayed war maps, which had fallen into Russian hands. They show in detail the first stage of an armed conflict with South Ossetia. A simulation of the operation was carried out on April 24 of this year, during which Georgian commanders drew the movements of their divisions on the maps. According to Nogovitsyn, after what has taken place, Russia will not be asking the Georgian leadership where it can install peacekeeping posts, and where it cannot. "Saakashvili has broken the agreements, having given the order to begin aggressions, and now he doesn't have the moral right to dictate conditions," said the deputy chief of the General Staff.
US Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle believes that Russia was absolutely well founded in its decision to respond to Georgian attacks on Russian peacekeepers, which the US had tried to dissuade Georgia from doing "up until the last minute." His point of view contradicts Washington's, which from the very beginning characterized the conflict in South Ossetia as Russian military aggression against Georgia. "We see that the Russian army was well founded in its response to attacks on Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia. But now these forces have crossed onto Georgian soil, and the territorial integrity of Georgia is under threat. Now we are encouraging Russia to abide by the agreements of the ceasefire and withdraw its forces from Georgian territory," stated the diplomat in an interview with "Kommersant."
In Beyrle's opinion, there is a role for international peacekeepers in South Ossetia, but that this should occur at a later stage. "Now it is important for Russia to abide by the 6-point peace plan, which was signed by all parties of the conflict. The sooner Russian forces head for their pre-conflict positions, the sooner we can introduce international observers into the conflict zone, and thereby international peacekeepers, and then we can begin to settle the conflicts," added Beyrle.
The diplomat believes that the process of resolving the conflicts between Georgia and South Ossetia and Abkhazia "should begin with the recognition of the territorial integrity of Georgia within the limits of its international borders." At the same time, he added, "the principle of self-determination of nations should also be considered."
However, Beyrle believes that the conflicts in Georgia cannot be resolved according to the principles of Kosovo. "Our position is that Kosovo was a special case which cannot serve as a precedent," he emphasized. Concerning the December NATO summit where Georgia's request to recieve Membership Action Plan (MAP) status will be considered, the ambassador noted that the decision will rely heavily on how Russia respects its promises and how soon it withdraws its armies. "Georgia's performance will also play a role."
Beyrle is confident that the conflict in Georgia will not seriously affect economic ties between Russia and the US and will not harm Russia's prospects of joining the WTO.
According to the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev, all Russian military units, making way for an international peacekeeping contingent, will begin to withdraw from Georgian territory to South Ossetia on August 22 at 6 am.
The President of South Ossetia believes that, in the near future, all the appeals from his country will find sufficient support and consideration from the President, Council of the Federation, and State Duma of Russia. The statement was made by South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity at a session of parliament where an appeal was made to Russia and to world leaders to "recognize the independence of the Republic of South Ossetia."
He noted that he didn't want to sound too optimistic, but that he believes that "our appeals will be supported by the leaders of many countries in the future." "The recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia can only bring about peace in the Caucasus," he noted. The president thanked delegates of all parties, who, for the 18 years of the existence of the republic, had labored so that South Ossetia might one day be recognized by the international community as an independent state. "The current generation of our people, all defenders of the Fatherland, can be assured that their names have been written in gold in the history of Ossetia and that they will be remembered with pride by future generations," noted Eduard Kokoity.
The United Nations Mission to Abkhazia was warned on August 8 about possible military operations and it was encouraged to remove its observers from the upper part of the Kodori Gorge. According to an IA Regnum correspondent, the statement was made at a press conference in Sokhumi by deputy minister of defense Garri Kupalba.
He also stated that when the military-political conditions were changing, the observers were made aware of the situation, but they, in Kupalba's opinion, did not evaluate the events objectively. "New York was not objectively informed of the events on the ground," he noted.
Kupalba himself called the operation in Kodori unique. In his words, many military experts are already expressing interest in it, and this, he noted, is not because of the number of dead of wounded. Kulpaba emphasized that the armed forces of Abkhazia bombed Kodori, striking many military targets, while not harming the civilian population. According to Kulpaba, the civilian population was spared because a "gentleman's agreement" had been struck between the Svans and the Abkhazians. Kupalba called the fact that the fleeing Georgian army took their Soviet automatics but left their American ones behind "remarkable." "You can play war with them, but when it comes to the real thing, they aren't suitable," he emphasized, adding that American guns "fell and can no longer shoot." "No one abandoned their Kalashnikovs," he concluded.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
On August 25, 2008, Russia could recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, sources in the Caucasus say.
On August 21, the people of Abkhazia at a national rally appealed to Russia, the Federal Assembly and the State Duma, asking that the independence of their republic be recognized. Earlier, a similar request made by the President of Abkhazia was supported by the Abkhazian parliament.
On August 20, deputies of the South Ossetian parliament made their own appeal to the Russian leadership to recognize the independence of South Ossetia. Earlier, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stated that Russia supports a resolution to the Abkhazian and South Ossetian conflicts which will support the people of the unrecognized republics.
In the South Ossetian capital there are still problems with providing potable water. People can be seen lining up outside shops--the ones which are open--to buy mineral water, reports an IA Regnum correspondent on August 21. Meanwhile, residents are not able to obtain water because of the shortage. Most grocery stores are still closed and those few which are functioning offer a very poor assortment of goods and virtually all the shelves are bare. Pharmacies are experiencing a similar situation.
Efforts are underway in the city to restore power lines. Virtually all parts of the city have power now. The streets have been cleared and sanitation crews continue to clean the city.
Due to a scheduled performance by the Mariinsky Theater Symphonic Orchestra in front of the main government building, South Ossetian authorities have decided to lift the curfew, currently in effect from 21:00 to 08:00.
When it comes to the issue of recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has the last word. Vadim Mukhanov, senior researcher at the Foreign Ministry's Caucasus Research Center at the Moscow State Institute for International Relations, made the comment in an August 21st interview with an IA Regnum correspondent.
"The appeals from Abkhazian and South Ossetian leaders Sergey Bagapsh and Eduard Kokoity to the executive and legislative branches of the Russian government are perfectly understandable. It is already clear to everyone that the people of South Ossetia and Abkhazia cannot live in constant fear of Georgian aggression and bloody annexation to Georgia. The people of both unrecognized republics have long looked to Russia; their leaders have repeatedly asked Russian for recognition, even asking for these territories to be annexed to Russia," noted Mukhanov.
According to the expert, in the nineties, if such an issue ever made it to the Russian elite, it would never have been considered. "Now the situation has changed fundamentally. After the Georgian attacks on South Ossetian territory, Russia doesn't have a choice whether or not to support its own neighbors. It is very likely that in the near future there will be an active process of recognition at the State Duma and the Council of the Federation. However, of course, the last word belongs to Russian President Medvedev," said the political scientist.
In his opinioin, it would be premature to say that Russia, in the near future, will unequivocally recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent players in the world arena. "The recognition of a new state is a long process. Kosovo, for example, shows that it isn't a matter of one or two years. Accordingly, as I see it, the process will be greatly accelerated; however, it won't happen in a matter of weeks, as some people are saying today. I believe it will take much longer," concluded Vadim Mukhanov.
To Anatoliy Nogovitsyn, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, the position of the US when it comes to delivering humanitarian aid to victims of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict is just amazing. As an IA Regnum correspondent reports, Nogovitsyn noted that the US sent humanitarian aid only to Georgia, "even though it was agreed at a meeting with the US Ambassador to Russia that Washington was ready to consider the possibility of sending humanitarian aid to the people of South Ossetia." "They have suffered more. We regard the actions of the US as a continuation of political double standards," said Nogovitsyn.
On August 20th, US President George Bush stated that the US "would continue to support Georgia" and provide Georgia humanitarian aid. According to Bush, Georgia defended freedom in the world, and now it is time for the world to defend freedom in Georgia. The US army will continue to help bring humanitarian aid to victims, he said.
The national rally hasn't begun yet [published 12:19 Moscow], but Freedom Square in Sokhumi is already overflowing with people. They will ask Russia to recognize the independence of the republic. As an IA Regnum correspondent reports, people from all cities and regions of Abkhazia are gathering in the center of Sokhumi. Because of the huge crowds, traffic is at a standstill and it is difficult to get around.
Participants of the rally are holding Abkhazian, Ossetian, and Russian flags. They are also holding up signs reading "Abkhazians and Alans--brothers," "Russian peacekeepers are guarantors of security," "Sue Saakashvili," "The Agressor will be punished," "The Republic of Abkhazia is a sovereign and independent state."
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
The influx of new Russian occupying forces into Gori has stopped. "Interpressnews" was informed of the development by Shida Kartli's police chief Davit Tabutsadze.
According to Tabutsadze, the Russian army returned to Gori by armored vehicles just a short while ago. "There is no new influx. They are relocating to the center of the city. It's difficult to say just how many pieces of military equipment the Russians have brought in. We can only see a few armored vehicles in the entrance to the city," said Tabutsadze.
A unit of the Russian occupational army left Gori today--only to return in the evening.
Interpressnews [Georgian news agency]
The capital of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali, is gradually returning to normalcy. City municipal services are making every effort to clean and restore the city's infrastructure. A few social establishments and daily services have resumed function. Refugees are returning to their own homes; nevertheless, there are few people to be seen on the streets. Many have been forced to remain outside the republic as many of their homes were completely destroyed.
According to South Ossetian Minister of Health Nugzar Gabaraev, beginning August 21st, all clinics and pharmacies will be open. "The Republican hospital is already operating at partial capacity. Task groups from the Ministry of Health will visit different regions of the republic to deliver aid to local residents," noted the minister.
In Gori, the Russian occupational army has tightened its grip. Representatives of the government found it rather difficult to pass through villages near Gori today. As news channel "Rustavi-2" reports, not even Georgian Security Council Secretary Alexander "Kakha" Lomaia, who was trying to deliver aid to residents, could enter the nearby village of Karaleti.
"Three days ago we were in this village. Russia swore then before the international community that it would begin withdrawing the next day; however, as we can see, its grip has only tightened. Today, only one government vehicle managed to enter Karaleti," remarked Lomaia.
Just today, Russian soldiers detained a "Human Rights Watch" humanitarian mission near the entrance to Gori. American journalists were among them. On their way from Gori to Igoeti, a PACE delegation led by MP Matyas Eorsi was stopped and prevented from continuing on its way.
Interpressnews [Georgian news agency]
The 15-day state of emergency in Georgia, set to expire on August 22nd, could be extended.
As Shota Malashkhia, chairman of the Parliamentary Commission for Issues on Restoration of Territorial Integrity, stated, considering that Georgia is dealing with a "schizophrenic country," it is impossible to determine Russia's next step, and the decision [to extend the state of emergency] will be made the day it expires. As Malashkhia noted, "the Russians don't plan to withdraw their armies from Georgia, since they intend to stay in the country." "Even though the international community is telling them not to behave like this, they can't comprehend," stated Malashkhia. As a result of the military activities in Georgia on August 8th, a 15-day state of emergency was put into effect, and it will expire on August 22nd.
Investigative committee of Russia: All training sessions for Georgian servicemen conducted by US army officers
All training sessions for Georgian servicemen were conducted by officers of the US army. The statement was made on August 20th at a Moscow press conference by Dmitry Shalkov, chairman of the military department of the Investigations Committee of the Prosecutor General's Office, reports an IA Regnum correspondent.
The representative of the prosecutor's office revealed the findings from the interrogations of six Georgian servicemen, who confirmed that the Georgian attack on South Ossetia was not spontaneous but rather a carefully planned military operation.
Boris Salmaksov, deputy head of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Prosecutor's Office, stated that Russian investigators are familiar with seized Georgian maps, which contain a step-by-step plan for a military campaign in South Ossetia. According to the Prosecutor's Office, the testimonies of the detained Georgian soldiers are evidence that the operaton was planned in advance. Salmaksov quoted one soldier as saying "we were going to free our territory from Ossetians." Another Georgian soldier said that on August 7th, he was given orders to prepare a rocket artillery system to bombard Tskhinvali.
According to the interrogated prisoners, all training sessions for the Georgian army were conducted by officers of the US armed forces. Georgia also used photographs of the region taken by American satellites, stated representatives of the Investigative Committee of Russia.
On August 20th, the parliament of Abkhazia appealed to the leadership of Russia "with the request to recognize the independence of the republic." At an emergency session of parliament, the deputies approved President Sergey Bagapsh's appeal to the Russian leadership. As an IA Regnum correspondent reports, in the proposal, Bagapsh calls on Russia to recognize Abkhazia as a sovereign state and to sign a bilateral treaty of friendship and mutual aid.
On August 21st, a national conference will also take place in Sokhumi where an appeal to Russia to recognize the independence of the republic will also be made.
Minority MP of Georgia Paata Davitaia is not satisfied with the efforts of Parliament. According to Davitaia, as martial law is still in effect, it is still too early to discuss the topic, but as soon as the situation stabilizes, he will ask for the dissolution of the government.
Davitaia noted that the current situation clearly demonstrates the ineffectiveness of a divided government. According to him, when there was criticism, the parliament worked much more effectively for Georgia and more efficiently solved organizational problems. "Changes must take place in the government; it is necessary to replace some of the ministers," noted Davitaia, however, he refrained from naming them.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Russian army units are stationed at the entrance to the Sachkhere region, but at least for now, are not hurrying to enter the region. Zurab Tsertsadze, administrator of Sachkhere, told "Interpressnews" of the situation.
"Approximately 20 military vehicles positioned themselves at the entrance to the Sachkhere region at around 17:30. They haven't tried to make contact with us and haven't made any sort of announcement. They are remaining in their positions and no one has gone near them," said Zurab Tsertsadze.
According to Tsertsadze, residents of Sachkhere are again participating in a protest.
Russian forces tried to enter Sachkhere today at 12:00. Policemen and residents jointly sought to begin protests; however, after the half-hour talks, the Russian soldiers pulled back.
Interpressnews [Georgian news agency]
Members of the Russian occupational army have blown up the Osiauri reservist base situated in the Khashuri region. "Interpressnews" was informed of the incident by Shota Utiashvili, chief analyst of the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs. According to Utiashvili, the base's infrastructure was completely destroyed, though luckily, technical equipment had been removed from the base a while ago.
Interpressnews [Georgian news agency]
Georgia continues to increase its armed forces and is preparing harassing attacks against peacekeepers and civilians. The statement was made by Anatoliy Nogovitsyn, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, during a press conference in Moscow. The general also added that similar reports are "supported by concrete provocative actions by the Georgians."
As IA Regnum reported earlier, during a session of the anti-terrorism committee, head of the Federal Security Services of the Russian Federation Alexander Bortnikov reported that Russia is strengthening its state anti-terror defense organizations, in particular those situated in the southern part of the country, in connection with the recent reports of preparations by Georgian special forces to commit terrorist acts.
Anatoliy Nogovitsyn, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, confirmed reports that Israel participated in equipping the Georgians. The statement was made in a briefing to journalists.
According to Nogovitsyn, Israel provided Georgia with 8 types of drones, around 100 mine-clearing devices, and 500 sets of camouflage nets.
During a press conference in Moscow, Anatoliy Nogovitsyn, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, told journalists that the US Ambassador to Russia has agreed with the chronology of events in South Ossetia, according to the Russians. According to Nogovitsyn, the decision to introduce the Russian army into South Ossetia was made after the first killing of a peacekeeper by the Georgians.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Moscow does not consider Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili a party to negotiations. As stated in a press release from the Department of Information and the Press of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Moscow has more than once stated that there are no obstacles to negotiations with Georgia. "However, it should be clear to any person of sound mind that we do not consider Mikhail Saakashvili a party to negotiations," the release reads.
According to the release, "M. Saakashvili continues to make statements, in which he alternates between conjecturing and swearing, with rare mention of his readiness to resolve any of the issues with Moscow by 'civil dialogue.' It would be good to point out that on August 10th, when the ministers of foreign affairs of France and Finland, acting on behalf of the EU and OSCE, arrived in Tbilisi, M. Saakashvili along with the two ministers signed a commitment to abstain from hostile rhetoric. That this commitment hasn't been respected doesn't surprise us. However, it does raise questions about the worth of the signature of the Georgian leader, who hurls insults daily at the Russian Federation."
The Russian MFA noted that concrete negotiations for a prisoner exchange had been going on for the past few days. The exchange was to be made on August 18th, but at the last minute the Georgians put forward additional political conditions, and the exchange was broken off. "Tbilisi's attitude towards the humanitarian situation in particular demonstrates the real value of Saakashvili's statements concerning the necessity to 'find a framework for further mutual relations so that our countries don't drive each other away'," concludes the press release from the Department of Information and the Press of the Russian MFA.
Georgian military maps which have fallen into Russian hands indicate that Georgia had been preparing for aggressions against South Ossetia since 2006. As Anatoliy Nogovitsyn, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, stated at a Moscow press conference, two maps belonging to a commander of an infantry battalion have fallen into Russian hands, both in the Georgian language. Analysis of these maps shows that Georgia had long prepared for this operation in South Ossetia, reports an IA Regnum correspondent.
According to the Deputy Chief of the General Staff, the planned military operations of the Georgian army were drawn on the maps. One of the main objectives, as confirmed by the maps, was to form a blockade around the posts of Russian peacekeepers in the territory of South Ossetia; another aim was to completely isolate South Ossetia from Russia in order to block reinforcements from the peacekeeping contingent.
• Burjanadze: time will come for tough questions;
• Burjanadze: I have to play active political role;
• Opposition: no tome for internal strife now;
• Opposition: NATO must speed-up Georgia membership;
Opposition parties, as well as former parliamentary speaker, Nino Burjanadze, said on August 18 Russian troops’ withdrawal was now a priority, but the government would definitely face “tough questions” afterwards about what led to the conflict and why it all happened.
“I'm afraid it will not be very easy for the government to answer all the questions,” Nino Burjanadze said in an interview with Reuters. “It was impossible to imagine that Russian tanks would be 20-25 minutes drive from Tbilisi, that we would have so many refugees and displaced persons and so many casualties among civilians.”
“I am more than sure that right now I have to play a very active political role in the country,” Burjanadze added in what appears to be her strongest indication of having plans to make the political comeback soon.
Meanwhile, leaders of two opposition parties – Republican and New Rights – Davit Usupashvili and Davit Gamkrelidze, respectively, said at a joint news conference on August 18, that they would continue, what they called, “a moratorium” on conformation with the authorities. But, they said, questions would be asked and analysis would be made of what had happened as soon as the crisis recedes.
Other opposition politicians are also cautious from making any harsh remarks for now, at least for the Georgian media. But on August 15, the Financial Times carried quotes of Levan Gachechiladze, co-leader of opposition coalition and Kakha Kukava, leader of the Conservative Party, warning the authorities about the anticipated protest rallies.
Gachechiladze was quoted by FT.com as saying that the opposition would campaign for elections to be held “at the earliest opportunity”, perhaps within two months. And Kukava was quoted as saying: “Saakashvili was personally responsible for the military operation, and for starting a war we could not win.” He also added the opposition would wait until the situation had cooled and then call for mass demonstrations aimed at removing the government.
As soon as the quotes were carried in the Russian news wires, both of the politicians prompted to announce that their remarks were put out of the context.
“Today, when Russian tanks are rolling on the Georgian territory, on the most part of its territory, we need unity, firmness and our enemies should never see political tensions in the country,” Levan Gachechiladze said on August 15.
“Our position is that Russian tanks should leave Georgia and afterwards discussions will start over who is responsible for what has happened,” Kukava told Civil.Ge.
Meanwhile, in a joint statement the Republican and New Rights parties called on NATO on August 18 to speed up the process of Georgia’s integration into the alliance.
“We call on you, against the background of existing situation and based on the NATO Bucharest summit declaration, to take a decision on Georgia’s prompt integration into the alliance,” the statement reads. “It would be a clear message to everyone, who think to achieve their imperial aspirations through the military means and it also would be a message to all the freedom-loving nations that they are not alone. It would also be a chance for Georgia to finally get rid of armed conflicts and to continue peaceful march towards the democracy.”