Thursday, August 14, 2008

Svans worried by presence of Russian army

სვანეთის მოსახლეობა რეგიონში რუსული ჯარის ყოფნით შეშფოთებულია

Residents of Svaneti [region bordering Abkhazia] are worried by the presence of the Russian army and say that the Russians are once again refusing to withdraw their military forces and artillery. As "Interpressnews" reporters on the ground tell us, Russian artillery is still stationed 2 kilometers away from Khaishi in the direction of Mestia. Among the artillery there are approximately 30 "BMP" [rocket system] units and up to ten military vehicles. Residents suspect that these are representatives of the Russian army.

Interpressnews [A Georgian news agency]

Georgian articles beginning tomorrow

While the fighting in Georgia may have stopped for now, the information war continues.

My blog isn't intended to be "Pro-Russia," despite translations of almost solely Russian sources. In an attempt to balance the coverage and also to give readers an idea of what both Russians and Georgians themselves are being told, beginning tomorrow, I will translate Georgian articles as well. Since western media outlets are publicizing much of the Georgian news already, I'll try to focus on Georgian articles that don't make it or that go into more detail.


Georgia remains only party not to recognize peace in the region

Грузия остается единственной стороной, не признающей мир в регионе

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is setting off for Georgia with a number of offers directed at "strengthening the conditions of the ceasefire," stated French President Nicolas Sarkozy today, August 14. "If Saakashvili will sign these documents tomorrow, then the withdrawal of the Russian armies can begin," quoted Sarkozy.

Rice has directed new criticism at Russia, this time supposedly for violating the peace agreements, which were not signed by Saakashvili. Last night, Bush demanded that Russia fulfill its side of the agreement and allow American forces access to Georgian airports and sea ports in accordance with documents that Saakashvili hasn't signed. Moreover, the US is threatening Russia with sanctions and is requiring that Saakashvili sign only the 6-point peace plan which was modified at the request of the Georgian president.

Earlier on August 14th, South Ossetian and Abkhazian leaders, Eduard Kokoity and Sergey Bagapsh, signed the 6-point plan for resolving the conflict in Georgia. This took place in the presence of the Russian president. Dmitry Medvedev agreed on the points with Nicolas Sarkozy, current president of France and the EU, on August 12th. The points are: no use of force, cessation of all military activities, provide free and easy access for humanitarian aid, the return of Georgian forces to their places of permanent deployment, the return of Russian forces to pre-conflict positions. The 6th point--the beginning of an international discussion of the future status of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and ways to guarantee their security--was modified during negotiations.

Thus, for three days already (as long as the Russian army's peacekeeping operation itself lasted in the region), Russia has been trying to fulfill its obligations, which haven't even been recognized by Georgia.

IA Regnum

Russian MFA regrets US not recognizing real reason for the tragedy in South Ossetia

МИД РФ сожалеет, что США отказываются признать реальную причину трагедии в Южной Осетии

"Here in Moscow, we paid very close attention to US President Bush's statement made on August 13th at the White House on the situation in the South Caucasus. First of all, we would like to emphasize that we welcome his expression of support for the agreements which were drawn up with the participation of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. These agreements, the very first of which calls for a cessation of all military activities, have already been signed by South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Georgia has still not put its signature to them," said Andrei Nesterenko, an official representative of the Russian MFA, commenting on Bush's statement on South Ossetia.

"With regards to the president's comments declaring the US's intention to assist the victims of the conflict, this move, of course, is justified in light of the scale of provocation by the Georgians in contribution to this humanitarian tragedy, one which the international community should not remain indifferent to. Russia has already prepared a large scale operation for overcoming the consequences of this humanitarian catastrophe and will ensure that humanitarian aid is delivered to all who are in need. It's frustrating, however, a pity, that America still refuses to recognize the real reason for what has happened, which is that M. Saakashvili's regime, in violation of all international obligations, unleashed war against the South Ossetian people. Russia, who helped stop this war and compel the Georgian authorities to agree to peace, grieves for the victims of this conflict, honoring the memory of everyone who paid the terrible price for the criminal campaign of M. Saakashvili's regime. We can't forget that the responsibility for what has happened also lies with those who, for the sake of their own political goals, over the course of many years armed and trained the Georgian army and fostered a complex of permissiveness and impunity in Tbilisi." The above is from a statement released to IA Regnum by the Press Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"We recognize that the US in all of its efforts from the point of view of establishing peace in the region will demonstrate a responsible approach and real interest in overcoming the difficult humanitarian consequences of the Georgian agression against South Ossetia. It is especially important to abstain from any steps which would be interpreted directly or indirectly by the Georgian government as encouragement for its vengeful ambitions and which could bring about a second tragedy. And, of course, it is necessary to be sensible in assessing the real facts, instead of the duplicated illegible fabrications which come pouring out of Tbilisi. The tragedy in South Ossetia must not be repeated. We expect all of our partners to be responsible and genuine in their wishes not to allow new bloodshed in the South Caucasus. In this region where Russia has historically played a specal role, our purposes are clear and transparent. Using all resources that are available to us, we will succeed in maintaining peace, stability, and well-being for a long time in this region," stated Alexander Nesterenko.

IA Regnum

The last two days: Tskhinvali soldier's blog

Последние два дня

The latest post from rupor_naroda's blog. I can't guarantee that it is authentic, but most Russian readers agree it is.

"Yesterday I left Tskhinvali and arrived late in Vladikavkaz at 22:00. I was looking for a place to stay for a long time, all the hotels are crammed full with journalists and employees of the Ministry for Emergency Situations. By midnight I was able to find accomodation at the Hotel Pushkin. It cost 1200 rubles [~$50], even though it was in the basement of the hotel, and the level of comfort was definitely not worth this amount. On the way, I saw a camp for refugees, or more accurately, for forced migrants. Only this morning did the difference become clear to me. A migrant is a citizen of Russia, and a refugee is not. There are many people in the camps. I saw my mother and sister, they are staying with relatives of a friend of the family. This morning I flew out of Beslan. Now I'm in Moscow and am preparing for tomorrow!!!!!"

Shevardnadze: Saakashvili made a deadly mistake

Шеварднадзе: Саакашвили смертельно ошибся

The Georgian intervention in South Ossetia was a "deadly mistake." The opinion was expressed in an interview with the German newspaper Bild by Eduard Shevardnadze, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR and former President of Georgia. According to him, the military operation was extremely poorly planned. "Georgia should not have entered Tskhinvali in such an unprepared state. This was a deadly mistake," stated Shevardnadze, noting that now the situation is very complicated, strained, and as to how it will be solved--it's not clear.

Shevardnadze expressed hope that negotiations between Mikhail Saakashvili and his Western partners will lead to an end in the conflict in the region. Earlier, in an interview with the newspaper Affairs, Shevardnadze expressed his opinion that the West should not intervene in the conflict, but provide only "psychological support" to Georgia. As the former President of Georgia, Shevardnadze has personal experience with the first Georgian intrusion into Abkhazia and the subsequent unsuccessful outcome of the Georgian-Abkhazian war in the early 90s, and it would have ended his own life if the Russian command hadn't intervened.

In his interview with Bild, Shevardnadze described the expansion of PRO [missile shield] as a new nuclear arms race.


IA Regnum