Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Medvedev: "A new era for Georgia"

Медведев: "Для Грузии наступают новые времена"

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."

Shots ring out for half hour near villages in lower part of Gali district

გალის რაიონის დაბალი ზონის სოფლებში დაახლოებით ნახევარი საათის განმავლობაში ინტენსიური სროლის ხმა ისმოდა

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]

Russian General Staff: Georgia planned to take Abkhazia via South Ossetia

Генштаб РФ: Грузия через Южную Осетию планировала захватить Абхазию

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"

Признание независимости Абхазии и Южной Осетии - "на совести президента Саакашвили": Михаил Горбачев

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]

Sergey Lavrov: "By so acting, Tbilisi surrendered its claim to territorial integrity"

"Действия Тбилиси поставили крест на территориальной целостности Грузии": Сергей Лавров

"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.

Dmitry Medvedev: Russia not afraid of cold war, but hopes for understanding from the West

Россия не боится холодной войны, но надеется на понимание Запада: Дмитрий Медведев

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]

Sokhumi and Tskhinvali celebrate new independence

Сухуми и Цхинвали празднуют выстраданную независимость

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]

Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia: "Russia annexed Abkhazia and South Ossetia"

"Россия аннексировала Абхазию и Южную Осетию": замглавы МИД Грузии

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

Россия официально признала независимость Абхазии и Южной Осетии и призвала страны мира последовать ее примеру

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."