On the situation around South Ossetia and Abkhazia
1. Regions back Medvedev over Caucasus
President Medvedev says the country had no option but to intervene militarily after Georgian forces killed hundreds of civilians and some Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia. He made the statement at a meeting of the heads of Russia’s
regions in the Kremlin.
Medvedev told the State Council meeting that his government had acted responsibly.
"There isn’t a single country in the world that would tolerate its citizens and peacekeepers being killed. Russia was obliged to save these people”.
At the Moscow meeting, the government’s position was backed by regional leaders.
The Republic of Tatarstan’s President, Mentimir Shaimiyev, said recent events showed that ethnic conflicts cannot be solved by force.
“It has already led to the collapse of Yugoslavia, now Georgia. These issues cannot be neglected and put on hold”, Shaimiyev said.
The regions are also offering help to South Ossetia so it can recover. Some are drawing up agreements on cooperation with what they call the world’s youngest country.
At the beginning of Saturday’s meeting Medvedev made his position clear. He said ‘war’ was the only way to describe the crisis in South Ossetia.
The president went on to say that Moscow was prepared for criticism from some quarters in the West after it recognised the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
"There are those who are trying to exert political pressure on Russia. This is unacceptable. This pressure will bring no result. I want to make it clear that confrontation is not our choice. We are prepared for co-operative relations based
on international law," Medvedev said.
The newly-independent republics in the Caucasus are now hopeful they will get their long-awaited chance to present their cases internationally. Abkhazian President Sergey Bagapsh said his nation was no different to any other, saying Abkhazians
wanted ‘to build relations with rest of the world’.
"All these years that we're begging the EU, the Council of Europe, all possible committees, the UN Security Council to simply give us a word, to listen to us, just to let us have a chance to explain who these Abkhaz and Ossetian people
are. To explain we're not a bunch of weird people with beards and rifles. We're civilised people. We want to live in a civilized country and to build relations with the rest of the world," Bagapsh said.
Commenting on NATO’s massive support for Georgia – mainly by sending warships full of humanitarian aid to the Black Sea, Medvedev said it would be interesting to see what NATO’s reaction would be if Russia sent its warships to the Caribbean to help
the nations hit by the recent hurricane.
“We didn’t get a word of support from those who, in similar circumstances, were speaking lots about freedom of choice, national dignity and use of force to punish aggressors. Unfortunately these countries continue to arm the Georgian regime
under the flag of humanitarian aid,” he said.
Moscow says it is ready to step up security measures to defend the country's interests,
2. The conflict around South Ossetia suggests creating new international security architecture
Russia’s political quarters have been increasingly focused on the creation of new international security architecture. The discussion has been clearly prompted by the conflict around South Ossetia and the emergence of new forces and threats in
the world. The Voice of Russia has the details.
The conflict in the Caucasus is quite a reason for pondering on the change in the existing world order not only by Russian but alos Euroepan politicians, says the Russian political analyst Konstantin Simonov and elaborates.
The recent war in Georgia, Konstantin Simonov says, has proved both a major threat to and the testing of Russia, but has also largely challenged and put to test the Euroepan Union. The European Union has got a perfect opportunity for changing and
realizing in practical terms the problems of its foreign policy that have haunted it in recent years. Whether Yugoslavia, or the planned deployment of US ABM missiles in Europe, or relations with Russia has made it possible for the EU understand a
simple thing that in recent years the United States has done nothing good or positive to Europe. This also holds for the Iraq war, given that in Iraq the United States has broken all international law principles. What’s the point of holding the
United Nations if some country may attack another one and pretend that nothing is going on? This is perfect evidence that the US interests do not coincide with those of Europe. Currently the United States is heightening military tension around Iran
and is preparing some kind of operation. Does Europe really need all this, given that Iran is the only country that possesses the proven gas deposits that are comparable to those of Russia?
All this means that there is a great deal of difference between America’s interests and those of Europe. The Americans are ratcheting up tensions around Iran and are apparently preparing some operation there. The Europeans need none of this
because Iran is the only country whose natural gas reserves are comparable to Russia’s.
During the recent G8 summit in July, President Dmitry Medvedev called for measures that would add a global dimension to the system of global security by bringing in such new players as China and India. The recent events in the Caucasus and the
growing number of flare points in various parts of the globe mean that the existing system of global security is unable to effectively cope even with even one such conflict and that the world nations need a new system of relations. As responsible
political players, Russia and Europe need to play a key role in this process.
3. EU ready for friendly ties with Russia
The EU says it’s determined to maintain friendly relations with Russia despite the tension created by the conflict in South Ossetia. The statement was made at a meeting of European foreign ministers in the French city of Avignon. The union is
also calling on Russia and Georgia to abide by the EU-brokered ceasefire agreement.
The implementation of the deal is to be discussed during French President Nicolas Sarkozy's visit to Moscow on Monday.
The EU is looking to increase its role in stabilising the region following the recent conflict. Measures will range from sending observers to Georgia's border with South Ossetia, to launching an investigation into the reasons behind the
The ministers are also discussing sending humanitarian aid to Georgia and giving help to restore its economy.
On relations with Russia, the French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, said sanctions are not the way forward.
“Sanctions is not our word,” he said. “We must find understanding, we must find a way to solve the particular problems. Do you believe really that sanctions can help, and what kind of sanctions would be efficient? Diplomacy and politics
are not only made of sanctions.”
The meeting comes just four days after an emergency summit in Brussels, at which EU leaders denounced Russia's recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
4. International parliamentarians visit South Ossetia
Meanwhile, an international parliamentary delegation is already in South Ossetia. The main goal of the trip is to clarify the sequence of recent events in the region.
The group consists of members of parliament and public representatives from several European and CIS countries.
They will be joined by a delegation from Russia.
The officials will meet local residents, before heading to the neighbouring republic of North Ossetia, which hosted large numbers of refugees after the conflict.
5. Georgia used state-of-the-armed foreign-made weapons against South Ossetia
The press service of Russia’s Military Prosecutor’s Office quotes this country’s Military Prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky as saying that during its recent aggressive attack on South Ossetia Georgia used state-of-the-art foreign-made weapons.
Fridinsky has visited South Ossetia and Abkhazia recently.
According to him, Russian peacekeepers have seized, besides Soviet-made arms and military hardware, great numbers of hardware and small arms that have been manufactured in the United States, the Czech Republic, Ukraine and other countries,
including brand-new weapons that were made earlier this year.
6. ‘Worse than Stalingrad' – Tskhinval resident
Western journalists are professional, but when covering events in South Ossetia, they feel distrust. It’s connected with Russia’s Soviet past, which often becomes fear, says Elena Zelinskaya, a member of the public investigation commission on
war crimes in South Ossetia and the vice president of the All-Russian non-profit-making organisation Media Union (Mediasoyuz). She believes that the South Ossetian tragedy is challenging stereotypes. In this interview, the organization to which she
belongs asks her to explain her impressions after a visit to Tskhinval.
What is the current situation in Tskhinval?
Elena Zelinskaya: Certainly the situation is very hard. I won’t be original in this issue and won’t try to find some special words, but one can just imagine us, the people who have been living a peaceful Moscow life for a long time, in the
conditions of a total disaster. It is very grim.
When I returned from South Ossetia and was going from the Domodedovo airport to Moscow, I understood for the first time what the expression ‘the peaceful fields’ means, what a warm and heartfelt feeling it is to see peaceful fields, peaceful houses,
peaceful streets and cheerful, serene and well-dressed people in these streets. This is happiness and I have never felt it so acutely before.
Of course, when you find yourself in South Ossetia, especially when you just cross the border between South and North Ossetia and move to a practically destroyed city from the wonderful Russian city of Vladikavkaz, the contrast is depressing. And
the anxiety rises when you look at the residents of Tskhinval. These people are absolutely perplexed. To say they are upset is to say nothing. They feel lost, disoriented and depressed. Just imagine that these people had been living in uncertainty,
depression and with a floundering economy for 18 years. After the 1992 war there was no economic growth there. Now they need real help, and in the first place they need support.
Perhaps, the most important thing is not to let them feel abandoned. It is important to make them understand they are not alone while facing this disaster, which at the moment is bottomless to my mind. It is evident that they won’t be living
quietly, wealthily and happily in the near future. Now, when they have just passed through it, it’s clear they aren’t able to cope with it on their own. Though they are already organising themselves, making plans, forming a government – they are
very energetic. But it is necessary to understand they need support.
Are there any positive development?
E.Z.: Yes, the city looks cleaner, it’s clear that construction is underway. We know that the schools opened on September 1. Children have got an opportunity to study. I always doubt when people say that children enjoy going to school – children
always have questionable feelings about that. But this is a case when they are glad to take textbooks because it is an element of normal life for them. I’ve seen children with fear in their eyes, who were running and playing near the kindergarten
number 22. Can you imagine a kid who sees his burnt, destroyed kindergarten covered with shell-holes which had become a target? Instead of the funny pictures painted on the walls he sees just a burnt carcass. And you just fancy how the kid
It is terrible that it all happened in a peaceful city. There was a German journalist in our group and he asked a local woman if it reminded her of the situation in Stalingrad during the WW2. She answered in her opinion it is worse than Stalingrad,
much worse. In Stalingrad there was a war between two armies, the German one and the Soviet one. And fortunately the Soviet army at that moment appeared to be stronger. And here in Tskhinval it has been just the execution of sleeping civilians. It
is only South Ossetia where we see such terrible things and not for the first time.
In what condition is the South Ossetian media at the moment?
E.Z.: As in any city, the media in Tskhinval were collected in two buildings – in the publishing house and the TV-radio centre. We visited the centre and talked to its director. It appeared that a Georgian tank was raking the centre with fire
point-blank. This tank has already been cut into pieces by our soldiers in the next street. It is a vivid picture - the tank of democratic Georgia firing point-blank at a media centre inside which were people. Everybody knows that the TV centre
works non-stop, and there are people inside 24/7. Now it is a burnt frame but the TV workers behaved very purposefully. One clipping room has already started work. Radio and TV are already broadcasting – rather poorly, as there are problems with
electricity and the internet, but there is a signal. Evidently, a media man can hardly be stopped even by tanks.
7. Help and contacts info in South Ossetia
Here in one place you can find all possible contacts to obtain information about relatives and others lost in the South Ossetian conflict. South Ossetia needs the help of all those ready to give it.
Russian Red Cross
Financial aid and all necessary clothes (only new) for South Ossetia victims are being collected at the Russian Red Cross central office.
Address: Moscow, Cheremushkinsky proezd, 5. Everyday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
For all bank details for charitable contributions call the hotline in Moscow on
8-800-100-01-25, (8-499) 126-75-71, 126-85-90 from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Bank details for charitable contributions towards the aid of the victims
Russian non-government organization Russian Red Cross
Legal Address: 117036 Moscow, Cheremushkinsky proezd, 5.
Fact address: 117036 Moscow, Cheremushkinsky proezd, 5
KB “LOKO-BANK” (JSK), Moscow
Members of the press can get information in RRC`s Press Dep. Tel. 8-499-126-84-01, 8-499-126-31-81, 8-499-126-75-71 or at RRC`s web-page - www.redcross.ru
The Head of Press Department – T. Klenitskaya
RF Federal Migration Service
RF FMS hotline, where victims' relatives can find out the location of forced migrants from South Ossetia - 8 (8672) 54-73-57
You can get detailed information about migrants from South Ossetia by calling the following hotlines:
Information on the hotlines is given to relatives only.
Bank details for charitable contributions for Georgia-South Ossetian conflict victims
Labour and Social Development Ministry
North Ossetia Republic. Alania
In North Caucasian Bank SB RF Stavropol
Sberbank has opened a welfare collection account for humanitarian assistance to South Ossetia refugees.
Charitable contributions are not subjected to commission
North Caucasian Bank SB RF JSK
North Ossetia Republic Labour and Social Development Ministry, Alania
Welfare collection in Russian Post offices. Everyone can make donations to the common account:
Ossetia R11, Alania
Republic Labour and Social Development Ministry !. R11 Alania
INN Bank 7707083893
North Caucasian Bank SB RF Stavropol
Moscow Government programme for the reconstruction of Tskhinval and aid of its citizens. Donation can be made to the special settlement account
According to: Voice of Russia State Broadcasting Radio Company, Russia Today TV Channel, RIA Novosti Information Agency