Press-releases of the Embassy

August 10, 2008; 23.00

On the situation in South Ossetia (press review)

1. The President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev twice had telephone conversations with President of France Nicholas Sarkozy

(August 10, 200822:00 Sunday)

Mr Medvedev gave a detailed assessment during the conversation of the situation resulting from the wide-scale aggressive military operations launched by the Georgian leadership and the tragic events in South Ossetia.

The President stressed in particular that the Georgian forces barbaric acts have caused the deaths of more than 2,000 civilians, the majority of them Russian citizens, killed and injured Russian peacekeepers, led to more than 30,000 refugees fleeing the region and practically destroyed the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali.

The region faces a humanitarian catastrophe. On the political level, Georgias aggression has caused the collapse of efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict. Through its acts, the Georgian leadership has essentially caused irreparable damage to the integrity of its own state.

As leader of the country that currently holds the European Union presidency, Mr Sarkozy said that Europe sees its task as being to help bring about a ceasefire in the region as soon as possible and help normalise the situation.

Mr Medvedev said that achieving this would require the withdrawal of all Georgian forces from South Ossetia and the signature of a legally binding agreement between Georgian and South Ossetia committing both sides not to use force. The President also said that Georgia would have to undertake these steps without setting prior conditions.

Mr Medvedev and Mr Sarkozy agreed to continue holding constructive consultations and to stay in contact.

France currently holds the presidency of the European Union.

Mr Medvedev invited Mr Sarkozy to visit Moscow next week to discus the situation.

The speech of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev Beginning of Working Meeting with Chairman of the Russian Federation Prosecutor Generals Office Committee of Inquiry Alexander Bastrykin:

DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Georgia has subjected South Ossetia to very serious and cynical aggression. People have been killed, our citizens: residents of South Ossetia and peacekeepers.

There is no other name but that of genocide to describe the forms the Georgian forces action has taken, because these acts have become mass-scale in nature and have been directed against specific people, against the civilian population and against peacekeepers who were carrying out their duties to maintain peace. The information we are receiving attests to the fact that crimes of the most serious kind have been committed: people have been murdered, burnt, crushed by tanks, had their throats cut.

I believe that we must undertake every possible effort to collect documented evidence on these crimes in order put together the necessary basis for criminal prosecution of their perpetrators and get an international evaluation of what has taken place. At the same time, of course, the operation to enforce peace on Georgia will continue and the guilty will be punished.

I would like to hear from you about what is being done at the moment and what proposals you have on collecting and putting together the evidence regarding the crimes committed.

ALEXANDER BASTRYKIN: Dmitry Anatolyevich, our advance group from the inquiries department is already at work in South Ossetia. We have begun collecting evidence and documenting the indications of crimes committed by Georgian military forces. We are examining the bodies of the dead and questioning the refugees and the wounded. We have begun carrying out forensic examinations. We will be reinforcing this group from the Committee of Inquiry.

Today I am sending a large group of criminal investigations specialists to Vladikazkaz. This is a group of around 150 qualified personnel, who have already begun work taking statements from refugees from South Ossetia. The process of questioning the victims has already begun. Documentary evidence and video footage of the consequences of the criminal acts you spoke of has begun. We will do everything necessary to fully document the criminal acts committed by Georgian forces in accordance with the proper legal procedure and the laws in force, in order to establish, as you said, a complete and objective base of evidence that we will be able to use as the grounds for future criminal prosecution of the perpetrators in accordance with the law.

DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Once you have collected the necessary evidence and the first stage is completed, make a separate report on it to me.

ALEXANDER BASTRYKIN: I will fly tomorrow [to Vladikavkaz] with our head of department. The Emergency Situations Ministry has made a plane available for us and we will therefore be able to begin work straight away and in full tomorrow.

DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Good.

2. Lavrov tells Rice about Georgias numerous war crimes in S Ossetia.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday held a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The conversation was held on the initiative of the American side, Russian Foreign Ministry sources said.

Lavrov stated our principled assessments of the developments in South Ossetia.

He stressed that in the conditions of the persisting direct threat to the life of Russian citizens in South Ossetia, the Russian peacekeeping forces in accordance with the existing international agreements are continuing an operation to force the Georgian side to peace. The minister also pointed to the numerous war crimes of the Georgian troops against peaceful civilians of South Ossetia, which resulted in a major humanitarian catastrophe in the republic, according to the sources.

Lavrov stressed the necessity of the immediate withdrawal of the Georgian troops from South Ossetia to positions not violating the agreements between the sides, and of the signing by the conflict sides of a legally binding agreement on the non-use of force, the Russian Foreign Ministry officials stressed.

3. Tskhinvali has been totally cleared of Georgian troops

Tskhinvali has been totally cleared of Georgian troops that are being forced towards the administrative border of South Ossetia with Georgia, aide to the commander of the Joint Peacekeeping Force (JPKF) Vladimir Ivanov told Itar-Tass by telephone on Sunday.

4. American says U.S. and Georgia to answer for violence in South Ossetia

Joe Mestas, American citizen living in South Ossetia, who witnessed everything that happening in the region, talked to RT and blamed U.S. and Georgian leaders for the outbreak of violence.

I thought that since U.S. is supporting Georgia there would be some control over the situation in South Ossetia and that there would be a peaceful solution to the conflict. But what is happening there now its not just war, but war crimes. George Bush and [Georgian president] Mikhail Saakashvili should answer to the crimes that are being committed the killing of innocent people, running over by tanks of children and women, throwing grenades into cellars where people are hiding, Joe Mestas said.

The war is when military fight against military. But the Georgina army is killing innocent civilians. This is genocide, he added.

According to: Official web-sites of the President of the Russian Federation, of the Government of the Russian Federation, The Voice of Russia State Radio Broadcasting Company, Russia Today TV Channel, ITAR-TASS