Press-releases of the Embassy

August 11, 2008; 20.00

On the situation in South Ossetia (press review)

1. Dmitry Medvedev met with the leaders of parliamentary factions in the State Duma

Mr Medvedev called on the deputies to help explain Russias position on the conflict in South Ossetia to the international organisations and foreign parliamentarians.

The President also called on public organisations and political parties to take part in providing aid to the people of South Ossetia.

Russias position with regard to the Georgian leadership, which unleashed this aggression, is that of enforcing peace in accordance with the United Nations Charter, Mr Medvedev said. The President said that the operation to oblige Georgia to restore peace to South Ossetia is effective and is the only possible option, and that Russia will see it through to its completion.

Taking part in the meeting were Boris Gryzlov, chairman of the Higher Council of United Russia, leader of the United Russia faction in the State Duma and speaker of the State Duma, Sergei Mironov, chairman of A Fair Russia, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia and deputy speaker of the State Duma, Ivan Melnikov, first deputy chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Russia, and First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Vladislav Surkov.

Beginning of the meeting:

DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Colleagues,

Todays meeting with the leaders of the parliamentary factions is taking place in extraordinary circumstances and is extremely important for us all.

On the night of August 7-8, Georgia committed an act of military aggression directed primarily against the people of South Ossetia and the Russian peacekeeping brigade deployed in this region.

Georgia used heavy artillery, tanks, aviation and the regular army to literally wipe Tskhinvali, its homes, hospitals and schools, from the face of the Earth. Several thousand people have become victims of the ensuing humanitarian disaster, and a large number of them are our fellow citizens.

In just a few hours all of the agreements that existed at that point were made null and void, not to mention that all the basic principles of international law have been violated: the wounded have had no chance to get treatment and refugees have not had the possibility of evacuation. This is the tragic result of the unspeakable aggressive act that Georgia, the Georgian authorities, has committed.

Right from the outset I want to thank all the parliamentary parties for taking a responsible approach and standing firm and united in support of the decisions the Russian leadership has taken in these difficult circumstances. I hope that you will be just as swift to help explain this position in the international organisations and defend it in your contacts with voters, with your supporters and with the foreign counterparts with whom you have ongoing contact.

I am also grateful to all the public and religious organisations and the youth organisations that have firmly condemned these acts of aggression and called for their immediate end. All the peoples of the multiethnic Caucasus region are watching developments with great concern. I call on you, given the possibilities you and your parties have, to be attentive to the need to maintain interethnic peace and tolerance in our society.

As I have said, my duty as President right from the outset was to protect our fellow citizens and not let the crimes committed against civilians and peacekeepers go unpunished. Russia wants to end this barbarity against the Ossetian people and against our citizens as soon as possible.

Our common task now is to deal with the humanitarian disaster that has taken place.

Victims of the unspeakable aggressive act that Georgia, the Georgian authorities, has committed... bodies of the dead in the city's hospital

I have already given instructions to the Government and the Government started taking steps to implement them straight away at todays meeting. It is taking all necessary measures to normalise the situation. Personnel from the Emergency Situations Ministry, the Federal Migration Service, the Health Ministry and other state agencies are all involved in this work and all the required resources will be made available.

The Emergency Situations Ministry has already set up a field hospital near the border with South Ossetia. Medicines and first aid supplies have been sent to the region. More than 120 tons of civilian supplies have been delivered over these last few days.

At its meeting today, the Government Presidium decided to allocate 500 million roubles for priority aid to house refugees and give the wounded medical treatment. Ten billion roubles will be allocated for the first stage of reconstruction work in Tskhinvali and villages in South Ossetia. This money will be used to rebuild housing, the electricity supply, water treatment systems and the social infrastructure.

I would like to inform you separately that I have already decided to increase pay for the soldiers and officers taking part in the peacekeeping operations, for everyone currently in South Ossetia. The Government will draw up the corresponding resolutions.

More than 35,000 refugees have crossed the border over this latest period. The regions of the Southern Federal District are taking them in, of course, providing them with help and giving them accommodation in childrens holiday camps, schools and places of temporary shelter.I know that the whole country is collecting clothing, tents and food to send. It is important that public organisations, especially the political parties that have great influence and an extensive organisational network, join in this kind of humanitarian work.

I repeat now what I said several days ago, namely that Russia has historically always been the guarantor of the security of the peoples of the Caucasus. This is our mission and our duty. We have never been just passive observers in this region and never will be.

I have said that our tactic with regard to the Georgian leadership, which unleashed this aggression, is that of enforcing peace in accordance with the United Nations Charter. We consider this tactic absolutely effective and the only possible option. I remind you that history has seen numerous examples of attempts to appease aggressors. This was something the Western countries tried 70 years ago, and we know what tragedy this ended in. I am thinking above all of the lessons of the 1938 Munich Agreement.

We are doing everything within our power. Russia will not leave its fellow citizens in misfortune and will strive to normalise the situation.

2. Russia: Security Council resolution to immediately cease fire in South Ossetia to be inappropriate

Russia believes a Security Council resolution to immediately cease fire in South Ossetia would be inappropriate and counterproductive. It insists Georgia must pull back the invading troops and, together with all other sides, sign up to non-violence first.

The Russian United Nations Ambassador Vitali Churkin told this to the press after the Council discussed the current situation in South Ossetia at a session in New York on Sunday afternoon. He said no draft resolution had emerged. He also warned Russia would not back a resolution that doesnt take its interests into account.

3. Violence continues despite ceasefire reports

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has told CNN that Tbilisi has proclaimed a ceasefire and is willing to sign a document on the non-use of force in the conflict zone. He claims Georgian forces have completely withdrawn from South Ossetia. However people who are managing to escape the hot spot, say Georgian troops are still in South Ossetia and fighting continues.

There are reports there has been a new outbreak of artillery shelling in Tskhinvali during the night, though the South Ossetian capital is now fully under the control of South Ossetian forces and the Russian 58th army, according to the breakaway republic's president Eduard Kokoity.

All strategic heights around the city are also being taken under control so that not to allow another shelling of Tskhinvali, Kokoity said.

A constant tide of wounded people from Tskhinvali to Russia's republic of North Ossetia keeps flowing.

Hospitals in the city of Vladikavkaz are overcrowded, and surgical operations are said to be non-stop.

Humanitarian aid from Russia is struggling to reach those in need who are without water, food, medicine and electricity.

4. Witnesses say Georgian forces used cluster bombs and burned down a church where Ossetian civilians were sheltering.

There is a village called Tsunary. There used to be a church there. The locals used it as a shelter hoping they wouldn't be attacked in a church. It was burned to the ground with the people inside. And they call themselves a Great Georgian Orthodox Christian nation! witnesses told Russian radio station Vesti-FM.

5. Talks possible only after Georgians pull out - Russia

Another UN Security Council session on the situation in South Ossetia has wrapped up in New York. Russia says it's not refusing to start talks with Georgia but believes negotiations can only be possible when Georgia pulls out its troops from South Ossetia and commits itself to a non-use of force agreement.

Georgia has called for humanitarian and diplomatic intervention from the UN Security Council members to stop aggression coming from Russia.

Russian ground troops armed invasion has already transformed into a full-scale occupation of parts of Georgian territory. The process of extermination of Georgian population and annihilation of Georgias statehood is in full swing,said Irakly Alasania, Georgian ambassador to UN. Georgia and the U.S. have also said that what Russia is looking for is a regime change.

But Russia has reiterated that a regime change is actually American terminology.

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

A wounded man in a bed in the basement of a destroyed hospital in Tskhinvali (AFP Photo / Dmitry Kostyukov)

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, of the Ministry of the Foreign Affaires of the Russian Federation, ITAR-TASS News Agency, Russia Today TV Channel