Press-releases of the Embassy

August 11, 2008; 22.00

On the situation in South Ossetia (press review)

1. Putin says Russian offensive to persuade Georgia to embrace peace

Prime Minister Putin says the Russian offensive will continue as long as it takes to restore peace and persuade Georgia to return to normal relations with Russia.

Appearing before his Cabinet Monday, he accused the West of falsely portraying the Georgian aggressors as victims and said the American airlift of Georgian soldiers from Iraq adds a new and very ominous dimension to the South Ossetia conflict.

He also likened the Georgian leadership to Saddam Hussein. Indeed, the Georgian assault on Thursday night rubbled ten South Ossetian villages and included atrocities like burning people alive and squashing them with tanks.

PM Vladimir PUTIN in hospital in North Ossetia

2. Dmitry Medvedev had a telephone conversation with President of Finland Tarja Halonen

Mr Medvedev explained in detail to Mrs Halonen, head of state of the country that currently holds the presidency of the OSCE, the information he has on the situation in the South Ossetia and Russias assessment of the tragic crisis that has unfolded in the region following the barbaric and aggressive military operations initiated by the Georgian leadership against civilians and Russian peacekeepers.

Mr Medvedev gave concrete information on the thousands of victims and refugees, the majority of whom are Russian citizens.

He also informed the Finnish President about his contacts with other countries, including with France, which currently holds the European Union presidency. Mr Medvedev said he in favour of having OSCE representatives and an OSCE mission go to South Ossetia itself, where the Georgian aggression has created a humanitarian disaster.

Mrs Halonen said that she is deeply shocked by the large numbers of victims among South Ossetias civilian population, agreed on the need for an OSCE presence in the humanitarian disaster area and expressed her hopes for a speedy end to the military operations.

3. Dmitry Medvedev held a working meeting with Minister of Internal Affairs Rashid Nurgaliev

Mr Medvedev said the enforced detention of Russian citizens in Georgia is an unacceptable situation and in complete violation of international law.

The President also stressed that foreigners legally in Russia, including Georgian citizens, should not be subjected to any sort of discrimination and instructed the Ministry of Internal Affairs to keep this matter under its control.

Mr Nurgaliev informed the President that all necessary conditions are in place in the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania for providing humanitarian aid to South Ossetia.

Beginning of the meeting:

DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Rashid Gumarovich, I have received information, and you have probably also heard this, that the Georgian authorities are forcibly detaining Russian citizens on Georgian territory. This is, of course, in complete violation of international law. I do not know why they are doing this. Maybe they think they can use these people as a human shield. This is a completely unacceptable situation.

I also want to say - and I want you to take this under your personal control that all citizens of foreign states, who are legally in Russia, must not be subjected to any kind of discrimination and can remain in Russia in accordance with the agreements that our country has with the countries from which these people have come. Supervision of these matters is the Ministry of Internal Affairs responsibility and I ask you to ensure it is carried out.

RASHID NURGALIEV: Dmitry Anatolyevich, we issued just such instructions three days ago, when Georgia launched its aggression against South Ossetia. We immediately sent out precisely these instructions throughout the Southern Federal District, given that this is the part of the country where the biggest numbers of people from Georgia reside, and we also gave specific instructions to the Federal Migration Service to monitor these matters throughout the Russian Federation.

We understand that the people are not to blame for this aggression and we will therefore do everything we can to uphold the law and protect the rights and interests of citizens living in Russia or present on our territory.

We have ensured public order in the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania over these last three days. Registered crimes have dropped two-fold and there has been a four-fold drop in the number of serious crimes.

All the necessary conditions are now in place for providing humanitarian assistance to the Republic of South Ossetia. In particular, a column set out directly for Tskhinvali at 5 a.m. this morning, and an extra 37 KAMAZ vehicles have been made available for transporting humanitarian aid - food, medicines and medical equipment that will be used on the ground to help people.

DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Good, keep working, keep it under your control and report to me periodically on the public order situation in North Ossetia, in the North Caucasus in general and in the country overall, of course.

RASHID NURGALIEV: I will.

4. Dmitry Medvedev had a working meeting with Director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) Alexander Bortnikov.

In the run-up to launching their act of aggression, Georgian intelligence services were active in South Ossetian territory and in the adjoining Russian regions, Mr Bortnikov said at the meeting.

Mr Bortnikov announced the detention of nine Georgian intelligence agents, who were gathering intelligence on military sites and planning terrorist acts, including on Russian Federation territory.

Furthermore, the Federal Security Service has information that a group of 12 gunmen entered Dagestan from the territory of neighbouring countries.

Mr Bortnikov said that the current situation in the Southern Federal District is complicated but under control. All necessary measures are being taken to prevent terrorist activity on Russian territory.

Beginning of the meeting:

DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Alexander Vasilyevich, I would like to hear from you about the situation in the North Caucasus, about what is being done to ensure our citizens security and what sort of problems the terrorist threat currently poses, in particular in light of the aggression Georgia has unleashed on South Ossetia.

ALEXANDER BORTNIKOV: Dmitry Anatolyevich, I would describe the situation in the Southern Federal District in general and in the North Caucasus republics in particular as complicated but under control.

Over the spring and summer period, that is from May to August, we have neutralised the activities of around 50 bandits and leaders of underground groups, and we have also liquidated around 180 caches of weapons and bandits bases. We have seized more than 150 kilograms of explosives.

A special operation was carried out in Dagestan together with the Ministry of Internal Affairs that resulted in the liquidation of an explosives production workshop and two underground workshops redesigning and producing firearms that were then to have been delivered to bandit groups.

We have received information that a group of gunmen, foreign mercenaries, have entered Dagestan from neighbouring countries. We are working on this group together with our partners from the CIS countries.

According to our information, in the run-up to launching their act of aggression, Georgian intelligence services were active in South Ossetian territory and in the adjoining Russian regions.

We have detained nine Georgian intelligence agents, who were gathering intelligence on military sites and planning terrorist acts, including on Russian Federation territory. They are giving evidence and work is underway within the framework of criminal cases. A Georgian intelligence officer who was illegally in the Russian Federation and was running this agent network has also been detained and we are working with him now, taking procedural steps.

Given the situation in the North Caucasus, I have issued instructions to reinforce the Federal Security Services work in the Southern Federal District and the Border Guards Service.

Similar instructions have also been given to the National Counterterrorist Committee and the Federal Operations Headquarters.

We have the situation under control and are taking all necessary measures to prevent possible terrorist acts in the Southern Federal District and in Russia in general.

DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Keep these matters under your personal control and report to me.

ALEXANDER BORTNIKOV: I will.

5. Dmitry Medvedev had a meeting with Minister of Defence Anatoly Serdyukov.

The operations to oblige Georgia to restore peace to South Ossetia are to a large extent complete, Mr Medvedev declared at the start of the meeting. Tskhinvali is now under the control of a reinforced Russian peacekeeping contingent.

Russian peacekeepers will continue to do everything within their power to protect the lives and dignity of Russian Federation citizens, the President said.

Mr Medvedev and Mr Serdyukov discussed the next stages of work and also the proposals made at a General Staff meeting that took place earlier in the day.

Beginning of Working Meeting with Minister of Defence Anatoly Serdyukov:

We have completed a large part of the operations to oblige Georgia, the Georgian authorities, to restore peace to South Ossetia.

A Russian peacekeeping contingent has successfully taken Tskhinvali under its control. We, the Russian peacekeepers that is, will continue to do everything possible to protect the lives and dignity of Russian citizens.

We just heard the report at General Staff about the situation that is unfolding. I would like now to discuss with you the next steps to take and go over the proposals that were made. Please, begin your report.

6. Dmitry Medvedev held a meeting at the Armed Forces General Staff's Central Command Centre.

General Nikolai Makarov, the chief of Armed Forces General Staff, reported to the President and Commander in Chief the General Staff operations groups summarised information on the situation in South Ossetia.

Also taking part in the meeting were Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, the chief commanders of the different branches of the armed forces and the heads of Defence Ministry chief directorates and services.

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