Press-releases of the Embassy

August 15, 2008

On the situation in South Ossetia (press review)

1. Russian troops must stay on alert in conflict zone – Medvedev

President Medvedev has called on Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia to remain there as a deterrent to possible attacks by Georgia. At a meeting with army officers who were involved in the fighting, he said that the current goal is to maintain the ceasefire and ensure the withdrawal of Georgian troops.

Medvedev said that the situation in South Ossetia continues to be very difficult.

"In such conditions we have to keep our peacekeeping contingent in constant readiness. This will be a clear constraining factor for the Georgian side and a necessary condition for overcoming the future humanitarian catastrophe”.  Medvedev also thanked the officers for high-quality and effective work during the operation in the region.

“The protection of the Russian people is the direct duty of the state,”   he said. “The peacekeeping forces were acting precisely and in accordance with the goals we set. Some of the peacekeepers who were in the very heart of the action were killed”. President Medvedev once again expressed his condolences to the relatives of those who were killed and promised the government will support them in every way possible.

“You took part in a noble operation, saving helpless people from a treacherous attack,” he said. /Russia Today TV Channel/

2. Destroying Russian peacekeepers was Georgia’s main aim, says Russia

The Russian Military has said that Georgia's main goal during the conflict in South Ossetia was the destruction of Russian peacekeepers. During a media conference on Thursday, Deputy General Staff Commander, Anatoly Nogovitsyn, showed photos of destroyed troop carriers to support his claim, indicating they were targeted first in order to immobilise the Russian forces.

“The attack against our peacekeepers was on such a large scale they simply weren’t equipped to defend themselves against such force,” he said.

He added that that it was essential that Russia maintains a peacekeeping force in South Ossetia, in case of a sudden resumption of the conflict.

On the subject of Ukraine’s attempts to restrict the movement of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, Nogovitsyn believes they were illegitimate, because it is under Moscow’s jurisdiction.

“As for our fleet I’d like to say that we had certain documented agreements which we were following, which were OK with the Ukrainians,” he said. “And now they say we have to change things and report to a different commander-in-chief. That’s nonsense.” /Russia Today TV Channel/

3. Medvedev: Russia supports any Abkhazian and S.Ossetian decision on the status of their republics

Russia supports any decision by the people of Abkhazia and South Ossetia on the status of their republics. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev stated this at a meeting with the leaders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Sergei Bagapsha and Eduard Kokoity in the Kremlin.

Russia will not only support these decisions under the UN Charter, international conventions of 1966 and Helsinki Final Act on Security and Cooperation in Europe but will also be their guarantor in the Caucasus and the world as a whole, emphasized Dmitri Medvedev. Presently, there is a need for restoring peace and creating a strong barrier to prevent possible aggressions in the future, said Dmitri Medvedev.

The leaders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia signed six principles for settling the conflict with Georgia. These principles were approved by the Presidents of Russia and Georgia Dmitri Medvedev and Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday. Dmitri Medvedev requested the leaders of the breakaway republics to convey condolence to all who suffered from the barbaric aggression by Georgia that killed almost 16 hundred people.

4. Lavrov describes Georgia as one of US special projects

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov describes Georgia as one of the United States’ special projects. In a interview with the VoR on Thursday, Lavrov said that Washington had been financing and training the Georgian armed forces but underestimated the trigger happy nature of President Mikhail Saakashvili. With the Georgian military adventure in South Ossetia having fallen flat the Americans just hate to see their proxy in such a bad shape and all the money pumped into his regime spent in vain.

“The Georgian territorial integrity is de facto limited, the Georgians hold no sway either in Abkhazia or South Ossetia and after all the crimes they committed in South Ossetia no one in these two republics will ever hear about Georgia’s territorial inviolability. As to Saakashvili, Russia no longer sees him as a negotiating partner, Sergei Lavrov said.

5. The Los Angeles Times blames Bush for South Ossetia bloodshed

One of America’s leading broadsheets says that President George W. Bush shares responsibility for the disastrous consequences of Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia.

The Los Angeles Times says the Georgian leaders were stupid enough to believe that the US would give them help in their adventure in South Ossetia. First of all, America is busy handling crises in Afghanistan and Iraq and secondly, the US cannot engage in conflict with the world’s second biggest nuclear power The newspaper puts part of the blame also on the Republican Democratic candidate John McCain who’s been actively lobbying Georgian interests in Washington.

The main blame however is on President Bush whose anti-Russian record includes support for the so-called “color revolutions” in the Russian backyard, condemnation of the so-called anti-democratic crackdowns in Russia while ignoring crimes committed by America’s friends, and also Washington’s support for Georgia’s bid to join NATO and its planned deployment of missile defense elements in Poland and the Czech Republic.

6. Saakashvili may be put on trial in Russia, say prosecutors

Russian investigators have launched a criminal case on charges of genocide in connection with the events in South Ossetia. Russia’s Interfax news agency reports that the Russian General Prosecutor's Office has said Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili may also be put on trial.

Igor Komissarov, deputy chairman of the Prosecutor’s Investigation Committee, said it had "initiated a genocide probe based on reports of actions committed by Georgian troops aimed at murdering Russian citizens, ethnic Ossetians, living in South Ossetia."

According to the latest figures, about 1,600 residents and 74 Russian peacekeepers have been killed as a result of Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia.

Speaking at a joint media briefing with French President Nicholas Sarkozy, President Medvedev said double standards are inadmissible when evaluating the actions of politicians who are guilty of mass killings of civilians. 

“The situation when one, who committed thousands of crimes, is characterised as a terrorist, and another as a president of a sovereign state, is very strange,” he said.

Meanwhile, Marina Gridneva, a spokesperson for the General Prosecutor's Office, told Interfax that Russian law allows for foreign citizens to be brought to trial if they have committed a crime against Russia’s interests.  

She said that evidence of murder, following the attack of Georgian troops in South Ossetia, may be used as a basis for future charges against Saakashvili.

Aleksandr Torshin, Vice Speaker of the Russian Federation Council, said that Saakashvili and his closest allies must answer for their actions in front of an international tribunal.

But he said he is worried by some assumptions in the west that Mikhail Saakashvili is “inadequate and may be mentally ill.”

“In such a case there will be no trial against him. He would get a certificate, a ward, and everything would be explained that he is nutty. I fear such a development of events, and I have an impression that this variant is being considered in the west,” Torshin said. /Russia Today TV Channel/

7. American author: ‘U.S. has been intervening’

While America's political elite has pledged full support to Georgia's President Mikhail Saakashvili over the conflict in South Ossetia, a top U.S. author is among those to take up a different stance.

‘Say No to War’ has been Justin Raimondo's slogan for over a decade - from the U.S. intervention in Bosnia to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now he has denounced U.S. support for Georgia.

“We've been intervening,” he said. “Who do you think is sending them all these arms and guns which they are using to invade South Ossetia? And of course, we just had a thousand U.S. troops in Georgia conducting joint military exercises with the Georgian army.”

An activist, former politician and writer, Justin is considered something of an academic celebrity in San Francisco. But he says he doesn't see himself as a star, but as a libertarian.

He values individual freedom and limited government intervention both at home and abroad.

Raimondo is an author of several books, but he is best-known for his controversial writings on the website Antiwar.com.

It is this latest article that has generated a buzz online. In it, Raimondo dissects the idea of Georgia as a bastion of democracy.

He said: “If Georgia is such a great democracy why is it that President Saakashvili had to send in the police to the streets to beat demonstrators after the last election? If Bush did that, there would be an outcry in this country. Saakashvili the great democrat does it, and he is hailed as a great democrat. This is absurd!”

Justin warns that this is not the right time for the U.S. to get involved in another war.

His statement comes after President Bush launched humanitarian relief for Georgia, using military aircraft and ships.

“All aid is humanitarian. But who knows what's on those planes. I would check that out, if I were you,”
he says. /Russia Today TV Channel/

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