Press-releases of the Embassy

August 23, 2008

On the situation in South Ossetia (press review)

1. Georgia may be planning another attack on one of its two breakaway republics

Georgia is intent on achieving territorial integrity at any cost, and may be planning another attack on one of its two breakaway republics, said Russia's Deputy Chief of General Staff Anatoly Nogovitsyn.

"The potential of the Georgian armed forces is being restored only for a new aggression. In its desire to resolve the territorial problem at any cost, it has in fact declared preparations for the third conflict, as they [the Georgian leadership] apparently find the previous two not enough," he added.

The local population say they fear that Georgia might repeat its aggression in the region. They also say they hope Russian troops will stay in the area to shield them from any possible attacks.

The withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia has been completed in line with the plan aimed at settling the conflict in South Ossetia, according to military officials.

The pact, worked out by the Russian and French presidents, allows peacekeepers to provide additional security measures in the conflict zone.

Asked about the legality of Russia's peacekeeping presence in the buffer areas at a news conference on Saturday, Russia's Deputy Chief of General Staff Anatoly Nogovitsyn quoted a statement by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

"These additional measures to provide security would mean patrols by Russian peacekeeping forces in the areas specified by the existing agreements along with the withdrawal of the Russian forces to their positions as they were on August 7, before the start of the war," he quoted Sarkozy as saying.

Nogovitsyn said this confirms the legitimacy of Russia's patrols of the buffer areas.

According to the Deputy Chief of General Staff, Russia has set up 18 peacekeeping posts in security zones in South Ossetia and would build as many in Abkhazia "in order to deter looters and the transportation of arms and ammunition."

Russian troops to patrol Georgian port

A Russian peacekeeping contingent will control the Georgian port of Poti in line with the six-principle agreement, said Nogovitsyn.

"These patrols were envisaged in the international agreement," he said. Poti is outside the security zone, but that does not mean we will sit behind a fence watching them riding around in Hummers," he added.

2. Russian security source says Georgia planned attack year ahead

Georgia planned the military operation against its breakaway republic of South Ossetia a year in advance, a source in one of Russia's security bodies said Saturday.

The source also told RIA Novosti that the operation was coordinated with NATO's plans to strengthen its naval presence in the Black Sea.

"The statements of some NATO representatives that the maneuvers of the alliance's ships in the Black Sea were planned a year ago are evidence that attacks on South Ossetia and Abkhazia were planned earlier, maybe even last year," the source said.

A NATO representative earlier said that the three-week deployment - which includes stops at Romanian and Bulgarian ports - was planned at least a year ago, well before the conflict in Georgia.

Already under strain due to NATO's courting of Ukraine and Georgia, and over U.S. missile defense plans in Eastern Europe, relations between the alliance and Russia have frayed badly since Georgia's attack on South Ossetia and Russia's subsequent military operation.

In the opinion of the source, NATO's buildup of naval force in the Black Sea under the cover of providing humanitarian aid to Georgia, sets a dangerous precedent and may sharply destabilize the situation in the region.

Speaking Friday at RIA Novosti news conference, the deputy chief of the Russian military's general staff expressed doubts whether it is necessary to have NATO vessels in the Black Sea delivering humanitarian aid to Georgia.

"Now that the conflict [with South Ossetia] is exhausted, there are NATO vessels [in the Black Sea]. What for and with what aim?" Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn said.

He also said Russia would reply swiftly to all provocations against its Black Sea Fleet.

3. The chief human rights officer of the Council of Europe backs Russian initiatives to investigate Georgian war crimes against South Ossetia

The chief human rights officer of the Council of Europe backs Russian initiatives to investigate Georgian war crimes against South Ossetia.

Mr Thomas Hammerberg has told this to reporters in Vladikavkaz after visiting a hospital which treats civilian casualties from the latest Caucasus conflict. He is traveling together with the Russian human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin.

4. Georgian diaspora condemns Saakashvili

Mikhail Saakashvili has made members of the Georgian community in Moscow say they're ashamed of their president, but they hope that the friendship between Russian and Georgian people will not be irreparably damaged.

Vladimir Khomeriki, Head of Russia and Georgia Unity Fund said:

Tense relations will be a temporary phenomenon. Our people have been close for centuries and this gives me hope that our relations will be restored and the pain will be forgotten when the existing regime is gone.

According to: Russia Today TV Channel; The Voice of Russia; RIA Novosti