Press-releases of the Embassy

August 24, 2008

On the situation in South Ossetia (press review)

1. Georgian troops and military hardware can be seen along the border of South Ossetia

Georgian troops and military hardware can be seen along the border with the Leningorsky district of South Ossetia, a source in Tskhinval reported.

Members of the Georgian armed groups are threatening the citizens of the region, head of the republican press-service, Irina Gagloyeva, said.

She added that Georgia had been firing shots at the villages of South Ossetia urging people to leave their homes. Many of the civilians spent the night in the forests.

2. S.Ossetia to ask Russia to set up extra posts on Georgia border

The Republic of South Ossetia is to ask Russia to set up extra observer posts on its de facto border with Georgia, the republic's acting prime minister, Boris Chochiev, said on Sunday.

"There are divisions of the Georgian army and police in villages in the border Leningorsk Region. We do not know the total amount of men there at present," he said.

He added that the republic's authorities would ask Russian peacekeepers to place extra observer posts specifically in this area.

The republic's defense minister also said that he was in possession of information indicating that Georgian forces were being boosted in the Leningorsk Region.

Georgia attacked South Ossetia on August 8 in an attempt to take back the separatist republic, which split from Georgia in the early 1990s. Most citizens of South Ossetia have Russian citizenship and Moscow subsequently launched an operation to force Georgia to peace. The operation was concluded on August 12.

The deputy chief of Russia's General Staff said at a news conference on Saturday that Russia had set up 18 peacekeeping posts in South Ossetia.

South Ossetia has appealed to Russia to recognize its sovereignty. Both chambers of Russia's parliament are expected to consider the appeal by the republic on Monday.

3. Georgian authorities prepare a large-scale provocation

Recently it was reported, that the Georgian authorities were preparing a large-scale provocation in the next few days, according to a Russian military intelligence official.

According to him Georgian military units want to use the remains of their troops left after hostilities for this purpose. The remains are being worked on in order to provide ostensible proof of victims among the peaceful population, humiliating treatment and brutality on the remains of the troops, the official said.

The Georgians also plan to send a group of marauders dressed in Russian military uniforms to the Georgian city of Gori not far from the South Ossetian border.

In an intervew with the Voice of Russia, the prominent political scientist Kosntantin Zatulin described all this as an attempt by the Georgian leaders to avoid responsibility for the atrocities committed against South Ossetian civilians.

We have enough material proof of the Georgian genocide of the South Ossetian people and their killing wounded Russian peacekeepers to launch a criminal case against the Georgian leadership,Zatulin said.

A representative of the Investigation Committee under the Russian Prosecutor Generals Office said in Moscow that if the Georgian authorities stage such a cynical provocation, they should fully understand the serious consequences of their action.

4. Russian peacekeepers to cooperate with OSCE observers in S.Ossetia

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Sunday that Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia were ready for cooperation with observers from the Organization for Co-Operation and Security in Europe.

Lavrov was speaking during a phone conversation with the German vice-chancellor and foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

A statement by the Kremlin press service earlier rejected reports that French President Nicolas Sarkozy had reached an agreement with Russian leaders that OCSE observers would replace Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia. The statement, which Lavrov later reiterated, spoke of instead the cooperation of the peacekeepers with the OCSE observers.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) decided on Tuesday to send 20 unarmed military observers to Georgia's buffer zone near the border with South Ossetia.

The OSCE currently has eight observers in the conflict zone, and plans to raise the number to 100 in mid-August.

5. Council of Europe rights official shocked by S.Ossetia destruction

The Council of Europe's commissioner for human rights called the destruction in Tskhinvali an insult to mankind during a visit to the devastated South Ossetian capital on Sunday.

Thomas Hammarberg told journalists that what had occurred in Tskhinvali during the attack on the breakaway republic by Georgian forces on August 8 should never be repeated.

Hammarberg is on a fact-finding mission to Georgia to look into claims of atrocities by both Georgian and Russian forces.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, earlier called damage in Tskhinvali "overwhelming."

Georgia attacked South Ossetia on August 8. Russia concluded its operation to force Georgia to peace on August 12.

6. Train blast in Georgia

A train has exploded near the Georgian military base at Skra, eight kilometres from the city of Gori. According to the Georgian Interior Ministry it had run over a mine. Meanwhile it is reported that Georgian side gathers its troops near South Ossetian border.

Flames and thick black smoke could be seen billowing into the air from the wreckage. Thirteen tank-wagons of the 34-wagon train are still on fire. There is no information on any casualties or the extent of the damage at the moment.

Meanwhile, the Georgian side has been gathering its troops and heavy military hardware near the border with South Ossetia.

Irina Gagloyeva, Head of the South Ossetia Committee for Information, said last night that Georgians had fired upon neighbouring villages forcing the local population to leave their houses.

"The area where Georgian troops are concentrated in is situated around 70 km from the capital Tskhinvali. It's a mountainous region where it's hard to operate and there are no Russian peacekeeping troops stationed there," Gagloyeva said.

7. Arms dump explosions rock South Ossetian capital

A series of strong explosions have shaken the area around the Emergencies Ministry in the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, yesterday. According to reports, the blasts happened at an ammunitions dump storing military equipment confiscated from the Georgians. It comes less than a day after Russian troops pulled out of Georgia.

Fire engines and emergency services are working at the scene. Irina Gagloeva from the Committee for Information and the Press in South Ossetia said shells had been exploding for 40 minutes in units of the transport company in the north-west of the capital.

About 80 shells have exploded. Everywhere is covered in black smoke, she said. The spokesperson says its hard to approach the area as its dangerous. Nearby streets have been evacuated.

Its not known what caused these explosions. Allegedly, these shells are the spoils of war left by Georgians. We still dont know if anybody is inside, she said.

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