Truth against lies

(via Marko Mihkelson) Evidence that large Russian forces were in South Ossetia before the events of the night of August 7 began is beginning to emerge from Russian print media sources. On September 3 Krasnaya Zvezda published an account given by Captain Denis Sidristy, of the 135th motorized rifle regiment. 

“We were on exercises,” Captain Sidristy begins. “It was quite a short distance from the South Ossetian capital. Nizhnii Zaramakh, a North Ossetian nature reserve. We were stationed at our camp after planned exercises, but on the night of August 7 we got the order to move towards Tskhinvali. We were woken by the alarm signal – and told to march.  We arrived, took up our location, and on the morning of August 8 we took such a battering that we hardly knew what had hit us…”

The newspaper Permskie novosti reprints the transcript of a mobile phone message received from a recruit on August 10:

“I have very little time,” the boy went on. “Listen: we’ve been there since August 7. The whole of our 58th army. You’re probably watching what’s happening there on TV? Today we broke through to Vladikavkaz for armaments. Now we’re going to break back again…”

Other events, like the fact of the sailing of the Moskva missile cruiser from Sevstopol on the morning of August 7, tally with the reports that Russia was already planning to invade and occupy Georgia and depose its President Saakashvili before he gave the order to attack.

The increasing volume of such reports makes the establishing of an international inquiry into the origins and  beginning of the Georgia conflict all the more urgent.

Update: Kalle Kniivilä has more (in Swedish) here.


  1. The Krasnaya Zvezda article is interesting in several ways. I can see that you have translated the version currently available on line at the Krasnaya Zvezda web site, not the original text Krasnaya Zvezda published a week ago. The original text can still be found in Google cache and in several blogs, The words ночью and утром are not in the original text, which changes the content totally. The new version is not very logical, but at least closer to the official Russian version than the original version.

    I translated the original text here on Wednesday, and on Thursday somebody pointed out that two words were missing. They indeed were, because the original text had been edited some time Thursday morning. I guess KZ noticed their mistake after many Russian bloggers, most notably Anton Nosik cited the article.

  2. OK, Kalle – thank you for this. However, the Russian syntax used to designate times in such reports (also in Sidristy’s account) is often vague. What exactly does 7 августа ночью mean? Literally it means “at night on August 7″, yet this format is sometimes used to mean “during the night of August 7-8″ – i.e. it can also be a reference to the “morning” (the period any time after midnight of the preceding day). In the edited version, Sidristy does make it clear that the attack occurred on the “morning” of August 8, yet he could be referring to a period just minutes after midnight on August 7. I have come across this confusion many times when translating reports of events in Ingushetia and Chechnya, for example.

    One other thing: there were reports that the missile cruiser Moskva sailed from Sevastopol already on August 7 – yet other reports give the date as August 9:

    On August 9 the flagship of the RBSF, the cruiser Moskva, with the commanding admiral of the fleet, Alexander Kletskov aboard, sailed from Sevastopol. It was accompanied by the destroyer Smetlivy and the anti-submarine ships Muromets and the Aleksandrovets, along with an assortment of support vessels.

    Do you know of links to news reports which give a date of August 7 for the Moskva’s sailing from Sevastopol?

  3. Here is more on the redacted version in KZ

    I especially liked this comment:
    “Вот эти подтирки в Красной Звезде по-оруэловски говорят сами за себя. Самовозгорание шапки, понимаете ли.”

    I have heard about reports on Moskva leaving Sevastopol on August 7, but Google News has nothing before August 10. I’ll be back if I find something…

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