South Ossetia

Russian general admits Kremlin prepared for August invasion of Georgia

In an interview published on the website of Ekho Moskvy, Major-General Vyacheslav Borisov, the deputy head of Russia’s paratroop forces who commanded the paratroopers during the conflict in South Ossetia and and the invasion of other parts of Georgia, has confirmed that Moscow was preparing to invade Georgian territory long before August 8 2008.

From The Messenger:

“…General Shamanov was in command of the troops being sent in the direction of Abkhazia and I commanded those sent to South Ossetian and Georgia. As you know, we had regularly conducted trainings in those regions, our troops had gained considerable experience of the terrain. We had conducted trainings on those territories, exactly there, one week before and had only just left the area, which is why we could conduct the march to Tskhinvali much better than the central and regional troops. For us, this did not entail any sort of difficulty. We also dealt with certain other matters in a much better way, and this was noted by the leadership of the armed forces, the Head of the General Staff and the Defence Minister…” said Borisov in part of his interview, as quoted by the Georgian Foreign Ministry.

“We are hopeful that this additional confession made by yet another Russian aggressor, will help the international commissions come to adequate conclusions when they seek the truth about the 18-year undeclared war conducted by Russia against Georgia, the last episode of which took place on August 7, 2008,” says a special statement made by the Foreign Ministry on its official webpage on June 6.

EU: S.Ossetia Polls ‘Illegitimate’ [civil.ge]

EU: S.Ossetia Polls ‘Illegitimate’

Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 1 Jun.’09 / 13:52
http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=21028

European Union said it “does not accept the legality of the ‘elections’,” held in breakaway South Ossetia on Sunday, and “nor its results.”

“The holding of such elections is illegitimate and represents a setback in the search for a peaceful and lasting settlement of the situation in Georgia. The EU reiterates its firm support for sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders,” the EU Czech Presidency said in a statement on June 1.

The breakaway region’s central election commission said that three parties – one officially backing the South Ossetian leader, Eduard Kokoity, and two others uncritical to him – cleared the 7% electoral threshold and secured seats in the 34-member parliament.

Party of Unity, according to the local election commission, received with over 46.3% and secured 17 seats; People’s Party – up to 22.6%, amounting to 9 seats and the Communist Party – 22.2% with 8 seats.

“Fidibasta” – Fatherland Party, which described itself as “a constructive, not radical opposition,” received 6,37%, failing to secure seats in the breakaway region’s parliament. The party has claimed widespread violations and intimidation of voters. The party has also questioned official voter turnout of over 80%.

U.S. "seriously concerned" over Russia’s border pacts in Sokhumi, Tskhinvali [civil.ge]

Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 1 May.’09 / 11:15

The U.S. State Department expressed “serious concern” over the agreement signed between Russia and “Georgia’s separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia” on border cooperation.

Among other issues, the treaties envisage stationing of Russian border guard troops at the breakaway region’s administrative borders.

“This action contravenes Russia’s commitments under the August 12 ceasefire agreement brokered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy between Russia and Georgia, and violates Georgia’s territorial integrity,” the U.S. State Department said.

“We call on Russia to honor its commitments under the August 12 and September 8 ceasefire agreements. This includes removing its troops to positions held prior to the start of the conflict, allowing unfettered humanitarian access, and allowing human rights organizations to investigate allegations of ethnic cleansing in the two regions. Establishing a “border” under the control of Russian soldiers marks another step in the opposite direction,” it said.

Russian military build-up continuing in Abkhazia, S. Ossetia

Via Civil.ge:

The Russian Federation is increasing its military presence on the occupied territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Davit Nardaia, head of the Defense Ministry’s Analytical Department.

“This process is especially actively underway in Gali [breakaway Abkhazia] and Akhalgori [breakaway Abkhazia] districts,” he said on April 13 after meeting with a group of foreign military attaches.

Temur Iakobashvili, the Georgian state minister for reintegration, said that “neutralization of this threat will depend on how we will manage to reduce political tensions inside the country.”  

Meanwhile the Georgian interior ministry has released CCTV footage of scenes during an incident outside the Georgian Parliament in the early hours of April 12.

The first five minutes of the released footage shows men in uniforms of the municipality’s cleaning service cleaning the area; at one instance men in cleaner’s uniforms are seen taking wooden planks and putting them into a garbage truck; planks are used by protesters for an improvised fence dividing an area where an improvised press room and other installations are located from rest of the protest venue. Another man dressed in civilian is also seen helping cleaners. Then the footage shows about two dozen of men, dressed in civilian clothing, who were apparently quarrelling; some minor scuffle is also seen; some men are also seen standing nearby just watching without intervening. Couple of minutes later, the footage shows, several men brawling with each other, followed by some of them running away from the scene. Men, dressed in municipal cleaning service uniforms, are not seen in this footage to be involved in the incident. The released footage from that one particular CCTV camera did not provide a full view of a tent, which is turned by rally organizers into an improvised press room in which, according to the opposition activists, some computers have been smashed by “attackers.” The venue is packed with several CCTV cameras providing view from various angles. Some opposition activists claimed that some “attackers” were dressed in civilian clothing, with some of them holding wooden batons; while others said that some “attackers” were dressed in the municipal cleaning service uniforms. Gigi Ugulava, an influential Mayor of Tbilisi, told Rustavi 2 TV on April 12, that employees from the cleaning crew were verbally insulted by the opposition activists, which triggered the incident. He said that some of the employees from the municipal cleaning service, who were technician staff, were present on the scene and dressed in civilian clothing.

(Civil.ge)

Who won the Russian-Georgian War?

Russia and Georgia at War has published a translated collection of summarized articles by the Russian journalist Yulia Latynina. Such was the barrage of lies and propaganda unleashed during the conflict and after it, she concludes that the only victor of the war was the South Ossetian regime and its out-of-control leader:

President Kokoyti solved all his problems. Georgian enclaves that used to irritate him with their wealth and affluence are burnt down. Georgian hospital and apartment blocks are destroyed. “We razed everything there to the ground” he said. All Tskhinvali residents know that Georgians were running around Tskhinvali and were killing children, while Georgian warplanes were bombing them, – all at the same time. Entire Tskhinvali population knows the name of their savior, the great leader Kokoyti. Those in South Ossetia who doubt it are guaranteed to have problems.

Moscow plans to annexe part of Georgia

At Window on Eurasia, Paul Goble writes about Moscow’s plans to take formal control of the tunnel that runs from Russian territory into South Ossetia, thus effectively annexing a part of Georgian territory:

Because of Russian power and its control of the situation on the ground, Moscow almost certainly will not only get away with this action but will be spared criticism by countries which in their desire to move forward in their relations with the Russian government want to put the Georgia affair behind them.

But Tbilisi has international law on its side. In 1931, in response to the Japanese invasion of China and Tokyo’s establishment of the puppet state of Manchukuo in Manchuria, the United States articulated the Stimson Doctrine, which holds that the world must not recognize territorial changes achieved by force alone but insist that any change be by negotiations.

That principle, which was the basis for the US-led non-recognition policy with respect to the Soviet occupation of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, is the legal foundation of the unwillingness of the entire international community — except for the Russian Federation, Nicaragua and Hamas — to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Moscow admits Georgia death toll 162, not 2,100

In another – possibly surprising – volte face the Russian government has admitted that the results of an official investigation show that 162 civilians were killed in the fighting during the August war, and not 2,100, as it has consistently claimed in the past, Bloomberg reports.

See also in this blog: Moscow admits it prepared for August war

Perevi

BBC:

The European Union Monitoring Mission, whose 225 monitors have been in Georgia since 1 October, to patrol the so-called buffer zones around the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, is keeping a close eye on the situation around Perevi.

A mission spokesman noted that the presence of the [South Ossetian] militia was a violation of Georgian sovereignty. He said he feared an escalation of tension.

The EU wants its observers to have access to the breakaway regions, but Russia has repeatedly refused to guarantee that.

Western leaders have condemned the presence of Russian troops in Georgian areas – both in the buffer zones, where Russian troops were present until mid-October, and in the breakaway regions themselves, where Russia is maintaining nearly 8,000 troops.

They have also condemned Russia’s recognition of the two regions as independent states.

Ossetian militiamen join Russian regular army

BBC Monitoring

Ossetian militiamen join Russian regular army – Georgian TV Text of report by private Georgian Imedi TV on 14 October

[Presenter] Ossetians will serve in the Russian army. Ossetian riot police which is well-known for its brutality has become a part of the Russian regular army. A “Kronika” camera has filmed notorious criminals on the perimeter of the Georgian villages of the Akhalgori [District].

Today they are already wearing Russian soldiers’ uniform and are patrolling Georgian territory.

[Presenter] Moscow has confirmed the information, saying that Russia should control dangerous criminal groups in the [Georgian-Ossetian] conflict zone. [Our correspondent] Nodar Meladze will be speaking live about the danger the disguised Ossetian militiamen are posing to the civilian population [of the region]. Nodar, we are listening to you.

[Correspondent] The footage our viewers will see in the report was filmed in the vicinity of the village of Mosabruni. Hundreds of Georgians cross the place in the conflict zone every day. It emerged that members of a special purpose unit of the Ossetian separatists rather than Russian occupiers are checking documents of the residents of 56 villages. The so-called Ossetian militiamen are standing along with Russian troops on the checkpoints. Instead of their old uniform they are already wearing new uniforms of the Russian army and have new military ranks. In the name of Russian soldiers, fighters of the notoriously brutal Tskhinvali riot police are stationed on the perimeter of the Georgian villages. “Kronika” camera tracked about ten such fighters at the entrance to Akhalgori only. Those who had no time to change uniforms and continued to stand in the uniform of black masks [as heard], hid themselves as soon they saw the camera.

[Correspondent in Russian] Are there any Ossetians themselves in your battalion?

[Uncaptioned Russian servicemen in Russian] I cannot tell about the others but there are none in mine.

[Correspondent] I understand. And still there are [Ossetians here].

[Russian servicemen] Maybe. I do not know.

[Correspondent] Head of the checkpoint neither denies nor confirms that the Ossetian riot police joined the Russian army. However, Moscow did not hide the fact. The State Duma said that they prefer to control the most dangerous groups themselves so that armed people do not create problems for the Russian army.

[Russian MP Viktor Ilyukhin, speaking in Russian] it is better to put [them] in order, better to control [them] and govern them rather than leave them armed and, as they say, without control and management.

[Correspondent] Ossetian militiamen appeared in the Russian army through contract system. They have the lowest salaries and broad rights. By changing the uniform, their status changes too. Now they are no longer members of the gang formations but rather soldiers of the Russian army. Ossetian militiamen who are disguised in the military uniform are
basically working at strategic facilities, such as construction of military units on the territories adjacent to Georgian villages. At the moment Ossetian militiamen are building a new military unit at the entrance to Akhalgori.

[Correspondent] Russian military experts are saying that the Russian army stationed in South Ossetia and Abkhazia will be manned by militiamen and members of the Black Squad [as heard] in future although the military units will still be controlled by the Russians.

[Russian military analyst Pavel Felgengauer, speaking in Russian] It is quite legal to list them as contractors. There is no necessity to spend too much on them. They are ready to serve for less money. It is far more beneficial than bringing people from Russia. There is no need to build houses for them.

[Correspondent] Ossetian militiamen, [standing] at the Russian checkpoints in the vicinity of the Georgian villages, tend to hide, especially when international observers arrive. This is what happened when a Red Cross group arrived in Akhalgori. However, in this case the so-called militiamen had no time to hide their cars .

[Correspondent] Moscow has officially confirmed reports that besides the villages adjacent [to the conflict zone], Ossetian militiamen will be stationed on the regular checkpoints that will be operating in the Java District and the villages of the Tskhinvali Region. Those in the capital of the Russian Federation are saying today that the regular army units that are due to be stationed in [Abkhazia’s] Gali District, will presumably be manned by Abkhaz separatists.