Recent declaration from Medvedev

•August 27, 2008 • 3 Comments

“Today Russia recognised the independence of the Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. To many in the West, this may look like fair play. After all Kosovo was recognised by most of Europe and the USA against the wishes of the Russians. If we can grant independence to Kosovo and ignore Serbia’s territorial integrity why can’t we do the same for these regions?

However, this Russian argument is misleading at best and dangerous at worst. For a start, Kosovan independence was recognised only after a long period of UN governance of the region. In Abkhazia and South Ossetia, on the other hand, there was no such presence (aside from a few unarmed
observers). For the past fifteen years South Ossetia, and to some extent Abkhazia, have been under defacto Russian control. And whilst Kosovo’s independence, whether justified or not, is truly that, South Ossetia and Abkhazia are little more than Russian puppet regimes. The leaders of both
regions openly campaigned for Putin’s United Russia party and South Ossetian ‘separatists’ openly advocate joining the Russian Federation. To put this in perspective, imagine Hashim Thaci, the Kosovan Prime Minister, campaigning for the Republican Party and calling for Kosovo to become the
51st state of the USA. In fact, the terms of Kosovo’s independence bans them from ever joining neighbouring Albania.

However the biggest difference between the two situations establishes a far more worrying precedent. NATO’s intervention in Kosovo occurred as a response to proven cases of ethnic cleansing i the region. Milosevic was responsible for the mass murder of not only Albanians in Kosovo but also
(through his allies Karadzic and Mladic of the “Republika Srpska”) of Bosniaks in the internationally recognised state of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Whatever his faults, Saakashvili is no Milosevic. Indeed, the Georgian government has taken major steps to integrate ethnic minorities into the Georgian polity. For example Georgian state TV airs news broadcasts in the Armenian, Azeri, Abkhaz and Ossetian languages and ballot papers were
available in these minority languages during the Presidential and Parliamentary elections earlier this year. In fact, the Georgians had offered the Abkhaz and Ossetians wide autonomy and the post of Vice
President with the power to veto legislation affecting those regions. Russian allegations of “genocide” have proved to be groundless; even the Russians themselves have admitted that the total body count in South Ossetia is under 200, whereas previously they were claiming that over 2000 civilians had been killed.

However when ethnic cleansing has occurred in Georgia, it has invariably been ethnic Georgians who have been the victims. At the time of the last Soviet census in 1989 46% of the population of Abkhazia was ethnic Georgian compared to the 17% that was ethnic Abkhaz and the 14% that was ethnic Russian. After the 1993 war, almost the entire Georgian population was expelled or murdered by Russian backed Abkhaz guerrillas in what has been recognised by the UN General Assembly and the OCSE as an act of ethnic cleansing. In South Ossetia, the entire ethnic Georgian population
has been expelled as a result of the Russian invasion. Russia openly admits that it will not allow ethnic Georgians to return to their homes for a long time to come. For this reason, Abkhazia and South Ossetia
cannot be compared to Kosovo; the better parallel by far is Radovan Karadzic’s genocidal ‘Republika Srpska’.

So therefore if the international community allow Russia to get away with what is a defacto annexation of Georgian territory, the message will be that ethnic cleansing is not only acceptable but rewarded. Why go through the bother of a democratic process when you can just murder and expel
those who disagree with you? Why be content with internationally recognised borders when the world will turn a blind eye to military aggression? The repercussions of this event will be tragic unless the
world wakes up to what is happening, moves beyond empty rhetoric and imposes severe sanctions on Russia.
Alexander Scrivener – an expert on Georgian politics.”

Giorgi Chikhladze
AEGEE-Tbilisi
PR committee
e-mail: giorgicn@caucasus.net, pr@aegee-tbilisi.ge
web: www.aegee-tbilisi.ge

Update of situation from beginning of the week

•August 26, 2008 • 1 Comment

22.08.08 17:07
Russian troops have abolished several illegal checkopints in the Shida
Kartli Region and moved towards the conflict zone. According to the pledge
of the Russian president, Russian regular army must leave Georgian
territories by the end of the day.
However, their pullout turned out very painful for Georgian population,
because they have destructed buildings, plundered houses and the Gori
military base and burnt the wooden gates of peaceful population.

23.08.08 12:58
It is the first day since Russian invasion and air attacks that the city
of Gori is free of Russian troops. The aggressors left the invaded
territories yesterday. Civilians are  returning to their homes, however,
the police urges them to be very careful as the mine clearing operations
are underway.
Vehicles have appeared in the streets of the city, which looked like an
abandoned one few days ago, and the local administration is distributing
the humanitarian aid, which has been delivered from various countries.
Georgian police is patrolling the streets of the city and the local law
enforcers are resuming control.

23.08.08 13:45
Despite their pullout from the city of Zugdidi, Russians remain in
Samegrelo Region. The aggressors began the pullout yesterday however, 210
tanks and military vehicles were seen on the way towards the breakaway
Abkhazia this morning.
Russians have left every administrative office which they had occupied
during the past ten days, but destructed everything inside these
buildings.
Russian illegal checkpoints are still operating in the towns of
Chkhorotskhu, Tsalenjikha and Khobi and the strategic heights they
occupied during the invasion.
Meanwhile, twelve Georgian soldiers, who were arrested by the aggressors
as they were guarding the Poti terminal remain in their captivity. They
had to be released at 12:00 today; however, the negotiations, which were
to be held at the 301-th peacekeeping checkpoint, have been postponed. The
captives are held on the Urta military base.

23.08.08 15:32
Deputy Chief of Russian General Staff Anatoly Nogovitsin has confirmed
that Russian armed forces are refusing to leave the city of Poti.
Nogovitsin said the situation in the Black Sea Waters was aggravating.
He said NATO member states continue to increase the number of naval forces
under the cover of necessity to deliver humanitarian aid.
According to Nagovitsin, the Poland and US naval frigates entered Bosporus
strait on 22 August in addition to the Spain and German naval frigates,
which entered water area on 21 August.
”I do not think it will contribute to stabilization of situation in the
region,” he said.

23.08.08 14:59
Cluster bombs [a bomb that throws out a number of smaller bombs or
antipersonnel projectiles when it explodes] were discovered in the city of
Gori during the mine clearing operations today. The bombs were found on
the territory of the Gori hospital. The experts are still clearing the
territory of the mines. The offices of prosecutor and the city court have
been mine cleared.

23.08.08 17:53
Reuters has reported that Russian army is keeping positions in Poti.
According to Reuters Russian occupants have established two checkpoints.
One of the checkpoints is at the entrance of Poti and another one on the
territory of free economic zone of Poti.

24.08.08 11:00
Russian president has said another lie to his French counterpart as
Russian troops remain outside the Georgia’s conflict regions until now.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged his Russian counterpart Dmitry
Medvedev to remove Russian troops quickly from the west of Georgia.
In the recent telephone call, Mr Sarkozy welcomed Friday’s withdrawal of
Russian troops, but told Mr Medvedev that Russian forces also needed to
leave the western towns of Poti and Senaki.
Administration of the French President released a statement after the
conversation with Medvedev, which said that OSCE international contingent
would substitute the Russia troops in the occupied territories which are
far beyond the borders of the conflict regions.

24.08.08 11:48
The train with gas containers was moving along the Gori-Khashuri sector of
the Georgian central railway, which passes accross the village of Skra,
when suddenly  fire broke out on whole train. The police fails to say what
caused the fire, but one of the version is that the splits of the land
mine which exploded on the military base located beside the railway,
reached the train and the evaporated flame of the oil caused the fire.

State of realisation of Russian promices

•August 20, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev claims that Russia is taking its troops from internal territories of Georgia. As the press service of the Kremlin reports, Medvedev declared about this in a phone conversation with his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy. According to Dmitry Medvedev, after setting of check-points and dislocation places on August 21-22, part of peacekeepers will be taken to
security temporal zone. ‘The contingent arrived to help peacekeepers, will leave for South Ossetia
and Russian territories’, Medvedev stated. A phone conversation between Medvedev and Sarkozy was held on the initiative of the French side on August 19.

WE ARE WAITING… NO ONE KNOWS WHAT WILL HAPPEN TOMORROW!
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev promises French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy by phone to begin troop withdrawal on August 18. But they’re still here.

Giorgi Chikhladze
AEGEE-Tbilisi
PR committee
e-mail: giorgicn@caucasus.net, pr@aegee-tbilisi.ge
web: www.aegee-tbilisi.ge

Message form AEGEE-Tbilisi member

•August 20, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Today I recieved an email from AEGEE member from Tbilisi,

Sorry for my late reply! We had some problems with internet connection!

You might have been hearing different rumors about what happened, most of which are lies and propaganda by Russian media. Here’s what really happened: Georgia has a province ‘South Ossetia’ which tried to separate from Georgia after Soviet Union fell early 1990ies (Soviet Union had occupied Georgia and it’s provinces for over 70 years) the attempt of separation of this province was masterminded in Russian government and backed for all these years. The separatist movement resulted a conflict between Georgia and it’s region ‘South Ossetia’, but in reality it was a conflict between Russia and Georgia. Russia brought it’s troops in the region for peacekeeping and supplied separatists with arms of unimaginable amount, which really was for control in the region. Since then Georgia tried multiple times to resolve the conflict peacefully offering separatist defacto government autonomy and everything they could have ever dream of, but resolved conflict never was in Russian plan as the idea was to annex and take away this land from Georgia. Russia’s current goal is to destabilize Georgia to prevent it from entering NATO as they have said: ‘We will do anything to prevent Georgia and Ukraine from entering NATO’. Recently, South Ossetian side carried out a Russian plan to provoke Georgia and pull it into conflict by bombing Georgian civilian villages for 11 days. Georgia did not respond, asked separatists to stop bombing, but they did not. Georgian government made a decision to carry out an operation to crack down on separatists militants who had been terrorizing region for a while now. Georgian forces forced the separatist militants out of their positions and they fled North to the Russian border. Russia responded by invading Sovereign country and bombing not only South Ossetian region, but entire Georgia.

Russia is bombing georgian cities, airports, railway, stadiums, civilian blocks, and everything that can be leveled to the ground. While international community stands by, thousands of civilians are wounded and
dieing from blasts coming from Russian tanks and air force. Russia has INVADED a democratic sovereign country!

Despite Medvedev’s Statement regarding Cease- fire, Georgia is being Bombed, Russian military units are destroying Georgian cities, Ossetians and North Caucasians go on marauding in villages.

Russian occupation troops continue to wage their barbaric war against Georgia. Russian military aircraft have dropped fire-setting bombs in the woods of the Borjomi district. Fire has now spread over 200 hectares of wood. Populated areas are also under threat. Unique ecosystem of the Borjomi gorge is being destroyed Immediate action is required to Stop Russia. United States, European Union, United Nations and others must do everything to stop this disaster as soon as possible. There is no time to stand by.

see:
NGNI
Report after war

Thanks for your interest!

Best regards,
Giorgi Chikhladze
AEGEE-Tbilisi
PR committee
Cell: (+99577) 502852
e-mail: giorgicn@caucasus.net, pr@aegee-tbilisi.ge
web: www.aegee-tbilisi.ge

Atrocities continue

•August 15, 2008 • 1 Comment

‘Inexistant’ Russian tanks and troops remain in Georgia. It is estimated that at least 100.000 people have been displaced in the conflict. Russians and particularly Ossetians keep murdering people, looting and setting villages on fire. Russians the way to Gori practically dividing Georgia in two separate parts. Civilians are being shot at and cars are being stolen from people trying to pass by. Recordings from direct attacks on journalists can be found on YouTube.

Poland has ratified installation of parts of the American missile defence on its territory. The Russian side has immediately cancelled Polish-Russians talks about the Katyń massacre and cancelled the September visit in Poland. The tensions are getting bigger between Russia and other pro-Georgian countries, especially Ukraine and Estonia. Anatoliy Nogovitsyn, Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia, stated that Poland makes itself a ‘100% target of attack’ for its own wish. Russia hasn’t threatened Poland, Ukraine and Baltic countries such openly in years.

Medvedev finally showed Russia’s real aim by saying that Abkhazia and South Ossetia will never be a part of Georgia again and that Georgia can forget about its territorial integrity. What can I add.

Merkel slightly criticised and expressed her concern about Russian invasion on Georgia in a press conference in Sochi, still diplomatically mentioning that some of their actions were justified (while watching this conference me and I American friend could think only of the evacuation of women and children from South Ossetia as a justified action, but Merkel clearly used plural — we don’t know what else she could have meant). Maybe she meant bombing Georgian cities, including Gori, with cluster bombs, which are forbidden in over 100 countries because of how they kill civilians? The money Germany contributed to humanitarian aid was still a beautiful and really necessary gesture, but I can’t stop thinking about its cynism. German double play continues.

The Prime Minister of Turkey in his meeting with Putin ensured already that Russia can have its share in the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. Turkey is desperate to keep the pipeline undamaged and clearly a pact with Russia is an option.

The US finally called the situation its real name and asked Russia to respect Georgia’s territorial integrity. Condoleezza Rice warned Russia in those words: ‘This is not 1968 and the invasion of Czechoslovakia, where Russian tank threatened its neighbours, occupying the capital, overthrow the government and get away with it; things have changed.’ Some economical and political sanctions towards Russia are discussed.

In my eyes the biggest inside problem in Georgia at the moment are the anti-Saakashvili moods. Some people I talk to blame Saakashvili directly for provoking Russia to invasion resulting in the humanitarian crisis. Making people believe that the invasion was provoked by the Georgian side is Russia’s biggest interest, because this can help to overthrow Saakashvili and his people. When this happens — it’s more then sure that a puppet pro-Russian president and government will be given power. Whatever the final verdict can be on entering South Ossetia by Georgian troops, Saakashvili had absolutely no choice and there’s proof for that — Russia would invade Georgia anyway. I can’t understand why many people, be it in the West or Georgia itself, use double standards and mention the ‘provocation factor’ as if Georgia was the only civilised country and Russia was a wild beast which can attack any moment and that everyone should be afraid of. I wish Russia to enter the 21st century and make its policy stand up to the times we’re living in. And as for Georgia, I would wish everyone to remember the national motto ‘The strength is in unity’ and don’t be foolish enough to tear a 4 million country with internal conflicts while it’s occupied, bombed and disintegrated.

Dominik K. Cagara
student at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden
student of the Summer School in Kartvelology at Tbilisi State University

My Notes from Lecture with Aleksandre Rondeli — President of Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies

•August 13, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Saakashvili is not the most radical politician in Georgia — in fact, he’s a pretty balanced one. Why then Russians want to get rid of him for every price? Well, he is pro-Western, his government is effective and it doesn’t want to be Russia’s vassal. And as George Cannon said in 40’s ‘Russia can have on its borders only vassals or enemies’. After the Rose Revolution, the first foreign capital Saakashvili decided to visit was Moscow. Obviously he tried to establish good relations — better then Shevardnadze’s at least. Nevertheless Russians didn’t want to talk to Shevardnadze and later they didn’t want to talk to Saakashvili — they need slaves, not partners. Russians didn’t manage to ‘buy’ Saakashvili and to Misha’s ‘we could be good friends’ they responded with ‘you’re with us or against us’.

Why is Saakashvili so stubborn? Georgia is a multi-ethnic, multi-confessional country. The ethnic nationalism is very strong among all ethnic groups and this is Georgia’s weakness. However, if we can neutralise those nationalisms, the democracy will become very strong. Georgia has no tradition of democracy — Georgian social democracy has existed only 3 years before annexation by Russia in 1921. The Georgian parties are now radical and weak and the European style of parties needs to be developed. The goal is to become a member of Europe — a modern nation. Democracy is the only choice, otherwise the only thing we’re going to fail. What is an alternative to a long-lasting democracy? It’s only a regime or an empire — both are impossible in Georgia and anyway they would be only temporary. Georgia has to fight with Russian economical pressure, Georgians’ own backwardness and their ethnic antagonisms. Saakashvili’s team has made the development more dynamic and the only guarantee of irreversible, democratic development is Georgia’s accession to the EU and NATO.

If Georgia stays with Russia there will never be a democracy. Georgia will become a strategic, manipulated puppet-state. That’s why Georgian opposition to Russia is not just russophobia; it is the imperative.

Why can Russia do whatever they want to? Because Germany lets them. Gerhard Schröder has disgraced whole nation for friendship with Vladimir Putin and his acceptance of Russian offer to work for Gazprom (as the head of the shareholders’ committee of Nord Stream AG). Merkel, although she’s a bit better, continues Schröder’s politics. Her origin is in a family of Eastern German collaborators. The question if Schröder himself is a Russian collaborator remains open. German Social Democrats have always served Stalin, then the Soviet Union and finally modern day Russia. The arguments they use against Georgia is that ‘Saakashvili is not balanced, he tries to irritate Russia’…

What happened with the Road Plan of NATO for Georgia? In fact it was nothing — just a ‘booked ticket’ for a flight that could as well never happen. Germany said ‘NO’. Then France started to hesitate and play their games without making any meaning, the Netherlands mentioned their own business and pointed out ‘no democracy’ in Georgia and finally Berlusconi called Putin his brother. As a matter of fact if Merkel said ‘yes’ — everyone else would agree.

Putin understood then well that he can make what he wants. Very soon after the NATO top-meeting he made Abkhazia and South Ossetia de facto Russian giving Russian citizenship to all inhabitants and established self-called ‘Russian Peace Corps’. As we can see from the history, Russian military operations are always based on railway — that’s why a railway was re-built in South Ossetia (or maybe it was Putin’s good heart to built a railway to a remote mountainous region inhabited by 30.000 people?) and a new railway was built in Abkhazia. Russians were first trying to provoke in Abkhazia, but then in the eyes of the international community they started to act like they were ‘a part of solution’ and kicked off with their plan is South Ossetia.

Georgian villages in South Ossetia are situated on the way from Russian border to Tskhinvali. As the villages became cut off by Ossetians, tensions started — shelling of each other’s villages etc. Temur Iakobashvili, the State Minister for Reintegration, called the Russian Peace Corpse’s commander to ‘stop Kokoity’, the President of South Ossetia. The general answered that the situation went out control and that he has lost influence on Kokoity. Georgia called then Ossetians directly for ceasefire. Saakashvili decided then to start a moratorium — 3 hours of not shelling, so that civilians could leave, and entered South Ossetia. He had no choice, as the first column of ‘volountary’ fighters from Northern Caucasus had entered South Ossetia already and the Georgian population from this region was accusing Saakashvili of not defending them. By the voluntary fighters we mean of course mercenaries — most cruel and fierce soldiers. Ossetians ignored Georgian propositions of broad autonomy guaranteed by Russia and full amnesty — they responded with fire instead. Ossetians were reported to shoot even to Russian Peace Keepers, so it would look like Georgians were shooting — Georgians had absolutely no order of shooting to the Peace Corpse. Georgians took Tskhinvali in two days, but then Russian bombings started and Georgian army had to move out. Most people died in Russian bombings and the shelling which came next.

Three élite Russian divisions entered South Ossetia — Pskov (stationing by the Estonian border), Ivanovo and a special killer unit from Moscow called Razvedatelny Polk. A supersonic bomber plane TU-22 has been shot down by Georgians — the pilot, Zinov, is now in Georgian hands and said that he was just ‘taking photos’. Even Russian newspapers asked who possibly goes to take pictures with such plane as TU-22? Russians managed to mobilise whole their army in 24 hours, which in normal circumstances would be impossible as the army is in terrible state — it is corrupted and constantly drunk. Putin was at the time in Beijing and could pretend that he knew nothing about the war that started and the whole action was a surprise, ‘a well-planned Georgian action’.

Georgian think tank was in such shock that they mobilised all reservist and sent them to different regions of Georgia — and that was the only Georgian mistake. The reservists had no weapons and they went to the bombed cities without any special purpose. Many of them died. It wasn’t a direct Saakashvili order — the person (‘idiot’) who was in charge of the reservists has already been dismissed and we can except his trial in future.

It is absolutely clear that Russians couldn’t transport all their forces in one day and that the whole action had been carefully planned in advance. The evacuation of the children from South Ossetia was an obvious sign of that. Many people died, but not as much as a few thousand. 90% of the wounded in Georgian hospitals are military and the order was to not kill the civilian population. Russians didn’t kill Georgian civilians themselves in South Ossetia, but they let Ossetians do that — the scale was large enough to speak about ethnic cleanings.

The Georgian opposition is mostly full of snakes, but a couple of decent people can be found. Irakli Okruashvili called Saakashvili from France and said ‘Take me as a reservist!’ Naterashvili from the Labour Party is paid by Russians — it is know because it was recorded when he called Moscow and ask ‘why haven’t I received the money yet?’ Russia understands the anti-Saakashvili sentiments within the nation, they understand that many people blame him for death of reservists and the incompetent, unprepared military action. Nevertheless, if Russians overthrow Saakashvili and its people — it would be the end of Georgian chances for democracy.

In the moment I was listening to the lecture, Russian army was looting, raping women and killing resistance in Gori and nearby villages. They were setting fire in the villages. Western Georgia is being occupied — we had reports about looting of Zugdidi and Senaki. In this very moment when I’m writing those words Russian army is approaching Tbilisi. George W. Bush stated that US humanitarian action will arrive to Georgia. All I can say now — it’s not going to be peaceful night.

Based on a lecture by Aleksandre Rondeli. He claimed that I can quote him because he’s already on the first place of Russia’s black list and he has nothing to lose. He only asked not to publish one confidential military information — all I can say is that it’s another proof of Georgian think tank’s astonishment and lack of preparation to the operation.

Dominik K. Cagara
student at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden
student of the Summer School in Kartvelology at Tbilisi State University

Medvedev Demands New Status Quo

•August 13, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Yes, that’s how Medvedev reacted to the European Union and the United States’ appeals for bringing back the status quo from 6 August. Saakashvili didn’t sign Russia’s ‘peace plan’ which would be a physical agreement for the annection of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and occupation of Georgian territories. Russia’s plan is a modified version of Sarkozy’s plan, which in fact stopped being the Sarkozy plan due to the nature of Russian modification. Russian forces remain in Western Georgia’s cities and right now they entered Gori. Villages in the are of Gori were bombed earlier today, for ‘strategic purposes’ I might guess. Here at the University we’ve been reported that Russian soldiers disarmed the local police forces and the equipment is being destroyed. Looting has been reported as well. People are panicked and desperate — that is probably the aim of Russian action. It’s hard to predict what will happen next.

Yesterday the six presidents spoke to the crowd gathered at the Parliament. It was very uplifting and Georgians admired their courage. Many Polish, French, Ukrainian, Latvian, Estonian and Lithuanian flags were waving, but I could spot also Azerbaijani, Czech and Greek flags. Many foreigners, who decided to stay in Georgia, could be easily spotted.

Russia keeps ignoring all truce proposals and spreading its propaganda of lies — f.ex. about bombing of South Ossetia, which, as I mentioned before, was conducted entirely by Russian air force — no Georgian plane dropped a bomb in this conflict. Russia cannot occupy the whole territory of Georgia, but it can paralyze the country keeping their tanks in a couple of strategic places.

Dominik K. Cagara
student at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden
student of the Summer School in Kartvelology at Tbilisi State University