I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Winston Churchill

Oct 2, 2009

The wolf that ate Georgia – Guardian.Co.Uk

Civilians are still suffering in Georgia and it is imperative for the world community to promote a lasting solution
Antonio Cassese guardian.co.uk, Monday 1 September 2008 08.00 BST

In Phaedrus's well-known fable of the wolf and the lamb, the wolf could easily have eaten the lamb without a word, but prefers to set out his "reasons". First, he scolds the lamb for muddying his drinking water (even though the wolf was upstream). Then he argues that last year the lamb had called him bad names (but the lamb was only six months old). The wolf then snarls that if it was not the lamb, it was his father; after that, he immediately moves into action.

The wolf's "justifications" for his evil action were a luxury that he allowed himself. At present, the United Nations Charter legally binds wolf-states – that is, the Great Powers – to offer justifications for their use of armed violence. This is all the more necessary for the Security Council's five permanent members because, aside from condemnation by public opinion, no sanctions are available against them for any serious breach of the charter.

Russia has set forth various reasons to justify its armed intervention in Georgia where the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are nonetheless under Georgian sovereignty. Russia argues that its invasion was aimed at (1) stopping Georgia's aggression against South Ossetians; (2) ending ethnic cleansing, genocide, and war crimes committed by Georgia there; (3) protecting Russian nationals; and (4) defending South Ossetians on the basis of the peace-keeping agreement signed by Boris Yeltsin and Eduard Shevardnadze in 1992.

None of these legal grounds holds water. By sending its troops to South Ossetia, Georgia no doubt was politically reckless, but it did not breach any international rule, however nominal its sovereignty may be. Nor do genocide or ethnic cleansing seem to have occurred; if war crimes were perpetrated, they do not justify a military invasion. Moreover, South Ossetians have Russian nationality only because Russia recently bestowed it on them unilaterally. Finally, the 1992 agreement authorises only monitoring of internal tensions, not massive use of military force.

Hence, as in Phaedrus's fable, the Kremlin's "justifications" are empty. Russia has breached Article 2 of the UN Charter, which enjoins member states to "refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state."

There are several morals to the tale. First, when a lamb like Georgia gets smart and requests the protection of another wolf – in this case Nato – he must be careful, for every wolf guards his territory and is bent on "protecting" all those lambs that fall under his "jurisdiction".

Second, although Great Powers are de facto unbound by international rules on the use of force, they abide by a sort of unwritten "agreement between scoundrels" to behave similarly. The west violated that agreement in 1999 in Kosovo: Nato powers first attacked Kosovo and Belgrade, in breach of the UN Charter (although they were morally justified to do so, because there was a need to stop the serious atrocities underway); the west then promoted and blessed Kosovo's secession. As a result of that perilous precedent, Russia no longer feels bound by the unwritten agreement.

Finally, because it is mostly civilians that have suffered and are still suffering in Georgia, it is imperative for the world community to promote a lasting solution, as is stipulated in the agreement promoted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. But a lasting solution is nowhere in sight, because Russian forces, in blatant breach of that agreement – and of international customary law – remain in many parts of Georgia beyond Abkhazia and South Ossetia. These two regions have now proclaimed their independence, and Moscow has given its blessing to a secession that is likely to be the stepping stone to incorporation by Russia.

Georgia has taken the path that lambs (small countries) normally choose when facing wolves (major powers), brandishing law as a weapon. It has instituted legal proceedings against Russia before both the International Court of Justice for alleged violations of the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination and the European Court of Human Rights for alleged breaches of Articles 2 (right to life) and 3 (prohibiting inhuman and degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights. Because Georgia is a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, it could have requested the ICC Prosecutor to investigate Russia's allegations of war crimes and genocide as well as its own allegations of Russian crimes. Strangely, it has not done so, though, fortunately, the ICC Prosecutor has announced that he is keeping the situation in Georgia "under analysis".

Plainly, by itself the law may not be able to offer the right solution in such a complex and dangerous situation. Only politics and diplomacy can offer a lasting solution. Nevertheless, with both sides claiming the mantle of international law, authoritative legal decisions about these issues might perhaps push the parties to reach a lasting agreement.

Antonio Cassese, the first President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and later the chairperson of the United Nations' International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur, teaches law at the University of Florence.

Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2008.


Oct 1, 2009

WSJ: Europe Exposes Russia's Guilt in Georgia

In an invasion, when can a spade be called a spade?

This week's much-anticipated European Union-commissioned report into the causes of the Russian-Georgian war of August 2008 predictably spread the blame for the conflict around. While Georgia was also censured, the text is devastating to Russia's narrative of the conflict.

Assisted by a small army of experts, Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini has spent close to a year investigating the origins of the war that initially shocked Europe but then was relatively quickly forgotten in the midst of the global economic crisis that succeeded it. As expected, both sides have claimed that the 40-page report—with a thousand pages of appendices—vindicates their version of events. Yet anyone who bothers to read the document will find that the Tagliavini Commission apportions the overwhelming part of the responsibility for the conflict on Moscow. In fact, it rejects practically every item in Russia's version of what supposedly happened last year.

The press has so far focused on the commission's conclusion that Georgia started the war. That should, however, not be confused with the question of responsibility: Firing the first shot does not necessarily mean being the aggressor. The report acknowledges this, concluding that, "there is no way to assign overall responsibility for the conflict to one side alone." The report details the extended series of Russian provocations, accelerating in the spring of 2008, that precipitated the war.

The report faults Georgia for lacking a legal basis for its attack on the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali, and for the use of indiscriminate force there. But on the crucial Georgian claim that it was responding to a Russian invasion, the report equivocates: The mission is "not in a position" to consider the Georgian claims "sufficiently substantiated." This is an exercise in semantics, since the next sentences acknowledge that Russia provided military training and equipment to the rebels, and that "volunteers and mercenaries" entered Georgian territory from Russia before the Georgian attack. One is left wondering what would be necessary for a spade to be called a spade.

But the report is far more devastating in its dismissal of Russia's justification for its invasion—in fact surprisingly so for an EU product. As will be recalled, Russia variously claimed it was protecting its citizens; engaging in a humanitarian intervention; responding to a Georgian "genocide" of Ossetians; or responding to an attack on its peacekeepers. The EU report finds that because Russia's distribution of passports to Abkhazians and Ossetians in the years prior to the war was illegal, its rationale of rescuing its "citizens" is invalid as they were not legally Russian. It also concludes that Moscow's claim of humanitarian intervention cannot be recognized "at all," in particular given the Kremlin's past opposition to the entire concept of humanitarian intervention.

The list goes on. The report finds Russian allegations of genocide founded in neither law nor evidence. In other words, they're not true. And whereas the report does acknowledge a Russian right to protect its peacekeepers, it finds that Moscow's response "cannot be regarded as even remotely commensurate with the threat to Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia." On the other hand, it faults Russia for failing to intervene against the ethnic cleansing of Georgians from South Ossetia and Abkhazia that took place during and after the war. Finally, it castigates Russia's recognition of the independence of the two breakaway territories as illegal, and as a dangerous erosion of the principles of international law.

In sum, the official EU inquiry found that none of Russia's various justifications for its invasion of Georgia hold water, and also faults Russia's behavior following the conflict, as Moscow continues to be in material breach of the EU-negotiated cease-fire agreement. While the report will be of great use to historians, its main implications should concern the present, because just as the war did not begin in August 2008, the conflict between Russia and Georgia is not over. While the war's military phase only lasted a few weeks, it continues in the diplomatic, political, and economic realms. Russia successfully evicted the international community from the conflict zones and expanded its military presence in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, building large bases there. Its economic warfare against Georgia continues, as does its efforts at subversion inside the country. Most importantly, Russia's stated objective of regime change and the effective termination of Georgia's sovereignty goes on.

This conflict continues to destabilize a part of Europe to which the West has so far not paid sufficient attention. The EU, now engaged also on the ground in Georgia, must go beyond reluctantly accepting, as it has, that this conflict is a European problem. It needs to overcome its internal divisions and pursue a cohesive strategy toward Georgia—one that takes its basis in the country's European identity and aspirations, as well as its right to sovereignty and security. As for the White House, it would ignore at its own peril one of the EU report's final conclusions: "Notions such as privileged spheres of interest...are irreconcilable with international law. They are dangerous to international peace and stability. They should be rejected."

And doing so will take more than words and the scrapping of missile shields—it will take the type of serious engagement that neither the EU not the U.S. have so far been willing to pursue.

Mr. Svante E. Cornell is research director of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University-Sais and director of the Institute for Security and Development Policy, and co-editor of "The Guns of August 2008: Russia's War in Georgia" (M.E. Sharpe, 2009).

source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704471504574446582737784064.html

Radio Liberty: EU-Backed Report To Split Blame For Russian-Georgia War

30.09.2009 13:06
By Ahto Lobjakas
BRUSSELS -- A long-awaited report on the causes of the five-day war between Russia and Georgia in August 2008 will split the blame between the two sides, according to EU officials familiar with the document.

The EU's Special Representative for the South Caucasus, Peter Semneby, told RFE/RL that he believed the document -- which he said he had not seen yet -- contains nothing "fundamentally" new.

Officials in Brussels are acutely aware of the risks of alienating either Moscow, a key energy supplier whose cooperation is desired in a host of areas, or Tbilisi, whose political standing took a beating over the 2008 conflict despite broad Western support for its aims of keeping Georgian territory intact.

The report, compiled by a group of international experts led by Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini, was presented to EU and other ambassadors in Brussels on September 30 and later released to the public.

Initial reaction from Russia's envoy was that the document laid the blame for the outbreak of fighting on Tbilisi, while Georgian officials countered that it concluded that Moscow had planned the conflict.

But the unveiling of the "Tagliavini report" could be regarded as something of an anticlimax.

EU ambassadors will be briefed on its contents over a low-key lunch. There will be no formal ceremony to mark the handing over of the more than 500-page document. There will also be no formal discussion of the report's contents among EU member states, nor will an official EU position be adopted relative to its conclusions.

What the EU wants is closure, officials suggest. The bloc believes no one has anything to gain from protracted finger-pointing and wants to get on with the Geneva talks between Georgia, Russia, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia on defusing tensions and allowing refugees return to their homes.

"What I can say is that I believe that now, more than a year after the war and after quite a few studies and reports have been published on the topic, I think that most of the events are fairly well known,” Semneby said. “I expect that this study, which is quite a thorough one, is probably going to reveal a few new facts, but I would be surprised if it would reveal anything that would fundamentally change our picture of the course of events."

Privately, EU officials have told RFE/RL the report will not be a "one-way street," blaming Georgia alone, as some early leaks have suggested. Instead, it will apportion blame relatively equally on Georgia and Russia.

The report is expected to roughly follow the established Western take on the events, according to which Georgia overreacted to severe and long-standing Russian provocations. While the Georgian military may have fired the first shots, it was Russia's meddling in the irredentist territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia which had set in motion the chain of events leading up to the war.

Georgian officials appear to be resigned to being given some of the blame. But one senior official told RFE/RL that Tbilisi believes it has "the law on its side." The official also alluded to Russia's long history of involvement in Georgian affairs, noting that "the war did not start on August 7, 2008."

Recriminations Expected

To date, only Nicaragua and Venezuela have joined Russia in recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russia's early charges of a Georgian-conducted genocide in South Ossetia and other war crimes have not been substantiated.

Georgia now expects a long cold war of attrition with Russia. The official quoted above said the report's release is likely to be followed by a few days of mutual recriminations between Georgia and Russia, which will then eventually subside.

This is broadly in line with EU expectations.

Semneby said the bloc will leave interpreting the report to others.

"It's not, obviously, the ultimate truth about the war, but rather should be seen as a contribution to highlighting the facts around what is a very complex series of events that started actually...long before the war in August of last year," Semneby said.

The EU, which helped to end the war in August 2008, is now a key mediator in the Geneva talks.

The bloc's interests, however, are broader. It needs a working relationship with Russia. Moscow is seen as a strategic partner in the EU. Its energy deliveries are vital for the bloc, as is cooperation with Moscow in many other fields.

Georgia, on the other hand, remains a key part of the EU's Eastern Partnership outreach program. Although Tbilisi's standing in EU eyes has slipped since the war -- a fact acknowledged by Georgian officials, too -- the bloc remains committed to helping the country.

The EU's monitoring mission (EUMM) along the demarcation lines between Georgia proper and Abkhazia and South Ossetia now represents the only involvement of the international community in the conflict zone. Earlier this year, Russia was instrumental in securing the ejection of observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe from South Ossetia, and that of a UN mission from Abkhazia.

Meanwhile Georgian hopes of getting the United States to join the EUMM have been dashed. Objections from EU member states such as France, fearing complications in the EU-Russia relationship, have caused the idea to be shelved.

Adjusting to new realities, Georgia has toned down its expectations of the EU accordingly. Economic assistance is now foremost on the minds of Georgian officials.

On the political front, Tbilisi knows that hanging on to the status quo will be difficult enough, with the EU increasingly preoccupied with its own constitutional future, expected to be settled in the remaining months of the year. Then, Spain will take over the rotating half-yearly EU presidency from Sweden, to be followed by Belgium. Neither country is as interested in the eastern neighborhood as Sweden, so Tbilisi will face an uphill struggle to retain a presence on EU radar.

Correspondingly, Georgian officials can now only hope for signals of continued EU support.

Kahtleen Moore contributed to this report

source: http://www.rferl.org/content/EU_Sponsored_Report_To_Split_Blame_For_Russian_Georgia_War/1839451.html

Sep 25, 2009

Mikheil Saakashsvili, President of Georgia at 64th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, NY, 24.09.2009

H.E. Mikheil Saakashsvili, President of Georgia 64th Session of the United Nations General Assembly New York, September 24, 2009
Mr. President, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates.
I would like to thank you for the opportunity to address the 64th annual general debate
of the United Nations.
Each year we gather here to confront our common challenges and to express our
vision for the world we share — the world for which we are common stewards.
And each year we promise to do more - to do better - to live up to and defend the
principles enshrined in the UN Charter.
We meet this year on the 20th anniversary of one of the most successful triumphs of
those principles.
Twenty years have passed since Europe - and the rest of the world - was liberated
from one of the cruelest episodes in modern history.
The fall of the Berlin Wall brought to an end an artificial line that separated nations,
divided families, strangled freedom, and imprisoned millions.
Remarkably, that formidable wall crumbled without a single shot being fired.
It yielded to the will of those millions who yearned for liberty and it yielded to the
determination of a united West.
Twenty years ago, a universally feared military force was defeated by the force of a
universal truth - the call for freedom and the simple desire to live a dignified life.
When the Berlin Wall was dismantled 20 years ago, it did more than free the captive
nations of the Warsaw Pact.
It unleashed the hopes, dreams, aspirations and talents of millions of citizens living
under the tyranny of the Soviet Union - including my own nation's people.
Today, these citizens make up more than a dozen diverse nations, linked together by
common desires and ambitions to live in a world free from spheres of influence - free
from external control - able to choose their own destiny.
Today, as we look back at this historic chapter, and the impact it has had on our
world, we can rightly be proud of what was achieved - of the tremendous progress
made, and the prosperity that a lasting peace has brought.
But if we are to evaluate the past honestly, we must admit our present remains
For there is a real danger that rather than building on this great chapter of idealism
and progress, states and leaders will allow a return of the dull complacency and
cynical power politics that led to so many of the worst moments of the past 100 years.
And the moment is bittersweet because, regrettably, not everyone drew the same
lessons of hope and inspiration when that Wall came down.
Indeed, 20 years ago, when freedom's spirit swept that wall away, few imagined the
repression and threats it represented would so soon re-appear, and that the hopes
unleashed in 1989 would so quickly founder.
Yet today, a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace remains a goal still to be
achieved - a project not yet accomplished, and a challenge, unfortunately, unmet.
Today, I stand before you as the democratically elected leader of a proud and
sovereign nation.
But, tragically, Georgia today, like Germany a generation ago, is a nation with a deep
wound running through her.
As Vaclav Havel and others leading voices of Europe's conscience declared earlier
this week, Europe is today divided by a new wall, built by an outside force - a wall
that runs through the middle of Georgia.
A wall that cuts off one fifth of our territory - a wall that once again divides Europe
from itself, creating new lines of repression and fear: artificial dividing lines inside
the internationally recognized borders of a European nation.
It may be unpopular - but I am obliged to speak the truth.
And the truth is that this wall's existence mocks the progress we seemed to have made
since that bright shining day in Berlin 20 years ago.
This new wall tells us that once again the rule of force has trumped the rule of lawand
the rule of reason.
I see no irony - only tragedy - in the fact that this wall is being built by the very
people whose ideas were collectively and decisively defeated and rejected just 20
years ago.
I take no comfort that those who thought the Wall's destruction was the single
greatest tragedy of the 20th Century now lead these deplorable efforts.
One year ago, my country was invaded: tanks, war planes, warships, bombs and
state-directed cyber hackers descended upon our towns, villages, cities, infrastructure,
and economy.
Hundreds of our people were killed or wounded. Tens of thousands of innocent
civilians were forced to flee in the face of ethnic cleansing that independent human
rights organizations have documented.
Today, these acts of brutality have gone unaddressed- in direct contravention of
international law, the norms of this institution and internationally signed agreements
designed to reverse these wrongs.
These are the facts that confront us as we gather here today. And these facts do have a
name: armed aggression, ethnic cleansing, mass violations of human rights, and
illegal occupation.
Ladies and gentlemen, those who unleashed war in my region and led ethnic
cleansing campaigns in my country - said yesterday in this very hall - that they had to
do it to, "implement the principle of indivisibility of security" - in order to, "step over
the legacy of the past era".
The only thing that they stepped over was our sovereign border.
They said they had to do it... As their predecessors had to invade Poland in 1939,
Finland in 1940, Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, and Afghanistan in 1979.
And they had to erase a capital of 400,000 inhabitants - Grozny, to destroy and
exterminate the proud Chechen nation and kill tens of thousands of innocent women
and children.
Recent history is indeed a powerful guide to understanding what kind of actions these
leaders undertake in order to bring what they call "security and stability" to my
But I want to say clearly today that the people of Georgia cannot and will not accept a
new dividing line in our country. That is an unchangeable commitment.
And the return of a wall across Europe is not just a matter for Georgia. Indeed, the
very values of this institution remain at threat.
The protection of human rights, respect for the dignity and equality of all persons, the
inadmissibility of ethnic cleansing, and recognition of the inviolability of sovereign
borders - all are values that form the bedrock of this institution.
We certainly did not choose this course of action, but it is up to us to recognize and
reverse its illegality.
As a community of responsible nations, it is our collective responsibility to uphold
international law and insist that borders cannot and will not be changed through the
use offeree.
It is up to us to tear down this new wall peacefully — with the power of our ideas and
the strength of our convictions.
I want the world to understand clearly how we view this new wall and our strategy for
tearing it down.
To start, let me state outright: we do not expect it to disappear overnight. We
understand the need for patience. But the history of the Berlin Wall teaches us that
patience must not be passive.
The Berlin Wall only fell because passionate, disciplined, energetic partisans of
freedom, both behind and outside that wall, worked with focus, discipline, and
courage, to remind the world continually of the illegitimacy and illegality of that wall,
and to take actions to hasten its demise.
I would like to use this opportunity to thank those member nations at the UN for their
vote recognizing the right of return for all who have been displaced- for all the
victims of ethnic cleansing.
I would like to thank all those nations across the globe that resisted illegality and
pressure by standing firm in their non-recognition of those territories of Georgia now
occupied by a foreign force.
I want to thank all those nations who have been so generous in pledging and
providing vital economic support that has proved invaluable in helping to build
shelters and rebuild the dreams of the invasion's refugees and IDPs.
On behalf of all my fellow citizens, I wish to thank you for your generosity, especially
at a time of such extreme hardship around the world.
Beyond the comfort provided by your material support, I want to thank all of
Georgia's friends who have defended not only our sovereignty, but our right to forge
our own path in the world, to choose our own alliances, and to reject the 19th-century
notion of spheres of influence, which led to so much warfare, repression, and hardship
in the world's history.
I want to thank those nations and leaders of the European Union who today have
committed their monitors to Georgia for the promotion of peace.
The Georgian people are also grateful to US President Obama, for his unyielding
words of support for our sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to Vice President
Biden, for visiting Georgia this summer and underscoring America's commitment to
our democracy and our right to choose our own future.
And in particular, I want to thank the UN for its more than 16 years of contributions
to peace on the ground in Georgia through its presence in our country- a presence
recently and abruptly halted by the unilateral actions of one single member state.
Our future depends on us.
And so today I also want to report to you on the progress Georgia is making, through
our own efforts, in the year since we suffered Europe's first invasion in the post-Cold
War era.
One year after losing hundreds of our sons and daughters and after seeing tens of
thousands of our people displaced, the Georgian people have regrouped and made real
progress down the path of peace, freedom, and individual liberty.
And I would like to pay tribute to their courage.
Just this summer, in a refugee camp outside Tbilisi, I saw young children
demonstrating their unstoppable will to have a normal and free life, seizing the
opportunity to learn how to compete in the modern age, using new computers,
mastering English and advancing their pursuit of knowledge despite the odds.
These children are the future of my country. These children symbolize, ladies and
gentlemen, the path Georgia took after the invasion.
We are following through on the promises I made at this podium last year to
strengthen our democracy, foster pluralism, and expand individual liberties.
Already, we have set reforms in motion, which within the next year will advance the
progress of the Rose Revolution and irreversibly deepen our identity as the freest state
in our region.
Already, we permitted nearly three months of opposition protests to proceed
unhindered, even though they closed down the main street of our capital, reflecting
our deep commitment to pluralism and our respect for dissent and freedom of speech.
Already, we have given opposition-controlled broadcast stations license to transmit
across the nation.
Already, we have brought opposition parties into meetings of our national security
council, to ensure our security policies reflect the unified will of the nation, beyond
faction, beyond party.
Already, we have committed to the direct election of mayors next year and begun the
development of new electoral rules, including a consensus chair of our electoral
commission, to ensure the greatest possible legitimacy of our democratic processes.
In the next few months we will go even further.
We will adopt new laws to penalize any government official or other outside party
from interfering with our judges.
And we will adopt constitutional reforms to transfer power from the presidency to a
stronger parliament.
We do this because a vibrant democracy is one of the best ways to topple this new
We are also doing all we can to rebuild our economy.
The Georgian people are skilled and hard-working, but they are bearing the double
punishment of a global economic downturn and the economic consequences of last
summer's invasion.
Our biggest imperative at home is to create more employment, and we are doing all
we can to pursue that goal, every day.
We are heartened that just this month the World Bank named Georgia as the eleventh
most attractive country in the world for doing business when only a few years ago we
were 11 2<-2\/^ nd. And we will continue to take steps to strengthen our economy and create more employment. We are resolutely committed to our vision of a sovereign and unified Georgia. 7 CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY Together, with all of Georgia's diverse ethnic groups and religions we will prevail over this illegal occupation and reverse this ethnic cleansing. Abkhazia is the birthplace of our culture and civilization. Starting from Jason and the Argonauts, Abkhazia has been the most valuable and vibrant part of our journey through history. Abkhazia today has been emptied of more than Ws of its population. Gardens and hotels, theaters and restaurants have been replaced by military bases and graveyards. It will take time, but Abkhazia will once again be what it was: the most wonderful part of Georgia. Mr. President, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, I came here today to deliver this simple message: Georgia is winning the peace. And here is how you can measure our commitment. Did we crumble in the face of a brutal invasion? No. Did we crack down in the face of dissent? No. Did we reduce freedom in the face of recession? No. Even in the face of adversity, we continue to contribute to the common goals established by our friends and by the international community at large. In the battle against climate change, I am proud to say that Georgia is at the vanguard, producing 85 percent of our electricity from green and renewable sources. We are, meanwhile, on the frontlines of confronting terrorism around the world with our allies, including in Afghanistan where our troops will serve side by side with others from around the world. We are winning the peace because every day, nations from our region become more and more independent from our common imperial legacy. Every day, regional states reject more and more the tremendous pressure coming from 8 CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY our common past. Every day, the idea that we can resist revanchist tendencies is growing and every day an arc of independent nations - from Belarus to Moldova - Uzbekistan to Mongolia - is telling the world that spheres of influence is a thing of the past. Georgia, my friends - is not only a country; the new wall that cuts across our territory has transformed Georgia to an idea and a test. An idea of freedom and independence, and a test for the world. A test the world must not fail. If the test is successful, then you will be amazed how quickly this region will develop its tremendous potential. An active, patient victory over this new wall is a crucial step in the effort to build energy security for free nations, and to build a united front against lawlessness and terrorism. It's a sphere where all cultures, influences, religions, and traditions meet, providing an antidote to the risk of a clash of civilizations. Yesterday, President Obama said clearly that new walls should not divide us, that the future belongs to those who build and not to those who destroy, that cooperation and values have to prevail against division and cynicism. I want today to stress how much we share this vision, how much this vision is vital for my country and my region and beyond. Twenty years ago, the velvet revolutions opened a new era in international relations and a new journey began towards a free and cooperative world. I am confident we will prevail on that journey, but only if we are not complacent, only if we are not passive. And if we stand by and defend our deeply held values. After all, the clarion voice of those velvet revolutions two decades ago - the voice of Vaclav Havel - offered us a solemn reminder only this week about the dangers we have yet to overcome. CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY Speaking of the new wall that now divides Georgia, he wrote, together with other prominent Europeans - and I quote: "The failure of Western democracies to respond to the dismemberment of a friendly nation, albeit a small one, can have very serious global consequences. The European Union was built against the temptation of Munich and the iron curtain. It would be utterly disastrous if we were to appear in any way to condone the kind of practices that plunged our continent into war and division for most of the last century. At stake is nothing less than the fate of the project to which we continue to dedicate our lives: the peaceful and democratic reunification of the European continent." We must not fail to hear Vaclav Havel's call and President Obama's call - and the call of one my personal heroes from Russia, Anna Politkovskaya, so brutally silenced. Their calls echo across two decades of progress - a progress that has sparked great hopes, but that remains fragile. Today and together we must provide answers. Today and together we must show leadership and vision. Today and together we must demonstrate uncommon resolve. And most of all, today and together we must provide an example that the power of our values and ideals - will finally unleash the tremendous human potential within us all. THANK YOU

source: http://www.un.org/ga/64/generaldebate/pdf/GE_en.pdf

Aug 19, 2009

Russia's new decision - Flags with CROSSES are PROHIBITED

Russia vs. symbols

Tuesday, August 18, 2009 18:13
Russian Ministry of Justice has adopted the ruling of the Supreme Court, according to which the things with crosses will be considered as the attributes of extremism.
After the decision was brought into force, the flags of over 15 states in Russia are now considered as the symbols of extremism. Along with Georgia, flags of Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Great Britain, Australia, New Zeeland, Switzerland, Dominican Republic and Jamaica will be also considered as the attributes of extremism.
Georgian heraldry experts downplay the attack of the Russian authorities on symbols. Even the Russian experts slam Russian Justice Ministry for inadequate decision.

source: http://rustavi2.com.ge/news/includes/get_news_print.php?id_news=33205&ct=0

Флаг с крестом признан в России экстремистским

17.08.2009 11:07
В конце минувшей недели Минюст включил в список экстремистских материалов флаг с крестом. Поскольку никакие другие атрибуты флага не названы, в России отныне запрещены все флаги, на которых изображен крест, в том числе Андреевский флаг ВМФ и флаги целого ряда зарубежных стран.
Эксперты опасаются произвола со стороны правоохранителей. Между тем, крест присутствует на государственных флагах целого ряда стран, в том числе Финляндии, Швеции, Норвегии, Дании, Исландии, Великобритании, Австралии, Новой Зеландии, Швейцарии, Грузии, Доминиканской Республики и Ямайки.

Флаг с красным крестом общепринят у медиков и является эмблемой международной организации Красный Крест. А флаг с косым синим крестом или Андреевский флаг - это официальный флаг Военно-морского флота России. Кресты изображены на флагах трех российских регионов - Удмуртии, Марий Эл и Белгородской области.

Есть кресты и на православных хоругвях, которые также можно счесть флагами. Следовательно, их производство, распространение и хранение в больших количествах тоже подпадает под запрет.
source: http://www.eurosmi.ru/flag_s_krestom_priznan_v_rossii_ekstremistskim.html


Флаг с крестом – под запретом?

В минувшую пятницу Минюст в очередной раз пополнил федеральный список экстремистских материалов (в нем уже 414 пунктов), включив туда среди прочего и флаг с крестом со ссылкой на судебное постановление Орджоникидзевского райсуда Уфы от 8 декабря 2008 года.

Материалы из списка запрещено производить, распространять и хранить в целях распространения. Для граждан такие действия грозят арестом на 15 суток, для организаций – штрафом в 100 тыс. рублей с приостановлением деятельности на 90 дней. Вывешивать на доме флаг с крестом или идти с ним на демонстрацию можно – в России наказуема публичная демонстрация только нацистской символики.

Никакие другие атрибуты флага в списке Минюста не указаны. Фраза «флаг с крестом» стоит через запятую между фразами «плакат с изображением представителей ку-клукс-клана» и «агитационный плакат, на котором изображена «азиатская саранча». Такая формулировка означает, что под запрет попадают любые флаги, на которых изображен крест.

Между тем крест присутствует на государственных флагах целого ряда стран, в том числе Финляндии, Швеции, Норвегии, Дании, Исландии, Великобритании, Австралии, Новой Зеландии, Швейцарии, Грузии, Доминиканской Республики и Ямайки. Флаг с красным крестом общепринят у медиков и является эмблемой международной организации Красный Крест. А флаг с косым синим крестом или Андреевский флаг[1] – это официальный флаг Военно-морского флота России. Кресты изображены на флагах трех российских регионов – Удмуртии, Марий Эл и Белгородской области.

Есть кресты и на православных хоругвях, которые также можно счесть флагами. Следовательно, их производство, распространение и хранение в больших количествах тоже подпадает под запрет.

Скорее всего, в постановлении суда имелась в виду нацистская символика, говорит главный герольдмейстер России Георгий Вилинбахов: «Подобные постановления должны очень четко конкретизировать, о чем идет речь». В нынешнем виде постановление можно толковать расширительно, что создает законодательную базу для произвола, подтверждает адвокат Дмитрий Аграновский.

Начальник пресс-центра МВД РФ Олег Ельников сообщил, что за государственные флаги никого наказывать не будут, но от дальнейших комментариев отказался.

Гордый Андреевский флаг

Андреевский флаг – кормовой флаг кораблей Российского флота. Представляет собой белое полотнище с изображением голубого диагонального креста Святого Андрея Первозванного. Апостол Андрей, родной брат апостола Петра, считается покровителем христианства на Руси. Согласно преданию, апостол был по приказу римлян распят на косом кресте.

Флаг был учрежден в качестве официального флага военного флота 10 декабря 1699 года. Инициатива введения Андреевского флага в круг российских геральдических символов принадлежит Петру I: «Флаг белый, через который синий крест св. Андрея того ради, что от сего апостола приняла Россия святое крещение».

В таком виде Андреевский флаг осенял русские военные корабли до ноября 1917 года. Начиная с петровского времени, неукоснительным оставался смысл уставного положения: «Все корабли российские не должны ни перед кем спускать флага».

D 1991 году в качестве основного Военно-морского флага указом Президента РФ был введен исторический российский Андреевский флаг.

source: http://www.pravmir.ru/flag-s-krestom-%E2%80%93-pod-zapretom/

Aug 7, 2009

Internet attacks 'targeted Georgian blogger'

Widespread internet attacks that hit services at Google, Facebook and Twitter on Thursday could have been the result of an online assault against a single blogger.

According to senior industry figures, the strikes that affected hundreds of millions of web users around the globe on Thursday were part of an attempt to damage just one individual - a controversial Georgian known only as Cyxymu.

Max Kelly, Facebook's chief security officer, told CNet news that the strike was an attempt to silence Cyxymu - an outspoken critic of last year's conflict between Georgia and Russia in South Ossetia - as theanniversary of the war approaches.

"It was a simultaneous attack across a number of properties targeting him to keep his voice from being heard," Kelly said. "We're actively investigating the source of the attacks and we hope to be able to find out the individuals involved in the back end and to take action against them if we can."

The strikes appeared to be one of the most widespread and coordinated attacks ever seen online, shutting down Twitter for significant portions of Thursday, as well as causing serious problems for Facebook and blogging service LiveJournal. Google, too, was subjected to attacks but said it had been able to prevent any damage - although some users reported some unexpected problems with the internet giant's services.

It is not clear precisely how the attacks started or who was behind it, but a vast number of spam messages were also sent out simultaneously mentioning the victim.

With a monicker styled after the cyrillic name for the disputed Black Sea city of Sukhumi, Cyxymu runs a blog written in georgianised Russian and subtitled "of Sukhumi, the war and Bolivia".

In the past, it was a home for controversial opinions on the way the conflict was handled by both the Russian and Georgian governments - last year resulting in a similar attack by opponents which had crashed LiveJournal.com.

Like many internet users, Cyxymu has accounts across a number ofsocial networking services, and yesterday appeared to recognise that he or she may have been a target.

"It became clear that it is a special attack on me or on Georgians," Cyxymu said in one message. "In my mailbox are hundreds of spam emails."

"Spam was being sent on my behalf with an invitation to go to my blog... I apologise to everyone."

Security experts had already suggested to the Guardian that the widespread and apparently random nature of the attacks could be evidence of a grudge or personal vendetta rather than an organised criminal act aimed at blackmailing major websites.

The war in South Ossetia officially started on 7 August last year, after several weeks of growing arguments over the future of the territory. Following support from Russia, Georgian troops began shelling the town of Tskhinvali. An estimated 25,000 residents of the region were forced to leave their homes as fighting took place, and although the two countries signed a ceasefire agreement a week later, tensions are still high.

At the time, the conflict resulted in an outbreak of hostilities over the internet, with Russian sympathisers attacking Georgian government websites - the same type of attack which appeared to take place on Thursday.

source: Guardian.Co.Uk

Jul 7, 2009

U.S., Russia agree on nuclear deal, vary on Georgia

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The United States and Russia agreed on Monday to "reset" their relations and would complete a legally binding nuclear deal by the end of 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama told a news conference.

Obama said after holding talks with Russia's Dmitry Medvedev that Moscow would contribute greatly to the U.S.-led coalition's war in Afghanistan.

But he flagged the remaining disagreement over Georgia, saying Washington would stand by the Caucasus nation's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

(Reporting by Oleg Shchedrov; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

source: http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSTRE56541C20090706

Jun 25, 2009

Preparing for Round 2 of Georgia War

The Moscow Times

24 June 2009
By Yulia Latynina

Peacekeepers deployed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe must leave Georgia by June 30 after Russia vetoed on June 15 all attempts to keep their mission in force. That is about the same time General Nikolai Makarov, commander of Russia's forces in the war with Georgia in August and the commander of the "Caucasus 2009" military exercises planned for June 29 to July 6, announced that "Georgia is brandishing its weapons and is preparing to solve its territorial problems in any way it sees fit."

This raises a question: If Georgia is really planning to start a war, why is Russia going to such lengths to expel international observers who will be able to testify to the whole world how Georgia started the war?

The Akhalgori district is key to any future war in Georgia. In violation of all agreements signed by Moscow at the conclusion of the August war, Russia never withdrew its troops from Akhalgori -- territory that was previously under Georgian control and located only 30 kilometers from Tbilisi. If Russia starts a war, Akhalgori would be the obvious launching area. If, however, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili initiates the war, Akhalgori would be one of his first military targets.

Only a few journalists have managed to visit Akhalgori, but those who succeeded have painted a somber picture of conditions there. Marauding and killing by South Ossetian "civil guardsmen" have become part of everyday life. Alkhalgori has been transformed into a military base: It was from Akhalgori, by the way, that Russian Sergeant Alexander Glukhov deserted into Georgian territory in January.

Is Akhalgori just a big mismanagement problem? Perhaps, but if Russia intends to strike Tbilisi from Akhalgori it naturally does not need any witnesses hanging around -- above all journalists and international observers. One way is to control events is to deny journalists access and veto motions to continue OSCE peacekeeping operations. Another way is to get rid of other witnesses by using the South Ossetian "civil guardsmen" as a blunt instrument to remove them.

Russia's foreign policy did not become more peaceful following the war with Georgia. To the contrary, it fought a "gas war" with Ukraine in January and has recently fought a "milk war" with Belarus. If before the war with Georgia, Russia's position toward the rest of the world was "They don't love us." Now it is "They attacked us."

Of course, Russia would be crazy to start a new war with Georgia now. Unfortunately, it was just such madness that prompted its "gas war" with Ukraine.

Throughout most of this year, the Kremlin has tried to convince the world that Georgia started the war. Clearly, the more innocent the Kremlin considers itself to be, the more likely it will feel justified in starting a second war with Georgia to settle scores.

In private talks, OSCE officials ask not to take advantage of the fact that its peacekeepers will not be around to arbitrate -- or prevent -- new conflicts in Georgia. But by leaving, they are making another Russian-Georgian war more likely

Feb 21, 2009

Julia Latynina - Articles on August war (Translations)

Julia Latinina is well-known Russian columnist and political commentator. Below are the abstracts from series of her articles about Russo-Georgian war of August of 2008, published in November of the same year.

If a lie is told aggressively and repeatedly, it will still leave a mark in people’s mind, no matter how absurd it is, - even after the truth is revealed.


Russo-Georgian War: 200 kilometers of Russian tanks

Video record

Russian TV news “Vesti” website features a video record made from a mobile phone by one of the Georgian tank drivers in Tskhinvali, South Ossetia, with the following headline: “Georgians were video-recording their crimes”.

Given the accusations that Georgian tanks were running over squabbling babies, while Georgian soldiers were shooting the elderly and raping women in South Ossetia, you would expect to see a documentary evidence of these crimes.

Yet, this video record shows the town of Tskhinvali intact at the time when Georgian tanks were crossing it with no visible signs of resistance.

Let’s assume, for a second, that audio track with the sounds of machine guns and swearing in Georgian are genuine and were not “added” by creative TV news staff (similar to infamous case with fake “coughing” and some bodily noises added by Russian RTR TV channel to Fox News’ interview with an Ossetian girl, - to “prove” a pro-Georgian bias of US media in this conflict. GT). It is not really important whether such audio background was creatively “added” by Russian TV news Vesti.

What is important in this video record is that Georgian tanks are crossing into town of Tskhinvali, which is intact, - no rubbles, and no signs of destruction. Green trees along the fences of small houses, - all standing undamaged. Multistory buildings intact, with only smashed window panes in one of them. And a single rising smoke that can be seen on the horizon. Only two or three shots are fired from machine gun off the armored vehicle from which this video record was made.

“We saw the streets of Tskhinvali after Georgian tanks rampaged through them, firing at everything and everyone on their way. All houses and apartment buildings were razed to the ground. Even trees were burnt down”, says TV news channel Vesti.

Right. As we can see from this video record, town of Tskhinvali is intact when merciless Georgian military is entering it, facing almost no resistance. Two days later, when Georgian fascists were pushed out of Tskhinvali, it was in ruins after artillery strikes and air bombardment.

So, who destroyed the town of Tskhinvali?


In the morning of 8th of August, Russian TV channels announced that fascist Georgia treacherously invaded a small nation of South Ossetia, and its main town of Tskhinvali had been razed to the ground by “Grad” missiles.

Russian public also learnt that Georgian fighter jets attacked a humanitarian convoy bringing aid to Tskhinvali in the night of 7th to 8th of August. Russian TV news channel Vesti also told us that Georgian SU-25 warplane bombing Tskhinvali civilians was shot down by South Ossetian defenders, and that its pilot was “torn apart” by furious local residents.

3 pm that very day, we learnt that Russia decided to help South Ossetia, and that columns of Russian tanks are moving toward Rocky tunnel (on the Russia’s border with Georgia, - GT). In two hours, we were told that Tskhinvali is liberated. For next two days, South Ossetian press office kept repeating that although Tskhinvali is freed from Georgians, the town is still under fire from nearby hills, while Georgian snipers are killing civilians in the streets.

While official Russian television keeps telling us about crimes committed by Georgian monsters, more and more questions are raised, because, - just like in Orwell’s “1984” novel, - what was said just a day before does not tie to what is said today, and even preceding paragraph contradicts with the next.

Let’s examine, e.g., this story about humanitarian convoy, attacked by Georgian fighter jets during the night of 7th to 8th of August. What idiot would send humanitarian aid by the road which was likely to be crowded by refugees and vehicles? And then again, why send humanitarian aid to South Ossetia if, according to South Ossetian authorities, an entire civilian population of South Ossetia was already evacuated three days earlier? And if this was a military convoy, - not a humanitarian one, - then would that mean it left Russia before this war even started?

Maybe there was no such convoy? Maybe, Georgians were falsely accused of bombing it? No, there were witnesses who saw it. It was spotted in Java (town half way to Tskhinvali from Russo-Georgian border, GT) early morning, at 5 am, by Russian TV “Zvezda” reporter Naziullin. He described what he saw as “the column of Russian tanks and armored vehicles just passed near us”.

Or, let’s take that Georgian warplane bombing Tskhinvali in the morning of 8th of August. Worth noting that Russian public at that time did not know that Russian air force was already bombing Georgian villages and town of Gori. We were only told about Georgian warplane that bombed Tskhinvali. However, any intelligent person would wonder why Georgians bombed Tskhinvali after it was already taken by them? Were they bombing their own tanks?

It would be enough to show what’s left of that Georgian warplane, any documents proving the identity of Georgian pilot. None were available. And, by the way, the pilot who was shot down over Tskhinvali in the morning of 8th of August was buried in Russian town of Buddyonovsk…

Mismatches mounted further. Russian reporters who were in Tskhinvali that night of 7th to 8th of August made it clear that Russian troops did not liberate Tskhinvali on 8th of August.

Even worse, - Russian troops did not make it on 9th of August either. The Russian column that attempted to break through to Tskhinvali that day of 9th of August was led by the head of entire 58th Russian army, General Khrulyov himself. We know what happened to this column very well, as it was accompanied by TV Vesti crew, as well as by the newspaper reporters of Moskovsky Komsomolets (Vladimir Sokirko) and Komsomolskaya Pravda (Alexandre Kots).

“Shot at point blank”, describes Vladimir Sokirko an annihilation of this column, “rocket-propelled grenade hit an armored vehicle at the front of the column, and column grinded to halt under torrent of fire. I saw machine gun pointed at me, from some six meters or so, and young girl in NATO uniform who was aiming it at me. She was about 25-year old, this Georgian girl, not very tall, rather attractive, one may say pretty. Uniform suited her well. This crossed my mind in a split of a second. I shouted “I am a reporter!” She lowered her machine gun, and that very instant was killed by machine gun volley that cut her in two”.

TV news Vesti is announcing liberation of Tskhinvali, while head of 58th Russian army is sitting among corpses of his soldiers.

“Entire battalion is destroyed” he roars, pounding the soil with his fists, “Why?! Why?! I told them!”

Why am I describing all this in such detail?

Because, as we can see, Georgians controlled Tskhinvali on 8th of August, and on 9th of August. So, who was shelling this town then, full of Georgian tanks? And what happened to another column which was believed to have taken Tskhinvali a day before, on 8th of August?

“I will hang Saakashvili by his balls”, allegedly told Putin to Nikolas Sarkozy on 11th of August, when Russian tanks were already in Gori. “Bush hanged Saddam, why can’t I?”

I am sorry, - what for? Because Saakashvili’s troops attacked the convoy of Russian tanks and armored vehicles that mysteriously emerged in the middle of South Ossetia even before Georgians took Tskhinvali? Because our troops could not take Tskhinvali during next two days, although they entered South Ossetia before Georgians? Because they were destroying Tskhinvali during these two days and were telling us all this time that it was Georgians who did it? Because the head of 58th Russian army that was sent by Kremlin to fight for Kokoyti’s regime (South Ossetian president, GT) is sitting on the burnt soil with his fists clenched?

Well, on second thought, - yes. This is exactly the situation when you wish to see your enemy hung by his balls.


Both sides lie, - heard I many times about Russia and Georgia in this war.

Georgian deputy minister of interior, Ekaterine Zguladze, showed during one of the press conferences two thousand fake Russian passports appropriated by Georgians in Tskhinvali. These passports had names and photos, but were not signed by their assumed holders. I.e., these passports were for those people who left South Ossetia, and did not even know that local authorities issued Russian passports for them.

In response, General Nogovitsin demonstrated a passport of an American instructor Michael Lee White, whose “presence on the battlefield alongside with Georgian special forces is an established fact”. Shortly after, it has been discovered that Michael Lee White is an English language teacher in Guangzhou, China, who lost his passport during Moscow-New York flight in 2005, and whose passport, thereof, was voided.

Here is another lie, which is a key to this war. From the very beginning, all Russian TV channels accused Georgians of genocide.

“Georgians and foreign mercenaries had an order to burn everything and to kill everyone who is young enough to produce offspring”, says the head of Ossetian information agency, Inal Plyev, “In one of the villages, Georgians locked up seven young Ossetian girls in one of the houses, and then fired at it from a tank”.

“Our colleagues witnessed an entire family decapitated, month-and-a-half old babies burnt alive… Wounded people, including our peacekeepers, were finished off, some were burnt while they were still alive”, writes Russian army TV channel Zvezda reporter, Alguis Mikulskis.

Another story: Mairbeg Tskhovrebov was trying to flee Tskhinvali in his car in the morning of 8th of August, with his son Aslan and his daughter Dina. At the corner of Isaac Street and Heroes street, his car was fired at by a Georgian tank. “Dina was still alive, when Georgian soldiers approached the car, pulled her and her father’s and little brother’s corpses, and decimated all three with machine guns. Then they piled their bodies and burnt them. All this was witnessed by residents of nearby apartment buildings, who were hiding in the basements. Trembling, fearful, they covered their kids’ mouths… They were afraid for their lives”, wrote Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper on 11th of August.

Nevertheless, neither Human Right Watch organization, nor even the official South Ossetian unit in charge of collecting war crimes testimonies could produce any evidence of these crimes. Seven young Ossetian women slain in basement, decapitated families, peacekeepers burnt alive, - all disappeared without a trace.

On the other hand, residents hiding in the basement of the nearby apartment block at the corner of Isaac street and Heroes street describe the death of Mairbeg Tskhovrebov and his two kids somewhat differently from the newspaper version: “There was a big explosion that morning next to the building where we were hiding”, testified Zhanna Tskhovrebova to the official South Ossetian unit in charge of collecting war crimes evidence, “the family that was trying to flee came under fire and was burnt alive”. (Who was bombing Tskhinvali at that time with Georgian troops in it? GT)

What is even more peculiar, no single name of victims of Georgian genocide was published by the head of the prosecutor’s office Alexander Bastyrkin, who was in charge of investigating these crimes. He, nonetheless, miraculously brought back to life 1,866 people by announcing 134 civilian casualties (instead of 2,000 announced earlier by South Ossetian president Kokoyti).

While the evidence of atrocities committed by Georgians was fabricated, ethnic cleansing of Georgian villages by South Ossetian militia is a fact. It is easy to prove it, - no need even to present its profuse evidence (including daily satellite images clearly showing destruction of Georgian villages after Georgian troops left South Ossetia, - GT). South Ossetian president Kokoyti said it himself: “We razed everything to the ground there”.

And this is the key to this whole story. If Nazis tell you that Jews drink the blood of Christian children, while Jews are telling you about Buchenwald, the truth is NOT somewhere in between. The truth is that the story about Christian blood sucking Jews was used to justify Buchenwald.

It was also the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, when one of the puppet regimes (of South Ossetia, - GT) incapable of defending itself, was robbing, looting, and killing behind the lines of advancing Russian troops.

Someone must have misled the Kremlin: great nations do not rise from their knees with a help of marauders (an expression of “Russia rising from its knees” has been increasingly popular in Russia in recent years, GT).

Objectives of this war

One of the strangest things that followed this war, was Kremlin’s irritation with any criticism about achieving its objectives in it. This is strange, as Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili, by all accounts, suffered a crushing defeat, while Vladimir Putin was victorious. However, Kremlin’s reaction suggests the opposite. Why? To try to understand this, let’s take a look what kind of war it was, - how it started and how it was conducted.

All-out war

First thing that catches an eye is a massive scale of this war and its geography. Russian army deployed, at very minimum, 25 thousand troops (Georgian sources insist on up to 80 thousand), and 1,200 tanks. It took extensive railroad maintenance in Abkhazia earlier in May to be able to deploy some of them in Abkhazia. Georgia was attacked from two fronts: South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russian warplanes were also taking off from their airbases in Armenia (south from Georgia, - GT); Iskander missiles aiming oil pipeline and town of Gori were launched from Dagestan (north-east from Georgia, - GT).

Secondly, it was a war dominated by air strikes and artillery barrages. Georgian shells and bombs inflicted substantial damage to Russian troops advancing through Trans-Caucasus highway, while Russian bombs and shells hammered Georgians in and around Tskhinvali and Gori. Russia’s victory was guaranteed simply because she had more bombs. Georgians tell us about over 200 Russian air raids, while a source within Russian military claims 413 air raids.

Thirdly, the war was preceded by massive military build-up. Russia was building its military bases around Georgia for last several years before the war. We reinforced our base in Ochamchire, Abkhazia, and sent there paratroopers back in April of 2008. TV channel Zvezda rather imprudently showed another military base, in the middle of South Ossetia, in town of Java, on 11th of September (one month after the war, - GT), and called it a “shield against Georgian aggression”. As you will learn later in this article, on the night of 7th to 8th of August, Russian tanks and 135th and 693rd regiments of Russia’s 58th army were already in Java, South Ossetia.

Third military base for some 10 thousand troops was built in Botlikha, Dagestan (north-east from Georgia, - GT). The road from Botlikha to Georgia (that president Putin ordered to repair) was not yet ready when this war started. The columns of tanks and armored vehicles traveled from Botlikha to Rocky tunnel (on the Georgian border with Russia, - GT) through Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia and North Ossetia. On the way back, they stretched from Ingushetian town of Ekazhevo to Dagestani capital of Makhachkala, - some 200 kilometers of tanks. One of the bridges over Argun river collapsed after this column passed through it. It survived two Russo-Chechen wars, but could not withstand Russo-Georgian war.

There is not much to say about the use of modern weaponry in this war. Russian Iskander missiles developed in 80s, still rare in Russian army, were used only twice, - aiming oil pipeline and hitting a central square in town of Gori, where humanitarian aid was being distributed (killing, among few others, Dutch reporter Stan Storimans). Praised for its precision, it missed both targets (unless Gori’s central square itself was a target, making it the first case of deliberate shooting of civil population with high-precision missiles).

Abkhaz guerillas used radar station “Casta-2E2”, in addition to “Tochka-U” missiles that were fired at seaport of Poti, and warplanes that bombed Georgian positions in Upper Kodori valley (as we all know, guerrillas normally use missiles and warplanes).

However, the most disturbing element of the preparations for this war was structured, methodical Russian propaganda that portrayed Georgia as America’s puppet, with its president Saakashvili as some lunatic dictator.

In order to comprehend the depth of Georgia’s reforms, you have to see it with your own eyes. Georgia was always a synonym of corruption, laziness, organized crime and gray market. Today, it is a modern and rapidly growing economy with minimal taxation, minimal bureaucracy, with police that do not take bribes, with open and fair auctions that sell privatized real estate properties.

Nevertheless, Georgia was still stereotyped in Russian media the same way the United Stated were stereotyped by Soviet propaganda in 70s, when Soviet public was told about lynching black population in America, and about decaying American government system that would soon collapse.

Preparations for this war, - building Russian military bases around Georgia, Russian TV propaganda, and brainwashing Russian public, - were going on for several years. It is ludicrous to claim that it was a war to defend South Ossetians, - would be an equivalent of saying that WWII was a fight for the rights of Sudeten Germans.


Georgian state, as European as it has become, still had one characteristic that was making it different from other European countries: abhorrent revanchism. Although by its economy, police, Georgia was European country, but come to territorial claims, it was still stuck with 11th century mindset.

South Ossetia

The situation in South Ossetia was escalating before this war, and there was enough violence from both sides. South Ossetian TV propaganda was promoting the view that it was all thanks to South Ossetian president Kokoyti that Georgians could not exterminate ethnic Ossetians. It is worth noting, however, that fascist Georgian regime, for some unknown reason, was trying to slaughter only those Ossetians who lived under president Kokoyti’s rule, but did not massacre Ossetians in any other part of Georgia (e.g., about 33 thousand Ossetians live in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi alone).

The most astonishing thing in this whole story is that while building a modern army, threatening with it Abkhaz and South Ossetian separatists, scaring them away and pushing them into Moscow’s hands (who was methodically preparing for this war), Georgia was not getting ready for the war with Russia itself. “We are not going to fight Russians”, told me then-Georgia’s minister of Defense, Timur Kezerashvili, “it is impossible. Your air force can beat us with pots and pans, left alone bombs”.

This was true (and, quite frankly, the precision of our bombing was not far from dropping pots and pans). Strategically, a strong air defense system could have prevented Georgia’s defeat.

Maybe it was better not to build at all such an army that frightened separatists, but was helpless against indiscriminate Russian air bombardment and artillery strikes at city squares, irrespective of who and what was there.

South Ossetia: minefields and movie theaters

Before this war, Georgian government built restaurants, hotel, movie theater in the part of South Ossetian territory under its control, between Tskhinvali and town of Java, - all and all about 20 new social infrastructure objects.

“I am surprised with what I see in Georgian villages in South Ossetia”, wrote Dmitry Stepashin from pro-Kremlin “Komsomolskaya Pravda” newspaper just before this war started, “movie theater made of steel and tinted glass, with dancing hall, brand new gas station, lovely looking pharmacy, hotel, sport field with synthetic cover, pool…” Unlike the rest of Georgia, which was experiencing rapid growth, these improvements in Kurta village (Georgian village near Tskhinvali, GT) represented a mere window dressing. However, even these limited-scale improvements offered the new possibilities for the local population. When new hospital opened in Kurta, Ossetian population of Tskhinvali, first time in 15 years, got a chance to undergo medical check-ups. South Ossetian president Kokoyti immediately closed the border with Kurta. He also announced that standards of living in South Ossetia were “higher than in the West”.

Apart from building social infrastructure in Georgian-controlled enclave along the Trans-Caucasus highway between Tskhinvali and Java, this part of South Ossetian territory was heavily defended by Georgians. Even with complete air superiority and heavy artillery shelling, Russian troops could not get through it during the first two days of this war. Russian military officials casually mention this fact in private conversations, while Georgians deny having built such defenses, as, according to then-existing agreements, they did not have the right to have there tanks and heavy artillery systems. The fact that Georgians had this territory just north of Tskhinvali so heavily fortified, is crucial to understanding of what exactly happened on the night from 7th to 8th of August.

I would also like to stress here that the regime which erects “buildings made of steel and tinted glass” (i.e., Georgia, - GT), is probably thinking not about invading, but more about discrediting its tiny quasi-totalitarian neighbor (i.e., South Ossetia, -GT). While regime which is not building anything (i.e., South Ossetian one, - GT), but is constantly telling about atrocities that are being committed by Georgian fascists, - such regime is not simply preparing for a war, - it clearly does not have any other choice, because, sooner or later, such regime would have to explain how come that Tskhinvali, heavily subsidized by Moscow, does not have even drinking water, left alone supermarkets, while just one kilometer down the road, on the other side of the closed border, begin “steel and tinted glass-made buildings”.

South Ossetia: June - August

“For you this war might have started on 8th of August, for us it was going on for years”, said Tsisana Tatishvili, a refugee from Tamarasheni village (a Georgian village north of Tskhinvali), “our kids got used to shooting, and were walking to school under fire”.

Starting from 15th of June, the intensity of shooting in South Ossetia increased.

Then, from 1st of August, heavy artillery shelling started. South Ossetian information bureau announces that Georgian snipers started killing civilians in Tskhinvali, with the photo that shows wounded man in military uniform.

On 3rd-4th of August, South Ossetian president Kokoyti starts evacuating civilian population. On 6th of August “the last convoy with women and children left villages of South Ossetia”, according to Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper. Worth noting that Georgians did not evacuate Georgian villages in and around South Ossetia. Georgian refugees started fleeing only after massive Russian bombardment of 8th of August that continued for several days.

“We will retaliate”

“We will strike back at Georgian towns, we have the means of retaliation”, declared South Ossetian president Kokoyti on 1st of August. South Ossetian army claimed to have 87 tanks, hundreds of armored vehicles, 23 “Grad” missile complexes, hundreds of rocket propelled grenade launchers, anti-aircraft missiles, etc.

On per capita basis, South Ossetia seemed to be more militarized than North Korea! However, there was no sign of these weapons being used by South Ossetians in this war. “We only had machine guns”, they tell, “many of us dropped them and dressed as civilians, since there was no real chance of fighting”.

So, who was to play the role of “South Ossetian army”, which was supposed to strike back at Georgian towns? Maybe, volunteers from Russia? But Tskhinvali residents that testified to the official South Ossetian unit in charge of collecting the evidence of Georgian genocide did not mention a single case of any volunteers fighting in Tskhinvali against Georgians.

So, again, whose were all these tanks, missiles, and armored vehicles then?

58th Russian army

The answer is evident, if we know that 135th and 693rd regiments of 58th Russian army were already waiting in town of Java (in the middle of South Ossetia, - GT).

On 12th of August, Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper published an article about 23-year old lieutenant Alexandre Popov, who was wounded near Tskhinvali. According to his mother, one week before the war started his son told her that they already are in the mountains from where they could oversee Tskhinvali.

“Rumors about immanent war started circulating during the first days of August” told Private Alexandre Plotnikov of 693rd regiment of 58th Russian army in his interview to Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper. “Nothing was announced officially, but we understood everything when 2 companies of our regiment were sent inside South Ossetia, near Tskhinvali. Later, on 8th of August, alarm went off for the rest of us at 3 am early morning”.

“Permskiye Novosti” newspaper interviewed on 15th of August mother of another serviceman of the same 693rd regiment from town of Perm, Russia, who told her that they “were there from 7th of August, that is, our entire 58th army”. “Vecherny Saransk” newspaper (Saransk, Republic of Mordva, Russia) ascertains that Ukit Bikinyaev from Saransk serving in 135th regiment of 58th army was in Java, South Ossetia, on 7th of August. Some Vitaliy from Vyatka region “called on 6th of August to tell that they are on the move”. He called on 7th of August again, confirming that he was “heading toward mountains”.

On 13th of August “Izvestia” newspaper published an article about Evgeniy Parfyonov from Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan, Russia, who was serving in 22nd special brigade, and who was killed near Tskhinvali. “He called his parents a few days earlier to tell them they may have a problem reaching him on his mobile”.

Many ethnic Ossetians served in 135th regiment too. “Everyone knew that our boys, who served in 135th regiment of Russian 58th army, were staying in Java”, admit Ossetians themselves.

But when Georgians started shooting Tskhinvali late night 7th of August, South Ossetian president Kokoyti’s “retaliation” that was talked so much about all of the previous week, did not materialize. It was close to an “informational miracle” not to hear anything about volunteers, 87 tanks, 23 “Grad” missile complexes, about Ossetian forces who taken over Nuli heights near Georgian village just a day before. What we heard instead was a treacherous Georgian attack on unwary, peaceful Tskhinvali.

This is a classic Orwell. The episode where main character of “1984” novel is watching crowd going wild after chocolate daily rations are increased up to 20 grams. “Very strange”, thinks he to himself, “wasn’t it just yesterday when the daily ration was 30 grams?”

Obviously, the role of “retaliating guerillas” was meant to be played by 58th Russian army, whose vanguard was already in Java.

“Kokoyti is out of control”

August 3rd and 4th – tanks and armored vehicles arrive in Abkhazia by railroad. 4th and 5th of August – troops leave Botlikha military base and start moving toward Georgian border. This is all in addition to those troops who were engaged in military training in Caucasus, with some of them already in Java, South Ossetia.

Easy to see that the goal was probably to have this pompous Georgian military machine crushed by South Ossetian and Abkhazian guerillas, attacking it from two fronts. We can also tentatively guess the date when this was planned to happen: 9th of August.

First of all, this can be deduced based on the timing of movement of Russian troops into their positions. Only vanguard of 135th and 693rd regiments reached Java, while main forces of 58th Russian army were still at Georgian border on 6th of August, as confirmed by “Nezavisimaya Gazeta” correspondent, Marina Perevozkina.

Second of all, 9th and 10th of August is weekend. UN and OSCE would only be able to react on Monday, 11th of August, and by that time, the only thing left for them to do would be expressing their condemnation of “fait accompli”.

Thirdly, and, probably, most importantly, George Bush, Vladimir Putin and Mikheil Saakashvili were supposed to be attending the Olympics Games opening in Beijing on 9th of August. Vladimir Putin would have a pleasure of telling George Bush and Mikheil Saakashvili that “Kokoyti is completely out of control”.

You would agree that it would be enormously pleasing to tell this news to president Saakashvili in person, to this American whore, this Washington DC puppet, this bastard who destroyed Georgia’s democratic system, who killed his own Prime Minister Zhvania, and extradited innocent Russian secret service officers accused of espionage. It would be a super cool, just like saying that he could not reach Attorney General the day Gusinky was arrested (Gusinky was one of Russian media magnates arrested in early years of Putin’s presidency. When asked if he knew about it, Putin replied that he could not reach Attorney General on his phone,- GT).

7th of August

No plan is ever perfect. Georgians do not sit and wait. They act.

When Georgians saw that returning fire only escalates the situation in South Ossetia, they quickly changed their strategy. Georgian minister in charge of re-integration of separatist regions, Temur Jacobashvili visits Tskhinvali on 5th of August. South Ossetian president Kokoyti refuses to see him. Jacobashvili tries to meet him again on 7th of August, together with Russian ambassador in Georgia Yuri Popov, but Russian ambassador tells him that he cannot join him in Tskhinvali because of a flat tire problem with his car. Jacobashvili tells Popov to replace flat tire, but Popov tells him that his spare tire is also flat. Jacobashvili meets the head of Russian peacekeepers in Tskhinvali, General Kulakhmetov, who tells him that “Kokoyti is out of control”, and that he cannot find him and organize a meeting with him. Kulakhmetov asks not to shoot, and not to return fire, no matter what.

Let’s re-cap. Who is seeking a cessation of hostilities? Georgians. Who is asking OSCE to intervene? Georgians. Who is an aggressor? Of course, Georgians, - entire 58th Russian army knows it! Its soldiers were given leaflets describing its potential enemy a month earlier, during military exercises in Caucasus.

Georgian president agrees to Kulakhmetov’s request, and orders to stop fire. Russian ambassador in Georgia Popov still arrives in Tskhinvali later that day of 7th of August, and meets Kokoyti, - he is evidently successful in finding both, a spare tire, and the South Ossetian president. On the way back, Popov sees columns of Georgian tanks and trucks moving toward Tskhinvali. Let’s keep in mind that Georgian troops are advancing toward Tskhinvali in the evening of 7th of August, when Russian troops are already in South Ossetian town of Java.

According to anonymous sources in Russian government, Popov calls Deputy Foreign minister Karasin (as Foreign minister Lavrov is on vacation). Karasin calls president Medvedyev, who then calls Prime Minister Putin himself.

7th of August, 23.00 pm. Georgian village Tamarasheni, located on Trans-Caucasus highway, near Tskhinvali, comes under heavy artillery fire from Ossetian towns of Tskhinvali (from the South) and Java (from the North). It is shelled from major caliber cannons (152 mm), never used in South Ossetian conflict before.

“We were sitting in Georgian president’s office”, tells us Temur Jacobashvili, “when Tamarasheni news first came”. President replied, “Do not return fire”. A few minutes later – another phone call, and Saakashvili’s face turns pale: “150 Russian tanks are moving toward Rocky tunnel”.

Was this phone call before Georgians started shelling Tskhinvali, or after? Based on intercepted communication from Ossetian border patrol, Russian tanks crossed into Georgia about 3.40 am on 8th of August, hence, the timing of a phone call to Saakashvili about Russian tanks starting their move toward Rocky tunnel is about right.

What does it mean?

1. Georgian president Saakashvili made his decision instantaneously, all by himself, and contrary to Americans’ advice “not to respond to provocations”.
2. He did not fully realize a significance of the fact that vanguard of 135th and 693rd regiments of Russian 58th army was already in Java, - otherwise, his reaction to the news about 150 Russian tanks advancing toward Rocky tunnel on Georgian border would not be so dramatic.
3. Russian artillery strike at Tamarasheni was the first step before 200 Russian tanks already in Java, and another 150 tanks advancing through the Rocky tunnel, could break through Georgian-controlled stretch of Trans-Caucasus highway, between Tskhinvali and Java. This was necessary first step before they could reach Gori with further strategic access to the whole of Georgia’s lowlands south of Caucasus.

Georgians do not talk about it, as they were not supposed to have any defenses built between Tskhinvali and Java. Russians do not talk about it, because it would mean admitting they were first who attacked. But what should have been a reaction of Georgian president, after the head of Russian peacekeepers in Tskhinvali asked him not to fire back, and, at the same time, the only defenses Georgia had to stop an advancing enemy toward its key town of Gori came under heavy artillery fire?

The answer to this question is simple. At that point, the president of Georgia did not have any strategic choice, the only choice he had was tactical: he could only choose if this war would start that night in Tskhinvali, or next morning in Gori.

Of course, instead of resisting the aggression, Saakashvili could have complained to the UN. And if he had done it, no one, not even Georgian opposition parties, would criticize him now. Instead, they would be praising Georgia’s new president Igor Giorgadze (a well-known puppet figure, whom Russians wanted to install as Georgia’s next president, - GT).

Chronology of the conflict is becoming clearer too: “Ossetian guerillas” were supposed to strike on 9th of August, Georgians got worried, began mobilizing their forces, and Russians decided to start their operation a day earlier than originally planned.

A propos, why wasn’t blocked Rocky tunnel?

Kokoyti’s regime kept on blaming Saakashvili for escalating this conflict. This brings three following questions.

Firstly, it is Georgia who carries out large-scale construction works in the parts of South Ossetia under its control: modern movie theater and café, hotel and swimming pool, etc. It offers $500 a month salaries (unheard of in that part of the Caucasus, - GT) and free housing in newly built apartment blocks. Russian subsidies to South Ossetia, on the other hand, disappear with no trace.

Regime, which is busy with large-scale construction works is normally not interested in war. Regime that squanders money is interested in war, which would write off these subsidies and would discourage any further questions about its performance.

Secondly, why would Georgia want to escalate the situation. Surprise is the key to a victory. Military intelligence and counter-intelligence normally spend millions to disguise preparations for military campaigns. According to international law, South Ossetia is part of Georgia. In order to enter Tskhinvali, Georgians would not need an escalation, rather a full secrecy be in order. South Ossetia, on the other hand, did need an escalation, for the same reason Hamas and Hezbollah need an exchange of fire with Israel.

Thirdly, the key to Georgia’s defeat was an open Rocky tunnel. The only chance Georgia had in this war was blocking Rocky tunnel and Trans-Caucasus highway. Georgia easily subdued South Ossetia. Georgia automatically lost to Russia. However, Georgia had a very simple way of blocking Rocky tunnel, whereas not a single tank or vehicle could have passed through it. And it wouldn’t cost a single penny. It is called “winter”. All passages through Caucasus mountain range are blocked during the winter time, cutting off South Ossetia from Russia, while down below, in the valleys, weather is bearable for military operations. Georgia would just need to start a war during winter time.

And yet, Georgia starts shooting that ruins its large-scale construction works in South Ossetia, which removes an element of surprise in military sense, and instigates the war at the worst time of the year. Saakashvili must be really out of his mind!

Obedient reporters

Russia made one strategic mistake in this conflict, - it brought to Tskhinvali a bunch of its reporters. These reporters were supposed to describe how enraged volunteers fought against Georgian aggression. These reporters were carefully selected. Most of these reporters did exactly what was expected of them. They did not notice, e.g., such an obvious thing as deserted Tskhinvali by noon of 7th of August. The fact that the people left in town at that point were mostly military and reporters, while on the neighboring hills were located “Grad” missile complexes. They wrote what was expected of them: how Ossetian people resisted Georgian aggression.

There was one little problem though. Reporters love details. Details raise questions.

All these reporters tell the same story about summoning them in the backyard of the headquarters of Russian peacekeepers in Tskhinvali, after 23.00 pm on 7th of August.

“War started exactly at 23.20 pm”, writes Yuri Snegirev from “Izvestia” newspaper, “journalists were standing there, waiting for Marat Kulakhmetov, the head of Russian peacekeepers, when shell exploded some 50 meters from them. Everything became clear even without Kulakhmetov’s announcement”.

“Around 23.30 pm, all journalists were summoned from hotel to Russian peacekeepers’ headquarters”, write Marina Perevozkina from “Independent Newspaper”, “General Kulakhmetov was going to make an announcement, we all prepared our cameras, when a shell exploded somewhere nearby”.

“Public liaison for General Kulakhmetov called us and told us to immediately come to his headquarters”, writes Roman Gusarov of NTV, “we were there five minutes later, almost all of our colleagues were there too. We prepared our cameras, waiting for General Kulakhmetov, when something exploded near us”.

It is peculiar that all of these reporters state different time of the start of this war, - exactly 23.20 pm according to some, and exactly 23.36 pm according to others (on 28th of August, prime minister Putin tells CNN that war started at 22.35 pm!)

As you know, our military typically do not like media exposure. Normally, they start war, and then journalists are chasing them for interviews. This time, it was all the way around: press was first summoned in headquarters, and only then war started. Why would Russian journalists be summoned in the middle of Tskhinvali, in Russian peacekeepers’ headquarters? If the attack from Georgians was expected, then journalists had to be hidden away, not clustered in the backyard of military installation.

What is even more amazing that those who were not summoned to Russian peacekeepers’ headquarters tell a different time when this war started: 23.00 pm.

“Exactly at 23.00 pm, residents of Tskhinvali heard how heavy artillery opened fire”, writes Irina Kelekhsayeva.

This paradox can be explained, if we recall that Georgian village Tamarasheni was shelled at 23.00 pm. As Tamarasheni village is in outskirts of town of Tskhinvali, for its ordinary residents (not experts in military tactics), this could have been easily perceived as shelling of some parts of Tskhinvali itself.

This is the reason why journalists are summoned to Russian peacekeepers’ headquarters in Tskhinvali: to tell them how to interpret already started heavy artillery fire obliterating nearby Georgian village, so that journalists would know how to write about it in their reports. Ok, all gathered, prepared for briefing, everyone knew about provocations of these cocky Georgian militarists even before they arrived in Tskhinvali… And, all of the sudden, these impudent militarists indeed opened fire! This is why these journalists fail to agree on exact time of start of this war.

The night from 7th to 8th of August

So, what did these Russian reporters do next, after Georgian military opened fire at town of Tskhinvali?

Yuri Snegiryov from “Izvestia” newspaper, headed back to hotel under waves of “Grad” missiles. “I got on the roof of hotel”, he writes, “blaze of fire from the south, and then explosion just a second later in the north, - you can tell it was a heavy cannon. Grad missiles flying from the north”.

It must have been a spectacular scene. Reporter is observing Grad missiles from the roof of his hotel. Even more astonishing is that Grad missile launches are noticed in the north, because this is where Georgian village of Tamarasheni is located, and it would be very difficult to safely observe Grad missiles from hotel in Tskhinvali if they were hitting all of Tskhinvali itself.

Then Yuri Snegiryov, together with 1st TV channel reporter Olga Kiriy leaves hotel and walks toward South Ossetian government offices. They are not the only brave souls who wonder around Tskhinvali under torrent of Georgian Grad missiles.

Then Yuri Snegiryov returned to hotel, and went to bed. He was awakened by people talking in Georgian. “There was a Georgian platoon near hotel”, he writes, “in the dawn, you could see their NATO army helmets”. Then… he went back to bed (!) He was awaken second time by Olga Kiriy, who was reporting live from Georgian platoon’s location near hotel: “Georgian troops are trying to take Tskhinvali, but face stiff resistance”.

These statements are remarkable. First, we were told that Tskhinvali was reduced to rubbles by Georgian Grad missiles. But Izvestia newspaper’s reporter witnessed Grad missiles in the north, while staying in Tskhinvali central hotel himself. Then, we were told that Georgians face a strong resistance. But Georgian platoon calmly gathered in front of hotel, where Yuri Snegiryov was peacefully sleeping.

After being waken up twice, he apparently gave up on sleeping and decided to go back to Russian peacekeepers’ headquarters. “Three shells exploded near our car”, he writes, “when we moved away from hotel, I looked back and saw the smoke rising from hotel’s windows. It was a direct hit”.

Let’s re-cap. Yuri Snegiryov was sleeping in hotel until Georgians arrive. Before that hotel was not under fire. Once Georgians arrived and took positions in front of hotel, hotel came under fire. This must have been done either by Ossetian militia, or by opening artillery fire at Tskhinvali after it was taken by Georgians (as South Ossetian president Kokoyti fled the town at 2 am).

When arrived at Russian peacekeepers’ headquarters, Yuri Snegiryov saw open gates. “Defenders of town of Tskhinvali were coming to our headquarters building, - it was getting crowded with journalists, local residents, and some people in military uniforms but without signs. I heard them talking to each other: “Do you realize what shit we got ourselves into? They will shoot us first”. These guys were not peacekeepers”, continues Yuri Snegiryov, “Who were they? A good question. I saw a lot of strange guys who gathered there”.

Again, these details contradict with the overall coverage of this war by pro-Kremlin journalists, same way as Olga Kiryi’s live report about “stiff resistance” Georgian soldiers were facing when gathered in front of hotel.

First of all, despite the fact that Kokoyti and Russia were preparing for this war during last four years, the building of Russian peacekeepers’ headquarters in Tskhinvali did not even have a bomb shelter.

Second of all, gates of Russian peacekeepers’ headquarters are wide open, but it is not under attack. No one was killed, although there was no bomb shelter to hide.

Thirdly, it is not only peacekeepers who were there, but also these very “strange guys” hiding there as well. Who were they? Volunteers who were supposed to resist Georgian aggression?

So what kind of war Kokoyti’s regime was preparing for, if it was not ready for defensive war?

Khetagurovo and Nuli

Another dramatic story of the same night of 7th to 8th of August develops in Ossetian village Khetagurovo. Georgian village Nuli and Ossetian village Khetagurovo are two villages facing each other on either side of Zari road, near Tskhinvali. Taking Khetagurovo by Georgians would mean blocking Zari road from Java to Tskhinvali.

There is an interesting eye-witness testimony in the article “South Ossetian war in SMS”: “20.34 pm. Neighbors decided to celebrate knocking out Georgian special forces from nearby Nuli heights. Bringing beverages and snacks”.

So, at 20.34 pm, the same time as Saakashvili announced a unilateral cease fire, Tskhinvali residents celebrate taking Nuli heights.

“It was horrible: heavily shelled houses, scared cattle in barns… It was the result of heavy artillery bombardment”, tells Georgian “Kviris Palitra” newspaper’s reporter Irakli Managadze, who was in Nuli on 7th to 8th of August.

Just a few hours later after Tskhinvali celebrated taking Nuli heights, those damn Georgians took Khetagurovo village. First they fire Grad missiles, then infantry and tanks cross into the deserted village firing at gates of the houses they pass by. Few of them enter through the gates of one of the houses, and see an elderly couple sitting at the doorsteps. “What are you doing here?”, ask Georgians in apparent surprise. “We live here”, answer the elderly. “We thought there are only military in this village”, tell Georgian soldiers to this Ossetian couple, turn back and leave them in peace. This is how this story was told to Tatiana Lokshina of “Memorial” about these damn Georgians who suddenly entered a peaceful Khetagurovo village. “They were breaking into houses, searching for weapons and uniforms, shouting “are you hiding guerillas?” They thought we had more combatants here than in Tskhinvali”, told one of the residents of Khetagurovo, Amiran Kabayev.

Imagine, that at 20.34 pm the population of Russian town Blagoveshchensk (on Chinese border of Russia) celebrates artillery attack on nearby Chinese city of Heihe, while three hours later central Russian TV channels are furious about Chinese aggressor treacherously attacking peaceful Blagoveshchensk.

Artillery fire at Georgian Nuli village was opened from Khetagurovo by troops, not by Khetagurovo residents! Moreover, South Ossetian president Kokoyti announced on 4th of August that evacuation of Khetagurovo was complete. No significant civilian population was left in the village. Every time I asked why Khetagurovo fell into Georgian hands, the answers were “we were surprised ourselves”, “we do not know”, “it was impossible to hold it”. Why impossible? Shelling nearby Georgian village is possible, but stopping Georgian tanks with rocket-propelled grenades is impossible? It was critical to keep Khetagurovo. It is because of Georgians taking it, fail attacks of Russian ground forces in the following days, including ambushing Russian General Khrulyov’s column, described earlier.

Kokoyti fled to Java. Georgian tanks entered Tskhinvali with no significant resistance, - it resembled Soviet tanks entering Prague in 1968, rather than fierce fighting Russian tanks encountered entering Grozny (Chechen capital) in 1995. Not being able to defend Tskhinvali, South Ossetian regime puts Russia in a very difficult position. Russia can no longer pretend that this war is waged by “strange guys” sitting in Russian peacekeepers’ headquarters, with “87 tanks” and “23 Grad missile systems”.

Russian troops in early morning of 8th of August

As already mentioned, Georgian president Saakashvili was shocked when he learnt about 150 Russian tanks moving toward Rocky tunnel. We can only guess that he may not have fully realized the significance of the fact that vanguard of 135th and 693rd regiments of Russia’s 58th army was already in Java by that time (as a comment: a slowly accumulated Russian reinforcements in Java is one thing, a massive column of Russian tanks moving toward Georgia’s border was a clear sign that war has actually started, - GT).

This column of Russian tanks was reported by “Zvezda” cameraman Naziullin at 5 am of 8th of August. The circumstances in which Naziullin was reporting it were far from pleasant: this column of Russian tanks (together with him) was bombed.

“The head of this column, Captain Dennis Sydristy, set an objective of reaching southern outskirts of Tskhinvali before Georgian village of Nikozi”, writes “Krasnaya Zvezda” in its article about Private Levan Khubayev serving in 135th regiment of Russian army, “This is where our peacekeepers were located”. Captain Sydristy is one of those who arrived in Java on 7th of August, and was sent to fight on 8th of August, as it was described in “Krasnaya Zvezda”’s article dedicated to captain Sydristy’s story. The article caused a scandal. It was soon removed from the website. A disclaimer was placed, telling that journalist got it wrong. That it was 9th of August events he was describing.

Unfortunately for us, this is not even about this gaffe about the dates. The military objective set for this column speaks for itself. The objective set in the morning of 8th of August, was to reach the southern outskirts of Tskhinvali. Such objective could only be set if Sydristy’s superiors did not know that Tskhinvali is already in Georgian hands, or if they did not understand the scale of catastrophe (as a comment: “catastrophe” here probably refers not only to the fact that Georgian military responded so quickly to escalating aggression by promptly taking Tskhinvali, but also to solid evidence of Georgian artillery being very successful in shelling advancing Russian columns during the first several days of this short-lived war. The author will conclude later in this article, that it was Russian air superiority that allowed Russia to defeat Georgia in this war. GT).

Furthermore, the articles about Khubayev and Sydristy are not the only ones published in “Krasnaya Zvezda”. There is a third article about Lieutenant Mikhail Melnychuk of 135th regiment. His company was in that very column too, with the same objective of reaching southern outskirts of Tskhinvali. “They almost reached the headquarters of Russian peacekeepers, when his column came under massive fire”, writes “Krasnaya Zvezda”, “the fight continued for long 7 hours, the column was surrounded, and by the evening of 8th of August, lieutenant Melnychuk decided to try to break out and retreat back to main Russian forces”. This is the same very column witnessed by Tskhinvali resident, Marina Khugayeva on 8th of August: “I can’t recall how we got on Zari road”, she tells, “and all the sudden ran into Russian soldiers, about 30 of them. They looked at us, in surprise, and asked “are there any survivors in Tskhinvali?” They told us that their column entered Tskhinvali, but was gunned down by Georgians, and only they managed to escape”.

This is the same very column, whose triumphant entrance in Tskhinvali is announced during the press conference in Moscow by General Barankevich. “Krasnaya Zvezda” newspaper is a very good paper. Equally good is TV channel “Zvezda” who showed a huge military base in Java on 11th of September, which was a “shield against Georgian aggression”.

We do not need any anti-Russian propaganda, when we have such a great newspaper. Only need to read it carefully.

There is a clear contradiction. 8th of August, 3 pm, Russia declares that it enters this war. But her 58th army is already fighting before that. Melnychuk, Khubayev and others are already in Tskhinvali under massive Georgian fire, while Russian warplanes are already bombing Georgian villages and town of Gori.

It is obvious that at 3 pm on 8th of August, Russia made not a decision to enter this war, but to admit it. It can no longer pretend that it is South Ossetian guerillas who are fighting this war.

In order to analyze the events of this war, expertise in linguistics is more pertinent than military knowledge. In fact, to analyze it properly you need to know and understand Orwell’s novels.

What were Georgia’s objectives?

We heard “Tskhinvali” from the very morning of 8th of August. It seemed as if Georgians wanted to take Tskhinvali with the sole purpose of conducting genocide and crushing poor babies into pulp with tracks of their tanks. Even if we believe that Saakashvili is a maniac who is daydreaming about throwing Ossetian babies under Georgian tanks, he still has generals who would point out that tanks could be used more effectively to fight against attacking Russian troops.

“Java” is rarely mentioned. The name of this town only appears when they tell about South Ossetian president Kokoyti fleeing Tskhinvali and escaping to Java, and when they tell us that volunteers used to gather in Java. Russian premier minister Vladimir Putin stated in his interview to CNN that Georgians bombed Java in the night of 8th of August. The video record of another bombardment of Java, during the day time, is available on “Komsomolskaya Pravda”’s website. What is this Java? Why is it that Georgian warplanes, that were very few, bombed Russian tanks advancing through Trans-Caucasus highway, and also bombed some “Java”?

Java is a small town half way between Rocky tunnel on Georgian border and Tskhinvali. It was turned into a strong Russian military base. It was the place where in the morning of 8th of August, TV cameraman Naziullin saw the column of Russian tanks, and how it was bombed. This was the place where vanguard of 135th and 693rd regiments of 58th Russian army was staying the day before war started, with some, like lieutenant Popov, who were staying there for the whole of preceding week.

Looking at the map, we can see that Saakashvili could stop 58th army in three places: Tskhinvali (which is the gateway to Gori and Georgian lowlands), Java, or up north where Trans-Caucasus highway stretches along the canyons (and can be easily blocked).

Georgians kept relatively small contingent of their troops in Tskhinvali, about 600 men + police. They took Tskhinvali over night of 7th to 8th of August, crossing into it on light armored vehicles and Jeeps, moving quickly (not to become easy targets), and then moved in heavy tanks next morning, when they saw that there was no real resistance.

Main Georgian forces were moving toward Java.

On 8th and 9th of August, it became obvious that Georgians failed to take Java, and that Russians did not manage to take Tskhinvali.

What was happening in Tskhinvali?

Information about what was happening in Tskhinvali is sometimes staggering. Even when it is coming from official South Ossetian sources, left alone “mischievous” Human Right Watch and the likes. This information is made public on osgenocide.ru and osradio.ru websites, which were established by South Ossetian government to display the evidence of Georgian genocide against South Ossetia. In fact, South Ossetian authorities predicted this genocide and created these websites several years before this war. They did not build bomb shelters, did not bother with minefields, did not train and equip their militia with rocket propelled grenades, - however, they did set up in advance all these websites for collecting the evidence of Georgian genocide.

This evidence is very interesting. If you review them in their entirety, they reveal a lot more than when reviewed separately. It is very important what these testimonies describe, and even more important what they do not describe.

First of all, all respondents hate Georgians. They regard them the same way Palestinians regard Israelis. They consider Georgians to be monsters, bastards and fascists. Two years before this war even started, the head of South Ossetian state information agency Inal Plyev explained on osgenocide.ru website why South Ossetian fight against Georgia is anti-fascist one. Worth noting that this gentleman is also press-secretary of peacekeeping battalion, i.e., in George Orwell’s terms (“1984” novel), he is combining jobs in Ministry of Peace and Ministry of Truth.

24-year old student Irina Tedeeva tells that Georgian soldiers were under influence of drugs. “When our boys caught one of them, and beat him so heavily that normal person would have died, he did not die and got up on his feet five minutes later”. Not sure if such testimony can be used in Hague tribunal…

Irina also reveals another case of genocide: “Two our friends were killed in front of our eyes. One was killed by sniper, while second comrade, Azamat, hit Georgian tank with grenade, but did not see another tank firing at him”.

Another evidence of Georgian genocide from Zaira Tedeeva: she and four other people left Tskhinvali on 8th of August, and ran into Georgian soldiers. They were transported to Gori, and then handed over to their relatives in Georgian town of Kareli, where they stayed next several days, before Russian tanks arrived. Zaira Tedeeva is thanking Russian tanks for rescuing her. “It is thanks to these Russian tanks and thanks to God, that we were saved. Anything could have happened to us if they did not arrive. We could have been shot on site. This is a miracle!”

It was a real miracle in case of Eduard Kulumbegov too, a military observer assigned to peacekeeping battalion. He happened to be near Georgian village Megvrekisi when this war started. Despite the fact that Mr. Kulumbegov saw Georgian fascists and foreign journalists deep in Georgian territory (these foreign cannibals, by the way, were “cheering each artillery strike made by Georgians”), he was not harmed. “It is probably because Georgian aggressors thought that I had no way out, and could be used as hostage”, he writes.

Another miracle was the story of Inal Plyev (who I already mentioned earlier, and who is an expert of anti-fascist fight against Georgians). When this war started, Inal Plyev did not fight against Georgian aggression. Instead, he hid in the compound of Russian peacekeeping battalion in Tskhinvali. “Georgian tanks passed by our barracks, almost like sending a message that Russians and Ossetians will not escape them, as if they left us for desert”, he writes.

So, let’s re-cap. The expert of anti-fascist fight against Georgians, Mr. Inal Plyev is not fighting them, he is hiding in peacekeepers compound. “Strange guys” are also hiding in peacekeepers’ quarters. Georgian tanks pass by peacekeepers’ quarters, but do not take it although there is no resistance.

It is easy to see that these testimonies contain both, emotions and facts. Emotional side is hatred toward Georgians. Facts are that Georgian tanks pass by peacekeepers’ quarters without attacking it, while Georgian soldiers bring Zaira Tedeeva to her relatives.

“We are fighting not against you, we are fighting against Russian soldiers”, shout Georgians. “Georgians were telling us not to worry about our houses, - all damages will be compensated. I came closer to the exit and was terrified to hear “Long live Georgia!”, and, in Russian, “Peaceful population will not be harmed!” “Beasts”, comments this osgenocide.ru, “bloodthirsty murderers”. “Georgian criminal gangs”.

Why the Ossetians were welcoming tanks?

Another thing that stands out when you read testimonies of Tskhinvali residents is that in the morning of 8th of August when they hear tanks entering their town, they have no doubt that these tanks are Russian.

“Tanks entered our town from the south, and passed through our street”, tells Marina Kozayeva, “We were glad to see them, as we thought Russians finally arrived… We ran toward them”.

“Georgian tanks had already entered our town by 9 am. We first thought it was Russian tanks”, tells another Tskhinvali resident, Sarmat Khubulov.

“We heard tanks coming, and through that they were Russian”, testifies Marina Khugaeyva.

This is strange. After all the shooting of the previous night, they hear tanks entering their town, and immediately decide that they are Russian tanks. This remarkable assuredness can only be stemming from two things. First, they know Russian tanks are in Java. Secondly, these tanks did not open fire. Enemy tank cannot be confused with Russian tank, if it fires at everything around it.

How is it possible to know that Georgians would carry out an unexpected, surprise attack, and, at the same time, to know that vanguard of Russian army has already arrived in Java. This is a well-known, time-honored technique: “To know, while not knowing; believe in what you say, when telling carefully fabricated lies; stick to two opposite views, fully aware that they are incompatible, and firmly believe in both”. George Orwell, “1984”.

Well-organized rumors

None of the respondents who testified to the official South Ossetian unit collecting the evidence of war crimes, was harmed by Georgians. “They looked inside the basement, but did not enter, and left”, tells Sarmat Khubulov. Next minute someone rushes to him to tell that Georgians are throwing grenades into basements. Marina Kozayeva hurries toward Georgian tanks (thinking that they are Russians), but stays alive. However, her neighbors told her that “Georgians were coming down to basements and taking with them young girls”. They also told her that “Georgians were taking men out of basements, and shooting them”.

Similar story from Nelly Bikoyeva. “We heard some people coming, and one of three girls hiding with us said, “It must be ours”, and rushed outside”. Nothing happened to her. But, again, they heard from the others that “Georgians are checking basements, throwing in grenades, and taking girls as hostages”.

Let’s re-cap. There is almost no resistance to arriving Georgians. “Strange guys” with grenade launchers are hiding in Russian peacekeepers’ headquarters. However, propaganda about atrocities being committed by Georgians is very well organized.

Frightened people are fleeing the town of Tskhinvali, and becoming the victims of street fighting (as earlier mentioned, almost an entire column of 135th regiment of 58th Russian army led by lieutenant Mikhail Melnychuk that was sent to Tskhinvali, was destroyed there on 8th of August. Add to it Russian shelling and bombing of Tskhinvali after it was taken by Georgians the night of 7th to 8th of August, - GT). Mairbeg Tskhovrebov’s car is hit, with two kids in it. Other cars get in a cross-fire near Tbet village. Zalina and Eduard Gagloyev are killed in one car, Teimuraz Gagloyev with his son Azamat are killed in another.

On the night of 8th of August, police Major Guram Sabanov tries to evacuate his family from Khetagurovo village. He is stopped by Georgians. Women are let go, while Sabanov and a few other men in uniforms are detained. “When transported in Georgian vehicle, we saw a minivan near Tbet village. We recognized people sitting there, they were from Tedeev village… Georgians opened fire and shot all of them in front of our eyes”, testifies Major Sabanov.

However, Major Sabanov’s testimony is not entirely accurate. There were two families in the minivan and car that he saw, - Tedeevs and Tadtayevs. When driver of one of these vehicles, Atsamaz Tadtayev sees Georgians approaching, he thinks that they are Russians, and walks toward them. Georgians fire at him. His brother, Teimuraz, is trying to help him, and gets wounded as well. Among others who stayed in the cars two are killed as a result of this shooting, Sergey Tadtayev and the elderly Babelina Tedeeva”. Georgians approach these cars, the slaughter seems immanent, but… Georgians turn away and leave. “They were in hurry, and left us alone”, tells Sergey’s widow Alina Gabarayeva.

This story about Georgian beasts killing civilians needs to be complemented by one fairly important detail. ALL of the men in these cars were members of either local police, or some other local paramilitary units. From the viewpoint of Georgian soldiers, Atsamaz, Teimuraz and Sergey were all local guerillas. What do you think would happen if Russian checkpoint in Chechnya would have fired at car full with Chechen guerillas in it, and then Russians would see that some of them are still alive?

As I said, information tells us about what happened. It is also important, furthermore, to understand what did NOT happen. Russian law enforcement agencies in Chechnya routinely make people disappear. Reading through South Ossetian testimonies I could not find a single evidence of Georgians capturing Ossetians that were later found dead.

The way terrorist regimes function is very well known. They shoot neighboring territory, using their civilians as a human shield. If fire is not returned, then they shoot heavier. If fire is returned, they accuse the opponents of genocide. This is how it was done by PLO, Hamas, Hezbollah. This is how it is done by South Ossetian regime.

Irina Keleskhayeva tried to flee Tskhinvali on 9th of August. She was advised by Ossetian militia to take Zari road, but only after Russian peacekeepers’ tanks would pass through it to Tskhinvali. Irina and her companions “took refuge under the tree”.

“We heard how Tskhinvali was shelled, fragments of exploded shells were reaching the tree under which we were sitting, so that we had to cover our heads with bags”, tells Irina Keleskhayeva. “We could see the road out of Tskhinvali, and several cars passed by us, they were driving very fast. We stayed still, following the advice we received”.

When fighting stops, Irina and her companions jump in the car and leave Tskhinvali. “The road was full with burnt tanks and armored vehicles with scorched cadavers… Most dreadful was to see those very cars that passed us by earlier, with bodies ripped apart by shells fired from tanks”.

“Georgian military, knowing that car passengers were civilians, did not spare these poor people tank munitions”.

But this just cannot be! There was a fight on Zari road, a fight between Georgian and Russian armies. No one specifically aims at civilian automobiles in the middle of fight with the enemy, - you aim enemy tanks and trucks. These cars burnt on Zari road is a symbol of what happened to Southern Ossetians, - the very people that had been repeatedly told for last four years about Georgian genocide, rushed out of their basements and got right in the middle of tank battle between two modern armies.

Although, it wasn’t much better for those who stayed in Tskhinvali.

Angelina Kharazishvili was killed by shell, together with her 3-year old daughter Dina, on 8th of August. Malvina Tskhovrebova, 8-month pregnant was killed by shell in the morning of 8th of August. Alan Atayev’s body was blown apart some 300 meters away from his house on 9th of August. 74-year old Anisim Dzaghayev lost his leg on 9th of August, when he tried to extinguish fire at his house. Ergis Kulumbegov was hit by shell and burnt alive on the night from 8th to 9th of August in his apartment he refused to leave.

Question is, whose were these bombs and shells?

Who bombed Tskhinvali?

Artillery strikes on night of 7th to 8th of August were clearly made by Georgians. Artillery cannot be 100% precise. But after 2 am of 8th of August, when South Ossetian president Kokoyti ran for his life to Java, and “platoons of Georgian soldiers” entered the streets of Tskhinvali, AFTER 2 am, and for the next two days, whose air force and artillery were pounding Tskhinvali?

TV cameraman Alguis Mikulskis describes Georgian tank that was hit in front of the Cultural Center: “our bomber hit it, when crew was about to shoot. Shells exploded inside, and tank’s cockpit flew some 20 meters from it”.

How can we know that Georgian tanks were the only thing our planes bombed in Tskhinvali?

Liana Zasseeva is sitting in the basement, “After 11 pm a few men came by and told us that aerial bombardment is expected to start soon, and that all of us have to go to a bomb shelter. Around midnight, Zema Khubezhova and I ran to a bunker. The whole street was a mess, dead bodies, crushed trees, burning houses, - we were running past all this, and praying to make it to the railroad station, where the bunker of the “Alan” hotel was located”.

How could these men possibly know about Georgian aerial attack? Who left all this mess in the streets of Tskhinvali?

Let’s go back to Irina Kelekhsayeva’s story, who was advised not to take Zari road before peacekeepers’ tanks pass through it and take Tskhinvali.

“We heard how Tskhinvali was shelled; fragments of exploded shells were reaching the tree under which we were sitting”. What does she see? She sees artillery pounding Tskhinvali before Russian column can break through and take it.

So, whose artillery was it?

Here is a story of another Tskhinvali resident, Marina Ualiti, who tries to flee Georgian-controlled Tskhinvali on 9th of August. “We got in the car, when warplanes appeared and started bombing. We rushed into the basement. We tried to leave several times, but bombing would not stop, so we managed to depart only after trying fourth time. When we reached the building of Technical College, we saw two burning tanks, with huge craters next to them, - I thought we would not be able to drive through this mess”. Finally, Marina Ualiti exits Tskhinvali. “We could see Tskhinvali from Kverneti road, - all covered with smoke, in ruins, burning tanks, armored vehicles… We could hear roaring planes up above”.

When Marina reaches Java, she is puzzled: “There was a long line of Russian tanks standing there, they took both sides of the road, the end of this column was, as we found out later, in Vladikavkaz (North Ossetian capital, in Russia, - GT).

So, what this column is waiting for?

This column is standing and waiting for Russian air force to finish their work in Tskhinvali.

Tskhinvali is in flames of Inferno. It is a real hell, because at 5 pm of 8th of August, two hours after Russia officially entered this war, Russia announced that Tskhinvali was liberated. This means a death sentence to Tskhinvali. It means that Russian bombs falling on this town will be declared Georgian, since Tskhinvali is already liberated. It means that Russian shells obliterating this town will be declared Georgian; otherwise, it would mean that Russians were bombing their own troops.

Residents of Tskhinvali are sitting in their basements, and refuse to understand this. All they know is that they had normal lives, and then Georgians came, then there were three days of pure hell, then Russians came and life got back to normal again. It is even dangerous to ask any questions, especially in South Ossetia, where Kokoyti’s personal security force arrests brothers Kozayevs, who dared to accuse Kokoyti of cowardice. Kremlin and Kokoyti found each other. Kokoyti is ready to defend Tskhinvali to the last soldier of 58th Russian Army. Kremlin is willing to defend Tskhinvali to the last of Ossetian children. Why restrain yourself, if all deaths will be blamed on your enemy?

Twice, in the morning of 8th of August, and noon of 9th of August, Russian army is trying to take Tskhinvali. It fails. But Georgians are pushed out of Tskhinvali later, with air bombardment and artillery strikes.

Georgians are fighting and re-taking quarters, getting reinforcements. They also understand that if they lose Tskhinvali, every Russian bomb and shell will be declared theirs. They also understand that if they keep Tskhinvali, every Georgian shell will be attributed to Putin and Kokoyti.

Premier Minister Putin arrives in North Ossetian capital, Vladikavkaz. This is his personal war. Reinforcements are sent to South Ossetia from all over of Russia. The war, which was already announced to be won, continues…

22.00 pm, on 9th of August, special correspondent of “Moskovsky Komsomolets” newspaper, Vadim Rechkalov, interviews Grad missile complex operator (292nd regiment of 19th Russian division), who seems agitated. He tells that his complex launched missiles “8 times” on 9th of August.

- How about yesterday?

* Yesterday we launched a lot more missiles, not less than 20 times. In order to take Tskhinvali.

“All night long Georgian positions were bombed by heavy cannons and Grad missiles”, writes Irina Kuksenkova about the night from 8th to 9th of August.

It was this time, when Tskhinvali residents were hiding in their basements, that first-in-60 years victory of Russian army is forged. This victory will prove wrong all the military experts insisting on the need to reform Russian army. All these experts looked like a bunch of morons, staring at steam engine and going about missing hydraulics and cruise-control. Steam engine is not a Mercedes. But why would we need a Mercedes?

In the smoke of burning Tskhinvali, a profound military discovery is made. If army cannot fight local conflicts, then it should fight the way it can. That is, all-out war. To bury your opponent with bombs and shells, while tanks will later play a police role. If army cannot fight in the local war, then we change war, not the army.

What about the civil population that we are liberating? TV will take care of them. TV will explain that all the bombs and shells fallen on them belonged exclusively to the enemy.

Captain Sydristy’s battalion is ambushed, General Khrulyov’s column is ambushed. But Russia is victorious in this war, thanks to its air force and its TV. TV is very important element of this victory. How else would you explain to Tskhinvali residents that while South Ossetian militia is mounting a fierce resistance to Georgians, the latter are running around Tskhinvali and killing civilians? How else would you explain to Tskhinvali residents that it was Georgian tanks who shelled them, while Georgian planes, at the same time, were bombing them from the air?

They tell us that this war happened because Russia could not abandon its citizens in Tskhinvali. This is a lie. If Russia was concerned with its citizens in South Ossetia, it would be enough to locate vanguard of 135th and 693rd regiments of 58th army not in Java, but on the administrative border of South Ossetia with Georgia. It would have been enough to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and sign a defense pact with it. We would not be condemned more than we are condemned by international community now, and it is possible that South Ossetia would be recognized not only by Russia and Nicaragua, but even by Somalia.

And why is it a problem to prove the atrocities committed by Georgian military? The witness testimonies tell us that they were bombed during three days by Georgians. But these testimonies prove nothing, - no witness could see the markings on falling bombs and shells, especially, if he or she is hiding in a basement. It would be enough to allow international experts to visit the site and photograph all bombs and shells that fell on Tskhinvali. They could make out the ones fired from Georgian cannons and Grad missile launchers, and those that were launched by agitated operator of 292nd regiment of 19th division of Russian army.

But it did not happen, - just like in Beslan, bulldozers were called in to erase all the evidence (Russian authorities handled hostage situation in town of Beslan a few years ago the way that led to deaths of children, - GT).


Was there any resistance to Georgians in Tskhinvali?

There was some. Before this war started South Ossetian regime declared about thousand volunteers, coming from Rostov and even Siberian town of Irkutsk. There is no single testimony of any volunteers fighting Georgians in Tskhinvali, apart from Tskhinvali residents themselves. People were defending their houses, their streets, their blocks.

Not very successfully. “Our boys were helplessly running around, trying to do something. When asked what’s going on, they responded “we are surrounded”, and ran away”, tells Larisa Gabuyeva. “They were armed mostly with machine guns, with only a handful of grenade launchers”, testifies Marina Ualiti.

Here is somewhat obscure, but rather typical story of what was going on in Tskhinvali. Elena Kachmazova and seven other people (three other women and four elderly men) were sitting in basement, when fifteen Georgian soldiers asked them to come out of basement.

“It was I and another woman who came out of basement”, tells Elena Kachmazova, “we asked them in Georgian not to kill us. They told us that there will be a car that would take us to Georgia. In a meantime, our neighbor, Vilen Chibirov was returning home. When he saw Georgians in our house, it was too late, he was shot at point blank. Then next who tried to help us were our local militia guys, who attacked Georgians. Georgian soldiers who earlier asked us to leave the basement took shelter in our house, while we ran back to our basement… Victor Tadtayev and his friend Vladik Gazzaev tried to help us. When they crossed into our backyard, they did not have time to take cover, - they fought bravely, but were killed…”

Let’s recap. Women came out of the basement. Young boys who knew that Georgian soldiers are running around and killing women and children, rushed to their rescue with machine guns. They were killed. Women were left unharmed.

The night from Sunday to Monday

10th of August. Georgians retreat. “Georgians are running, leaving their armored vehicles and ammunition behind!”, “Embarrassing retreat of Georgians”, “Georgian army is running toward Tbilisi”, - announced newspapers and You Tube videos.

Can you sense something awkward in these headlines? They say “Georgians retreated”, how about “we pushed them back”?

“Krasnaya Zvezda” newspaper published three editorials about fights of 8th of August, although one of the fights it described was in the morning of 8th of August, which contradicts to official Russian version of entering into this was at 3 pm on that day. There are a lot of materials about annihilation of General Khrulyov’s column. There are stories about the fight near Zemo-Nikozi, but it was on 11th of August, after Russian tanks took Tskhinvali and were moving toward Gori.

However, there was no story about Russian columns entering Tskhinvali and crushing and pushing back Georgian troops. There is no story, because Georgians were pushed out of Tskhinvali not by incoming Russian troops. They were pushed back by aerial bombardment and artillery strikes. (It must be added that Russians air strikes were destroying infrastructure systems throughout Georgia in this all-out war, - ports, radars, air fields, bridges, etc. This, combined with immanent attack on Tbilisi forced Georgians to withdraw from the area of Tskhinvali and Gori. This was, indeed, a blackmailing with the means of Russian air supremacy in this war, - GT).

Georgians withdrew, because they did not manage to take Java. They withdrew, because Georgia was attacked from two fronts. Artillery and warplanes of “Abkhazian guerillas” bomb Kodory valley in upper Abkhazia. Russian bombers pound Georgian villages around Tskhinvali, irrespective of whether there are Georgian troops are or not.

Russia no longer pretends that it is “Ossetian guerillas” fighting this war. It fights this war with its 58th army. It is a masterpiece. Russian army cannot carry out high-precision strikes? No problem, it will be bombing everything, and Saakashvili would have to understand that if he does not withdraw from Tskhinvali, we will bomb Tbilisi. Russian army is hungry and its soldiers do not have proper footwear? No problem, Saakashvili will see that army without good boots sometimes is more dangerous that properly supplied one.

Russian forces are heading toward town of Gori. Behind them are scores of “volunteers”, “militia”, and “Cossacks”, - all these people who were hiding in Tskhinvali with machine guns, who were waiting in Java. Idealists who lived in Russia for long time, and hurried to fight for South Ossetia. South Ossetian criminal elements. Ordinary Ossetians who had been told for the last four years that Saakashvili is fascist and monster, and who were also told that during these three days Georgians tanks were running over women, slaughtering them and burning babies alive.

These people come to Georgian villages. And it turns out that machine gun which is useless against tank, is a weapon of choice for marauders. Entire Georgian enclave between Java and Tskhinvali is wiped out from the face of the Earth.

The problem with misinforming

At the end of August, premier minister Putin on CNN accused Western media in biased coverage of this conflict. He illustrated his point by bringing up the story of an interview of 12-year old Amanda Kokoyeva and her aunt, Laura Tedeeva to Fox News.

“The anchor was interrupting her all the time”, said Vladimir Putin, “when he did not like what she was saying, he started coughing, croaking, hissing, squeaking. The only thing left was for him to fart”.

Amanda Kokoyeva’s and Laura Tedeeva’s live interview on Fox News lasted 3 minutes and 40 seconds. During this interview, young girl first said that they were running away from Georgian tanks, not from Russians, then her aunt started enthusiastically explaining to the American public that “Saakashvili must go”. They were never interrupted. Even more, the anchor gave them some of his time. Amanda’s aunt did not expect such courtesy and froze for a second. The anchor encouraged her, - “Go ahead”.

Russian central TV channel showed this interview next day, cutting it down to 1 minute and 40 seconds, and creatively modified its audio track, - adding that very “coughing, croaking, hissing, squeaking” mentioned by Russian prime minister. By the time Putin was on CNN, this hoax was already revealed and set straight.

A few days later, in his interview to Figaro newspaper, premier minister Putin mentioned the case with Michel Lee White’s passport: “We received hard evidence that American citizens were present in the zone of conflict. Passport of one of them was demonstrated by General Nogovitsin during a press conference”.

And again, this hoax was also set straight by the time of his interview to Figaro. It has been discovered that Michael Lee White is an English language teacher in Guangzhou, China, who lost his passport during Moscow-New York flight in 2005, and could not use it anymore, as he informed both, Russian and American authorities about its loss. It is true that some years before that Michael Lee White served in the US army, refueling helicopters. If there was a special operation to place his lost passport in Tskhinvali, then it was not conducted by Georgian or American secret services. It was a special operation to mislead the public, and one of its victims was Russian premier minister Putin.

As both stories, about Fox News interview and about Michael Lee White’s passport, were told by Russian prime minister to the Western media, he seemed to be convinced that he is telling truth. This leads to a question of what else was he sure about? How much was he manipulated himself, rather than manipulating others?

Clearly, this is a paradox. On one hand, this war was a result of systematic, large-scale, thoroughly planned Russian aggression. It is ludicrous to think that Georgia was encircled with Russian military bases by pure accident, with vanguard of Russian army that incidentally turned out in town of Java right after large-scale Russian military exercises in Caucasus.

On the other hand, Kremlin’s actions against Georgia were clearly inadequate. It is difficult to determine what went wrong between Saakashvili and Putin. Was it FSB’s (aka KGB, - GT) report telling Putin that tall Saakashvili gave him a nickname “Lilliputin” (“Lilliput” is an island in Swift's Gulliver's Travels where the inhabitants are six inches tall, - GT). Or was it due to the exact opposite views of these two leaders on the role of government in modern society. The problem was that Kremlin was not able to verbalize its criticism to Saakashvili. The only way of verbalizing it was “I will hang him by his balls”.

Surely, any leader who wants to hang somebody by his balls becomes easily susceptible to secret services’ manipulations, while secret services themselves no longer control the situation, because all their efforts are directed toward these very “balls” that their boss is dreaming about. They are using their boss’ obsession to hang that someone by his balls to get additional funding, and make money on it.

As a result of these phobias, some informal decision making hub on Georgia’s affairs was formed within Russian government. This hub was not held accountable for its decisions to anyone, - neither Parliament, nor media, nor the reality outside of Kremlin’s walls. The world order perception that was driving this hub was undisputable. According to it, Georgia was just one link in the whole chain of hostile regimes bolstered by American imperialists that were encircling Russia. It was also clear, that putrid regime of Saakashvili would definitely collapse, if Giorgadze and Kokoyti were financially supported a bit better.

Significant part of special operations directed from this hub was misleading Russian leadership itself. Putin was briefed about Michael Lee White’s passport after this war. What else was he told before this war started? That Georgia would attack peaceful Tskhinvali?

This is the reason why it is rather difficult to say what Kremlin was really hoping for. It is possible that they expected the fall of Saakashvili’s regime when first refugees hit Tbilisi, or that Saakashvili would be assassinated by furious Georgian public.

One thing is clear. The perception of world order, that was the basis for Russian aggression, baffled Western leaders. This was a real cultural shock from observing Kremlin’s new style, and this shock manifested itself by unprecedented leaks to the press. E.g., Russian foreign minister Lavrov’s use of F-word when talking to British Foreign Secretary Milliband; or Putin conversing with Sarkozi about Saakashvili’s balls. Another manifestation of it was in UN, when US ambassador in UN directly accused Russia that it was demanding regime change in Georgia during their confidential negotiations.

Silly Americans! If you believe in “Michael Lee White’s passport”, then you must know that a regime change in Georgia can only be authorized and carried out by Washington. It is evident from all these Russian secret service reports. It is also clearly explained on South Ossetian websites: “Saakashvili’s American bosses liked him so much that allowed him everything”. In this sense, South Ossetian president Kokoyti must have been a valuable information source for Russian secret services.

Bottom line

Georgia lost in this war. It lost one third of its territory. Peaceful integration of South Ossetia is no longer an option. South Ossetia for Georgia is now the same as Palestine for Israel.

Mikheil Saakashvili made a lot of mistakes.

He did not manage to build relations with separatists. He did not foresee all-out war with Russia, and did not build air defenses, which was the main reason for Georgia’s defeat in this war.

It is true that he was fighting against evil, and it is a tough thing to do, but no one said that it would be easy to be a reformer.

Did Russia win this war?

No, if Putin’s goal was “hanging Saakashvili by his balls”, - Saakashvili’s balls remained intact, because this war did not go according to Russian plan.

There is no doubt that a sudden direct attack of 58th Russian army would allow to break through to Tbilisi in one day. However, long TV-broadcasted preparatory artillery strikes alarmed Saakashvili. When he attacked Tskhinvali, he had no strategic choice of starting or preventing this war. The only choice he was left with was tactical: where and when would it start – in the night from 7th to 8th of August in Tskhinvali, or in the morning of 8th of August in Gori.

Attack on Tskhinvali destroyed the possibility of peaceful re-integration of South Ossetia. However, along with it Saakashvili also destroyed a myth about a conflict between South Ossetians and Georgians. “87 South Ossetian tanks” and “23 Grad missile complexes” disappeared in thin air. Decorations fell, and tanks of 58th Russian army entered the scene. It was no longer possible to say that “Kokoyti is out of control”.

President Bush got angry, president Sarkozy arrived in Moscow, and Russian tanks stopped after Gori.

History repeats itself twice, first as a tragedy, second time as a comedy. USSR loved supporting national liberation movements. But, at least, it was done on global scale, not in its own backyard. If glorious Russia continues the same way, soon we will be rising from our knees by defending Kizlyar Cossacks from Caucasus Caliphate, and Chita separatists from Great Buryatia (autonomous republic of Russia in Asia adjacent to Mongolia).

And one more thing. Stalin separated USSR from the West by Iron Curtain. During Putin’s time they are connected by gas pipeline. This pipeline that siphons billions of dollars to Gunvor and RosUkrEnergo accounts in the West, and attracts to Russian stock market billions of foreign money, invested in Russia under the assumption that it plays the game according to the rules.

It is difficult to seriously threaten the countries in which you keep your money. Russo-Georgian war, and the collapse of Russian stock market that followed, clearly demonstrated that it is impossible to combine following Stalin’s path and, at the same time, turn South Ossetia into a commercial enterprise of stealing money that was supposed to be used against American puppet Saakashvili.

You have to be Stalinist country to win the war with the means of Stalinist-type propaganda and Stalinist-type warfare, and Russia, unlike South Ossetia, is not there yet. It will only become one when all the bank accounts of Gunvor are closed.

As a result, the only real victor in this war was South Ossetian regime. 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.