How many Ossetians died as the result of Georgia’s attack? The numbers have been a constant point of speculation over the last two weeks. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, Russia claimed 1,600-2,000 deaths. By 21 August the Financial Times was reporting that the Russians could only confirm 133 civilian deaths, though Boris Salmakov of the Russian prosecutor’s office warned that the number could climb. Human Rights Watch claimed that only 44 deaths based on an interview with a doctor from the main hospital in Tskhinvali. Nevertheless, the 133 remained the accepted number in the Western press.
Now that accepted number should be revised. According to Teimuraz Khugaev, head prosecutor for the South Ossetian government, the number now stands at 1,692 dead and about 1,500 wounded. However, he added that “Information about new burials come to us every day. It’s difficult for us to confirm all these figures.”
Time will tell if this number will stand or even be accepted.
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By Sean — 10 years ago
The Russians say they’ve pulled out of Georgia. George Bush and Nicholas Sarkozy charge they didn’t pull out. All this talk of pulling out sounds like they’re arguing whether Russia knocked up Georgia.
Well something is certainly gestating in Georgia. And the Russia-Georgia love child appears to be occupation. Russia’s gradual pull out has left a string of posts along the border of South Ossetia as part of a plan to leave 2500 peacekeepers inside a security buffer zone. The zone, according to Deputy Commander Anatoly Nogovitsyn, will be 6 to 18 kilometers thick, and will effectively allow Russian troops to occupy Georgia. The Guardian reports that Russian troops were seen digging trenches 7 km. outside of the port city of Poti. Hundreds or thousands of Georgians (it depends on who you listen to) demonstrated against the presence of twenty Russian troops yesterday, shouting at them to go home. You gotta love the protest signs in English. What a publicity stunt.
The Russian security zone and beefed up peacekeeping force will certainly pour gasoline on the theories about how Russia planned all of this from the beginning. The main proponent of the master plan thesis is none other than Pavel Felgengauer. Felgengauer agues, first in Novaya gazeta and then in the Eurasian Daily Monitor, that Russia’s war against Georgia was concocted as far back as April. Why did the Russians “provoke” this war? Why Georgia’s aspirations to join Nato and geopolitical positioning, of course. Felgengauer writes,
It seems the main drive of the Russian invasion was Georgia’s aspiration to join NATO, while the separatist problem was only a pretext. Georgia occupies a key geopolitical position, and Moscow is afraid that if George joins NATO, Russia will be flushed out of Transcaucasia. The NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania, last April, where Ukraine and Georgia did not get the so-called Membership Action Plan or MAP to join the Alliance but were promised eventual membership, seems to have prompted a decision to go to war.
According to Felgengauer, the goal of the Russian invasion was to knock out Georgia’s military and maintain a permanent military presence in Georgia. Medvedev and Putin must really love it when a plan comes together. It happens so rarely. Most of them time they can’t get anything right, let alone effectively rule their own country. Now the diarchy are master manipulators of not only the hotheaded Saakashvili, but the world. I can imagine Putin explaining to Medvedev his role in the whole plot like Ed Wood did to Bela Lugosi (played brilliantly by Martin Landau) in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood (1994):
Bela/Medvedev: Eddie/Vanya, what kind of movie is this?
Ed/Putin: Well, It’s about how people have two personalities. The side they show to the world, and then the secret person they hide inside.
Bela/Medvedev: (delighted) Oh, like Jekyll and Hyde! Ah, I’ve always wanted to play Jekyll and Hyde! I’m looking forward to this production.
(Ed/Putin stops typing. He pours Bela/Medvedev a drink.)
Ed/Putin: Ehh, your part’s a little different. You’re like the God that looks down on all the characters, and oversees everything.
Bela/Medvedev: I don’t understand.
Ed/Putin: Well… you control everyone’s fate. You’re like the puppetmaster.
Bela/Medvedev: (getting it) Ah, so I pull the strings!
Ed/Putin: Yeah. You pull the strings — (he suddenly gets a look) “Pull the strings”… hey, that’s pretty good!
(Ed/Putin quickly starts typing again.)
That is the real beauty the Russians. When we need them to be incompetent bunglers who are mired in perpetual backwardness, they’re there to play the part. When we need them as conniving, master plotters with their evil claws ready to “pull the strings,” they play that role too. You gotta love their dramaturgical range.Post Views: 189
By Sean — 9 years ago
In the last few weeks, Georgia has sprung back into the news. Protesters are calling for Saakashvili to resign as more and more people have become disillusioned with the six year old Rose Revolution. Russia is threatening to pull out of a NATO meeting to protest military training exercises outside of Tbilisi, while some are speculating that Russia’s own military exercises near South Ossetia might signal that it’s ready to occupy the Caucasian country if political tensions escalate or if they’re provoked.
Georgian officials are claiming to have prevented one possible provocation this past week when they stopped 20 Nashi activists from “provoking incidents” at the Georgian-South Ossetian demarcation line. The Georgian MVD detained Aleksander Kuznetsov, a Nashi commissar who claimed during his recorded interrogation that he was seeking to get to Tbilisi to hold a Nashi action to support of the opposition. Keznetsov’s detention has infuriated Russian officials. Andrei Nesterenko, a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said of Kuznetskov’s detention sparked “another feeling – disgust with the methods of Georgian security services – unwittingly adds to the founded indignation. It seems they were ordered to obtain ‘proof of Russian interference in Georgian affairs’ at any cost.”
Such is a day in the life of Russian-Georgian relations.
Lost in the mix are the so-called “internally displaced persons,” or IDPs, the rather cold term applied people driven from their homes when the standoff between Russia and Georgia turned hot last August. However, it’s not easy to become recognized as an IDP and receive the benefits that status confers. There is an estimated 26,000 displaced residents of Tskhinvali, many of which are of mixed Ossetian and Georgian families, who according to Paul Rimple at Eurasianet.org, are “hanging in bureaucratic limbo within Georgia.” They are in limbo because they lack the documentation to verify their residence required to register as IDPs with Georgia’s Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation. Once registered as an IDP, a refugee is entitled to a small stipend ($13-16 a month), resettlement in housing with a piece of land, medical benefits and schools supplies for their children.
Nor can these refugees return to Tskhinvali to get the necessary papers. Movement between the “Demarcation line” is difficult and dangerous. Plus,there is no guarantee that the documents still exist. Many people left their identity papers in their destroyed houses. As one refugee named Nona Hubulova told Rimple, “All my documents, everything was in my house. All I have is my Soviet birth certificate, which was miraculously in Tbilisi, but that is not enough to get me my IDP status.” The only refugees that have been able to register were those from Georgian occupied South Ossetia. Village authorities managed to take many documents with them as they evacuated to Georgia.
While the Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation promises to have a decision by mid-May, and assures that all these people will eventually receive IDP status, the fact that one’s identity must be proven raises the centrality of biopolitics to being recognized as a refugee. As if being displaced, driven from your home, or fleeing ethnic violence isn’t enough, refugees must prove themselves as victims of inhumanity by supplying biopolitical proof of their humanity. Without birth certificates, passports, and other forms of identity documents–all documents recognized, generated, and issued by a state, it is as if these people have no rights, and barely the right to exist. As Ilita Dudayeva told Rimple: “They say they’ll know more in a month, but I don’t know if I’ll be alive in a month. In a way, our humanity begins, and to a large extent ends, with how our condition is categorized, processed and filed, i.e. codified in the law of a distant and faceless bureaucracy.
Where are the human rights in that?Post Views: 233
By Sean — 9 years ago
Georgia’s latest attempt to convince the world that the Russians started the war is a sad sign of desperation. In a continued effort to dupe the world, and particularly the United States, the Georgian government has provided American and European intelligence agencies with audio intercepts of Russian military maneuvers before the outbreak of war. The Georgians even sent the NY Times a special treat to enlist the paper in its propaganda war. The paper received a neatly prepared package of intercepted audio complete with English translations. The NY Times said thank you and did its own translations. What is this audio evidence of Russia’s “incursion”? Why it’s cellphone conversations, made on a Georgian network no less, between Ossetian border guards. Reports the Times:
Russia has not disputed the veracity of the phone calls, which were apparently made by Ossetian border guards on a private Georgian cellphone network. “Listen, has the armor arrived or what?” a supervisor at the South Ossetian border guard headquarters asked a guard at the tunnel with the surname Gassiev, according to a call that Georgia and the cellphone provider said was intercepted at 3:52 a.m. on Aug. 7.
“The armor and people,” the guard replied. Asked if they had gone through, he said, “Yes, 20 minutes ago; when I called you, they had already arrived.”
Shota Utiashvili, the director of the intelligence analysis team at Georgia’s Interior Ministry, said the calls pointed to a Russian incursion. “This whole conflict has been overshadowed by the debate over who started this war,” he said. “These intercepted recordings show that Russia moved first and that we were defending ourselves.”
The recordings, however, do not explicitly describe the quantity of armor or indicate that Russian forces were engaged in fighting at that time.
A few things come to mind. First, these conversations say nothing by way of details. Second, I wonder if the Ossetians are simply screwing with the Georgians. Surely, they aren’t foolish enough to say sensitive information on a private Georgian cellphone network? Everyone knows that the Ossetians and Georgians had been trading small arms fire for over a month. Tensions were especially high in the days before Georgia assulted Tskhinvali. Could communications about Russian armor simply be a ruse to scare the Georgians? Who knows.
Lastly, if the Georgians did intercept these communications, and they were delivered to Saakashvili, as Vano Merabishvili, Georgia’s minister of interior told the Times, why did the Georgians attack Tskhinvali with a barage of rockets and not the Russian military? Why did they already have 12,000 troops and seventy five tanks and armored carriers, a third of Georgia’s militany force, amassed at the South Ossetian border? Also, if Russian armor was present, then why was it Ossetian militias and bands Kalashnikov wielding and molotov cocktail throwing teenagers that initially beat down Georgia’s forces? No need to give answers. The questions are rhetorical anyway.
The Times, however, made the safe assessment and concluded that the new evidence was inconclusive and merely “paints a more complicated picture of the critical last hours before war broke out.” Well, like, duh. Stating the war’s beginning as complex is rather obvious.
The Russian Foreign Ministry, however, called Saak’s bluff. “I would be grateful if they provide such satellite data to us and the entire international community, provide specific data,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrey Nesterenko told reporters. “Allegations that they have eavesdropped on someone and heard something are simply not serious.”
I say that the “evidence” is more than giving a complicated picture of events. It sounds like a desperate grasping at straws by Saakashvili. His political life is increasingly under threat at home and abroad. More and more Georgian politicians are speaking out against him. Even some Georgian political exiles are planning their return, declaring that Saak’s “days are numbered.”
Even Georgia’s patrons in the US and EU are wondering whether they’ve been hoodwinked. Der Spiegel reports, in an aptly titled article “Did Saakashvili Lie?” that “Washington is beginning to suspect that Saakashvili, a friend and ally, could in fact be a gambler — someone who triggered the bloody five-day war and then told the West bold-faced lies.” Well, as that sage, Kenny Rogers sang, Saak better learn how to “know when to hold, know when to fold them, know when to walk away, and know when to run.”
Clearly, Saak isn’t a country music fan because his bold face lies continue to mount. One such lie is right there in Der Spiegel‘s article:
“We wanted to stop the Russian troops before they could reach Georgian villages,” Saakashvili told SPIEGEL recently, explaining the marching orders that were given to his army. “When our tanks moved toward Tskhinvali, the Russians bombed the city. They were the ones — not us — who reduced Tskhinvali to rubble.”
Officers at NATO headquarters in Brussels is certainly not buying this crap. To them, Saakashvili’s plan was a well calculated assult “to advance to the Roki Tunnel in a 15-hour blitzkrieg and close the eye of the needle between the northern and southern Caucasus regions, effectively cutting off South Ossetia from Russia.” Only problem is the plan went up in smoke.
There is one certain truth about Saak. He has two big brass ones and he’s not afraid to pull them out and clang them on the table. He’d have to to continually peddle the Big Lie to the point he looks like an utter fool. His whining may be getting old, but his comedy is not. Maybe he should stick around just so we hear what he will say next. The world could use a few extra laughs.Post Views: 167