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WikiLeaks in Georgian style. New version2010-12-01 12:56
Georgian leaders are well known for their wishful thinking. Political establishment in Tbilisi is sure: if something does not meet one's expectations this can always be referred to intrigues of enemies and a more convenient interpretation can be found. Production of absurdities is Sakartvelo's professional activity though lately local politicians had to act single-handed. And then unexpectedly appears a marvelous gift from notorious WikiLeaks. Some Georgian media claim that the documents published therein prove that the war in Ossetia was started by Russia. Those who refuse to pervert facts are accused of poor English.
"Chrysanthemums in the garden have long ceased blossoming while the war still lives in my aching heart", - could be the comment to the confusion in Georgian mass media. Media hysteria has been caused by cables sent by US Ambassador to Georgia John Tefft to Washington during the Russian-Georgian conflict in August 2008. According to Tbilisi interpreters, the messages prove that Russia was the initiator of the five-day war.
So what kind of secrets were revealed to rewrite modern history? As Tefft wrote, the conflict had started two days earlier, on August 6, not August 8, 2008. Sounds like a revelation indeed. Only for Sakartvelo journalists though - since peaceful life for the Abkhaz and Ossetians was ended in 1990s and gunplay on the Ossetian-Georgian border, a prelude to the five-day war, was heard since late July. Incriminating evidence by Wikileaks is not necessary to find this out; a look in Wikipedia could be enough.
Other things. On August 7, if documents from the scandalous portal can be trusted (and their authenticity has not been confirmed by the way), as a result of shootouts several Georgian peacekeepers were injured and one was killed. Yes, it might be a bad characteristic of Ossetians but isn't retaliation a natural reaction to the use of force? This is first thing.
And second thing - a very important one in the context of this diplomatic correspondence: John Tefft was receiving all information about the events on the Ossetian-Georgian border from local politicians and he constantly repeats that. It is easy to guess what kind of information Tbilisi adventurers could submit to US official envoy. Their primary goal was to show themselves to advantage in front of the ally.
The ambassador's comments are much more curious in reference to this. Tefft points out that on August 7, the 4th brigade of Georgian armed forces was away from the drills. Simultaneously, 30 yellow buses usually used to transport Interior Ministry officers were seen going to the north of Tbilisi. The buses were moving toward the zone of the conflict carrying unidentifiable people.
He also writes about a number of reports from OSCE observers on massive transfer of people and military equipment closer to the border. Georgian troops were gathering closer to Tskhinval despite recently announced armistice. Describing these alarming signs Tefft writes not a word about Russia.
To be more precise, in cables dispatched just before the war, there is one reference to Russia. The ambassador thinks that neither he, nor Georgia have the slightest idea of how Sakartvelo's northern neighbor would react to conflict escalation in South Ossetia. The US diplomat was wondering whether Russia would support Tskhinval or if it would act as a peacekeeper. He was absolutely certain that the military confrontation would flare up. Thus, Washington was well aware of the developments in Caucasus but did nothing. What John Tefft did was inviting his Georgian friends to remain calm.