Ossetian genocide distorted by Georgian Foreign Ministry03.03.2009 | 09:39
In response to the statement made by the investigative committee of the Russian prosecutor's office that the genocide of Ossetians in South Ossetia has been verified, Georgia's Foreign Ministry has made the accusation of there having been "ethnic cleansing of Georgians under Russian control". And it has called the interpretation of the August events put forward by the Moscow investigators "lies".
Commenting on the statement made by the head of the investigative committee of the Russian prosecutor's office, Aleksandr Bastrykin, Georgia's Foreign Ministry correctly noted: "the international community is well aware of what actually happened - there were hundreds of people killed and thousands of refugees".
According to the public commission investigating the war crimes, 365 South Ossetian citizens were indeed killed. The investigative committee of the Russian prosecutor's office has documentation confirming the deaths of 162 Ossetians. More than 5000 people have been recognized as victims of the Georgian aggression. During the war, 655 residential houses were completely destroyed. A further 2000 buildings were partly damaged. Tens of thousands of people had to be evacuated to Russia under refugee status. This is not even to mention the Russian soldiers who fell and were wounded while protecting the civilian population.
Yes, on the Georgian side, as Tbilisi maintains, 155 civilians were also killed, and people were wounded and went missing. But the Georgian Foreign Ministry should first of all ask itself this: would there have been these victims if President Mikheil Saakashvili had not given the order to start the hostilities? And would Georgians have fled the Ossetian villages after the August conflict if they did not feel guilty for the wild behaviour of their country's officials?
The Georgian Foreign Ministry is not only reproaching Russia for the August events. It emerges that, "since the 1990s thousands of people fell victim to Russia's criminal policies regarding Georgia, and hundreds of thousands more were forced to leave their homes." This is probably referring to those Georgians who fled Abkhazia in 1993 after another unsuccessful attempt by Georgia to get its hands on Sukhumi. And those who preferred to leave the republic after the adoption of the Act on the State Independence of South Ossetia in 1992, fearing revenge for the genocide carried out on the Ossetians between 1989 and 1992. A group of investigators from Moscow are, incidentally, gathering evidence on the crimes committed during those years, since they are working on the action brought against Russia by Georgia at the Hague Tribunal and are preparing a counter-charge.
The European organizations OSCE and PACE have previously declared that there was ethnic cleansing in South Ossetia in August, but that it was carried out by Ossetian voluntary fighters on territory controlled by Russia. Russian human rights lawyers have also asked this to be recognized, although the Georgian Foreign Ministry is now appealing against this, casting further aspersions against Russia. But nobody forced the Georgians out of the Ossetian villages: they were frightened of revenge attacks, which were quite imaginable given Caucasian customs. As far as their burnt-out and ravaged homes are concerned, at the first signal given by Human Rights Watch officials of unrest in the settlements of Kekhvi, Lower Achabeti, Upper Achabeti and Tamarasheni, the South Ossetian authorities gave the order to shoot any pillagers on the spot. Two robbers lost their lives.
"What definition can be given for Russia's actions apart from genocide, when there is effectively no Georgian population left in two integral parts of Georgia?" asked the Georgian Foreign Ministry.
The main legal dictionary defines genocide as actions aimed at wiping out an ethnic group through killings, maiming, forced resettlement or creating intolerable living conditions. So what, did Russia wipe out the Georgian population of South Ossetia? Did its army destroy housing, communication lines, the electricity supply? No. The whole world saw how Georgia attacked sleeping Tskhinvali, not sparing women, children or old people. Because of Georgia, Russia has had to send 10 billion roubles to restore South Ossetia. And it is in Georgia that the national minorities are groaning, since the local authorities are making living conditions unbearable for them. Literally today Aleksandra Khabalova-Dolgopolova fled to South Ossetia from Georgia. She doesn't want to return to her own house in Tkibuli in the Sachkhere region of Georgia, because Russians there are being degraded in every possible way, such as being called occupiers and even having their pensions withheld.
"We were expecting apologies to be made for the atrocities committed against us by Georgian criminal groups, the intelligence services and armed units; at the very least, we were expecting justifications in the manner typical of the Georgians, but the politicians in Tbilisi chose a different tactic," the deputy foreign minister of South Ossetia, Alan Pliev, bitterly declared today in an interview with Interfax. He regrets "Georgia's position which is absolutely false and distorts the facts".