Chaindrawa, a former minister of Georgian President Mikheil Saakasvili’s goverment, who was in charge of dealing with the conflicts with Abchasia and Ossetia until 2006, accuses Saakashvili of undemocratic behaviour and war mongering.

In an interview with the German news magazine Der Spiegel, Georgij Chaindrawa accuses the United States administration of creating a pro-American Georgian government under Saakashvili.

According to Chaindrawa, Saakashvili’s government bears little resemblance to a democracy. Rather, Chaindrawa claims that the government of Georgia is a totalitarian regime that suppresses civil liberties and the freedom of the press, somewhat similar to the Russian government policies of Vladimir Putin. Chaindrawa states that Saakashvili tried to close down an independent TV station (Imelda TV), declared a state of emergency in 2007 against mass protests of the opposition, and committed election fraud. Chaindrawa also asserts the politics of Saakashvili’s government as a cause of the current war with Russia. He says: “He wanted a victory parade in Zchinwali and got Russian troops marching toward Tbilisi”.

When asked, why he was dismissed from the government in 2006, Chaindrawa stated that he tried to avoid military adventures in the conflict with South Ossetia and that he was highly critical of Saakashvili’s failed 2004 attempt to conquer Zchinwali.

On the question, what the West should do, Chaindrawa replies, the West should support the Georgian population, its civil society and institutions rather than the Saakashvili government. He continues to say that Georgia needs politicians who are pursuing reconciliation and compromise rather than confrontation.

In an article in The Washington Times, Tsotne Bakuria, a former member of the Georgian parliament and now a senior fellow at Global International Strategic Group in the U.S., formulates a similarly harsh criticism of Shakasvili’s government. She calls its government a “reign of terror” and says that the country has no independent judiciary and that Saakashvili uses trumped up criminal charges (alleged money laundering) to silence and suppress members of the opposition. She describes, that the leader of the opposition Shalva Natelashvili was forced to ask NATO secretary Javier Solana for asylum for his wife and his 2 daughters after they’ve received death threats. Natelashvili himself was threatened by a government member with arrest and is facing money laundering charges, as are other members of the opposition.

Source : wikinews

a Russian vehicle in the Georgian village of Kvemo-Achebeti Russia’s retreat from Georgia is yet to happen despite mixed reports from Moscow that it is already underway and that peacekeeping forces are “ensuring safety” in the region.

Georgia says Russia has failed to honour its ceasefire agreement to withdraw from Georgian territory as soon as possible.

The conflict began 10 days ago when Georgian forces tried to recapture South Ossetia, which broke free from Tbilisi in a war during the 1990s. Russia launched an overwhelming counterattack to support the separatists.

The Russian attack – its biggest military deployment outside its borders since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union – included air strikes on economic targets deep inside Georgia, forcing the Georgian army into retreat.

A French-mediated ceasefire accord urged a speedy Russian withdrawal but Russian forces are obviously determined to withdraw on their own terms.

Overnight, ABC reporter Matt Brown was witness to the tense stand-off which is continuing in the town of Gori.

Russian troops still control the entrances to Gori and the centre of town.

They are still stationed at the Georgian military base they over-ran last week and they still control the main road between Gori and the capital Tblisi.

There are reports that Russia wants to cripple Georgia’s armed forces and destroy ammunition dumps and other military hardware.

Around five hours after the withdrawal was supposed to begin yesterday, a column of Russian armoured fighting vehicles drove east of Gori, smashed through a Georgian police checkpoint and headed for high ground above the road to the capital.

Georgian officials say Russia’s actions amount to a violation of last week’s peace accord.

But Russian military spokesman Lieutenant-General Nikolay Uvarov says the troops will pull back to South Ossetia after ensuring the areas they are occupying are secure.

“Unfortunately there are still some commando teams from Georgia that are walking around,” he said.

“Last day, there were several small skirmishes. Our troops were fired upon.

“It depends on looters, and so on, so it depends on the situation. But it will take days, certainly not weeks.”

Crushing response

Meanwhile, as his troops are meant to be pulling out of Georgian territory, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has used a visit near the conflict zone to continue the war of words.

While in Vladikavkaz in southern Russia to award medals to some of those involved in the conflict in south Ossetia, Mr Medvedev has been full of praise for his soldiers and condemnation for Georgia.

Mr Medvedev said his country would do its best to ensure that Georgia’s crime of killing of Russian soldiers and peacekeepers did not go unpunished.

Earlier in the day while meeting World War II veterans in the city of Kursk, Mr Medvedev warned that if anyone tried something similar again, Russia would respond with mighty force.

He says no one should doubt the resolve of the Russian Government.

“If anyone thinks that they can kill our citizens, our soldiers and officers who are peacekeepers and escape unpunished, we will never allow this,” he said.

“If anyone tries this again, we will come out with a crushing response.”

Source :

Mikheil Saakashvili The Georgian President has struck a conciliatory tone towards Russia as Russian troops begin preparations to leave his country.

In a television address recorded for broadcast later on Monday, President Mikheil Saakashvili demanded Russia leave Georgian territory immediately, but also made a plea to mend fences.

“I appeal to you that after your armed forces leave Georgian territory, to start serious thinking and discussions about further negotiations, a further search for ways (to conduct) relations in order not to sow discord between our countries for good,” Mr Saakashvili said in the broadcast, which his press office made available in advance.

“Let’s not sow discord for future generations. I don’t appeal to your mercy but I appeal to your pragmatism and simple common sense. I think the time to make the right decisions has come.”

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev declared on Sunday that troops who stormed in after a failed Georgian attempt to retake the pro-Russian breakaway region of South Ossetia would begin pulling out around midday.

The 10-day confrontation has reportedly killed about 200 Georgians and dealt a blow to the Georgian military. It has damaged the country’s economy, disrupted road and rail links and drawn Western criticism of Mr Saakashvili’s handling of the crisis.

Mr Saakashvili’s softer tones towards Moscow contrast strongly with tough rhetoric both sides have used until now.

Each side has accused the other of attempted genocide.

Russia says some 1,600 people were killed in the initial Georgian shelling of the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali while Georgia accuses Russian and irregular forces of levelling Georgian villages around Tskhinvali.

Russia’s withdrawal is due to go ahead under a six-point ceasefire plan brokered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, acting on behalf of the European Union.

The Russians have not set a deadline for its completion but say it depends on stability in Georgia.

The conflict has rattled the West, which draws oil and gas through pipelines across Georgian territory from the Caspian region, a route favoured because it bypasses Russia.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Mr Medvedev to withdraw troops quickly.

“This time I hope he means it,” she told NBC’s Meet the Press.

“The word of the Russian president needs to be upheld by his forces or people are going to begin to wonder if Russia can be trusted.”

Regional implications

Russian military analyst Pavel Felgengauer said hardliners in Moscow wanted the conflict to achieve Mr Saakashvili’s overthrow and the destruction of the Georgian army and would be disappointed with a lesser result.

Mr Felgengauer argued that the Georgian military, though it withdrew in the face of Russian advances, had escaped without serious casualties or materiel losses.

“For them (the hardliners), the strategic aim of the invasion was not achieved, so it was a defeat … This creates problems in Moscow.”

He said powerful businessmen were also dissatisfied by big losses incurred on financial markets following the invasion and the danger of Western sanctions denying them access to technology for urgently needed modernisation.

“They may not be against subduing the Georgians, but the question is, at what price?” he said.

Mr Felgengauer said Georgia could now reckon with increased US investment and support and a consequent strengthening of American influence and commitment in an area Moscow historically sees as its ‘backyard’.

The conflict began on August 7 when Georgia launched an attempt to retake South Ossetia, which broke with Tbilisi after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

Russia struck back, pouring troops into South Ossetia and then occupying areas beyond the region, in the Georgian heartland.

The six-point peace plan sees their withdrawal from this ‘core Georgia’. International contacts are under way to decide on a peacekeeping force for South Ossetia itself, though, whatever Georgia’s objections, it is likely to contain many Russians. /Reuters

Mikheil Saakashvili

The President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili had signed a ceasefire agreement today in the presence of United States (US) Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

An identical document, requiring the immediate withdrawal of all Russian forces from Georgian soil, was signed earlier this week, according to the New York Times, by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Saakashvili stated that Georgia would “never, ever surrender” to Russia. The ceasefire document was originally drafted by Nicolas Sarkozy, the President of France.

Saakashvili has stated that NATO had been “inviting Russian aggression” by rejecting Georgia’s attempt to enter NATO back in April of this year. Meanwhile, in a report promptly denied by Russian official, the Human Rights Watch said it had evidence that Russia attacked populated areas of Georgia with internationally banned cluster bombs.

Rice arrived in Georgia on Friday, and according to Saakashvili, the pair met for about five hours. Following the meeting, a press conference was held in which Saakashvili stated that he had in fact signed the accord. But he pointed out that “this is not a done deal. We need to do our utmost to deter such behavior in the future.”

Rice has demanded that Russian forces withdraw from Georgia immediately. The accord also provides protection for Georgia and a “reconstruction plan”, as well as allowing certain concessions to Russia.

Russia advanced into the break-away province of South Ossetia on August 7 to aid the South Ossetian rebels who had been battling Georgian troops. On the 11th of August Russian troops advanced into Georgian home turf from their base in Abkhazia. Medvedev said that he had ordered Russian troops to begin leaving Georgia on August 11.

Source : wikinews

The War in South Ossetia has escalated as Russian forces are being sent into the conflict on the Ossetian side.

At 10:00 a.m. local time, Georgian sources reported that three Russian Su-24 attack aircraft invaded Georgian air space and dropped bombs onto a target near the town of Kareli. A later flight dropped one bomb near Gori. While no one was harmed in the second attack, seven people were reportedly injured by the first bombing. According to the Agence France-Presse, a speaker of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called this information “nonsense” and “rubbish”.


At 11:38 a.m. the President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili announced the mobilization of reserve troops to withstand what he called “a large-scale military aggression” by Russia, and called Russia to stop the “bombardment of Georgian towns.”

Prime Minister of Russia Vladimir Putin said that, “it is regrettable that on the day before the opening of the Olympic Games, the Georgian authorities have undertaken aggressive actions in South Ossetia.”

The crisis broke out after days of heavy fighting in the region. On August 7 Georgian troops launched an offensive against the Ossetian town of Tskhinvali, the separatist’s capital.

The Georgian government claims that this is in reaction to attacks by “separatist rebels” on “unarmed civilians and peacekeeping forces” in villages near the town.

At the same time, the state news agency of South Ossetia reports that that Tskhinvali is under heavy artillery fire, with most or all of its population seeking shelter, and apparently a number of buildings already having been destroyed. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) urged the two sides to set up a “humanitarian corridor” to evacuate civilians and the wounded. The main city hospital is reported not to be functioning, and ambulances can not reach the wounded. Thousands of refugees are leaving South Ossetia, mostly for North Ossetia, says the United Nations refugee agency.

Georgian officials have claimed that up to four Russian jets have been shot down while attacking Georgia.

Russia claimed ceasing all civilian aircraft flights to Georgia starting at midnight on August 9. In retaliatory response, Georgia is set to stop all Russian TV channels’ broadcasts from August 9th onwards.

According to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reporting at 9:21pm August 8th, a convoy of 20 vans carrying up to a total of 400 Russian volunteers has crossed from Russia’s North Ossetia to South Ossetia.

The government of South Ossetia has announced that it will evacuate children in danger zones to Russia. This came after a speech made by Eduard Kokoity, President of South Ossetia, which accused the Georgian government of “attempting to spark a full-scale war.” Kokoity said that the conflict’s victim count has reached 1400.

As of 10:51pm August 8th, 12 Russian peacemakers are reported dead and 150 wounded.

A video tape showing Georgian Su-25 aircraft being downed was aired on Vesti Russian TV channel late night of August 8th. The pilot of the jet reportedly ejected, but was captured and killed on the ground by Ossetian military.

Source : Wikinews