Mister President, distinguished members of the Security Council. Let me express gratitude for you for this chance to address Security Council. Today’s special session of the Security Council is elaboration(?) on grave escalation of the situation in Tshenvali region of Georgia. First of all, I will reflect on recent events that have led to this tragic deterioration.
On August 1, at about 8 AM Tbilisi Time pickup vehicle of the Georgian police officers was hit by two remote control devices. As a result of that attack 5 Georgian policemen were severely wounded. The central authorities decided not to retaliate in order to not to escalate the situation.
On August 2, 6 civilians and one Georgian policeman were injured after the shelling of Georgian villages in South Ossetia conflict zone overnight. The seven Georgian controlled villages came under intense fire from the South Ossetian separatists with large caliber mortars. Georgian law enforcement shot back defensively for some time but then received an order to cease fire in order not to escalate the situation.
On August 3rd, South Ossetian separatists’ government announced the evacuation of more than five hundred people including 400 children. However, Deputy Prime Minister of Russians North Ossetian Republic told the Interfax news agency that it was not an evacuation. Sending children to North Ossetia was part of prearranged summer camp program, as he explained. Russian media outlets started a massive propaganda campaign against Georgia.
On August 6, late, separatists opened mortar fire at Georgian populated villages of Eredvi, and other 4 villages. Georgian government forces fired back in order to defend the positions of civilian population. As a result of intense crossfire during the night two servicemen of Georgian battalion of joined peacekeeping forces were injured. Separatists’ regime also claimed several injured persons on their side. Despite the targeted attacks on a peaceful population and villages as well as on the Georgian police and the peacekeeping forces the central authorities decided not to respond through heavy exchange of fire in order not to injure the local population. Tem??? ???shvili, Georgian chief negotiator and Minister for Reintegration said in a late night television remarks on the August 6 that it was a position of Georgian government that only direct dialog with Tshenvali authorities would solve the deteriorating security situation. Mister Jacubosvili also stressed that ambassador at large Jury Popov would attend the talks as a facilitator. South Ossetia’s chief negotiator Boris Chuchev refused to take part in this negotiations.
On August 7, during the night intensive fire came from Ossetian villages from four different positions. Separatists’ authorities continued shelling Georgian law enforcement and peacekeeping units with mortars and artillery. The central authorities responded with limited fire in order to defend these positions. In the morning interview with the Russian news agency South Ossetian de-facto president Eduard Kokoity declared that if the Georgian government would not withdraw military forces from the region he would start “to clean them up”. The President Saakashvili in speaking with the journalists in the military hospital in Gory where he was visiting injured Georgian servicemen said that despite attacks on the Georgian villages Tbilisi was showing maximum restrain. President also called on Russia to recall its officials from South Ossetia who consider themselves as so called South Ossetian government. Temur Jacubashvili who visited the conflict zone in the morning of August 7 to meet with the representatives of separatist’s government. The stated minister met with Marat Kulahmetov the commander of the joint peacekeeping forces in Tshinvali. But again separatists refuse to negotiate with him. The chairman of the separatists’ republic Security Council Parankevich threatened the armed grouping of Cossacks from the North Ossetia were headed toward South Ossetia to fight against Georgian forces. Separatists resumed shelling of Georgian villages by 16:00 the same day. Three Georgian servicemen were injured after the South Ossetian separatist forces blew up an infantry combat vehicle belonging to the Georgian peacekeeping battalion. Georgian police responded by firing towards the separatists armed grouping in the respected villages, where two separatist militiamen were killed and two more wounded. Later the checkpoint of Georgian peacekeepers was bombed in Abnevi and several Georgian servicemen and civilians were killed. President Saakashvili said in a live televised address made at 7:10 PM that he had ordered the Georgian forces to ceasefire in South Ossetia. He said there were casualties both dead and many people wounded. Saakashvili said that he ordered to cease fire on purpose to offer again to South Ossetia secessionists’ regime to resume talks. Despite Georgian decision not to return fire the Georgian village of Avnevi came under fire from Ossetian militia men at about 8:30 PM. It can be said that the village is totally destroyed as the result of this attack. The South Ossetian separatists’ armed groupings fired Georgian control villages of Prici at about 10:30 PM last night. The attack left several people wounded on the Georgian side. The same separatists’ authorities opened fire at all Georgian positions around the South Ossetia capital Tshinvali at about 23:30 last night including the villages of Tamarasheni and Kurta. The police station in Kurta was destroyed totally as a result of this heavy fire.
Excellencies, I want to state very clearly. The Russian Federation security and defense agencies have control and direction of illegal separatists’ authorities and armed formations. Numerous high ranking Russian officers from among the ranks of peacekeepers as well as others from the Russian military officials’ intelligence and law enforcement are serving in senior roles in Tshinvali. This is a clear violation of Russia’s obligations to remain neutral instead they have become the party of the conflict. These Russian officers and individuals include
Mr. Jury Morozov, the Prime Minister, born in Russian Federation. Before his appointment in the government in the South Ossetia in 2005, he was occupying different positions in Bashkiria.
Minzaev. The Minister of Internal Affairs from 2005. Colonel of Russian police. In 2004 during the counter-terrorist operation in Beslan was leading FSB special unit Alfa.
Anatoliy Barankevich. From 2006 Secretary of National Security Council of South Ossetia. Colonel of the Russian military forces. He has participated in Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in both Chechen wars.
Boris Atoev. Chairman of Committee of State Security (analog of KGB) since 2006, previously was holding different positions in Soviet KGB. After accomplishment of mission in Afghanistan he was appointed in the central apparatus of FSB in Moscow.
Vasiliy Lunev, Minister of Defense Of South Ossetia since March 2008. General of Russian army.
Vladimir Kotoev. Head of the Government Protection Service from 2007, colonel of Russian Army, participating in Chechen and Bosnian wars.
Ale(?) Chebodarev. Head of the State Border Protection since 2005, colonel of Russian FSB.
These individuals were granted impunity by Russian Federation from being held responsible for atrocities they have been committing .
Excellencies, the government military action was taken in self-defense. After repeated armed provocations and with the sole goal to protecting civilian population and preventing from loses of lives of population coming from the various ethnic backgrounds. We believe every democratic country would have reacted in similar fashion to protect their own citizens. Government acted because the separatists not only defied the ceasefire but sharply escalated violence, killing several peacekeepers and civilians within the hours of the ceasefire. Additional illegal forces were and are entering Georgian territory from the Russia through the Rocky tunnel threatening even worse violence. The separatists were also continuing to threaten to attack other parts of the country outside the South Ossetian region allegedly with the foreign assistance which is flowing into that region. Russian peacekeepers told Georgian officials they are unable to control separatists. Security situation was deteriorating and violence increasing rapidly. The separatists were not heeded for any appeal for the direct talks. Georgian six negotiating solution in the conflict with international engagement are offer of autonomy along European standards still there. With international guarantees including an elected regional parliament, elected regional president, sheer (?) sovereignty and protection of South Ossetian identity, culture and language are still on the table. Until such a solution is agreed the region, we think, should be governed by the elected head of South Ossetian administration Dmitry Sanakoev, an ethnic Ossetian and former separatists’ leader. We invite Russia to constructively engage in an economic rehabilitation as well as to contribute to the agreed security arrangements of the region. Government immediate goals at this point are to restore peace and to facilitate the return of normal life for all regional residents and allow the return of refugees and peace. We stand ready to ensure adequate supply of water, electricity, food, emergency, services, medical care, and shelter. Separatists’ leaders will be allegeable for amnesty. Humanitarian organizations will have an access to the region and Georgian government already has allocated funding totally 2 million euros to immediate humanitarian and emergency needs of that region.
Excellencies, by verified reports, as well as we speak, now huge contingency of military personnel and equipment are illegally entering Georgian sovereign territory through the Rocky tunnel. Russian Federation’s republic of North Ossetia declared the mobilization of armed mercenaries to be sent to Georgia. There are disturbing signs that we are facing the calculated provocation to escalate the situation to justify preplanned military intervention from Russian side. So we demand from the Russian Federation to prevent transit of armed mercenaries to Georgia, to exercise their influence to the separatists’ regime to stop attacks on the civilian population and start negotiations. As in my last address to this high forum I want to reiterate call to international community to explicitly condemn continuous infringements of the Georgian sovereignty and territorial integrity by the Russian Federation. Despite this most recent escalation I want to emphasize the Georgian government once again calls and shows its readiness to immediately begin peace talks for resolving the conflict in the South Ossetia and calls on the separatist rebels to cease their military actions and come to negotiating table.
Thank you very much.