8 August 2012, 20:42

Russia to take Georgia to ICC over 2008 S Ossetia attack

Russia to take Georgia to ICC over 2008 S Ossetia attack

This Wednesday marks 4 years since Georgia launched its aggression against South Ossetia. Russia responded to the attack by waging a five-day campaign to protect South Ossetia and compel Georgia to peace.

In January 2007, Russia drafted a plan to rebuff a possible Georgian aggression. As soon as Georgian forces opened up heavy artillery on the South Ossetian capital Tskhinval, it activated this plan.

This is what President Putin had to say about this:

"The plan had been prepared by General Staff and approved by me. The Russian military strictly followed this plan, which, among other things, included the training of the South Ossetian militias. At the time, experts expressed doubts about the ability of a militia force to engage regular Georgian forces. Subsequent events, however, proved these skeptics to be wrong. For the three days before the Russian army arrived, the Russian peace-keepers and the South Ossetian militias were the only armed defenders of South Ossetia."

The Georgian barrage and a subsequent tank-supported ground assault destroyed about 700 buildings, including hospitals and schools, and killed dozens of Russian peace-keepers and hundreds of local people. About 16,000 people – most of whom were Russian passport-holders – had to flee their homes for safety.

Russian forces waded in, saving S Ossetia from annihilation. Within weeks, Russian recognized S Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states. Very soon, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Nauru and Tuvalu followed suit. In 2009, a commission created by the European Union condemned the Georgian attack as an act of aggression.

Now, Russia is going to take Georgia to the International Criminal Court over its aggression against S Ossetia. Over 400 volumes supporting the case contain conclusions of forensic experts and testimony by eyewitnesses.

Mr Vladimir Markin is the chief spokesman for Russia’s National Investigation Committee:

"Russian and foreign investigators have come to a conclusion that in August 2008 Georgia deliberately ignored international law and started an open aggression aimed at killing S Ossetian civilians and Russian peace-keepers. According to available evidence, the Russian peace-keepers came under fire from heavy artillery and rocket batteries positioned on Georgian territory. The attack on them had not been provoked and could not be justified."

Mr Markin also called attention to the nature of Georgian-tabled video evidence of what Georgia called ‘the destruction of Georgian-populated villages’ in S Ossetia and ‘atrocities committed by Russian troops’:

"The Georgians dressed some of their dead soldiers in civilian clothes in order to picture them as massacred civilians. Ahead of Russia’s capture of Gori in Georgia, Ukrainian mercenaries wearing Russian military uniforms acted out scenes of violence and looting in the town’s residential neighbourhoods. Georgian officials carefully documented these scenes in order to give the Russian army a bad reputation."

Russian prosecutors believe the evidence in their hands enables them to charge Georgia with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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