Luc van der Brande was shocked to hear what had happened in South Ossetia. He is at a loss for words that might justify what had happened. Mr van der Brande led a delegation of European lawmakers to the South Ossetian city of Tskhinvali, which was, about a month and a half ago, attacked by Georgia. The European lawmakers spent four days, Monday through Thursday, on a fact-gathering mission in Russia, Georgia, and South Ossetia. They toured the former Soviet territory in the run-up for hearings into the after-effects of the latest war in the Caucasus. They visited the Jewish neighbourhood of Tskhinvali, the South Ossetian legislature building, and other buildings destroyed by the Georgians.
Many countries of Europe have a distorted idea of the recent developments in Transcaucasia. On guidance from Washington, they tend to see what happened as a result of Russian interference and say that the introduction of Russian troops in South Ossetia was a slap in the face of sovereign Georgia. Few people dare say that Russia had to do what it did, that it intervened to save South Ossetia. But, the visiting delegates of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe saw with their own eyes that the few dissenting voices told the truth.
Incidentally, they were not the only ones to see the light. The deputy chairman of the Belgian Senate’s foreign relations committee is an even more outspoken person. He described Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili as the evil genius of the barbarous attack on South Ossetia, the bombing raids, and the attempts to ignore the basic principles of international law. He focused on the time element to decide that the Georgian attack on South Ossetia, not the Russian attack on Georgia, triggered off the conflict. He drew his conclusions from eyewitness reports on how Georgian troops killed innocent civilians in cold blood, how they destroyed people’s homes and other property.
Let me point out that very many crimes were committed. About 1,500 Ossetian civilians lost their lives. Almost 30,000 fled their homes. Aleksandr Dugin, a political scientist, saw as downright cynical what the United States of America and some of its allies said in a bid to whitewash Georgia. According to Mr Dugin, the Georgian attack on Tskhinvali began with the murder of Russian peacekeepers. The whole world could see how Georgian soldiers killed innocent civilians. Heavy guns were targeted on people who fled Tskhinvali in the morning of 8 August. Most of the Ossetians killed lost their lives that morning. Mr Dugin saw what happened as a case of genocide. This is no exaggeration. Investigators of the Russian Prosecutor’s Office found proof of Georgian plans for the physical extermination of all Ossetians.
26 September 2008
Voice of Russia World Service