Sunday, August 31, 2008

Nani Bregvadze postpones planned Jubilee Concert in Saint Petersburg

Famous singer of Russian romances Nani Bregvadze has postponed her Jubilee Concert which she was to perform at the Academic Cappella in Saint Petersburg on September 26.
Singer Vakhtang Kikabidze has also refused to perform in Russia and has rejected the Order of Honour decoration offered by the President of Russia. The actor is protesting against Russian aggression in Georgia.

MIA Issues Data on Russian Troops in Georgia

The Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) has released data on the deployment of the Russian military at various locations on Georgian territory as of August 27. “All locations and numbers given here are double-checked,” the Ministry said. “MIA could not verify all information available and the actual number of both Russian military equipment and personnel on the ground may be much higher.”
Russian Illegal Checkpoints in Georgia
The locations of Russian illegal checkpoints in Eastern Georgia, including Shida Kartli, other adjacent areas of “South Ossetia” and “South Ossetia” itself, according to MIA sources as of August 27 2008, are:
1. Perevi (Sachkhere district)2. Ghodora (Sachkhere district)3. Muguti (Znauri district)4. Ali (Khashuri district)5. Ptsa (Kareli district)6. Variani (Gori district)7. Karaleti (Gori district)8. Shavshvebi (Gori district)9. Ergneti (Gori district)10. Tsiara (Java district)
Note: There are approximately 60 Russian servicemen and 4 armoured vehicles stationed in each of these places. The vehicles often move from one place to another “patrolling” the nearby territories and villages.
11. Ikoti in Akhalgori district (this post has 7 infantry combating vehicles, 1 armoured vehicle, 6 Ural-type vehicles, 2 Gaz-66 vehicles, 1 military power shovel, 1 mobile medical unit, 2 grenade-launchers, trenches, 100 Russian servicemen)12. Approximately 15 armoured vehicles are stationed between the villages of Meghvrekisi and Brotsleti in Gori district.13. 1 km north of Odzisi in the Akhalgori district (there is 1 armoured vehicle, 15 Russian servicemen)14. The village of Mosabruni in the Akhalgori district (there is 1 armoured vehicle, 15 Russian servicemen)
Note: Russian servicemen and armoured vehicles on the newly opened checkpoint north of Odzisi and Mosabruni were redeployed from other checkpoints.
The locations of Russian checkpoints in Western Georgia according to MIA sources as of August 27 2008 are:
Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti Region
1. Teklati (near city Senaki), on the area of the former mechanical plant (5 armoured vehicles, 1 crane, 2 Ural-type vehicles, 1 vehicle with communication systems, 1 UAZ-type vehicle, 1 four wheel drive car, 1 large army tent, trenches, 40 Russian servicemen)
2. Pirveli Maisi (Khobi district), near a former Georgian police checkpoint (2 armoured vehicles, 2 Ural-type vehicles, 1 UAZ-type vehicle, 1 large army tent, trenches, 40 Russian servicemen)
3. In Poti between the villages of Shua Khorga and Chaladidi (Khobi district), so called Poti Minor, near the turning to Kulevi oil terminal (4 armoured vehicles, 2 Ural-type vehicles, 1 large army tent, 30 Russian servicemen)
4. Menji, Bakaraia neighborhood (Senaki district), in the grounds of the sanatorium 10 metres from the railway line (3 armoured vehicles, 4 Ural-type vehicles, 2 cranes, 1 military power shovel, 1 large army tent, 40 Russian servicemen)
5. Kantisubani, on the Tsalenjikha-Chkhorotsku road section (3 armoured vehicles, 2 Ural-type vehicles, 1 large army tent, trenches, 30 Russian servicemen)
6. Crossroads at the entrance to the villages of Chale and Muzhava in the Tsalenjikha district (3 armoured vehicles, 1 Ural-type vehicle, 20 Russian servicemen)
7. Chkhorotsku, at a former airfield, near the Senaki-Chkhorotsku highway (3 armoured vehicles, 2 Ural-type vehicles, 1 vehicle with electricity generator, 2 large army tents, 40 Russian servicemen)
8. Nabada settlement, at the entrance to Poti (2 armoured vehicles, 1 Ural-type vehicle, 1 UAZ-type vehicle, 1 military power shovel, 1 large army tent, 30 Russian servicemen)
Upper Abkhazia/Kodori Gorge
9. Gentsvisi10. Omarishara11. Sakeni12. Chkhalta13. Kvapchara
Note: Due to the extremely difficult situation in the region, obtaining accurate numbers on Russian and Abkhaz military deployment is difficult. All sources report substantial Russian and Abkhaz deployments in the region.
In addition, the Deputy Head of the Russian General Staff, Colonel-General Anatoly Nogovitsyn, stated during a press conference on August 22, 2008 that the Russian armed forces had established new checkpoints in the following locations:
14. Khudoni 15.Jikmuri 16.Ochamchire17.Gupagu18. Meore Gudava 19. Anaklia 20. Mount Kvira
Note: The Russian side has not denied the existence of the abovementioned checkpoints.
Total number of personnel and vehicles:
• Russian servicemen: 970• Armoured vehicles: 66• Infantry combating vehicles: 7• Grenade launchers: 2• Ural-type vehicles: 22• UAZ-type vehicles: 3• Gaz-66 vehicles: 2• 4x4 type cars: 1• Military Army tents: 8• Cranes: 3• Military power shovels: 3• Vehicle with communication systems: 1• Vehicle with electricity generator: 1• Mobile medical unit: 1

Imedi TV to resume news broadcasts on Monday

Imedi TV will resume its news programming on September 1, it has said in a televised announcement. Imedi TV resumed partial broadcasts in early May, but without news coverage; movies and TV series are its output at present.

The Imedi media holding, including both a TV and radio station is now owned by Joseph Kay, a distant relative of late tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili, who took over the holding in a controversial deal after Patarkatsishvili’s death in February, 2008. The Georgian daily, Rezonansi, wrote on August 30, that the senior management of Imedi TV – in charge of news and political programming - is now composed of people with close links with the authorities. It also noted sarcastically that Imedi TV might become a “Rustavi 3” – a reference to Rustavi 2 TV, which is a private television station, but regarded as the government’s mouthpiece.

Georgian Foreign Minister visits Turkey

Eka Tkeshelashvili, Georgia’s Foreign Minister, arrived in Istanbul on Saturday to meet her Turkish counterpart, Ali Babacan, the Georgian Foreign Ministry has reported. The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a brief statement on August 26 saying that Georgia’s territorial integrity was important for Ankara. After her trip to Turkey, Tkeshelashvili left for Brussels, where EU leaders will discuss the Georgia crisis on September 1.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky – Russia is interested only in territory, they need Abkhazians and Ossetians as servants

According to a statement made by Russian Liberal Democrat Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Russia is interested only in the territories it has recognised and needs Abkhazian and Ossetian people as servants. “Russia does not need Abkhazian and Ossetian people, but their territories. There is no reason to hide this. After achieving this we will make them servants”, Zhirinovsky stated.

Italian Catholic bishops offer EUR 1 M for urgent needs

Italian Catholic bishops have offered EUR 1 Million to Georgia to meet the urgent needs of the population. In response to an appeal by His Holiness Benedict XVI, who last Sunday invited the whole world to contribute generously to the needs of people involved in the war, the President of the Catholic bishops of Italy, Cardinal Bagnasco the Archbishop of Genoa, has declared that the Italy’s bishops have offered to make an initial contribution of 1 million Euro for the purchase of humanitarian aid. A further collection will take place in all Catholic churches in Italy for the needs of Georgia.

Similar collections are taking place in Catholic churches all over the world. The Vatican Embassy will provide details of the amounts eventually collected for this purpose.

South Ossetia and Abkhazia recognize each other

South Ossetia and Abkhazia plan to conclude an agreement in which they recognize each other’s independence, the “Ambassador to Abkhazia” Robert Kokoev has declared. They also intend to formulate an agreement on military cooperation. Kokoev says that South Ossetia and Abkhazia have recognized each other previously, but the signing of a new document is planned. As previously reported, Russia recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as “independent Republics” on August 26.

Grigol Vashadze holds meetings

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia Mr. Grigol Vashadze met with Mr. Sandor Jolsvai, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Hungary and Mr. Vilmos Hamikus, Director General for Security Policy and Non-Proliferation, on August 29. During the meeting the sides discussed the Russian aggression towards Georgia and the ethnic cleansing of the Georgian population at the occupied territories. The sides also discussed the necessity of stronger EU involvement.On the same day Deputy Minister Vashadze also met Peter Semneby, the European Union Special Representative for the South Caucasus, and discussed the same issues. As Vashadze stressed, Russia keeps violating the six-point agreement. Russian troops are still present in Georgia outside the territory of the conflict zone, continue their ethnic cleansing of Georgians, specifically in Akhalgori which is not in the conflict zone, and separatists are being supported in arranging a new administrative border.

President of Venezuela backs recognition of independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez considers Georgia's leader a “puppet” of Washington and is backing Russia in its conflict with Georgia. Chavez declared in his weekly national broadcast that the Russians “did what they had to do” in response to what he called a military provocation in the Georgian province of South Ossetia. Chavez accused Washington of sparking the conflict, saying Georgia's troops were armed and trained by the United States. He did not elaborate, but added that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili is “nothing but a puppet of the U.S. Empire”.

Russia to justify itself at ‘G8’ Summit

Boris Grizlov, the Chairman of the State Duma, will outline Russia’s position on the Georgian - Ossetian conflict at the G8 Parliamentary Summit in Japan on September 1. International issues, including the existing situation in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, will be discussed at the summit.
Within the framework of the summit, the Chairman of the State Duma will hold individual meetings with representatives from Japan, Germany, France and Italy.

Vladimir Putin – Russian peacekeepers to be withdrawn only when security measures are taken

According to the Prime Minister of Russia, Vladimir Putin, Russian peacekeepers will be withdrawn from the security zone only when security measures are taken in the region. “During my talk with Sarkozy, we clarified that we were not going to annex the Georgian territories. My target is only to guarantee security in the conflict zone. Russian peacekeepers do not intend to remain there forever. We consider that it is Georgian territory. We would just like to avoid another conflict. That’s why Russian peacekeepers will be withdrawn from the security zone only when security measures are taken” Putin said in an interview with TV –ARD of Germany.

NAPR resumes work in Gori

The Gori office of the National Agency of Public Registry of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia resumed working on August 29. The Gori office was attacked by marauders during the war period; they took away office equipment and hardware. The NAPR has managed to re-equip the office.
All interested parties can apply to the office for registration services.

Russia closes its Embassy in Georgia

Russia has closed its Embassy in Tbilisi following Georgia's announcement that it is severing diplomatic ties with Moscow. Georgia's Deputy Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze had declared on August 29 that Georgia had broken off diplomatic relations with Russia.

Giga Bokeria meets Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne

The First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, Mr. Giga Bokeria, held a meeting with Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, Vice-Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, on August 30. Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne informed the First Deputy Minister about the activities of the Children’s High Level Group in Georgia within the framework of its educational programme for disabled school children, as well as outlining EU actions concerning humanitarian aid delivered to refugees from the conflict zone. Bokeria thanked the Baroness and her committee for their work and expressed the readiness of the Georgian side to support the activities of the Children’s High Level Group in Georgia.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Separatists celebrate recognition by Russia

Shots were heard in Georgia's two separatist regions on August 26, but this time the secessionists were shooting in the air to celebrate their recognition by the greatest aggressor of the 21st century. The Russian President announced at 15:00 that Russia was recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Separatist leaders thanked the aggressors for their support and recognition. ''This is a historic day for our nation, we chose this road of independence long ago and we will always be with Russia,'' Sergey Baghapsh announced. Another separatist leader Eduard Kokoity said Russia had saved his people from genocide and had given them a chance to develop. ''We'll be with Russia forever,'' Kokoity announced. Following Medvedev's statement, it was reported that Russia was preparing a list of military agreements between Russia and the two separatist regions, which would be signed in the near future.

OSCE condemns Russian recognition of Georgia regions

The head of Europe's top human rights and security body, the OSCE, also condemned Russia's recognition of the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia on Tuesday. “The recognition of independence for South Ossetia and Abkhazia violates fundamental OSCE principles,” Alexander Stubb, Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE, stated. “Russia should follow OSCE principles by respecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia and should immediately withdraw all troops from Georgia and implement the ceasefire agreement”, he stressed. The international community could not accept unilaterally established buffer zones, Stubb concluded.

Russia postpones NATO chief visit to Moscow

Russia is suspending cooperation with NATO on a range of issues, including postponing a visit by the military alliance's Secretary General to Russia's ambassador to NATO. “This will be postponed until a later time after we have reached a new understanding about our relations with NATO,” said the envoy, Dmitry Rogozin, referring to a planned visit in October by NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

Rice says recognition of Georgia’s regions 'regrettable'

The US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has stated that Russia's decision to recognize the independence of the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia was “regrettable”. At a special press conference in the city of Ramallah in the West Bank, Rice was positive that the United States would use its veto power in the UN Security Council to prevent any recognition of the two provinces because it saw them as integral parts of Georgia's internationally recognized territory. Rice also characterised the Russian move as “extremely unfortunate”.

Aggression of Ossetian separatists

After Medvedev's decision to recognize their “state”, Ossetian separatists have become particularly aggressive. According to reports they are looting Georgian villages and forcing people to leave their homes. The village of Shereti is already empty, its ejected population having encamped to Gori. According to a statement from Shida Kartli Governor Lado Vardzelashvili, the Georgian police needs to enter those villages immediately in order to protect the local population and establish basic order there.

Cindy McCain in Georgia

The wife of U.S. Presidential candidate John McCain is visiting Georgia on a humanitarian mission. Cindy McCain has met victims of Russian aggression who are housed in the old Ministry of Finance building. Prior to that, Cindy McCain visited hospitals accompanied by Sandra Roelofs, meeting people wounded during the Russian invasion and subsequently met the President of Georgia and shared with him the impressions she had gained. John McCain had announced his wife’s visit a week earlier.

Hamas welcomes Russian recognition for Abkhazia, South Ossetia

Despite the international condemnation of Russian recognition for Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russia has been applauded by one political body. Palestinian movement Hamas has become the first organization to praise Russia for its recognition of Georgia's separatist regions. Its representative Aiman Takh told journalists that the Russian decision set a precedent which could help the Palestinians achieve their goals.

“We Palestinians are fighting for our rights and an independent state. We hope that Russia’s action is the beginning of recognition of small nations who fight for their freedom”, he stressed.

Ban Ki-Moon concerned about Georgia crisis

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon expressed concern on Tuesday about Russia's recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states. “The question of recognition of states is a matter for sovereign states to decide”, Secretary General highlighted in a statement issued by his spokesperson. “Today's developments may have wider implications for security and stability in the Caucasus”, it said. “The Secretary General regrets that ongoing efforts to find a common solution on the way forward in the crisis in Georgia within the Security Council may be complicated.” Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had announced Russia's recognition of the separatist territories earlier that day.

Medvedev says recognition of Abkhazia, S.Ossetia was normal

In an interview with the BBC On August 27 Dmitry Medvedev said that the French-brokered six-point document had already served its purpose. The Russian President said that recognizing independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia was absolutely normal, because it was aimed at avoiding humanitarian crises in these two regions. He also said he saw direct parallels with Kosovo’s recognition. ''We did as the other countries did with Kosovo and other places,” the Russian President told the BBC, without going into any further detail. Once again accusing Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili of organizing “genocide” in South Ossetia, Medvedev said that Moscow had had to react to protect its citizens in the breakaway region.

Statement by legitimate Abkhazian administration

The Chairman of the legitimate Abkhaz regional administration (in exile), Malkhaz Akishbaia, has released a special statement in response to the Russian recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Akishbaia expressed the hope that the international community would not allow Russia to violate internationally recognized principles and ensure the victory of separatism in the Caucasus. ''By recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the Russian President has unmasked the real face of Russia, which the civilized world has so far failed to see. The Russian move is legally and historically incorrect and immoral, which removes the chance the Ossetian and Abkhaz people had to develop freely,'' Akishbaia stated.

Churkin accuses Saakashvili of aggressive attack on S. Ossetia

Russia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, has announced the decision of the Russian Federation regarding Georgia's breakaway regions to the international community. Churkin said that the decision was based on declarations approved by the United Nations Organization and the key role in the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by Russia was played by the Georgian government.

Churkin said that the Russian President took into consideration the requests of the Abkhaz and Ossetian people, their Presidents and Parliaments and recognized their independence. ''We shall institute close friendly relations with these Republics. Saakashvili endangered the territorial integrity of his country himself when he launched an aggressive attack on South Ossetia on August 8 and killed numerous people, peacekeepers and other Russian citizens among them,' Churkin said, adding that Saakashili was preparing similar attack against Abkhazia.

Sarkozy reiterates support for Georgia's territorial integrity

France, the current EU Chair, has condemned the decision of Russia to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Georgia's separatist regions. Its President Nicolas Sarkozy announced yesterday that the EU supported a peaceful resolution of the conflict and that France, as the current holder of the EU Chair, was declaring support for Georgia's internationally recognized borders.

Medvedev and Merkel have telephone conversation

Following considerable international criticism, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev provided explanations of his decision to recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who telephoned him.

According to the Kremlin, Medvedev reported that Russia’s position on the matter was known to the whole world before the recognition; however, Russian sources do not report what the position of the German leader was after the conversation, or whether Medvedev managed to convince her that his decision was reasonable.

Angela Merkel has repeatedly urged Medvedev to follow the principles of the six-point ceasefire agreement.

Statement by Russian Foreign Ministry

The Russian Foreign Ministry has released a statement in which Georgia is accused of violating international norms. The statement says that the activities of the Georgian Government contradict high international standards. ''It is beyond doubt that the regime of Saakashvili does not meet the high standards imposed by the international community. However, we believe that Georgia will soon have worthy leaders, who will honestly care for their country and enter into kind and equal-neighbourly relations with the other Caucasian nations. Russia will always be prepared to take part in this process,'' the statement says.

IMF to lend 750 million to Georgia

The International Monetary Fund has being considering lending Georgia USD 750 million to help restore investor confidence after Russia's invasion. According to a representative of the IMF, “Georgia is dependent on foreign capital to finance its trade deficit, raising concern that the country's economy may suffer if overseas investment slows”. The IMF has sent a mission to the country to assess the damage and its board is likely to consider a loan or credit line soon.

Georgian Ministry comments

Georgia's Foreign Ministry has released an official comment on the question “How would you assess reports that the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist organizations have joined Russia in recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region?” “Against the background of Russia’s aggression against Georgia, their invasion of parts of its territory and the total ethnic cleansing conducted there, it is no exaggeration to say that the Russian Federation has gained the supporters it is worthy of. We are left with no other option but to congratulate Moscow on this gain”, the official comment says.

France fears war over Georgia

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has condemned Russia's actions in Georgia and accused Russia of breaking international law by recognizing the Georgian territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states.
Questioned about a statement by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that Russia was not afraid of a new Cold War, Kouchner stated: “If it's only cold, that's not a problem, if it's hot, we don't want it”.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis: Russia cannot have it both ways

“The unilateral recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by the Russian Federation violates the territorial integrity of a fellow Council of Europe member state. It jeopardizes prospects for a negotiated settlement of the dispute about the future status of these two regions. Russia cannot have it both ways. In the past, Russia has strongly supported the principle of territorial integrity. The decision to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia must strike any objective observer as being inconsistent with this principle. The ultimate victim of this decision is the international credibility of the Russian Federation. The Russians cannot invoke international law only when they feel like it”.

Angela Merkel insists on conferring MAP on Georgia and Ukraine

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has insisted that a NATO Membership Action Plan should be given to both Georgia and Ukraine. The German Chancellor met with Federico Reinfeld, the Prime Minister of Sweden, recently. “We discussed what the next step should be. It is clear that this should be conferring MAP to Georgia and Ukraine. This does not mean they will be given immediate membership of NATO, but the MAP leads to this,”Angela Merkel remarked at the press conference held after the meeting.

Merkel is convinced that Georgia and Ukraine should be members of the alliance. “I would like to cite the document agreed at Bucharest. All the NATO member states clearly declared that Georgia and Ukraine would one day become members of the alliance. My position is the same,” the German Chancellor stated.

Anatoly Nogovitsyn – 10 NATO warships are in the Black Sea

The number of NATO ships in the Black Sea has increased to 10. Russia has expressed concern that NATO is gaining a stronger presence in Black Sea waters, as Deputy Chief of the General Staff Alexander Nogovitsyn stated at a press conference held on August 26, RIA Novosti reports. According to the news agency, 7 more NATO ships are expected in the near future.

Georgian Damage Assessment Delegation and Government representatives meet in Tbilisi

A meeting between the Georgian Damage Assessment Delegation from the US and Georgian Government representatives was held behind closed doors on August 25 at the Tbilisi Marriott Hotel. US assistance for Georgia to address damage done by the Russian aggression was discussed at the meeting. As Georgian Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze stated, the Delegation is an economic entity visiting Georgia to determine what kind of assistance the country is in need of. According to Gurgenidze, America has been actively involved in these discussions since August 11.

The US Deputy Secretary of State forf Economy, Energy and Agriculture, Ruben Jeffrey, led the American delegation, and declared that he had had a very constructive and serious conversation with the Georgian Prime Minister. He mentioned that this is his first visit in regard to damage assessment, and it is being discussed how the two countries should cooperate to provide assistance to Georgia in terms of humanitarian aid, rehabilitation and economic development. The Minister of Economic Development Eka Sharashidze and the Minister of Energy Alexander Khetaguri also attended the meeting.

According to released information, American aid is expected to total more than USD one billion. The Minister of Economy emphasized that at the first stage the most important thing is humanitarian assistance, then the settlement of IDPs and the restoration of their living conditions and damaged infrastructure. The visit will last until August 27.

Thomas Hammerberg, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, meets Lado Vardzelashvili and Sozar Subari

Thomas Hammerberg, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, has met with Lado Vardzelashvili, the President’s Representative, and Ombudsman Sozar Subari at the Shida Kartli regional administration on August 25. As Lado Vardzelashvili stated after the meeting, he had updated the Commissioner on the current situation in the region, adding that aresting the local population, robbery and kidnapping people to Tskhinvali have become common.

Subari and Hammerberg also met with population in Gori on August 24. They visited places bombed by the Russians. “The places which have been bombed are far away from military bases. We have spoken to the population. The Commissioner needs information, which will assist him in developing a clear picture regarding the situation. He has to present a report to the Council of Europe about current events”, Subari stated.

Lado Vardzelashvili mentioned that it isn’t yet possible for either the administration or local residents to enter 31 Georgian villages. As he stressed, he “asked the Commissioner to help with the issue of exchanging captives”. According to Lado Vardzelashvili, the Russians have been asking for criminals, sentenced long ago, to be exchanged for Georgian captives. He mentioned that the Georgian side does its best to free all the captives.

Armenian Diaspora condemns Russia's policy

''Viva independent Georgia – no to Russian aggression,'' – members of Armenian Diaspora, mostly actors at the Armenian Theatre in Tbilisi, chanted at a rally outside the Russian Embassy yesterday, while protesting against the Russian invasion. Georgian citizens of various ethnic minorities assembled outside the Armenian Theatre and then moved to the Embassy.
The protestors demanded the withdrawal of Russian forces from Georgia and condemned Russia’s aggressive policy towards Georgia. They were waving Georgian national flags.

Separatists occupy five villages

Five villages which were under Georgian control until the Russian invasion are now occupied by separatists and Russians. Russian and Abkhazian flags are waving at illegal Russian checkpoints in the villages of Ganmukhuri, Khurcha, Pakhulani, Muzhava and Chale. The separatists and occupiers have plundered the administrative offices and medical centres in each of these villages before destroying them. They are also compelling the local population to take Russian passports.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Government quantifies recovery period

President Saakashvili stated at the special governmental session held in Gori, that the 18 months long reconstruction programme will be launched by the government. Previously planned projects will be fulfilled, but their time span will differ due to the recent developments. The first three months will be critical, while the next fifteen will be sufficient to ensure the final recovery and ongoing prosperity of the country.

The amount of financial damage the country has suffered as a result of occupation is not clear yet, but the whole national financial resources, both internal budget sums and external donations, would be allocated for the reconstruction of the country.

Saakashvili: special council to facilitate negation of results of Russian aggression

President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili has initiated the creation of a special public council. Under this initiative, members of the parliament and representatives of non-governmental organizations will join together in a formal body to monitor the postwar rehabilitation process and the flow of humanitarian aid, working in close cooperation with the government.

Sergey Bagapsh asks Moscow to conclude military cooperation pact

The leader of the Abkhazian separatists Sergey Bagapsh has asked Russia to conclude a military cooperation pact with the de facto Republic. “Concluding a military cooperation agreement with Russia is very important”, Bagapsh stated at the Russian Federation Council emergency session on August 25. A danger from Georgia still exists for Abkhazia and South Ossetia, he stressed, concluding that “an agreement with Russia would significantly reduce this risk”.

Koba Davitashvili responds to Saakashvili

Koba Davitashvili, the leader of the People’s Party, has responded to President Saakashvili’s statement at the Parliamentary Bureau meeting on August 24 that an attempt to assassinate Davitashvili, in which connection a Georgian citizen of Ossetian origin was detained in Moscow, has been aimed at causing the destabilization in Georgia. Davitashvili asks “whether his murder on November 7, 2007, when he was severely beaten and was in Gori hospital, would also have caused destabilization”. According to Davitashvili, this crime has not been investigated yet.

Russia started thinking about military intervention in Georgia in 2007

Russia started to think about military intervention in Georgia in 2007, Mikheil Saakashvili, President of Georgia, stated at a meeting with members of the Parliament Bureau held late on the evening of August 24. Mikheil Saakashvili said that Russia withdrew from the agreement placing a limitation on conventional arms in 2007, and thereby discharged itself from any obligation regarding locating heavy equipment in the Caucasus. Active preparation for the invasion must have been launched several months ago, otherwise such a rapid intervention would not have been possible, the President of Georgia said.

At the same meeting the President outlined the chronology of Georgian-Russian relations over the last five years. He recalled that he chose to make his first official visit as President to Moscow. “It was a felicitous meeting with Putin. We talked honestly. The Russian side’s first request implied control over our borders. We launched joint monitoring. We assisted them to regulate the situation in the North Caucasus”, Mikheil Saakashvili stressed. As for developments in Adjara, the President of Georgia remarked that Russia did not support him in this regard. “After Aslan Abashidze escaped from Adjara, I had a phone conversation with Putin. He stated that Russia had not interfered in the developments in Adjara, but stressed that it would not refuse to get involved in South Ossetia and Abkhazia”, Saakashvili stated.

Russian Duma intends to appeal to UN Member States to recognize independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia

The Russian Duma intends to address UN member states’ Parliamentarians and international organizations, asking them to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. “The escalation of the conflict is the tragic result of the centuries’ long controversy over these regions’ peoples, which could not be resolved by either the present nor previous authorities”, the appeal drafted by the Duma says.

Gas supply resumes in Gori

The Minister of Energy of Georgia, Alexander Khetaguri, has visited the city of Gori to monitor the resumption of the gas supply. According to his statement gas will be supplied to each apartment block separately, after a complete check of the buildings and pipelines, to avoid any possible accidents.

Government session held in Gori

A session of the Georgian Government was held in Gori on August 25. The session discussed the rehabilitation of the city infrastructure and how to aid the population. It was lead by President Saakashvili.

11 families in Gori receive financial aid

Lado Vardzelashvili, the President’s representative in Shida Kartli, has distributed state financial assistance to 11 families of persons deceased due to the Russian aggression. Each family has received GEL 10,000.

The overall number of war fatalities in Gori is 25. All of their families will eventually receive financial assistance from the state.

Russian occupiers still in Poti, abusing journalists

Russian soldiers are not allowing Poti shipyard personnel to enter the port facility. Illegal checkpoints are still present in the city. The Russian army is positioned at the entrance to Poti and in Nabada.

Russian occupiers treat journalists with particularly bad grace. They do not let media representatives take photos or carry video equipment and threaten to open fire on those who disobey them. The occupiers are asking all journalists to present accreditation from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Georgian soldiers back at Senaki military base

Georgian soldiers have returned to Senaki military base. The Second and Fourth Brigades entered the base on the night of August 24. The base was ravaged by the Russian aggressors, but Georgian soldiers will restore the destroyed buildings.

Russian mines have been partially removed from the base, but minesweeping is still going on.

German Chancellor demands that Russia follows the agreement

The German Chancellor has demanded that Russia follow the ceasefire agreement it signed. Russia has not complied with the agreement about the withdrawal of forces and the Russian Army has to leave Georgia immediately, Angela Merkel stated.

According to the Chancellor’s statement, if Russia keeps violating the agreement, Germany will have to seriously review its relations with Russia. Angela Merkel also stressed that Ukraine and Georgia would definitely become members of NATO.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Explosion in vicinity of Skra

An explosion occurred in the vicinity of the village of Skra, Gori region, on the morning of August 24, where one of the units of the Georgian army is positioned. According to released information, oil tanks were exploded by a mine. The fire brigades of Gori and Tbilisi mobilized at the site of the incident and by 5 p.m. the fire was extinguished. No injuries have been reported.

Public Defender visits Gori

Sozar Subari, the Public Defender, has visited the city of Gori. The Public Defender talked to the locals and promised to do everything he could to help them. Gigi Ugulava, the Mayor of Tbilisi, also visited the city.

Mine defusing operations are still being conducted in Gori and its vicinity. Locals report that Russian forces are still in the village of Karaleti, making it impossible for them to enter the village at the moment.

Temur Iakobashvili – I do not know what “Russian Peacekeepers” are supposed to be

Temur Iakobashvili, the State Minister of Georgia for Reintegration Issues, considers the existing peace arrangements are no longer capable of being effective. “I don’t believe that the Russians can be peacekeepers in Georgia. The agreed peace format has no actual meaning now. I do not know what “Russian peacekeepers” are supposed to be, all I know of is Russian occupiers,” Temur Iakobashvili stated.

U.S. Senator will pay official visit to Georgia

Richard Lugar, a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will pay an official visit to Georgia. The Senator will hold meetings with Georgian senior ministers and Members of Parliament from both the opposition and ruling parties. Lugar has already held a meeting with Georgian State Minister for Reintegration Temur Iakobashvili.

The Senator will discuss the Georgia crisis and ways to resolve the conflict with Russia with Georgian Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze. After official negotiations, Richard Lugar will meet IDPs who fled from their homes in the Shida Kartli and Tskhinvali regions during the Russian military aggression.

Russian mines kill one, injure another in Gori

Land mines laid by Russian aggressors in the settlement of Tsmindatskali, Gori, killed a 35 year-old lady yesterday. She was in her garden picking blackberries when the mine exploded, killing her instantly. The corpse has been taken to Gori morgue for examination.

About half an hour later another land mine exploded in the same settlement, seriously injuring a local resident, who has been taken to hospital. The land mine exploded in the man’s orchard.

Arsenal explodes in Tskhinvali

A magazine of arms and shells taken from Georgian military bases by the Russians exploded in Tskhinvali yesterday morning. It was reported that over 200 shells exploded at once. The stolen armaments were being kept at the Tskhinvali Auto Transport facility.

The Russian NTV Channel reported that one Russian soldier was injured as the result of the blast. Shell fragments also fell in the barracks where occupation troops are stationed. The explosion caused a major fire, which local firefighters took several hours to extinguish. Reportedly, the blast caused panic in the city and separatist troops began to evacuate locals.

Russians fire at peaceful protestors

Russian aggressors who opened an illegal checkpoint in the house of a peaceful resident of Khobi, Samegrelo Region, fired in the air to disperse a demonstration by the local population, which was protesting against their presence in the town. Despite the danger, the protestors went on demonstrating.

Russians loot houses in Karaleti village

Russian aggressors have burnt down yet another house in the village of Karaleti, in the conflict region, after plundering all its contents. Russians moved into the village in tanks, looting houses and raiding the whole village, destroying everything they found. Illegal checkpoints are still operating in the village.

IDPs begin to return home

The Ministry of Refugees will enable IDPs from the Shida Kartli and Tskhinvali Regions to return home. The Ministry has allocated over 400 buses to take refugees to their villages and towns. The buses will collect the IDPs from the places where they have been resettled by the government, but refugees living with relatives and friends since they fled, will have to apply to the Ministry for information on how they can return home.

Illegal checkpoint operates in Sachkhere

One illegal Russian checkpoint continues to operate in the regional centre of Sachkhere. Though Russian forces have retreated two kilometres they have reinforced their positions in the village of Perevi, bordering the Java district of the Tskhinvali conflict region. The local population is demanding the withdrawal of Russian forces from the region.

Russian aggressors still in Poti

The Russians are maintaining their positions in the seaport of Poti. The two illegal checkpoints they established there will continue to operate, allegedly, until humanitarian aid sent by Spain and the United States enters Poti port.

The Russians say they are staying in the city to “keep the peace” and check the cargo being delivered from various countries. However Russian tanks are no longer moving around the streets of the city.

The occupiers have beaten up journalists from the Associated Press news agency. They were in the city to report on the illegal positions still occupied by the aggressors, who responded by breaking their cameras and assaulting them.

NATO humanitarian aid arrives in Batumi

A U.S. Navy warship carrying humanitarian aid anchored in the southern port of Batumi on Sunday, bringing much-needed relief to Georgia and sending a strong signal of support to an embattled ally.

As the Batumi port cannot receive ships of that size, the aid will be loaded onto smaller boats and then delivered to the port, which is prepared to receive the cargo.

The government planned to receive these ships at Poti, because despite bombing and sabotage by the Russian army that port has managed to resume operations of every terminal. However, problems remain on the port railway, and therefore the dispatch of the loads from the terminals was halted.

Russian Army creates new checkpoint on Gomi – Sachkhere road

Russian soldiers have erected a new checkpoint on the Gomi – Sachkhere road. As Zurab Tsertsvadze, the Governor of Sachkhere region, stated, the checkpoint was erected in the village of Perevi. “The locals demanded that the Russians relocate the checkpoint to the edge of the village, bordering Java. The Russians have illegally created all these points”, Tsertsvadze stated.

According to the Governor, representatives of the French Embassy are in Sachkhere, and have met with Russian occupiers and locals.

Senaki military base razed to the ground

Senaki military base has been completely destroyed by Russian aggressors. A Rustavi 2 TV crew has entered the base and made a film showing that the whole base has been razed to the ground.

The last Russian soldier left the base at 8 p.m., on August 23. The occupiers took away everything they could and destroyed everything they could not, including arms, tanks, military vehicles, household appliances, computers and air-conditioning systems. The only thing the aggressors did not damage is the civil air-navigation monitor.

The Russians have left one damaged tank at the base too. They blew up a helicopter parked in its hangar and the runways are also damaged. Georgia began mine clearing operations at the base later on August 23.

Russia accuses NATO of escalating Black Sea situation

Russia has accused NATO of heightening security concerns in the Black Sea. The Deputy Head of Russia's General Staff said that the Navy was aware that NATO was strengthening its presence in the Sea.
‘The situation in the Black Sea is escalating. NATO is continuing to build up its naval presence in the area,’ Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn told reporters on Saturday. He spoke after the ORP General Pulaski and the USS McFaul joined two ships from Germany and Spain that had entered the Sea earlier on Friday. Nogovitsyn expressed doubts that NATO vessels needed to be in the Black Sea, and promised that Russia would respond swiftly to any provocation of its Black Sea Fleet.

Tbilisi-Senaki-Leselidze highway is unblocked

The Tbilisi–Senaki– Leselidze road is now unblocked, reports Giorgi Gegechkori, Chief Officer of the Tbilisi Patrol Police. Traffic movement from east Georgia to west Georgia is therefore possible again. As Giorgi Gegechkori stated, Georgian police patrol the highway and traffic movement on the mentioned sector is safe.

Russian military re-grouping on Gori-Igoeti road

Russian soldiers are still adjacent to the village of Karaleti, a few kilometres from Gori. The occupation forces are regrouping on the section of road between Gori and Igoeti.

More Russian soldiers are allegedly heading towards Lamiskhana and will join the unit positioned in the vicinity of Akhalgori.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Lavrov calls for embargo on arms to Georgia

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said his country will “continue to seek to deprive the present Georgian regime of the potential and resources to do more mischief.” He called for an embargo on arms to the “Tbilisi regime.” While Lavrov said Russia's military has acted “efficiently and professionally”, eyewitnesses say the takeover of Georgian-held areas of South Ossetia in the first days of the war was accompanied by widespread looting and the killing of Georgian civilians.

A humanitarian convoy organized by the World Food Programme set out yesterday for Gori, seeking to deliver food through the humanitarian corridor Russia committed itself to providing in the ceasefire agreement signed last week.

Protest Rallies continue

A peaceful protest action is being held at the Russian checkpoint near Igoeti. Protestors are crying: ‘Georgia’, ‘Occupiers, leave Georgia’, ‘Stop Russia’ and ‘It’s time to go home’ among other slogans. A group of Georgian doctors has joined this spontaneous protest.

The protestors are talking to Russian soldiers at their post. Acute discussion are being held between them. Russian forces are disposed on the both sides of the main road, although they don’t intend to move towards Igoeti.

Another protest rally against Russian aggression has been held in Poti. The rally began in the central square of the city and moved towards the port area, with protestors carrying banners saying ’STOP!’, ‘Russia Keep Away From Us’ and ‘Russian Forces Leave Georgia!’. According to Poti mayor Vano Saghinadze, rallies against Russian aggression will continue until the Russian regular army leaves Georgian territory. Local residents, members and staff of the local authority and representatives of non-governmental organizations took part in the protest.

Russians release 62 hostages, promise to free 101 later

Russian aggressors have released 62 people taken hostage in the South Ossetia conflict zone and handed them over to the Georgian side today. Most of them are elderly women and men.

The Russian regular army claims it is holding 101 more Georgians, whom it plans to release later today.

Georgia Wins third Olympic Gold Medal

Georgia gained its third Olympic gold medal on August 21 after Revazi Mindorashvili defeated Tajikistan’s Yusup Abdusalomov in the Men's Freestyle Wrestling 84kg category. Mindorashvili advanced to the final by beating Russia’s Georgi Ketoev in the semi-final. Also on August 21, Giorgi Gogshelidze won a bronze medal in Men's Freestyle Wrestling 96kg category.

Georgia now has three golds and three bronzes so far at these games. Manuchar Kvirkvelia gave Georgia its first gold in the Men's Greco-Roman wrestling 74 kg category, swiftly followed by Irakli Tsirekidze in the Men’s 90kg Judo. Nino Salukvadze took bronze for Georgia in the women's 10m air pistol shooting and Otar Tushishvili clinched a bronze in the Men's Freestyle Wrestling 66 kg event.

Russian citizens return home via humanitarian corridor

Over 250 Russian citizens who had been visiting Georgia on business trips or holidays with relatives have returned to Russia via a humanitarian corridor organized by the South Ossetian Provincial Administration loyal to Tbilisi. The corridor was opened at the Larsi border point, bordering Vladikavkaz. The Russian Federation's embassy in Tbilisi has provided no help to its citizens.

The Chairman of the Provincial Administration, Dmitry Sanakoev, personally assisted the Russian citizens to return home safely. The Russians were taken across the border in minibuses. Most of them had traveled to Georgia illegally through the Roki Tunnel, but the Provincial Administration has pledged to assist any Russian citizens who have entered Georgia illegally to return home.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Few Countries Support Russia

The head of the Parliamentary Committee for European Integration Davit Darchiashvili stated that few states will support Russia in her actions. According to Darchiashvili there do exist marginal states, doomed for isolation. He points to undetermined actions of Syria and speaks about several European states, choosing for neutrality. Although, the position of the leading European state, serving as the head of the EU, is clear, actively involved in the process of conflict resolution. By this time, Syria, Venesuella and the movement "Hezbollah" have supported the Russian Federation.

Saakashvili - Georgia will be re-Build

Georgia will be fully re-build after the devastating blow, the president of Georgia Mikheil Saaakashvili stated at the meeting with the majority. According to him, the recent period was the crucial point not only for the future of the country, but for the whole Europe as well. Saakashvili mentioned that Russia had the plan to occupy Tbilisi, being proved by the Bernar Kushner, French Minister for Foreign Affairs. According to Saakashvili, he declined to leave the capital and reported the minister that Georgians would defend the city.

Russian Militaries Moved to Chkhorotsku

Russian militaries have occupied the village Choga in Chkhorotsku region. They have crossed the center of Chkhorotsku and marched towards the village Choga, bordering the Martvili region. The head of the military unit entered the village for negotiations with the local population. Russian soldiers blocked the way for journalists. Reportedly, Russian militaries took control over the entrance of Martvili.

Separatist Leaders Meet Lukashenko

The leaders of breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Sergei Shamba and Eduard Bagapsh, paid a special visit to the president of Belarus, Alexandre Lukashenko. As the State Information Agency reports from Tskinvali, they discussed the recent developments in Tskinvali region, whereas Lukashenko denounced the central government of Georgia for its activities in the conflict zone. He promised the package of humanitarian assisstance to the inhabitants of the conflict zone.

American Senators Visit Georgia

American Senators Joseph Liberman and Lins Grem have just arrived in Tbilisi. They left immediately to meet the President of Georgia, not commenting at the Airport. There are also planned meetings with the head of the Parliament Davit Bakradze and PM Vladimer Gurgenidze. In the framework of the visit senators will meet refugees as well. Reportedly, senators visit Georgia under special appeal of the US presidential candidate John McCain.

"RusTourism" does not Recommend Abkhazia

The state tour agency of Russia "RusTourism" does not recommend Abkhazia for summer vocations due to exacerbated military activities on the territory of Georgia. The Federal Agency of the Russian Federation issued the statement after several appeals from the private companies regarding safety measures for tourists in Abkhazia.

Saakashvili to Meet Majority

The president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili meets the majority at the State Chancellery. As MPs have mentioned before the meeting, the recent situation will be dicussed at the session. MPs and the President will share information. As MP Davit Darchiashvili declared, the majority wants to be in the course of recent developments, as well as they want to be informed regarding the planned measures to restore peace.

Russians Try to Stay in Gori

Russian occupation forces try to stay in Gori. Reportedly the way between Shavsheti and Igoeti is blocked by the Russian forces, waving Russian flags on checkpoints and militaries bearing peacekeepers' marks. Twenty military personnel was allocated on each checkpoint. This is the new happening in the region, as before Russian militaries were dressed in the Russian military forms, having no the mark of peacekeepers.

Russians Occupy Akhalgori

The portion of the Russian occupation forces was deployed near Akhalgori. Russians have relocated 5 tanks, 2 anti-aircraft guns and 8 logistic cars in this direction. Reportedly, Ossetian formations have occupied Axalgori region several days ago, dismantling Georgian flags.

Russia Unveils Some Details of Buffer Zone

The Russian forces will establish two lines of checkpoints in “a security zone” in the vicinity of South Ossetia, Anatoly Nogovitsin, deputy chief of the general staff of the Russian armed forces, said on August 20.
“In frames of the peacekeeping mandate we are establishing two lines of checkpoints,” Nogovitsin stated. “The first line will include eight checkpoints across the line of zone of responsibility of the Russian peacekeepers. The second line – involving 10 checkpoints – will be set across the administrative border of South Ossetia. Total of 272 soldiers will be deployed on the eight checkpoints of the first line.”
“There will be a buffer zone between these two lines,” he added.
He did not give any other details or specifics about the exact area of the zone; however, he stated that the town of Gori would not be included in the zone.

Statement by Georgian Foreign Ministry

On August 19, 2008, Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, Colonel-General A. Nogovitsyn stated that the Russian peacekeepers had apprehended and disarmed twenty heavily armed Georgian paramilitaries, who were driving Hummer type five military vehicles.
The above statement is slanderous and does not adequately reflect the real state of affairs.
In accordance with the ceasefire agreement, Georgian troops are returning to the places of their previous deployment. In particular, on 19 August, at 01:00, a small Georgian unit including 20 servicemen equipped with light weaponry was deployed at a small-sized military base next to one of the private terminals of the Poti Port.
On August 19, at 08:30 am, a column of Russian heavy military vehicles once again invaded the Poti seaport, which is a private-owned facility, and the Russian military unit took hostage the Georgian soldiers deployed there.
During withdrawal from the facility, Russian soldiers took with them five Hummer type military vehicles, which belong to the Armed Forces of the United States and were prepared for transportation to the United States. The above vehicles were brought to Georgia back in July, as US side needed them for participation in the international training `Immediate Response-2008”.
When moving out from the seaport territory, the Russian militaries blindfolded and placed several Georgian military servicemen on the Russian military vehicles to use them as `live shields”.
Thus, the General Nogovitsyn’s statement, according to which the heavily armed Georgian paramilitaries were allegedly imprisoned on August 18, by the Russian military servicemen deployed at the Russian peacekeeping check-point, is absolutely false and misleading.
It should be stressed as well that the Poti seaport is located far beyond the area envisaged in the ceasefire agreement brokered by the President of France; as a matter of fact, the above facility is situated approximately 30 kilometers away from the administrative border of Abkhazian region and 160 kilometers away from the administrative border of so-called South Ossetia.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia strongly demands the Russian side to immediately release the illegally imprisoned Georgian military servicemen.

White House urges Russia to Return Stolen Equipment

White House urges Russia to return the Hammer vehicles which the aggressors took away from Senaki military base and the Poti port yesterday. At the daily press briefing White House official Gordon Johndroe said the whereabouts of the stolen equipment are unknown but they hoped that Russia would return them immediately.

Orthodox Church Marks Transfiguration of Jesus

Orthodox Church marked Transfiguration of Jesus yesterday. As InterpressNews was reported in the Patriarchate of Georgia, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II conducted a mass regarding the date in St Sameba (Trinity) church at 01:00 am. The Transfiguration of Jesus is an event reported by the Synoptic Gospels in which Jesus was transfigured upon a mountain. The original Greek term in the Gospels is metamorphothe, describing Jesus as having undergone metamorphosis. The Gospels state that Jesus led three of his apostles - Peter, John the Apostle, and James the Great - to pray at the top of a mountain. Once at the top, Jesus became transfigured, his face shining like the sun, and his clothes a brilliant white. They claim that Elijah and Moses suddenly appeared with Jesus and talked with him; Matthew and Mark do not say what the conversation was about, but Luke states that it was about Jesus' future death. Once they had spoken with each other, the Gospels state that a bright cloud appeared overhead, and a voice from Heaven proclaimed, ‘This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased,’ paralleling a similar event during the Baptism of Jesus.In the narrative, after the cloud dissipates, Elijah and Moses disappear, and Jesus and the three Apostles head down the mountain, Jesus telling his Apostles to keep the event a secret until a/the Son of Man had risen from the dead. The Apostles are described as questioning among themselves as to what Jesus meant by ‘risen from the dead’ (Mark 9:9-10). In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Feast of the Transfigurationcommemorates this event. It is one of the twelve Great Feasts in the liturgical year of the Eastern Orthodox Church and is observed by it on August 6. Traditionally, fruit is brought to church to be blessed on this day. The Transfiguration falls during the Dormition Lent, but fish, wine and oil are allowed to be consumed on this day in recognition of the feast.The Roman Catholic Church also observes the feast on August 6, as do the churches of the Anglican Communion.Some Protestant churches observe Transfiguration Sunday on the last Sundayafter the Epiphany (January 6), which places it somewhere in February or March.

GEL Equals 1.4130 against USD

USD 1 equaled GEL GEL1.4130 after trading at the Tbilisi inter-bank currency exchange today, August 20.As the National Bank of Georgia reported InterpressNews, two Georgian commercial banks as purchasers and the NBG as a seller took part in the trading session of the Tbilisi Interbank Currency Exchange (TICEX), where two new stock deals were concluded. The total trade turnover amounted to USD 8,000,000. The opening exchange rate was 1 USD – 1.4130 USD. The initial demand of commercial banks on the currency was USD 1.600.000, while supply amounted to USD 1.500.000. The official exchange rate from August 21 is 1 USD - GEL1.4130.

International Action ‘Let’s Sing for Georgia’ to Be Held

International Action ‘Let’s Sing for Georgia’ to Be Held August 20 By organization of the Machinery of State Minister for Diaspora Issues, an international action ‘Let’s Sing for Georgia’ will be held on august 20. As the Machinery of the State Minister reported InterpressNews, aim of the international action ’Let’s Sing for Georgia’ is to demonstrate Russian military barbarism against dignity of Georgian people and Georgian culture. All chorus of Georgian song (including amateurs), who wants to support Georgia by this action, will sing together around the world, at 7.00pm.

‘Aldagi BCI’ to Provide Medical Check-up for Children – IDPs from South Ossetia

Insurance Company ‘Aldagi BCI’ will provide a medical check-up for children-IDPs from South Ossetia.As the company reported InterpressNews, 120 children-IDPs from the conflict zone will pass through medical prophylactic check-up at ‘My Family’s Clinics’ owned by ‘Aldagi BCI’.

American Company Hands Over 10 Breathing Equipments to Georgian Healthcare Ministry

American company ‘General Electronics’ have handed over 10 breathing equipments to the Georgian Healthcare Ministry.According to Levan Bakanidze, Georgian representative of ‘General Electronics’, respiration equipments cost USD 100,000 and they are in deficit in Georgia. The company will deliver humanitarian load in the nearest future, namely two mobile and two surgical equipments, which cost USD 200,000.According to Levan Bakanidze, ‘General Electronics’ is going to hand over resuscitation equipments to Georgia.

Actions of Russia Abrogated International Principles

Danis Miliband, the foreign minister of Great Britain declared that the actions of Russia during the last 10 years were the abrogation of the international principles.Danis Miliband stated the following in the joint press conference held after his meeting with Mikheil Saakashvili.The British diplomat underlined the British people backs Georgia. As the foreign minister stated he reported Mikheil Saakashvili over the meeting of NATO Ministerial held today.The Mikheil Saakashvili thanked the EU and the foreign minister for support.

Fire in Borjomi Forests

Main hearths of fire have been already localized in Borjomi-Kharagauli wood, though several hearths of fire still are broken in distance places. Dying of the fire takes place by mechanical means. Minister of Environment Protection and Natural Resources Irakli Ghvaladze stated radio ‘Palitra’ that they are waiting for special aircrafts from Turkey.According to him, liquidation of the fire, presumably, will take place on August 22. According to the Minister, fire has negative influence over micro-climate of the forest reserve. According to the existing information, about 300-hecter territory has been already burnt.

Russia Prepared to Recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia

The upper house of Russia’s parliament, the Federation Council, is ready to recognize independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Fed Council Speaker Sergei Mironov announced.
''The Federation Council is ready to recognize the independent status of South Ossetia and Abkhazia should the nations of these republics wish so and provided there is a respective resolution of Russia’s president,'' Fed Council Speaker Sergei Mironov said to reporters.
Peaceful life in South Ossetia will be restored for ever, said the speaker, who has arrived in North Ossetia. Mironov accompanies the humanitarian cargo prepared by the RF Fed Council.

1 Million Assistance to Georgia

Ukrainian government will allocate 11 million dollar assistance to Georgia. Under the request of president Yushchenko, Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko quit her vacations and summoned a special session of the government, which made a decision to allocate 11 millions from the government's reserve funds for assisting Georgian regions damaged during Russian aggression.Ukraine's Foreign Ministry appeals to Georgian embassy to provide unbiased distribution of the money.

WHO to Assist Georgia

The World Health Organization will assist Georgia to overcome the crisis post-Georgia-Russia conflict. Marc Danzon, the Regional Director of the World Health Organization for Europe and Georgian Minister of Health and Social Care, Sandro Kvitashvili were discussing humanitarian crisis Georgia and ways out of this crisis.
Marc Danzon pledged technical assistance to Georgia.
At the meeting held in Tbilisi today Georgian Minister and the Regional Director of the WHO discussed the issues of the WHO regional committee assembly, which will be held in Tbilisi in September.

Humaniratian Aid Arrested at Gori Entrance

The representative of president in Shida Qartli region, Lado Vardzelashvili was arrested at the gate of Gori. Russian generals did not clarify the reason, although did not let him to enter the city for a while. The MPs Gigi Tsereteli, Lasha Zvania and Petre Tsiskarishvili left for Gori to monitor the situation on spot. They will report later over humanitarian situation in the city.
Meanwhile, the union of techers of Georgia organized the protest rally near Igoeti, demanding immediate wiothdrawal of the Russian occupational forces from the territory of Georgia.

Eorsi Temporarily Arreseted

Representatives of the Council of Europe, Matyas Eorsi was arrested on his way to city Gori. Iorsi and his escort was blocked for 40 minutes at the entrance checkpiont of the city. Russian forces declared that they were investigating whether Eorsi had the right to enter the city. As Eorsi commented: "International society supports Georgia and it is unbeareble that Russian forces block ways on the territory of sovereign state." Eorsi was also surprised with the restriction on free movement of journalists in the city. The escort of Eorsi also came across the Russian military cars, marching towards Gori, rather then moving back to Tskinvali. Eorsi termed the situation as "the occupation of Georgia by Russia", being unimaginable case, when one member state of EU Council is found to be occupied by enother.

International Society Stays Active

International society stays active over developments in Georgia and the process of withdrawal of the Russian formations. The General Secretary of UN Ban Ki Moon stressed the need to pass the resolution regarding the recent situation in Georgia in his telephone conversation with President Medvedev. Before the conversation, Ban Ki Moon voiced necessity of the new resolution on CNN, TV Rustavi2 reports.

Eorsi Visited the City Gori

Representatives of the Council of Europe, Castrio Islam and Matyas Eorsi went to the 'Town of Tents' outside Tbilisi where thousands of IDPs have been given shelter for some period before they return home.
The CoE envoys talked with the IDPs personally and listened to the stories how the women and the children flee their homes and villages as Cossacks and Ossetian gunmen chased and fired them.
''It's horrible when people have to stay in tents. In the 21-st century people must not be evicted from their homes. We are collecting material to make a report about Georgia developments to the Council of Europe. Georgia deserves to become a member of the NATO'' -Mr. Eorsi told journalists.
From the settlement the CoE envoyes went to the city of Gori.
U.K. Foreign Secretary David Miliband was the next to meet the IDPs. He said ''I heard horrible histories today from all relyable sources.''

Situation Remains Tense in Western Georgia

Situation has also worsened in other parts of the western Georgia, where the Russian occupants have blown up the Reservist Base of Osiauri. The MIA has confirmed the fact, although stated that military equipments and formations had already been dislocated. Port of Poti remains to be another hot spot, being occupied by Russian military forces, taking Georgian soldiers as hostage. At least 21 Georgian military policemen were arrested by the Russian forces in Poti, the Georgian officials said. Captured and blindfold Georgian servicemen are seen on this screenshot from CNN on the Russian armored vehicles.
The White House issued the special statement over Russian activities in the Port of Porti. The special representative Gordon Jondro expressed his hope that Russia will return back those US Hammers and other military equipments, being taken away the port.

Russian Army Devastated the Country

In parallel of heavy contention on international arena over withdrawal of the Russian forces from Georgia and claims from Russian side over the course of action, Russian military formations continue the process of devastation of country’s infrastructure. Although the four illegal checkpoints were dismantled in Gori (in the group of enterprise, near railway station, and the rest in the center of the city), Russian militaries still pose problems for the free movement on highways.

Russians have occupied village Perevi, the Sachxere region, near the Tskinvali conflict zone, connecting the Sachxere region to the settlement of Djava. They demanded population to leave houses and vacate the whole village. The head of the region Zurab Tsertsvadze stated that Russian militaries are extremely aggressive, although asked the local population not to panic and stay in. The local administration was assembled in the village Chala, monitoring the situation. According to the recent information, Russian occupants do not intend to enter in Sachxere properly, although local police is mobilized to take the situation at control.

Saakashvili on Withdrawal of Russian Forces

The President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili responded at the joint press conference with British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband in Tbilisi, late on August 19, over the statement of Medvevde, admitting that “He [Sarkozy] again, urged Russian withdrawal from Georgia,” Civil Georgia reports.

Medvedev on Russian Peacekeepers

President Medvedev reiterated that the portion of the Russian military formations, as peacekeepers, comprised up to 500 personals, will be temporarily placed in the conflict zones of Georgia as soon as the special places of dislocation are organized at designated areas, meanwhile the rest will move to the North Ossetia and the Russian Federation, TV Rustavi2 reports.

Russian Forces will Leave Soon

Russian military formations will leave Georgia by August 22 reportedly President of the Russian Federation Dimitry Medvedev confirmed the fact in his telephone conversation with his French counterpart Nikola Sarkozy on August 19. Meanwhile, under the pretext of preparing for withdrawal from Georgia, Russian military formations and heavy artillery constantly relocates all across the country, bringing damage not only to the Georgian property but to the foreign investments as well.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

NATO Ministerial on Georgian-Russian Confrontation

The NATO ministerial session is over in Bruselss. The foreign ministers of NATO member states set the special committee dealing with the future Georgian-NATO and Russian-NATO relations. The communique of the session set the existing NATO-Russian relations for a serious reconsiderations and stressed the neccessity of assistance to Georgia. NATO will launch special negotiations with Georgia for setting the future plan of collaboration, as well as will add to the minitoring process of the ceasefire agreement between Russia and Georgia.
Ministerial re-confirmed NATO's support to Georgia's territorial integrity, further stressing that NATO will assisst to Georgia in recovery after the war. NATO ministerial pointed to Russia on re-considerations of its policy towards Georgia as long as the current situation will affect not only on NATO-Russian, but it will also significantly influence on Russia-EU relations as well.

Former War Prisoners are in Tbilisi

Georgian soldiers are placed at Gudushauri Hospital for medical check-up and further treatment.

Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline Demaged

Oil flow through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline was cut Wednesday after an explosion sparked a fire in a section in eastern Turkey. The foreign news agencies released comments of Refahiye sub-governor Mehmet Makas who `ruled out the possibility of a sabotage, saying that a fault in the system had been detected before the blast`. As said, the incident occurred around midnight in a pump at a section near the eastern town of Refahiye, in Erzincan province.

NATO will discuss the Case of Georgia

NATO ministerial is gathered in Belgium for emergency meeting over the crisis between Russia and Georgia, with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as a special guest. The case is that the deadline for Russian troops to withdraw from Georgia has come and gone, leaving NATO frustrated and worried. Rice arrived at NATO headquarters Tuesday a day after saying that Moscow was playing `a dangerous game` by re-asserting its power across the border. NATO ministers are expected to discuss what the alliance can do to support Georgia and `deny Russia's strategic objectives,` Rice stressed.

Poti Terminal is Robbed

Russian soldiers have robbed Poti Terminal. They took away humanitarian aid designated for IDPs and vehicles imported from abroad. They have also taken away Georgian soldiers whom they arrested earlier today. With their eyes bound, Georgians were arguably taken towards Zugdidi. The tanks loaded with humanitarian aid have also left the territory of the terminal. The terminal was recently renovated according to the western standards. As the representative of the government declared, the case was made not only against the Georgian government and state, but against the private companies, investing in the terminal.

Patriot Camp Burnt in Ganmukhuri

Russian soldiers have completely burnt the patriots' camp located in the village of Ganmukhuri, bordering the separatist region of Abkhazia. Russian offenders entered the territory of the camp last night with two trucks and two tanks and light fire to the cottages of the pupils.
They poured pertol on the cottages and then lit fire. Before that they collected the inventory of the camp at one place and burnt it too. At the moment Russian 43-rd army is stationed in Ganmukhuri. The local governor visited the place of accident, declaring that Russians once again have showen brutal face and gave a promise to rebuild the camp immediately.

Presense of Russian Military Protested

The population of the town of Senaki, Samegrelo Region, demonstrated against the Russian army, demanding urgent pullout of Russian troops from Samegrelo Region. The protestors assembled outside the hotel Egrisi. The territory is protected by Georgian policemen, securing the demonstrators.
Despite the assertion of the Russian president that Russian troops would be pulled out from Georgia until today, Russians remain in Samegrelo, plundering the senaki military base. 30 trucks loaded with arms and other military equipment have already went to the Abkhazia conflict zone. They are loading 40 other trucks. In addition, they are mining the aerodrome of the base.

Prisoners' Deal was Made

On August 19, 2008 the exchange of the Georgian-Russian War prisoners took place at Igoeti, on a halfway between the town of Gori and Tbilisi. The principle set by the Georgian side – all to all – was respected by the Russian side. Former Georgian war prisoners declare they were treated awfully, tortured and miss respected by the South Ossetian separatist formations and Russian militaries. Georgian soldiers were transported by the emergency cars under the supervision of doctors. Georgian side handed over those soldiers, arrested after the crash of the Russian military jets near the city Gori.
The Chancellor of the State Security Committee Alexandre Lomaia re-confirmed the readiness of the government of Georgia to open the process of exchange of the Russian-Georgian war prisoners. According to him, the nominees for the working group were already listed from both sides and pointed to the neccessity of adhering the principle all-in-all. The vice minister of defence Batu Qutelia declared that the Russian side offered the non-accurate list of the war prisoners and the real figure of the Russian prisoners is considerably less. As Qutelia stressed, Moscow tries to manipulate with the issue, as long as it enables her to delay the process of withdrawal of the Russian occupational forces from the territory of Georgia.

Exchange of War Prisoners

Exchange of the Georgian-Russian war prisoners will take place later today. As the Chencellor of the State Security Committee Alexandre Lomaia stressed, Georgians are ready for the process and the principle all-in-all will be strongly followed. According to him, the trusted personalities from both sides are already figured and the working process will be opened in subsequent hours.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Pilots of the two Russian millitary jets crushed by the Georgian forces near Gori pursue their medical treatement in the prison hospital. As doctors declare their lifes are no longer under threat, though asserted the need of months long medical treatement as they have serious injuries on backbone. Viacheslav Malkov and Igor Zinov could figure out how they catapulted and were arrested by Georgian police. The chief doctor of the hospital Davit Asatiani declared that the patients will go on the full scale medical treatement till their final recovery.
Batu Qutelia, vice minister of defence, declared that Georgian side is ready for exchange of the war prisoners, although he mentioned that the Russian side has not sent the list of prisoners yet. The main principle was also stressed by Qutelia - all in all - as the official stance of the government of Georgia.

Explosions Continiues

Explosions on Senaki Military Base still continues. Allegedly Russians started to explode the small military airport of the base, finally demaging the flight highway.
Russian intervention in Georgia prompted an emergency meeting of the 26 NATO foreign ministers to pledge support and re-assert a promise of future membership on Tuesday, while trying to force Moscow to respect the peace deal, representative of the organization declared.
The extreme deteritoration of situation in so called Georgian-South Ossetian conflict, surfacing Russia as the conflict side, rather then as the mediator, could serve as a basis for reviewing the Bucarest decision, delivering a very clear message of solidarity to Georgia and pressing Russia to withdraw troops and comply over the international peace mechanism.
A six-point peace plan foresees a prompt withdrawal of Russian forces from 'core Georgia' -areas outside South Ossetia and a second Russian-backed separatist province of Abkhazia - but the West will also be looking for Russian troops to cut back their numbers quickly in South Ossetia itself, vacating place for international observers.
Recent developments have also seriously affected on Russia's international prestige, leading to the blocking Russian military navy from the joint Russian-NATO military trainings and making the western leaders to doubt Russia's membership in WTO.

Explosions in Senaki

Six explosions occurred on the Senaki military base a while ago. Reportedly, Russian soldiers are exploding the shells which they found on the territory, although there are also accussations over the possibility of exploding the territory of the aerodrome. Whole yesterday night Russian soldiers were taking away military hardware and other equipments, including four T72 tanks and antiaircraft artilery, as well as approximately 40 Ural type vehicles loaded with arms belonging to Georgian army and househols appliances were also taken away from Georgian territory. Allegedly, the cargo was taken to Abkhazia via the Enguri Bridge.

Situation over Russian Occupation Forces Deteritorates

Another impudence of Russian soldiers was reported from Kaspi. Four armored vehicles appeared in the village Igoeti today intending to move towards the village of Lamiskana. Georgian police resisted to the aggressors and made a barrier with their vehicles, however, the soldiers received an order from their general to drive over the police vehicles and so they did. The police managed to get out of the cars and luckily, no one was injured. Afterwards five other tanks drove towards the same village in couple of minutes after the incident.