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.