Open appeal over the situation in Georgia


On 8 August Russia, on the pretext of “defending Russian citizens” in the self-proclaimed republic of South Ossetia began an act of aggression against Georgia.

According to media reports, Russian military planes bombed Gori. Georgian officials assert that Russian planes have bombed Poty, Senaki and Tsinvali. The Russian media reported that airborne troops had entered Tsinvali/

During the evening of 8 August at an emergency session of the UN Security Council, Russia’s Representative to the UN Vitaly Churkin openly admitted that there had been bombing of Georgian territory. On the eve of the military action, Russia stepped up its propaganda war against Georgia. Pro-Kremlin media outlets only spoke of Georgian military action in the zone of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict, saying nothing about the firing on Georgian villages by armed formations of Edward Kokoita.  On 8 August the websites of the Georgian authorities and the television channel “Rustan-2” were blocked.

On 8 August “Memorial” condemned the deployment of Georgian troops in Tsinvali which Georgia’s leaders described as “constitutional measures to establish peace and law and order” ( Yet whatever was happening in Georgia, Russia has no right to use armed forces on another country’s territory. The status of Russian peacekeepers in Georgia was defined by inter-governmental agreements. Russia lost the moral right to a peacekeeping role in Abkhazia and South Ossetia when, bypassing the leadership of a sovereign state, Georgia, it allied itself with the effective authorities of these self-declared formations. At present, having discarded all decorum, bringing airborne units into Georgia and bombing territory which does not even fall into the South Ossetian autonomous region, Russia has totally become a party to armed conflict.

Russian President Medvedev has stated that he “is obliged to protect the life and dignity of Russian nationals wherever they are”. Yet in the UN General Assembly Resolution of 14.12.1974, the definition of aggression stresses that: “No consideration of whatever nature, whether political, economic, military or otherwise, may serve as a justification for aggression”.  It is particularly worth remembering that in 1938 Nazi Germany attempted to justify the annexation of the Sudetenland, belonging to Czechoslovakia as being to defend the interests of Germans living there.

History shows that intervention by our country in others’ affairs, regardless of statements about “assistance”, leads to untold ills. In 1979 the ruling elite of the Soviet Union sent troops into sovereign Afghanistan on the pretext of “brotherly assistance: hundreds of thousands of the country’s inhabitants fell victim to the Soviet military. At present the chekist [from the first word for the KGB ] – bureaucrat band ruling Russia, the successor to the Soviet leadership has committed an act of aggression against independent Georgia.

The invasion of Afghanistan led to wild-scale violence and human rights abuse continuing unabated in that country for many years, with wars breaking out every so often. Afghanistan’s historical development was reversed, with it being changed from a secular to a theocratic State.  The actions of the Soviet leadership lead to a sharp rise in the popularity of Islamic fundamentalism not only in Afghanistan, but also in Pakistan and Arab countries, the Talibans and Al-Qaeda, to name but two.

If the international community does not stop Russian aggression and if Georgia, exercising its legitimate right to self-defence, cannot deflect this, Russia could seize not only the former South Ossetian Autonomous Region, but also other parts of Georgia. And after all, many irresponsible Russian politicians lay claim to the Crimea.

We demand an immediate cessation of aggression against Georgia.

We believe that the Russian leadership, having brought yet another bloody stain upon the reputation of the country, has once and for all made its membership of the G-8 morally unacceptable.

We call on the UN General Assembly, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and other international institutions to assess the actions of the Russian leadership against Georgia.

Sergei Kovalev, Head of the Russian “Memorial” Society and of the Andrei Sakharov Foundation

Dmitry Belomestnov, journalist, Moscow

Stanislav Dmitrievsky, (Nizhny Novgorod), Head of the Russia-Chechnya Friendship Society

Tatyana Monakhova, human rights defender, Moscow

Yelena Maglevannaya, copy editor, Volgograd

Mikhail Kriger, Head of the Anti-War Committee, Moscow

Ivan Simochkin, “Oborona” [“Defence”] Youth Movement, Moscow

Alexei Manannikov, President of the Siberian Inter-regional human rights foundation “Vienna-89”, Novosibirsk

Edward Glezin, Coordinator of the Russian Youth Movement “Oborona”, Moscow

Lev Ponomarev, Executive Director, All-Russian Civic Organization “For Human Rights”

Yelena Ryabinina, Civic Assistance Committee

Yevhen Zakharov, KHPG

Halya Coynash, KHPG

and others


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