Russia, Georgia trade genocide accusations

Russia says it is gathering evidence for charges of genocide against Georgia, accusing it of driving 30,000 refugees out of South Ossetia. Georgia responded by filing a case against Russia at the International Court of Justice for ethnic cleansing between 1993 and 2008. (London Times, Aug. 13) Human Rights Watch reports that on Aug. 12, its researchers “saw ethnic Georgian villages still burning from fires set by South Ossetian militias, witnessed looting by the militias, and learned firsthand of the plight of ethnic Ossetian villagers who had fled Georgian soldiers during the Georgian-Russian conflict over the breakaway region of South Ossetia.” (HRW, Aug. 13)

There were again reports that Russian forces had occupied the town of Gori Aug. 13, prompting Washington and Tbilisi to accuse the Kremlin of breaking a day-old ceasefire. Georgian Interior Ministry officials said Aug. 14 that Russian forces were pulling out of Gori. A ministry spokesman also said Russian forces have also left the Black Sea port city of Poti.

President Bush announced he is dispatching humanitarian aid to Georgia via US military transport and sending Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Tbilisi “to demonstrate our solidarity with the Georgian people.”

Leaders in Moscow denied they had violated the ceasefire, saying they deployed troops and tanks in and around Gori to establish a “demilitarized zone” and to dismantle a Georgian depot of arms and military hardware they had discovered. (Chicago Tribune, Aug. 14)

See our last post on Georgia.