World Court to hear Georgian case on ethnic cleansing

The International Court of Justice Oct. 15 gave Georgia approval to open a suit charging Russia with a campaign of ethnic cleansing in and around the separatist enclaves of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The ruling was hailed by Georgia’s attorneys as a defeat for Russia, which argued that the court lacks jurisdiction. The ICJ ordered both sides to refrain from discrimination and allow the free movement of civilians and humanitarian aid. (NYT, Oct. 16)

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees says 20,000 Georgians displaced by the war have returned home since Russian troops pulled out of the “buffer zone” around the the South Ossetia enclave starting Oct. 8. The UNHCR has closed its camp at Gori, and is building permanent housing for about 5,000 people who cannot go back in the long term. A total of 100,000 are said to have been displaced in the fighting. (AP, Oct. 17)

The parliaments of South Ossetia and Abkhazia have been given permanent observer status in parliamentary sessions of the Russia-Belarus Union State, the union announced Oct. 17. Abkhazian and South Ossetian lawmakers will now be able to address parliamentary assembly sessions of the union state. If Belarus joins Russia in recognizing the independence of the enclaves, they will become permanent members of the assembly. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said his government will consider the regions’ recognition request.

The Russia-Belarus Union State is a supranational entity consisting of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus. It was formed in 1996 “with the intention of providing greater political, economic, and social integration.” (RIA-Novosti, Oct. 17)

See our last post on Georgia.