Friday, January 23, 2009

Russia and Georgia Faulted in War -

Ivan Karamazov, thinking about the strife between his brother Dmitrii and their father Fyodor, mumbles to himself «Один гад съест другую гадину» -- untranslatable, but roughly "Let the reptiles eat the serpents."

I mumble that to myself a lot when reading about international events.

Russia and Georgia Faulted in War

MOSCOW — Human Rights Watch released a comprehensive report on Friday on the brief August war in Georgia, accusing both Russia and Georgia of using indiscriminate force on civilians and lambasting Russia for standing by while South Ossetian militias and irregulars carried out “execution-style killings, rape, abductions, and countless beatings.”

The war began Aug. 7, when Georgia attacked the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali. Russia responded by sending columns of armor into South Ossetia and Abkhazia, a second breakaway enclave, and then driving deep into Georgia.

In the early days of the war, Moscow accused Georgia of "genocide," and said 2,000 people had been killed in the shelling of Tskhinvali. In its report, Human Rights Watch rejects those claims as exaggerated, and calls on Russia to acknowledge that more recent assessments put the number of deaths between 162 and 400.

Much of the report is devoted to a meticulous description of Ossetian rampages in ethnic Georgian villages in South Ossetia, in which houses were systematically looted, torched and bulldozed, sometimes as their inhabitants looked on. Human Rights Watch concluded that the militias’ intent was “to ethnically cleanse these villages.”

Russian forces “had full knowledge of what was going on,” said Anna Neistat, the organization’s senior emergencies researcher, at a news conference in Moscow. “I think they just didn’t care.”

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