Another day, another reporter targeted in Georgia. In case you think the fire was just to scare them away, watch the bullet holes appear in the windshield; one crew member was hit in the eye but survived. The question mark’s in the title only because some papers are agnostic on which side was responsible. NTV, a Turkish network, says it can’t tell and the BBC offers nothing beyond the fact that they were in an area of South Ossetia where fighting was occurring. The translation of the narration in the clip blames pro-Russian Ossetian militiamen, though, as do the Daily Mail and the Times of London. Any reason to think Georgians might have done this? Just one — the fact that irregular units without uniforms were fighting on the Russian side, a fact doubtless known to Georgian forces. There have been various incidents in Iraq of U.S. troops firing on vehicles driven by civilians who wouldn’t stop at checkpoints because they can’t tell the enemy from innocents and had to err on the side of caution. Maybe that’s what this is, although it’s probably just Putin’s allies doing him proud.
and there there’s this
Video: Russian Soldiers looting Georgian businesses
And then this:
Georgia wasn’t committing ‘genocide,’ and the Russians aren’t keeping the peace
· Georgia committed genocide against the people of South Ossetia.
This charge was initially leveled by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and has been taken up by others, including President Dmitry Medvedev, who on Thursday came up with the interesting formulation that South Ossetians “had lived through a genocide.” Mr. Medvedev has referred to “thousands” killed, and Russian officials frequently have cited 2,000 South Ossetians killed (out of a population of 70,000). They have said Georgia razed the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali. These purported depredations are given as the main motivation for Russian military intervention.
A researcher for Human Rights Watch who visited Tskhinvali reported as follows: “A doctor at Tskhinvali Regional Hospital who was on duty from the afternoon of August 7 told Human Rights Watch that between August 6 to 12 the hospital treated 273 wounded, both military and civilians. . . . The doctor also said that 44 bodies had been brought to the hospital since the fighting began, of both military and civilians. The figure reflects only those killed in the city of Tskhinvali. But the doctor was adamant that the majority of people killed in the city had been brought to the hospital before being buried, because the city morgue was not functioning due to the lack of electricity in the city.”
Independent journalists back up the account provided by Human Rights Watch. The Wall Street Journal, for example, yesterday reported finding Tskhinvali, where most of the fighting took place, mostly intact and with “little evidence of a high death toll.”
· Russians in Georgia are “peacekeepers” on a humanitarian mission to protect civilians.
This formulation has alternated with repeated Russian statements, repeatedly disproved, that Russian forces were not in Georgia at all, or were leaving, or were about to leave. In fact, journalists, human rights observers and others have documented that Russian troops have ranged far into Georgia, including the city of Gori and the port of Poti. They have razed, mined and looted Georgian army bases and destroyed civilian houses and apartment buildings.