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I belive that politic is for politicians, people are more important!
In this blog was written lots of bad things about russian politic - all that was true and it is sad, but now I want to start writing few words about Russians, their culture and traditions

30 Jan 2013

Путешествие по «Шелковой пути»


На протежении тысячилетий Грузия соединяла Европу с Азией так незываемым «Шелковым путем», но эту функцию она потеряла в 1453 году, когда пал Константинополь. Сегодня Грузия опять преобретает эту функцию с помощью евросоюза и проекта «Трасека». «Колхидские купцы-путешественники обладали искусством картографиии задолго до греков» -писал Аполлон Родосский (III в.д.н.э).
Но не только геостратегическое расположение притягивало путешественника (туриста) в Грузию, а также неповторимое и феноменальное грузинское гостеприимство. Дело в том, что исторически в грузинской семье вместе живут несколько поколений, единое семейное хозяйство ведут родители, их дети, дедушка с бабушкой и их правнуки. Поэтому абсолютно естественно с поколения в поколение переходят традиции страны, села и семьи. В грузинских семьях царствует многовековой культ гостеприимства. Любого гостя воспринимают как божий дар. В этом вы удостоверитесь в первый же день вашего приезда.



8 Mar 2009

Orthodox church Music

Orthodox hymnody is a part of Russian musical culture. It is a specific world, the aim of which is the appeal to God and the service of Him; contrary to secular music, which satisfies the aesthetic needs of people.

Church singing, as a variety of sacred music, has its own rhythm and order and differs greatly from any other kind of music.

From ancient times till now all world cultures have used sound as a means of fascination and intoxication. Sound was always considered to have heavenly supernatural power. But speaking about the influence of music upon men, we must take into consideration that in ancient times the influence was much stronger, because of the absence of that acoustic sphere of "sound pollution" that today causes acoustic shock and diminishes the sensibility of modern men, distracts their attention, and therefore undermines their perceptive abilities.

In ancient times sounds, and sounds of music in particular, made people tremble with holy awe. We can assume that sound in general is connected with different spiritual worlds.

To leap from their own internal world to that of the spiritual level special music is often used because it is impossible for ordinary people in their usual state of mind to communicate directly with the higher spiritual world. Thus music becomes a kind of the bridge between earthly and spiritual worlds. Sound, in the language of people appealing to God, and harmony, can be the language of the Spirit in communication with people. That is the reason why every world religion makes use of music. This type of music supposes a collective perception of it. Actually, it is not only listened to, people plunge into it, taking part in a sacred service.

So music helps people to communicate with spiritual worlds. But the nature of spiritual world is not homogeneous. Fathers of Eastern church believe that the spiritual world can be heavenly and demonic. The lowest spiritual world is inhabited by demons - fallen angels with Satan at the head; the highest spiritual world is the world of the Holy Spirit. But the aim of Orthodox church music is to elevate the human soul to the heights of the world of the Holy Spirit. There is no instrumental music in the Orthodox church, though as Fr. Alexander Men wrote: "The use of musical instruments in church does not contradict Orthodox Christianity". The Bible says: " Praise Him with stringed instruments and organs " (Ps. 150: 4). In the times when Russian Orthodox Christendom was at its initial stage, the fathers of the Church connected the use of musical instruments with the service of demonic force, because instruments were widely used in pagan ceremonies. In attempts to draw a line between Christianity and heathenism the Russian Orthodox Church did not allow the use of any musical instruments at a divine service.

Psalm 150 says: "Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord". The Russian Orthodox Church considers that the praise of God has to be connected with breathing, it has to be vivid and inspired. A person that praises God plays the role of a musical instrument with a soul, contrary to ordinary instruments, that can not possess a soul. We often meet the comparison of a saint with a musical instrument, for example, an organ in Orthodox literature. The Church calls such a saint "the organ of the Holy Spirit". No musical instrument can surpass the human voice in the influence it produces upon men. That is the reason for the huge impression produced by this "angelic singing" upon our ancestors - the ambassadors of Great Prince Vladimir. They heard it during the divine service in the church of St.Sophia in Constantinople a thousand years ago. They told Prince Vladimir after that they did not know where they had been: either upon the Earth or in Heaven. Soon "angelic singing" could be heard all over Russia in numerous churches that began to appear after the Baptism of Russia.

Thousands of years passed. The singing that we can hear in churches nowadays is quite different from that "angelic singing" that came to Russia from Byzantium in the X-th century. But it still preserves that special reserve and solemnity, which elevates the human soul.

A lot of factors influenced Russian church singing during its thousand year existence. We can name the influence of secular music (including instrumental music as well), Russian folk singing traditions, and the interaction with Western culture as just a few of such influences. The centuries has formed Russian hymnody, melting the factors hostile to it in the flame passage of the Church. This long period of development resulted in three styles of hymnody, which we can distinguish today: cathedral hymnody (singing in cathedrals), parish hymnody (singing in provincial churches of parish significance), and cloister hymnody (singing in monasteries and convents).

Cathedral hymnody was formed in the great cathedrals of big cities, where the service was often conducted by bishops, and a lot of people were present at them. This kind of hymnody is distinguished by its solemnity and the brilliance of its sounding. Mixed four part choirs sing usually in such cathedrals. There is always a group of soloists, and large groups of men and women choristers present. Specially composed sacred music, of concert character, is performed there. All choral parts are usually doubled, and vertical lines of chords of such choirs cover a range of four octaves (or five octaves, in case the choir includes a basso profondo). The arrangement of chords in ektenes and tones is usually wide. It is the hymnody of Orthodox holiday splendour.

You can hear parish hymnody in small churches of provincial towns and villages, with their homely unpretentious atmosphere. There are not many parisheners present at week days there. But they attend their church regularly and know each other. The service is conducted by one and the same priest both on week days and on holidays. The sound of the choir is calm and of chamber quality. Small choirs or ensembles consisting mostly of women - choristers sing there. Men's voices are not numerous, and you can only hear them on feast days. The singing is melodious and harmonious. It corresponds to the interior of the church, and its decorations. It is characterized by special warmth, prayerfullness and sincerity. Worshippers often sing together with the choir. It is a plain sincere prayer, which is very close to the traditions of folk singing in spirit.

Cloister hymnody can be heard in convents and monasteries. This kind of singing has preserved its ancient basics to a greater degree. You will not hear ancient monophonic Znamenny chant there, but cloister hymnody still preserves the atmosphere of reservedness, contemplativeness and loftiness. Its sounding illustrates the words of the Cherubic song: "Let us now lay aside all earthly care: that we may receive the King of all ". This hymnody is like the quiet burning of a candle, or a flicker of an icon-lamp. It captivates the soul and leads it from earthly matters to the world of spiritual joy and prayerful contemplativeness. The choristers are only men or only women. This hymnody can be triphonic or quadrophonic, but it is usually unsophisticated, and presents cloister chants of diurnal cycle. It is an old tradition of big monasteries and convents to have two choirs, that stand on both sides of the altar and sing in turn. Small cloisters have only one choir usually. Cloister hymnody differs from any other kind of church singing. It is the singing of incomparable spiritual delight, the singing of Christ''s love and intelligent prayer. Cloister hymnody cannot be imitated by any secular, cathedral, or parish choir. To sing like monks one has to live a monastic life.

Therefore Russian Orthodox church singing at its present stage touches upon every possible spiritual state of a worshipper: from the tender and chaste joy of Announcement, warmth and brightness of Christmas, anguish and sorrow of Calvary, to the boundless triumph of Easter. Three styles of Russian hymnody fully express the whole range of feelings and states of the human soul.

Drinking Traditions

One of the most prominent Russian traditions is hard drinking. It does not mean they all are alcoholics; Russians are just drinking more alcohol when they are drinking.

It's applicable more in particular to men though women also drink much more than it's accepted on the West. Drinking a bottle of vodka for three, or a bottle of vine for each is normal and is not considered as excessive. Refusing to drink as much as the rest of the company is considered as disrespect. The favorite men's drink is Russian vodka, the favorite women's drink is Soviet Champagne - a decent Russian sparkling vine. Russians have poor taste in vines and prefer sweet vines.

Drinking until one falls is all right. The parties usually take place in private apartments, and majority of the guests stay to sleep overnight occupying all free space on coaches and the floor. The next morning the party may continue. Hangover, named in Russian "pokhmel'ie", is supposed to be cured by drinking a small amount of alcohol ("opokhmelitsya"). It does provide some relief but thereafter people usually can't stop. Small shops on the streets (kiosks) selling mostly alcohol and chocolate, work 24 hours 7 days a week, and the party can get extra drinks any time if they think they did not have enough.

A Russian joke:

(The diary of a foreigner working in Russia)

Friday.
Was drinking with Russians. I think I'd better die.

Saturday.
In the morning came Russians, and said we should "opokhmelitsya". I'd better die yesterday...

Russian culture facts

Russia has a rich cultural heritage that is expressed in the cities, the countryside and the small towns of this striking and proud nation. While virtually every place you might visit during your travels here lives and breathes this culture, it is often most easily absorbed while visiting several of the country's attractions. The Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, for instance, is filled with famous Russian icons. The Heritage Museum and Russian Museum in Saint Petersburg are filled with brilliant art collections, while the many hamlets and small towns of the countryside exude a different sort of lifestyle. Old Cloisters and castles help visitors reflect on Russia's past and give the history of the country and interesting perspective.

Soviet Art

During the October Revolution a movement was initiated to put all arts to service of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The instrument for this was created just days before the October Revolution, known as Proletkult, an abbreviation for "Proletarskie kulturno-prosvetitelnye organizatsii" (Proletarian Cultural and Enlightenment Organizations). A prominent theorist of this movement was Alexander Bogdanov. Initially Narkompros (ministry of education), which was also in charge of the arts, supported Proletkult. However, the latter sought too much independence from the ruling Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks), gained negative attitude of Vladimir Lenin, by 1922 declined considerably, and was eventually disbanded in 1932. After Stalin died Soviet Art went into decline as gradually Russians artists became more independent of the state and in the 1980s the government ruled that it could not restrict what Russia's artists could paint.

Matryoshka

A Matryoshka doll (Cyrillic матрёшка or матрешка) is a Russian nesting doll. A set of Matryoshka dolls consists of a wooden figure which can be pulled apart to reveal another figure of the same sort inside. It has in turn another figure inside, and so on. The number of nested figures is usually six or more. The shape is mostly cylindrical, rounded at the top for the head and tapered towards the bottom, but little else; the dolls have no hands (except those that are painted). The artistry is in the painting of each doll, which can be extremely elaborate. The theme is usually peasant girls in traditional dress, but can be almost anything, for instance fairy tales or Soviet leaders.


7 Sep 2008

Interview with Gordon Brown

Twenty years ago, as the Berlin Wall fell, people assumed the end of hostility between East and West, and a new world order founded on common values. As part of this, 10 Eastern European states joined Nato and intensified co-operation with Europe and more wanted to follow. But Russia's hostile action towards Georgia suggests that they are unreconciled to this new reality. Their aggression raises two urgent questions for us: how best to stabilise Georgia now, and how to make it clear to Russia that its unilateral approach is dangerous and unacceptable. War in Georgia also poses a serious longer term issue - how can we best create a rules-based international system that protects our collective security and safeguards our shared values?

At tomorrow's European summit in Brussels we will first unite to alleviate the suffering of the 100,000 Georgian civilians left without homes. The UK has already pledged £2m, and I will urge partners to meet not only Georgia's immediate needs but its long-term reconstruction and development needs. We will deploy peace monitors to better judge violations of the ceasefire, appoint a senior figure to drive the humanitarian and political effort, and support the Nato Georgia Commission, with a Nato team sent to Georgia.

Georgia has felt the consequences of the conflict. It is important that the summit also demonstrates to Russia that its actions have real consequences.

No one wants a new Cold War or the encirclement of Russia. But when I spoke to President Medvedev yesterday, I told him to expect a determined European response. As David Miliband has said, there can be no return to 'business as usual' unless and until Russia commits fully to Georgia's territorial integrity and withdraws to its previous positions.

Russia has emerged as a significant economic power, with its trade increasing fourfold. It has done so by reaping the benefits of a stable global order based on agreements that make trade and investment both possible and profitable, bringing greater stability and certainty to international relations. Equally, when Russia fights secessionist movements in Chechnya or Dagestan, it expects others to respect its territorial integrity and not to recognise declarations of independence.

So when Russia has a grievance over an issue such as South Ossetia, it should act multilaterally by consent rather than unilaterally by force. I believe Russia faces a choice about the nature of its responsibilities as a leading and respected member of the international community. My message to Russia is simple: if you want to be welcome at the top table of organisations such as the G8, OECD and WTO, you must accept that with rights come responsibilities. We want Russia to be a good partner in the G8 and other organisations, but it cannot pick and choose which rules to adhere to.

That is why I will argue tomorrow that Russia should accept Georgia's territorial integrity and international mechanisms for addressing these conflicts, and withdraw troops to their previous positions. And, in the light of Russian actions, the EU should review - root and branch - our relationship with Russia. We should continue to strengthen the transatlantic relationship and may need to meet more regularly as the G7. We are also reflecting on the Nato response. We must re-evaluate the alliance's relationship with Russia, and intensify our support to Georgia and others who may face Russian aggression .

No nation can be allowed to exert an energy stranglehold over Europe and the events of August have shown the critical importance of diversifying our energy supply. The tenfold increase in the world oil price in the past decade has demonstrated that diversification from oil is also an economic necessity. The UK will go from being 80 per cent self-sufficient now to having to import almost two-thirds of our gas and more than half of our oil by 2020 - precisely as markets become more volatile as more people chase fewer natural resources. And with states such as Russia increasingly using their energy resources as policy tools it is apparent that the security grounds for this shift are stronger as well.

Without urgent action we risk sleepwalking into an energy dependence on less stable or reliable partners. That is why we in the UK are putting in law our commitment to cut CO2 emissions by 60 per cent by 2050, looking to replace our ageing nuclear power plants, to encourage greener fuels to power our homes and businesses and to transform the way we travel. Europe also needs to take action. Tomorrow's summit must add urgency to the work on Europe's energy agenda. We must more rapidly build relationships with other producers of oil and gas. Our response must include a redoubling of our efforts to complete a single market in gas and electricity, a collective defence to secure our energy supplies.

I will also be pressing European leaders to increase funding for a project to allow us to source energy from the Caspian Sea, reducing our dependence on Russia. I will encourage European partners to use our collective bargaining power rather than seek separate energy deals with Russia. And because the environmental necessity is urgent, we must deliver an ambitious 2020 climate and energy package by the end of this year.

More than 10 years ago Alexander Solzhenitsyn - who died just days before this latest chapter in the history of his country - wrote: 'We were recently entertained by a naive fable of the happy arrival of the end of history, of the overflowing triumph of an all-democratic bliss; the ultimate global arrangement had supposedly been attained. But we all see and sense that something very different is coming, something new, and perhaps quite stern. No, tranquillity does not promise to descend on our planet, and will not be granted us so easily.' The past few days have seen some of his predictions realised.

This is why the changing global order cannot be governed by institutions designed in the middle of the last century. We now know how much more we have to do to create an effective system of international rules. We must strengthen the system of global governance to meet the challenges of our interdependent world. We must reshape our global architecture to meet the new challenges: climate change, energy security, poverty, migration. And in doing so we must stand up for both our vital interests and our essential values.

Source: Guardian News and Media

28 Aug 2008

Timeline: South Ossetia


1237-40 - Mongols invade Russia, forcing Ossetians to migrate south over the Caucasus mountains to present-day Georgia.
18th and 19th centuries – The Russian empire extends to the Caucasus, provoking strong resistance from the people of the north Caucasus. The South Ossetians do not join the uprising, some preferring to side with the Russian army.
1801 - South Ossetia and Georgia are annexed by Russia and absorbed into the Russian empire.
1918 – Georgia declares independence following the Russian revolution.
1921 – The Red Army invades. The South Ossetians are accused of siding with the Kremlin.
1922 - Georgia becomes a founder member of the Soviet Union. The South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast (district) is created within Georgia in April 1922.
1989 - Demands for more autonomy in the South Ossetia region lead to violent clashes between Georgians and Ossetians.
1990-91 – South Ossetia declares its intentions to secede, leading to more clashes.
1991 – The Soviet Union collapses.
1992 – South Ossetians vote in favour of independence in an unrecognised referendum. Hundreds die in sporadic violence, which continues until June when Russian, Georgian and South Ossetian leaders meet to sign an armistice and agree the creation of a tripartite peacekeeping force.
November 1993 - South Ossetia drafts its own constitution.
November 1996 - South Ossetia elects its first president.
December 2001 - South Ossetia elects wrestling champion Eduard Kokoity as president in unrecognised elections.
2002 – Kokoity asks Moscow to recognise the republic's independence and absorb it into Russia.
2003 – The Georgian president, Eduard Shevardnadze, is toppled in the rose revolution.
2004 - Mikhail Saakashvili wins Georgian presidential election and declares his intentions to bring breakaway regions of South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Ajaria back into the fold.
2006 - South Ossetians vote overwhelmingly in favour of independence from Tbilisi in an unrecognised referendum. In a simultaneous referendum, the region's minority ethnic Georgians vote to stay with Tbilisi.
October 2007 - Talks hosted by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe between Georgia and South Ossetia break down.
March 2008 - South Ossetia asks the world to recognise its independence from Georgia, following the west's support for Kosovo's secession from Serbia.
March 2008 - Georgia's bid to join Nato prompts Russia's parliament to urge the Kremlin to recognise the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
April 2008 - South Ossetia rejects a Georgian power-sharing deal and insists on full independence.
August 2008 - Fighting breaks out between Georgian and separatist South Ossetian forces.

Georgia 1918-1920

Timeline of Russian Aggression in Georgia

Document by the Government of Georgia organized into the following three sections:

I. Russian ESCALATION 2004-July 2008: Key Developments in the Russian Military & Political Escalation Before the Invasion of Georgia

· Georgian peace proposals repeatedly rejected by Russia (2004 onwards): Beginning in 2004, the Georgian Government has repeatedly proposed to launch a genuine peace process for South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Years of stalemate had left all ethnic populations in both conflict zones impoverished and without any effective protection of basic rights; Georgians in particular were targeted and persecuted on ethnic grounds. The Russian Federation and separatist leaders have rejected Georgia’s peace initiatives each and every time they have been proposed—even when the international community backed the initiatives. As a result, South Ossetia and Abkhazia have become hubs for acute criminal activity, including kidnapping, extortion, counterfeiting, smuggling of arms and drugs. At least one case of nuclear smuggling has been confirmed.

· Russia gains stranglehold over separatist governments (2005 onwards): In recent years, Moscow has been exerting an increasingly strong hold over the separatist governments; since 2005, Russian military and civilian officials seconded from Moscow effectively have been governing South Ossetia.

· Russia builds illegal base near Tskhinvali (2006): In spring 2006, Russian forces illegally build of a forward military base in the strategically located town of Java (north of Tskhinvali). The base has capacity for 2,500 soldiers, and includes substantial fuel-storage capabilities for tanks and other armored vehicles.

· CIS arms/economic embargo lifted illegally by Moscow (March 2008): In March, the Russian Federation unilaterally—and illegally—withdraws from a CIS economic and arms embargo imposed in 1994 on the secessionist region of Abkhazia, Georgia.

· International community condemns Russia’s legal recognition of S. Ossetia & Abkhazia (April 2008): On April 16, Moscow sharply escalates tensions by decreeing the establishment of legal links between Russia and the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia; this is a form of de facto annexation of Georgian territory and draws sharp rebukes from the entire international community—including the EU, the US, the OSCE, and others, who call for the immediate reversal of this Russian decision.

· United Nations confirms Russia downs Georgian aircraft over Georgian airspace (April 2006): On April 20, a Russian fighter jet downs an unarmed Georgian drone (MIA) over Georgian airspace (near Ganmukhuri), an act of aggression confirmed by formal UNOMIG and OSCE investigative reports.

· Russia increases troop strength & introduces paratroopers into Abkhazia (May/June 2008): In the following weeks, Russia continues to unilaterally increase its troop strength in Abkhazia, without fulfilling its legal obligation to seek the consent of Georgia; among other moves, it deploys paratrooper units, which are incompatible with the existing format for peacekeeping.

· Russia moves illegal heavy weaponry & offensive forces into Abkhazia (May/June 2008): In direct contravention of all peacekeeping norms and agreements, Russia introduces additional offensive military troops and heavy weaponry in Abkhazia, verified by UNOMIG.

· Russian railroad troops sent to Abkhazia to prepare rails for invasion (May 26, 2008): On May 26, Russia sends more than 400 hundreds of Ministry of Defense "railroad troops” into Abkhazia to reinforce the rail infrastructure needed for military action; these troops do not belong to any peacekeeping unit.

· As peace plan advances, Russian provocations move to S. Ossetia (July 2008): In July, as the efforts by Georgia and the international community to advance peace proposals for Abkhazia are gathering pace, the focus of Russian provocations suddenly shifts to South Ossetia.

· Separatists attempt to assassinate S. Ossetian unionist leader (July 3, 2008): On July 3, South Ossetian separatists attempt to assassinate Dimitry Sanakoyev, the Head of the Temporary Administration of South Ossetia ; three policemen are injured.

· Russia defiantly acknowledges violating Georgian airspace (July 10, 2008): On July 9, Four Russian military aircraft violate Georgian airspace on the eve of US Secretary of State Rice’s visit to Georgia. Although Russia continually violates Georgian airspace, this is the first time Moscow acknowledges it has done so deliberately.

· Russia undertakes large-scale military exercises near S. Ossetia: & Abkhazia (July 2008): Russia launches large-scale military exercises (July 15-August 2) in the immediate vicinity of Georgia’s northern border; they are named "Caucasus 2008.” The Russian Defense Ministry claims that the exercises, involving over 8,000 troops and 700 pieces of military hardware, are aimed at preparing for "special peace enforcement operations” in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. During the exercise, anti-Georgian leaflets are distributed entitled "Know Your Enemy”.

· Russian troops fail to redeploy (August 2 2008): Russian troops participating in the exercise do not re-deploy from the region when the exercises are finished.

· Separatists reject German-mediated peace plan (July 18, 2008): On July 18, Abkhaz separatists reject a German-mediated peace plan and refuse to attend peace talks scheduled in Berlin.

· EU organizes peace talks, separatists fail to appear (July 22-24, 2008): On July 22-24, the EU tries to hold talks in Brussels between representatives of the Government of Georgia and the South Ossetian separatists, with the participation of the Russian Federation. The separatists refuse to participate, initially objecting to the title of Minister Yakobashvili—"Minister for Reintegration.” In response, the Georgian Government appoints Mr. Yakobashvili as a Special Envoy for Conflict Resolution. The separatists once again refuse to attend the talks on unspecified grounds.

· OSCE proposes peace talks, separatists reject proposal (late July 2008): OSCE Chairman in Office, Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb, proposes talks in Helsinki in early August between South Ossetian separatists and the Georgian Government. The separatists reject the proposal.

II. KEY POINTS: The Days Before, During & After Russia’s Invasion of Georgia

· July 3: One month before Russia’s invasion into Georgia, separatists try to assassinate Dimitri Sanakoyev, Head of the Temporary Administration of South Ossetia. A remote control road bomb exploded while Mr Sanakoyev’s cortege was passing by. Five policemen accompanying Mr. Sanakoyev were wounded. Mr. Sanakoyev—a former separatist fighter and defense minister in the separatist government - laid down his arms in 2006 to promote the peaceful re-integration of the region with the rest of the country under a broad autonomy arrangement. Mr. Sanakoyev was elected in democratic elections and administered up to 50% of the territory of the region.

· July 29: For the first time since last major hostilities, separatist militia begin intensively shelling ethnically mixed villages under Georgian control, including those of them where the Georgian peacekeepers held their check-points, with large-caliber artillery (greater than 82 mm) which is prohibited by existing agreements. This fact is formally acknowledged by the Head of "Peacekeeping Forces,” Russian General Marat Kulakhmetov on August 4 (he makes specific reference to the shelling on villages under Government control on August 1 and 2 with high caliber artillery). Shelling of this magnitude continues on a regular basis through August 7, in advance of the Russian land invasion into Georgia.

· 1 August: A pickup truck carrying six police officers of MIA of Georgia is hit by two remote-control explosive devices (IED) on the Eredvi-Kheiti bypass road, close to the Government controlled enclave north of the city of Tskhinvali. Five policemen are severely wounded.

· 3 August: Russian media outlets report the large-scale mobilization of volunteers across the Russian North Caucasus, including pledges by Cossacks to deploy mercenary troops into Georgia.

· 4 August: The separatists announce the evacuation of the civilian population from Tskhinvali and from the separatist controlled villages of the region.

· 5 & 7 August: At the request of President Saakashvili, Special Envoy Temur Yakobashvili twice attempts to negotiate with separatists, but his requests are rebuffed.

· 7 August: The Special Envoy of Russia’s Foreign Ministry, Yuri Popov, fails to mediate preliminary agreed talks on a ceasefire, citing refusal by the separatists, while shelling of Villages under Government control continues.

· General Kulakhmetov, during the meeting in Tskhinvali with Special Envoy Yakobashvili, declares that he cannot contact the separatist leaders, and that Russian "peacekeepers” cannot stop the separatist attacks; General Kulakhmetov admits that the separatists were shooting from the vicinity of Russian "peacekeeping” posts.

· In spite of casualties among Georgian peacekeepers and civilians killed by separatist fire, President Saakashvili orders an immediate ceasefire and calls for negotiations. He reaffirms the Government’s proposal to grant broad "European standard” autonomy to the region, and offers Russia to serve as a guarantor. President Saakashvili also announces an unconditional amnesty for separatists who agree to cease hostilities.

· Despite the ceasefire declared by President Saakashvili, the separatists intensify their shelling of villages under Georgian control and Georgian peacekeeper posts.

· Approximately 150 armored vehicles and military trucks of the Russian regular army stream into the Roki Tunnel and head towards Tskhinvali. In response to the entry of Russian armed forces into Georgian territory, the Georgian military enters the conflict zone in the region.

· Russia claims that its forces entered Georgian territory only after a purported "surprise Georgian assault” on Tskhinvali; however Russia continues to refuse to make public the time at which it launched its invasion into Georgia.

· 8 August: The Ministry of Defense of Russia and various senior officials claim that Georgian forces "have killed 2,000 civilians” in Tskhinvali.

· 11 August: Human Rights Watch representative say that Russia purposely exaggerated casualty figures in Tskhinvali, leading to revenge killings against the ethnic Georgian population.

· 21 August: The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office reports significantly lower civilian casualty figures in the South Ossetia region at 133. There is a strong likelihood that the majority of these casualties were separatist militiamen, as local officials frequently refer to non-Russian servicemen as civilians.

· 9–24 August: Following the retreat of Georgian armed forces towards Tbilisi, the Russian armed forces and paramilitary groupss conduct widespread atrocities, including the burning, looting, kidnapping, raping, and summary executions of Georgian civilians inside and outside the zone of conflict. Within the zone of conflict, entire villages of Eredvi, Avnevi, Nuli, Kurta, Achabeti, Tamarasheni, Kekhvi, Disevi, etc., are deliberately burned and destroyed, resulting in the ethnic cleansing of Georgians. Many of these events are confirmed in reports issued by international human rights organizations.

III. Detailed Chronology: The Days Before, During & After Russia’s Invasion of Georgia

28 July: Separatist units open fire at joint peacekeeping forces and an OSCE observer group moving towards the village of Chorbauli (Znauri district), thus disrupting monitoring activity.

29 July: Separatists open fire at villages under Government control to the north of Tskhinvali. They fire at a group of OSCE observers, working with the joint peacekeeping forces, who are on their way to the village of Andzisi. 120 mm mortars and grenade launchers target a Georgian peacekeeping checkpoint near the village of Sarabuki.

30 July: A Georgian police car, traveling between the villages of Kekhvi and Sveri, is fired upon from positions in the separatist-controlled village of Andzisi.

31 July: The joint monitoring group of the JPKF and the OSCE mission observe large-scale fortification works undertaken by the separatists on two checkpoints between Tskhinvali and the village of Ergneti.

1 August: A pickup truck carrying six Georgian police officers is hit by two remote-control explosive devices (IED) close to a Georgian enclave north of the city of Tskhinvali. Five policemen are severely wounded. Later that day,separatists open fire with machine guns and grenade launchers on the villages under Government control Kvemo Nikozi, Zemo Nikozi, Avnevi, Ergneti, and Eredvi. Attacks also are directed at Georgian police and peacekeepers checkpoints. In the village of Nuli, one person is wounded and several houses damaged. Georgian peacekeepers checkpoint in Sarabuki comes under attack. In the village of Ergneti, one person is wounded and two houses are damaged. Separatists reported, that six separatist militia are killed and 12 wounded after Georgian police open fire in response.

2 August: Six civilians and one servicemen of MIA of Georgia are injured after separatists shell villages under Georgian control in the conflict zone overnight. The villages of Zemo Nikozi, Kvemo Nikozi, Nuli, Avnevi, Eredvi, and Ergneti come under intense large-caliber mortar fire the separatists. Georgian law enforcers initially shoot back in self-defense, but are soon ordered to cease fire in order not to escalate the situation.

3 August: The separatist government starts an evacuation of the civilian population from the city of Tskhinvali and villages under separatist control of the region. The evacuation continues for the next two days.

Russian media outlets start a massive propaganda campaign against Georgia, advocating for volunteers and militias to support separatists in South Ossetia. Representatives of major Russian television networks (i.e. NTV, RTR, ORT, Ren TV, TVC, etc.) are on-site in Tskhinvali.

South Ossetia media sources report the mobilization of volunteers from across the North Caucasus of Russia.

4 August: General Marat Kulakhmetov, Head of the "Peacekeeping Forces,” formally acknowledges the shelling of Georgian positions with illegal (large-caliber) artillery. On the evening of August 4, the medical and communication units of Russia’s 58th Army enter South Ossetia, according to human intelligence received by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia.

Eleven artillery gunships (2S1-"Gvozdika”) in the possession of separatists are relocated from Java to the villages of Andzisi, Dzari, and Tsru, close to Tskhinvali, according to intelligence provided to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia.

5 August: 3 tanks and 2 military trucks with armed soldiers are reported moving towards the village of Avnevi. According to telephone intercepts, separatist internal affairs minister M. Mindzaev (formerly head of the General Staff of the Ministry of Interior of North Ossetia, Russia and former head of the Alfa Special Forces Group during Russia’s operation in Beslan) orders a massive attack on—and the elimination of—the village Dvani (SigInt)*.

*Here and below signal interseptions are cited. They are available upon request.

Special Envoy Temur Yakobashvili visits the conflict zone Tskhinvali, meets Russian General Marat Kulakhmetov, to agree the next meeting for 7 August to defuse the situation.

A journalist of Le Figaro, Laure Mandeville later quotes a Russian soldier in Gori who says that Russian troops began moving from Shali in the Chechnya region of Russia towards Georgia on August 5.

6 August: Approximately 150 volunteers from the North Caucasus arrive in Tskhinvali as reported by local television; militants from other North Caucasian republics join separatist units.

Russian and local employees working on the military base in Tskhinvali are temporarily dismissed. Shops and other offices are closed, as reported on local television.

In the late afternoon at approximately 16:00, separatists open mortar fire from the villages of Pranevi, Ubiati, and Khetagurovo at ethnically mixed and Georgian-controlled villages of Eredvi, Prisi, Avnevi, Dvani, and Nuli. Khetagurovo was the main artillery base of the separatists. This attack continues until approximately 19:00.

A lull is then observed for one hour, with attacks resuming at 20:00 and lasting until late into the night. Georgian government forces fire back in order to defend their positions and the civilian population. As a result of intensive cross-fire during the night, two servicemen of the Georgian battalion of the Joint Peacekeeping Forces are injured. The separatist regime also claims several persons are injured on their side. Despite these provocative, targeted attacks on peaceful civilians and on Georgian police and peacekeeping forces, the Government of Georgia decides not to respond with heavy fire, in order not to escalate the conflict.

7 August: In a morning interview with Russian TV (NTV) and news agencies, South Ossetian separatist leader Eduard Kokoity declares that if the Georgian government does not withdraw its forces from the region, he will start "to wipe them out.” The Georgian military forces to which he refers are peacekeepers legally present in the South Ossetia conflict zone.

Georgian Special Envoy Temur Yakobashvili visits the conflict zone on August 7 to meet with representatives of the separatists. He meets General Marat Kulakhmetov, in Tskhinvali; Kulakhmetov states that he cannot contact the separatist leader Kokoity, and that Russian peacekeepers cannot stop the separatist attacks. Kulakhmetov admits that the separatists are shooting from the vicinity of Russian peacekeeping posts. During this meeting, at approximately 16:00, General Kulakhmetov suggests to Minister Yakobashvili that the Government of Georgia declare a unilateral ceasefire.

The Special Envoy of Russia’s Foreign Ministry, Yuri Popov fails to arrive to Tskinvali, as previously agreed together with Minister Yakobashvili, citing a flat tire and a flat spare tire. When he finally reaches Tskhinvali, Popov meets Kokoity, and afterwards concedes that he cannot convince the separatists to hold urgent talks with Minister Yakobashvili.

Earlier, at approximately 00:15, separatists begin attacking the villages of Eredvi, Prisi, and Vanati, with artillery, including mortars and grenade launchers. Simultaneously, the separatists attack the Sarabuki Heights, where Georgian peacekeepers are stationed. Three Georgian peacekeepers are wounded during the Sarabuki attack. The fighting in this area continues until approximately 10:00.

At approximately 11:00, separatists resume shelling the Georgian villages of Nuli, Avnevi, Vanati, from the village of Khetagurovo. Three Georgian servicemen are injured; a Georgian law enforcers return fire towards the village where the firing comes from, Khetagurovo, killing two separatists and wounding two others. At approximately 14:00, the Georgian peacekeeping checkpoint in Avnevi is shelled, including again from Khetagurovo, killing two Georgian peacekeepers and eight civilians. Phone conversation interception of separatist militia confirming the death of Georgian military servicemen and civilians is available (Sigint)*.

After the killing of civilians and Georgian peacekeepers, at approximately 14:30, Georgian armed forces receive intelligence that Russian troops that had still not redeployed from July’s North Caucasian military exercises have been put on high alert and have received orders to prepare to march towards the Georgian border.

At approximately 14:30, Georgian forces mobilize tanks, 122mm howitzers, and 203mm self-propelled artillery in the direction of the administrative border of South Ossetia, in an effort to deter further separatist attacks, and to be in a position to defend the Russian-Georgian border in the event that Russia invades.

At approximately 17:00, Minister Yakobashvili calls General Kulakhmetov to inform him of the Government of Georgia’s decision to implement a unilateral ceasefire.

At approximately 17:10, Georgian peacekeepers unilaterally cease fire to defuse tensions.

At 18:40, Minister Yakobashvili holds a press conference to discuss the results of his visit to Tskhinvali, and announces the decision of the Government of Georgia to call for and implement a unilateral ceasefire.

At 19:10, in a televised address, President Saakashvili declares a unilateral ceasefire and calls for the separatists to respect it and resume talks.

At approximately 20:30, a Government controlled village of Avnevi comes under separatist mortar fire from Khetagurovo.

The chairman of the separatist Security Council, Anatoly Barankevich (a long-standing Russian military officer, who served for four years as First Deputy of the Military Commissioner in Chechnya), tells the local TV that armed groups of Cossacks are headed towards South Ossetia to "fight against Georgian forces”.

At 22:30, separatists fire at the Government -controlled village of Prisi and Tamarsheni, from Tskhinvali and the mountain of Tliakana, wounding civilians.

At 23:30, separatists open heavy fire on all Georgian peacekeepers’ positions around Tskhinvali, including the villages of Tamarasheni and Kurta; the Kurta police station is destroyed.

At 23:30, Georgian Government receive multiple human intelligence reports that about 150 armored vehicles and trucks with Russian soldiers are approaching the Roki Tunnel from Russia and moving towards Tskhinvali. Multiple signal intercepts of separatist security and military officials at around 3am and later confirm that columns are stretched from Roki to Java. (Sigint)*.

At 23:50, for the first time, and in response to the entry of Russian armed forces into Georgian sovereign territory, Georgian armed forces enter military action—using armor, including tanks, 122mm howitzers, and 203mm self-propelled artillery system Dana.

At approximately 00:45 on August 8, Georgian forces fire artillery rounds at the invading Russian forces on roads being used by a Russian column already moving south of the Roki Tunnel.

After Russia’s Full-Scale Invasion: 8 August to present

Outside Tskhinvali

On August 8, after advancing into the conflict zone of South Ossetia, Georgian armed forces seized control of a significant number of villages around Tskhinvali during a five-hour period (Tsinagara, Orchosani, Didmukha, Muguti, Gromi, Dmenisi, and Artsevi, ). During the fighting, Georgian armed forces encountered substantial Russian forces and separatist militias on the Zara bypass road leading to the northeastern part of Tskhinvali and the village of Khetagurovo, which had been substantially re-enforced with advanced artillery systems, armored vehicles, and self-propelled artillery. In response, Georgian artillery shelled both positions. Georgian artillery and aviation conducted a targeted attacks on the Gupta bridge, where Russian armed columns where entering Tskhinvali.

Outskirts of Tskhivali and Inside Tskhinvali

Tskhinvali is a small regional town, located in a river valley, approximately 75 kilometers from Tbilisi. Immediately prior to the conflict, the population was approximately 7,000, based on local intelligence estimates and on-the-ground reports. Following the mass evacuation on August 3-5, the number of residents decreased substantially.

Several Georgian positions were under attack from points on the outskirts of town, specifically from Verkhny Gorodok (the location of the Russian "peacekeepers” on the non-residential southwest portion of the city). This was the first position in the immediate vicinity of Tskhinvali that Georgian forces targeted using GRAD multiple-rocket launching systems, following repeated warnings to the Russian "peacekeeping” forces not to allow their positions to be used for attacks. Soon thereafter, Georgian artillery (again using GRADs) targeted stockpiles of munitions and fuel depots located on the western part of the city—outside civilian areas—and military barracks in the northwest part of Tskhinvali—also outside civilian areas,.

At approximately 11:00, once Georgian forces had secured the heights around Tskhinvali, Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior forces entered the city of Tskhinvali. These forces came under fire from positions around the main government compound, located in the center of Tskhinvali. In response, Georgian forces employed precise artillery system Dana (not GRAD) against the ministries of defense, interior, intelligence (KGB), and the main government building of the separatists.

Russian aviation bombed Georgian positions on a continuous basis inside and around Tskhinvali once Government forces began advancing on the town. Russian aviation continued bombing in and around Tskhinvali for the next two days (until late in the day on August 10).

At approximately 14:00, Georgian forces took control of most of Tskhinvali. At 15:00, Georgian forces declared a 3-hour ceasefire to establish a humanitarian corridor.

Georgian forces began a phased retreat from Tskhinvali during the evening of August 9. Forces re-positioned themselves south of the city.

During the two days that Georgian forces were in control of separatist controlled villages (from August 8) there were no credible reports of looting or abuse of civilian populations, according to international human rights organizations. The ethnic Ossetian population in the conflict zone was not displaced, unlike the ethnic Georgian population under the Russian occupation. The only village that sustained severe damage was the village of Khetagurovo due to the location of substantial amounts of military equipment and forces around the village. After Government forces seized Khetagurovo, there was no cruel or degrading treatment of the civilian population, as documented by Human Rights Watch.

Russian Attacks & Invasion Outside the Conflict Zone

Ethnic Cleansing of Georgian Villages

Beginning on August 8 at 09:45, Russian aviation bombed a series of civilian and military targets across Georgia, outside the zone of conflict in South Ossetia, damaging infrastructure and causing significant civilian casualties. These targets include but are not limited to:

1. Gori and surrounding villages (including civilian infrastructure)
2. Marneuli airfield, central Georgia
3. Vaziani airfield, central Georgia
4. Kopitnari airfield, western Georgia
5. Oni (civilian areas), western Georgia
6. Poti port, western Georgia
7. Baku-Supsa oil pipeline, central Georgia
8. Anaklia, western Georgia
9. Zugdidi, western Georgia
10. Upper Abkhazia/Kodori Gorge, Abkhazia region
11. Tbilisi (aircraft factory and civilian radar facility in Tbilisi airport)
12. Khelvachauri, Ajara region
13. Shiraki, eastern Georgia
14. Senaki airport and military base, western Georgia
15. Kaspi, central Georgia
16. Khashuri district villages, central Georgia
17. Borjomi National Park, central Georgia.

International human rights groups have documented seeming targeting of civilian objects by the Russian regular troops.

The Russian Federation’s nationwide bombing campaign included the use of SS-26 "Iskander” short-range tactical missiles used against the Baku-Supsa oil pipeline. Russian forces also used short-range tactical missiles SS-21 "Tochka-U”on the cities of Poti and Gori. In the villages around the town of Gori, Russian forces used "Hurricane” missiles. Cluster bombs were used extensively in Gori and nearby villages, including Ruisi and Shindisi.

On August 10, the Russian navy landed in the port city of Ochamchire and launched an unprovoked attack in Upper Abkhazia/Kodori Gorge using artillery and massive air bombing. Until this point, there had been no hostilities in Abkhazia, Georgia. This attack began only after Georgian armed forces, located at the Senaki military base, were re-deployed eastward (August 9).

On August 12, Russian forces invaded the western Georgian town of Zugdidi and the strategic port of Poti.

Over 100 Georgian civilians are still being kept as hostages in inhumane conditions in the prison of Tskhinvali.

Following the retreat of Georgian armed forces towards Tbilisi, until today the Russian armed forces and paramilitary groups conduct widespread atrocities, including the burning, looting, kidnapping, raping, and summary executions of Georgian civilians inside and outside the zone of conflict. Within the zone of conflict, entire villages of Eredvi, Avnevi, Nuli, Kurta, Achabeti, Tamarasheni, Kekhvi, and Disevi, are deliberately burned and destroyed, resulting in the ethnic cleansing of Georgians. These atrocities have been committed after r all military clashes in the area were over. Many of these events are confirmed in reports issued by international human rights organizations.

Currently the Russian troops continue to occupy significant parts of Georgia.

Government of Georgia,
25 August 2008,
Tbilisi

21 Aug 2008

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bisschen zum spas


20 Aug 2008

Moscow did not expect from its closest ally


Belarus, Kazakhstan and others in the Commonwealth of Independent States remained silent for days after the fighting erupted last week as they scrambled to formulate positions.

As Russia grew uneasy over the silence, its ambassador to Belarus chided Minsk for failing to offer open support. Belarus eventually offered condolences for the victims almost a week into the conflict but kept it statements neutral.

Georgia then announced it was pulling out of the CIS -- a Russian-led grouping of former Soviet states -- and urged others to follow suit.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has skilfully balanced strong ties with both Russia and the United States, broke the silence on Wednesday, offering unusually strong words and saying CIS unity was under threat.

"Complex inter-ethnic issues should be solved through peaceful means, through negotiations. There is no military solution to these issues," he said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, due to actions by some CIS states, our community has become weak and has no levers to intervene in such conflicts."

Russia-friendly Turkmenistan, courted by the West as a new source of energy for Europe, likewise said "conflicts must be solved only through peaceful, diplomatic efforts".


The United States said this week that Russia, its ties with the West already strained over a number of issues, risked deeper isolation because of the violence in Georgia.

The conflict over South Ossetia has already given rise to further disagreement between Russia and Ukraine, which has sharply criticised Moscow's military incursion.

In a gesture of support, Ukrainian leader Victor Yushchenko, along with the leaders of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and Poland attended a mass rally in Tbilisi this week.


Russia's traditional allies were more restrained and some, like Uzbekistan, have preferred to stay out by saying nothing.

Azerbaijan, keen to regain control over its own region of occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, avoided sharp words and called for peace.

"We support the territorial integrity of Georgia and support efforts to avoid the escalation (of violence) in the region and restore peace," a foreign ministry spokesman said.

Independent Azeri media, however, have criticised the government over its ambiguous position. The widely read Zerkalo newspaper described Russia's actions as "fascism".

Commentators in Russia said Moscow was caught off guard by this reaction from its ex-Soviet neighbours.

"Everyone in Moscow thought: 'We are in the right and the enemy will be destroyed', but in Minsk and other CIS capitals everyone was in disarray," Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily wrote.

"This has totally paralysed the CIS leaders including Belarus. Moscow did not expect this from its closest ally."

Source: Kavkaz Center