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The News in Brief

Friday, December 26
Impartial investigation into August war possible only in democratic Russia

A genuine investigation in democratic Russia one fine day will conclude that Russia conducted a military aggression against Georgia – reads the official statement of the Georgian Press and Information Department released in connection with the inquiry into the August developments carried out by the Russian side.

The head of the investigative commission of the Prosecutor’s Office of Russia, Alexander Bastrykin, told journalists on Tuesday that “the investigation into the acts of aggression committed by Georgia in South Ossetia has been extended till April 2009.” According to Bastrykin, the investigation is to formulate the prosecution’s case and prepare investigation materials for submission to the Russian Foreign Ministry. The latter will set up a working group to probe into the crimes committed by the Georgian military.

“We hope that a genuine investigation in democratic Russia on one fine day will conclude that Russia conducted a military aggression against Georgia, mercilessly bombed Georgian cities, killed peaceful citizens, carried out ethnic cleansing on the occupied territories and is gravely violating the norms of the international law and its international obligations. We consider this would be the best way the Russian investigation could conclude,” it is emphasized in the statement.

According to the Georgian Foreign Ministry, Bastrykin states that 162 civilians died as a result of war in Tskhinvali district. “It is worth mentioning that the Russian side and its proxies have been using different numbers until now – they have alleged that the number of casualties was more than 2,500,” says the MFA’s statement. “Absolutely, every lost human life is a great tragedy. More disturbingly however, Russia’s attempts to reach its "political” goals by manipulating the number of casualties and accusing Georgia of their death are taking extremely cynical form,” the Georgian Foreign Ministry emphasized in its statement. (Black Sea Press)

USA denies its volunteers fought on the Georgian side in August

The U.S. Embassy in the Russian Federation has denied that American volunteers fought on Georgia's side in South Ossetia in August 2008.

The Embassy Press Office issued a statement on Wednesday saying that it did not know of any U.S. citizens serving as mercenaries in the Georgian armed forces during the war. The Embassy also repeated past statements that no American military personnel were in the war zone or involved in the fighting.

The investigative commission of the Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation said on Tuesday that volunteers from the U.S. took part in the August fighting over the separatist province of South Ossetia. According to the investigative commission, U.S., Ukrainian, Turkish and Czech volunteers fought on the Georgian side. (Black Sea Press)

Gogorishvili demands war commission releases information given behind closed doors

Khatuna Gogorishvili, one of the members of the Temporary Parliamentary Commission studying the August events, will raise the issue of promulgating the evidence given to the Commission behind closed doors.

Gogorishvili told journalists on December 25 that after this information is published society will be sure that Russia started the military activities in August. “This fact was confirmed by the Russian President yesterday, and he will also have to answer why the Russian Federation was conducting large-scale military training in the South Caucasus before the August events, why the Russian Black Sea Navy was moved and why the Russian troops were deployed near the separatist republics,” Goka Gabashvili, one of the members of the Temporary Parliamentary Commission, stated.

According to Gabashvili, the fruitfulness of the Commission’s work and the fairness of its conclusion will inevitably be clear for society when full information is published. (Prime-News)

Head of Highways Department resigns

Roman Dalakishvili, the Head of the Highways Department of Georgia, has quit his post.

According to the Press Service of the Ministry of Economic Development of Georgia, the reason for Dalakishvili’s resignation is that the Highways Department is being merged with the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia. Reportedly, Dalakishvili has resigned on his own initiative. (Prime-News)

Alasania meets with leaders of New Rights and Republicans

Irakli Alasania, Georgia’s former Ambassador to the United Nations, met with Davit Gamkrelidze, leader of the New Rights Party, and Davit Usupashvili, leader of the Republican Party, on Thursday. Prime-News was told by the Press Service of New Rights that current political developments and possible future cooperation were discussed at the meeting.

Alasania arrived in Georgia on Wednsday. He said then that he did not plan to set up a new political party, but did not specify with which parties or politicians he planned to cooperate. (Prime-News)

Salome Zurabishvili holds consultations with Labour

Salome Zurabishvili, leader of Georgia’s Way, and former Foreign Minister of Georgia, held consultations with the Georgian Labour Party on December 25 over recent developments in Georgia.

Zurabishvili told journalists before the meeting that there is a serious crisis in the country and early Presidential and Parliamentary elections are the only way out. According to the former Foreign Minister, she plans to hold similar consultations with all opposition political parties. (Prime-News)