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Russian appointed to key post in breakaway region

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, August 5
Former Russian Chief of the Intelligence Unit of airborne troops, Valery Iakhnovets was appointed as Defence Minister of De Facto South Ossetia, on August 4. In addition Tskhinvali has already started arrangements dedicated to the second anniversary of the August war of 2008.

According to an announcement posted on the website of breakaway region’s authorities, Russian colonel, Iakhnovets, has been appointed as defense minister of breakaway South Ossetia in accordance with the order of de facto region’s head, Eduard Kokoity. Like his predecessor Iuri Tanaev, the new defense minister is also “an invitee” - as Tskhinvali locals call those who have been sent from Russia to serve in official positions in South Ossetia. The present one reportedly served as chief of the intelligence unit of the Russian airborne troops and has a hero's award for bravery while serving on military operations in Chechnya.

Russia's support and assistance has been one of the main issues in events dedicated to the August 2008 war already taking place in de facto South Ossetia. A round table discussion on the theme 'Hot August 2008, lessons from recent history', was arranged at the Media center IRI, where the participants talked about the inhumane politics of the Georgian authorities and the part the Russian ruling forces have played in improving the prosperity of the Ossetians. The events will end on August 8 with a liturgy for the souls of those killed two years ago during the war.

The main player in the Georgian de facto regions’ relations – Russia, states that Georgia should adapt to the new reality. It emphasises the achievements carried out by Ossetians and Abkhazians with their support, “Until the Georgian authorities have idea of reintegration in their minds, no improvements in Georgian, Abkhazian and South Ossetian relations are expected. Georgian officials have drafted some documents regarding the reintegration of territories; however Ossetians and Abkhazians will never support such documents. Georgia should become accustomed to the idea that Abkhazia and South Ossetia are independent republics,” Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia, Grigol Karasin stated, once again blaming the Georgian side for opening fire in 2008. “It has already been confirmed that the Georgian side started the war. After the war, Georgian officials state that they are ready for dialogue with South Ossetia and Abkhazia, while at the same time they continually criticise the leadership of those regions. We have managed to help those regions and from the time we arrived no tragic event on border zones have occurred,” Karasin said.

Georgia’s attitude differs completely from that voiced by Russia. “Everyone already knows that Russia planned the war three years prior to its start. In spite of this Georgia has managed to become the deserving symbol among FSU countries. The enemy was unable to destroy our economy and isolate Georgia. On the contrary, we overcame the obstacles. More and more people are against the Russian's activities and what is happening in Tskhinvali now. When the locals ask for international support is evidence of this,” President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, stated.

An analyst in conflict issues, Malkhaz Chemia told The Messenger, “The appointment of Russian officials, by Russian ruling forces in leading positions in Abkhazia and South Ossetia has been a common occurrence; however, they did it secretly from society. Now they no longer hide the fact, confirming openly when they appoint their people to such posts. This, of course disgusts Abkhazians and South Ossetians and inside confrontations have already begun. However the locals living there are unable to express their annoyance about the Russian activities openly as they are surrounded by Russian soldiers and tanks. The Russians claim that the breakaway regions directly govern their own territories. Abkhazians and South Ossetians are however unsatisfied, as they are not independent at all. As always Russia exceeds the limits with its activities; practically forcing Abkhazians and South Ossetians to Georgia,” Chemia said, adding “If international organisations manage to free these regions from the Russian military, negotiations and reconciliation processes between Georgians, Abkhazians and South Ossetians will be able to proceed.”