Former advisor of Vladimir Putin in economic issues Andrei Ilarionov has opposed his former chief for two years already and openly criticizes the Kremlin policy. Ilarionov showed his protest at the very beginning of Russian aggression perpetrated on Georgia. He introduced his opinions about Georgian-Russian war reasons to Katon Institute Summer School listeners in Ukraine on September 4. His viewpoints appeared to be interesting and we decided to present brief variant of his opinions expressed in summer school.
A.I.: The most important thing is to find out the reason of starting war in Georgia. This was larger scale war, where all kinds of sub divisions took their part. In spite of the ceasefire agreement, war continues on Georgian territories.
If the Kremlin aimed at protecting the people who wanted existence independently, it had to recognize Chechnya. Chechen people have been fighting for independent for 10 years and it has not stopped fight for independence for 200 years. Moscow used tanks, hails, aviation, artillery and chemical weapon against Chechnya. Chechen warriors were killed exactly by chemical weapons.
Comparison of amount of damage in Chechnya and Tskhinvali is impossible. 134 people died in war activities in South Ossetia. 80% of them were fighters, the rest were peaceful civilians. It is obvious that death of each person is tragedy, but we can not compare these numbers to those dead in Chechnya. 200 thousand people died in Chechnya from both sides.
Russian government has not recognized independence of Chechnya and Kosovo. It has not recognized them even after Abkhazian and South Ossetian recognition. It is obvious that Russian government has double standard policy.
When Russia states that it acted in South Ossetia to protect its citizens is at least unbelievable. 90% of South Ossetian population is Russian citizens, but about 48 thousand Ossetian nationalities and 20 thousand Georgians lived in South Ossetia. Up to 10 thousand of Ossetian citizens supported Georgian oriented Ossetian administration, headed by Dmitri Sanakoev. Sanakoev was one of the leaders of separatist movement in 90-ies opposing Kokoity. He created administration where there were Ossetian and Georgian villages.
Russia has to take more interest in Russian citizens living in Turkmenistan, whose rights has been violated since period of Turkmen bash’s government.
Announcements made by Russian government about its actions aiming to protecting Russian citizens are hypocrisy that was used as reason of starting war activities.
First number stated regarding ethnical cleansing was 1400, then it was 1600 and later 3000. The first announcement about genocide was made on August 8, at 5 o’clock by Kokoity who was in Java, who was not in Tskhinvali and who left the capital as soon as the war activities started. Russian official propaganda stated that victims of genocide were 1600. Russia continues the same today, in spite of the fact that Putin who visited Vladikavkaz stated that there were several tens of dead people. Special group of Russian office of general prosecutor found out after one month work that 134 citizens were dead, 80% of them were warriors, and others were peaceful citizens. According to international law, genocide was proved only in three cases. Genocide of Armenians, Genocide of Jews and genocide in Rwanda carried out in 1994. Genocide is discussed in Sudan, where more than half million people died. Genocide was not discussed in other cases and it is qualified as ethnical cleansing.
Even in case of Kosovo it is not said that it was genocide, in spite of the fact that 30 thousand Albanians were killed and one million left the territory of the state.
Destroying each other by Georgians and Abkhazians is considered to be ethnical cleansing. 3 000 Abkhazians and 17 000 Georgians were killed in 1992-93 war activities. After collapse of Soviet Union, Abkhazians made up 17% of Abkhazian population, Georgians – 52%. 250 thousand Georgians left Abkhazian territory as a result to Abkhazian events. Georgians now live only in Gali region of Abkhazia.
None of official versions of Georgian-Russian wars are close to truth.
I think that reasons of starting war between Russia and Georgia are processes developed in Georgia in the last 4 years. A lot of reforms were carried out in Georgia – in economics among them. Georgia developed as modern, European, democratic state. Responsible government was formed in Georgia that is responsible for the population. Work of state institutions became transparent.
I can not name state in the world that has developed in the shortest period of time with so many reforms and in different fields so successfully. Liberalization of Georgian economics made it possible for the state to grow rapidly. Georgia imported electro energy to Russia before August events. Nobody would believe 3-5 years ago that Georgia, having energetic problems would import energy. Economic wonder took place in Georgia.
Abkhazia and South Ossetia are Stalin enclaves economically, especially South Ossetia. Population in South Ossetia has not been working for the last 4 years and living on subsidies of Russian budget that increases annually. Subsidies for South Ossetia made up 700 million USA dollars last year. If we divide this amount of money into 40 thousand residents of South Ossetia, we receive picture that Moscow never financed any of its regions like South Ossetia. Moscow practically decayed the local population by financing them; they have become unused to working. Russian journalists, who visited Tskhinvali together with Russian tanks, told how none of the masters were found to fix the water pipeline problems. On the question why the local population didn’t fix the pipeline, they responded: - do it yourself. According to Putin’s command, additional 10 milliard Russian Rubles were allocated for South Ossetia.
Big military base is being built in Java now. Russian tanks were withdrawn to Java before August events. Russian military technique supply has been gathered in South Ossetia for 4 years. Russian propaganda used to say that Georgia was the most militarized state in Caucasus. Let’s compare the numbers and we’ll perceive that this was not so. South Ossetia, where there lived 40 thousand people, had 87 artillery equipments. Georgian military budget increased in 30 times in the last 4 years: from 30 million USA dollars to almost 1 milliard. Georgia allocated 8% for military field in 2008. But budgets of Abkhazia and South Ossetia were much higher than it was needed and what is the most important, Abkhazia and South Ossetia were provided by weapons by Russia. Only 6 from 1000 people in Georgia were military servants, 60 in Abkhazia and 65 in South Ossetia, this means that both of these regions had ten times more unit compared to Georgia. Georgia had 4,6 artillery equipments on 100 000 men, Abkhazia-35, South Ossetia – 190. Georgia had 5 units of armored carriers on 100 000 men, Abkhazia-75, South Ossetia – 391.
Russia deployed big amount of military technique in South Ossetia and Abkhazia in May and July.
More than 1500 armored technique, artillery equipment, tanks and different kinds of technique were taken to Abkhazia. We don’t have information of GDP in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but we can approximately say that Abkhazia spent 50% of its budget on military equipments, South Ossetia spent – 60%. It is obvious that Russia provided them with weapons free of charge.
We can say that there were Russian military bases before start of military activities in Abkhazia and South Ossetia on August 7. Aim of Russian government was to change Saakashvili’s government in Georgia. Nobody even hid it in Russian government. War against Georgia was prepared 4 years ago. After Georgia had solved Ajarian problems painlessly, Moscow started to think about changing Saakashvili. Russian energetic company’s heads were called to the Kremlin in 2005 and the government told them to make problems in providing Georgia with electro energy. They were rejected by the heads of the companies and they started to act themselves. All oil pipelines and electro lines leading to Georgia were exploded. Russian government stated that it was done by terrorists. It was found out later that terrorists used the same explosive materials used by Russian special units.
Georgian special units detained Russian spies and they were extradited to Russian government without noise. In spite of this Russian special units didn’t stop working in Georgia but on the contrary, their works were reinforced. Georgian special services detained 4 Russian agents in 2006 and it was noisy ceremony of extraditing them to Russia. Russia started economic blockade against Georgia. Transportation, wine, ‘Borjomi’, blockade followed this. Russia strengthens Abkhazia and South Ossetia in military field. Russian diplomats don’t hide that war had to be started before September in Georgia. Russia rehabilitated Ochamchire and Sokhumi-Ochamchire 54 kilometers railway. Russia deployed 50 echelons of military technique to Abkhazia. There was impression that war had to be started from Abkhazia. Georgian villages were fired on August 1. If Ossetians used to stop firing after respond from Georgian side, this didn’t happen this time. Ossetian side continued to fire with artillery equipments. Ossetian information department didn’t hide on August 6 that there were Russian units in South Ossetian territory. Russian defense minister assistant Nikolai Panko and head of reconnaissance service visited Tskhinvali on August 3. They had meeting with Kokoity. Kokoity moves to Java after their departure and evacuation of the population starts on August 3. Russia started war activities on August 3. 58th army is already mobilized near Georgian border for this time and 9000 soldiers, 700 units of armored technique are sent from Russian regions. Russian frontiers occupied Roki tunnel on August 6. Russian information sources informed from August 3 that war had started in South Ossetia, this was when war activities didn’t took place.
Georgian side tried to negotiate with Ossetian side on August 7. Georgian reincarnation minister Temur Iakobashvili visits Tskhinvali who has to meet with Kokoity together with Russian special tasks ambassador Popov. Popov says that he was not able to be on the meeting due to problems of car tyre. He is offered to change the tyre, but he says that the extra tyre is also damaged. Iakobashvili meets with peaceful forces commander in Tskhinvali Marat Kulakhmetov, who offers to Georgian side to cease fire. Iakobashvili tells the proposal of the general to President Mikheil Saakashvili on phone at 18:30. Saakashvili makes televised announcement at 19:00 that Georgian side is interested in peace. He demanded and practically bagged to reach ceasefire. He declared ceasefire partially, but Ossetian side started to bomb Georgian village Tamarasheni and then other villages at 22:10.
Russian journalists in Tskhinvali said that there practically wasn’t Ossetian population in Tskhinvali. According to official information, 34 thousand people were evacuated before starting war activities. After emerge of Russian defense ministry tank colonies, Georgian government concluded that war was started by Russian politicians.
Fights to three direction start after this. Tskhinvali assault, skirmishes near java and Roki direction. Both sides had big losses. It must be stressed that tanks that entered from Roki tunnel reached Tskhinvali only on August 10. Russian troops occupy Kodori Gorge in Abkhazia at the same time. Russian ships are near Georgian coasts. Russian defense ministry had sub divisions mobilized in Zemo Larsi and Georgian-Armenian border.
It is obvious that the war is not over and it continues. Russian government has not refused to overthrow Georgian government. Russia doesn’t hide that Georgian pro-Western choice is unacceptable to it. I think that everything starts from now on. Russian government acted like scoundrels, when they attack weak ones. Russia of course wouldn’t attack NATO member Baltic States. Kiev’s strive to the West is also unacceptable to Russia. Moscow didn’t like when Kiev supported Tbilisi in August events.