Question remains: who started Georgia conflict?

Roki Tunnel
The Roki Tunnel, which links Russia and South Ossetia in Georgia. When Russian forces moved through the tunnel into Georgia at the war’s start is in dispute.
By C.J. CHIVERS
Published: September 15, 2008 in the New York Times

The New York Times carries an article about new evidence, which Georgia is trying to present as solid proof, that the Georgia-Russian war was in fact started by Russians. Georgia has provided intercepts of phone calls along with English translations to the New York Times, claiming, that it is sufficiant evidence.

The Georgian intelligence service has recorded several phone calls on August 7 and 8, which according to them, prove, that Russia had started moving its armed forces into the territory of South Ossetia via the Roki Tunnel before Georgian shelling of South Ossetia.
By Russian accounts, the war began at 11:30 that night, when President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia ordered an attack on Russian positions in Tskhinvali. Russian combat units crossed the border into South Ossetia only later, Russia has said.
By Russian accounts, the war began at 11:30 that night, when President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia ordered an attack on Russian positions in Tskhinvali. Russian combat units crossed the border into South Ossetia only later, Russia has said.
Russia has not disputed the veracity of the phone calls, which were apparently made by Ossetian border guards on a private Georgian cellphone network. “Listen, has the armor arrived or what?” a supervisor at the South Ossetian border guard headquarters asked a guard at the tunnel with the surname Gassiev, according to a call that Georgia and the cellphone provider said was intercepted at 3:52 a.m. on Aug. 7.
“The armor and people,” the guard replied. Asked if they had gone through, he said, “Yes, 20 minutes ago; when I called you, they had already arrived.”
Shota Utiashvili, the director of the intelligence analysis team at Georgia’s Interior Ministry, said the calls pointed to a Russian incursion. “This whole conflict has been overshadowed by the debate over who started this war,” he said. “These intercepted recordings show that Russia moved first and that we were defending ourselves.”
The recordings, however, do not explicitly describe the quantity of armor or indicate that Russian forces were engaged in fighting at that time.
Competing Accounts
Gen. Lt. Nikolai Uvarov of Russia, a former United Nations military attaché, who served as a Defense Ministry spokesman during the war, insisted that Georgia’s attack surprised Russia and that its leaders scrambled to respond while Russian peacekeeping forces were under fire. He said President Dmitri A. Medvedev had been on a cruise on the Volga River. Mr. Putin was at the Olympics in Beijing.
“The minister of defense, by the way, was on vacation in the Black Sea somewhere,” he said. “We never expected them to launch an attack.”

Make sure to read the full article for more. My opinion? Georgia is just trying to save their face, and the calls might well be fabricated. Even if they aren’t – they don’t prove anything.

Turkish Daily News: Reviving the Armenian heritage

Wednesday, September 17, 2008 | Barçin YİNANÇ

Minutes to the football game between Turkey and Armenia. A Turkish sport commentator of Armenian descent is being interviewed by a Turkish TV channel. When asked to evaluate the possible performance of the Armenian team, he said, “I am a Turkish citizen. I only know the Turkish national team.”
Obviously he is concerned that talking about the Armenian national team would cause his loyalty to Turkey to be questioned. Having seen the fate of journalist Hrant Dink, we should hardly be surprised about this over-sensitivity. Continue reading “Turkish Daily News: Reviving the Armenian heritage”

With diminishing support – opposition becomes cautious


E-channel has a detailed update on yesterday’s opposition rally – Reporter_Arm stayed till the end of the rally to give you the objective picture. Bored with all the rallies of the year, I left at around 19:30, when it became evident, that the maximum number of supporters will peak at around 5-6,000 – which is the smallest rally with the participation of Levon Ter-Petrossian that I’ve seen this year yet. It is, however, too early to speak of final breakdown of the opposition. On the contrary, it seems the opposition has finally decided to move away from rallies and revolutionism, and start actually engaging in politics.
Postponing the rally of September 5th not to hinder the Turkish president’s visit is one sign of this, participation in elections of Yerevan District Mayors is another. And accounts of yesterday’s rally also ring positive bells, albeit with silly distractions like the speech of Armenia’s cheif Marxist.
David Shahnazarian, for example, has said, “We have to understand, that it is not time for abrupt actions by the Movement at the moment”, noting, that the opposition movement should be careful not to become a tool in the hands of foreign powers.
Levon Zurabyan has set the future agenda of the Movement, saying the logic and rules of the game have now changed, and the opposition will avoid direct confrontations and engage in the sphere of ideology instead.
Speaking for around half an hour, Levon Ter-Petrossian has analyzed the geopolitical situation around armenia, and noted, that these are hard times for Armenia’s foreign politics. The Movement should take care not to harm the Country and the people, opposition leader has said.
No march in the streets of Yerevan has followed the rally. Although the opposition has explained it with the desire not to undertake illegal actions (as the march would have been unsanctioned), it is more likely, that the decision was taken because of small number of rally attenders, which would have made an embarrassing sight if stretched in a march.

Armenia should abandon its unjust and unwise travel ban on people

By Jirair Ratevosian and Amy Hagopian
The first cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) were diagnosed 25 years ago, opening a new tragedy in human history and changing the way the world thinks about public health.
While HIV, the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS, has killed 25 million people and ravaged many parts of the world, it has been relatively less serious in Armenia, which has
reported fewer than 500 people with the HIV virus, only 30 percent of whom progressed into the full AIDS disease, and only 42 of whom have died. In contrast, approximately 33.2 million people—about 1 in every 200—are living with HIV worldwide.
Armenia has organized a relatively progressive and reasonably effective response to the national epidemic by providing free testing and drugs for AIDS treatment through its National Centre for AIDS Prevention. However, there is still one important human rights issue to be addressed at the national level: removing the travel ban that prevents people living with HIV from entering the country. Continue reading “Armenia should abandon its unjust and unwise travel ban on people”

Podcast: Armenian blogs on Turkish President's visit to Armenia

Following Turkish President Abdulla Gull’s historic visit to Armenia, Armenian bloggers are engaged in active discussions – was it a positive step, or a negative one? Was it right for Armenia’s to invite highest Turkish official to Armenia or not? Even the fact Armenian football team lost 0:2 to Turkey, has been completely overshadowed by Turkish president’s visit. There is also an interview with Latvian blogger Artur Mednis. Download the full podcast here or listen to it online below.

Podcast: Reactions to Armenia-Turkey Football Match

The Armenian Blogosphere radio program is back – after a holiday season, and back with a bang! One day before the memorable Armenia-Turkey football match, to which Serge Sargsyan has invited the Turkish president Abdulla Guyl, the program brings you updates and reactions from the Armenia-Turkey football match.
This 19th issue of the Armenian Blogosphere also features and interview with Simon Blogian, our prolific blogger-friend from USA. Download the podcast here or listen to it online below:

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