Press – Release
13TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE AUGUST 2008 RUSSIA-GEORGIA WAR
7 August 2021 marks 13 years since Russia’s military aggression against Georgia and illegal occupation of Georgia’s indivisible regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia.
13 years ago, Russia invaded Georgia on land, at sea, by air and via cyberspace, and committed a full-scale military aggression against Georgia. The move was unprecedented in its scale and impact. Nine out of twelve Georgian regions became target of Russian aviation bombardments; more than 30 cities and villages, including Tbilisi and Kutaisi were shelled by Russian strategic bombers and military aircraft; cluster bombs and other types of prohibited weapons were used. As a result, hundreds of civilians and military personnel were killed and wounded; thousands of locals joined half a million of IDPs and refugees expelled during the previous waves of ethnic cleansing; 53 Georgian villages in and around the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia were fully cleansed and destroyed; 35 000 houses belonging to ethnic Georgians were deliberately burnt and ruined. In August 2008, Russia took control additionally over 5 valleys and 125 villages of Georgia. Although on 12 August 2008 the Russian President undersigned the EU-mediated Ceasefire Agreement and obliged to withdraw all its military forces to the pre-war positions, Moscow continued aerial bombardments throughout the whole territory of Georgia, and two weeks after the Kremlin decided to recognize the so-called independence of Georgia’s indivisible regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia.
It was Georgia where the Russian Federation first applied its aggressive policy of violation of territorial integrity and internationally recognized borders of sovereign states, which has seriously threatened European and Transatlantic security and undermined the rules-based international order. This was an unprecedented attack on the fundaments of the rules-based international order, blatant violation of the basic norms and principles of international law, and huge blow at the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act defining the rules for multilateralism and international peace.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled its verdict on Russia’s forcible invasion of Georgia, and established that the Russian Federation, as the state occupying and exercising effective control over the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, had been responsible for violation of multiple articles of the European Convention of Human Rights during the August 2008 war and the period of subsequent occupation of Georgia’s territories. Namely, the Strasbourg Court found Russia responsible for grave crimes and abuses of the fundamental human rights, such as: deprivation of the right to life and killing of peaceful civilians and militaries; their torture, inhuman and degrading treatment; ethnic cleansing, burning, looting and destroying Georgian villages; violation of the right of hundreds of thousands of IDPs and refugees to return to their homes; violation of the right to liberty and security; infringement of the right to freedom of movement, the right to respect for private and family life and the property rights. The Court also ruled that the Russian Federation continues its illegal military presence on Georgia’s territory in full disregard for the EU-mediated 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement and violation of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Despite that, the Russian Federation continues occupation and militarization of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, regularly conducts illegal military exercises in those regions, intensively fortifies the occupation line with barbed wire fences and various artificial barriers, follows the practice of arbitrary detention and kidnapping of the local peaceful population, restricts freedom of movement of the conflict-affected people and deliberately hinders the return of IDPs and refugees, who have been forcibly expelled as a result of multiple waves of ethnic cleansing, to their homes. With such aggressive steps, the Russian Federation continues to use force and threat of force against Georgia, and tries to destabilize the country through active hybrid warfare tools.
Against this backdrop, the human rights situation in Georgia’s occupied territories has been deteriorating on a daily basis. In addition to the restrictions on freedom of movement, ethnic discrimination against Georgians living in the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions has been intensified, education in native Georgian language has been banned, while residents of Gali and Akhalgori districts continue to live in extremely difficult socio-economic conditions. The humanitarian situation of the conflict-affected population has become even more critical during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. At the same time, the impunity on crimes committed on the ground of ethnicity has been strengthened, as it has been encouraged as a result of hindering execution of justice in the cases of murder of Georgian citizens – D.Basharuli, G.Otkhozoria and A.Tatunashvili by representatives of the occupation regimes.
Despite those challenges, the Government of Georgia unwaveringly pursues its peaceful conflict resolution and conflict transformation policy, which is directed towards de-occupation of the Georgian regions by Russia and the safe and dignified return of the IDPs and refugees, on the one hand; and reconciliation and confidence building between the Georgian population divided by occupation line, on the other hand. Georgia has fully implemented the 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement and has numerously reconfirmed its unilateral adherence to the commitment of the non-use of force, still awaiting for the reciprocity from the Russian side.
Georgia highly values the strong support of the international community for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, as well as the significant role the partner countries and international organizations are playing in support of the peaceful conflict resolution process. Georgia highly values the Moldova’s unwavering support of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
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13th anniversary of the august 2008 Russia-Georgia war
Press – Release