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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – October 1, 2009

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TODAY: EU Russia-Georgia report out! Tilted towards blame on Georgia; Russia claims vindication on who started it issue; denies report’s accusations of Moscow violating international laws; PR machines crank up on both sides.  PACE to vote today on rights; Yushchenko says he will meet Medvedev despite recent freeze in relations; Medvedev to ditch Putin’s wordsmith?

Open hostilities began with a large-scale Georgian military operation against the town of Tskhinvali and the surrounding areas, launched in the night of 7 to 8 August 2008′ – the Telegraph quotes the EU report which suggests the blame for starting the war lies with Georgia, whose actions in South Ossetia were unjustifiable under international law.  Reuters argues the report is ‘likely to hurt Tbilisi more than Moscow’ and describes the report’s findings as ‘particularly damning’ for Georgia.  RFE/RL concurs that Russia has won the ‘victory’ it was hoping for; acknowledgment that Georgia was the initiator.  Russia has rebuffed the report’s suggestion that it used heavy-handed tactics and that it aided separatists movements.  NATO envoy Dmitry Rogozin believes that some Western politicians should now apologise to Russia.  The diplomat’s recent comments regarding Russian suspicion of Washington’s new missile defense plans have been dismissed by a senior Kremlin official: ‘Not everything Rogozin says reflects the official Russian policy’.   


Georgia has its own spin, according to Reuters, claiming that ‘the report confirmed that Russia had been preparing for war all along’ and has said that the investigators ignored evidence thatRussian soldiers were already in South Ossetia on August 7, thus making it an act of self-defense.  The report is, reportedly, hardly soft on Russia: ‘while the onus of having actually triggered off the war lies with the Georgian side, the Russian side, too, carries the blame for a substantial number of violations of international law’, quotes Bloomberg.  The report’s author, Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini, has penned an article in the New York Times,which chides both sides and the international community for turning a blind eye to theescalation of tensions.  Excerpts from the report can be found in the Washington Post.

The head of the Russian delegation to PACE has decried its voting process as ‘unpredictable’.  Russia has reiterated its belief Iran will cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency.  A spokeswoman for President Dmitry Medvedev has said that Russia is willing to restore full cooperation with NATO.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has said that he will meet with President Medvedev at the upcoming CIS summit in Moldova, RFE/RL reports.  Russia apparently plans on good relations with Moldova’s new leadership, but says that its position on the country’s relationship with NATO remains unchanged.  The Moscow Times says that Medvedev may sack his principal speechwriter, who also served during Putin’s presidency, in an attempt to break from the Prime Minister, rhetorically speaking.

PHOTO: Russia’s envoy to the European Union in Brussels Vladimir Chizhov holds an EU-sponsored report on last year’s war between Russia and Georgia, during a news conference in Brussels, September 30, 2009. Russia said on Wednesday an EU-sponsored report had found Georgia responsible for starting last year’s five-day war, Russian news agencies reported.  (REUTERS/Yves Herman)