Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Russia claims proof of genocide

Article from: Agence France-Presse

August 26, 2008 06:56pm

RUSSIAN investigators say they have proof Georgian forces committed genocide in their attack on the rebel region of South Ossetia this month.

"It has been fully established that between August 7 and 12, Georgia's armed forces invaded the territory of the unrecognised republic with the aim of fully annihilating the Ossetian ethnic group living in South Ossetia," Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin told state newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta.

"They spared no one. We found a woman who had been killed with a shot to the head. She was eight months' pregnant. Her unborn child died too," he said.

Mr Bastrykin was summarising the results of an ongoing investigation into the Georgian attack on the Moscow-backed rebel enclave, which prompted Russia to pour troops and armour into its southern neighbour.

Mr Bastrykin did not say how many South Ossetian civilians were killed, but a senior local prosecutor last week said 133 civilian deaths had been confirmed in South Ossetia and that the toll was likely to grow.

Russian officials earlier backed up the genocide accusations by saying up to 2000 of South Ossetia's population of 70,000 had been killed.

Both Russia and Georgia have accused each other of ethnic cleansing and war crimes in the conflict, in which Russian forces routed Georgia's small US-trained army and dug in deep inside the Caucasus country.

A team of 211 investigators had compiled more than 100 volumes of evidence of Georgian atrocities and questioned 3915 people, Mr Bastrykin said.

"All their testimony confirms the fact of genocide".