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Moscow strongly disagrees with PACE resolution on Russian-Georgian war

Strasbourg, 29 September: The Russian delegation at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) disagrees in principle with the conclusions and assessments of the report and the draft resolution,

"The war between Georgia and Russia: one year after", the head of the Russian delegation and chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs, Konstantin Kosachev, said during a debate on the issue at a PACE sitting.

"First of all, there is no war there, and people are not dying there today. Secondly, there will be no war there because no politician, even the most criminal one, would embark on a military gamble again," Kosachev stressed.

At the same time he said the wounds of the August events in South Ossetia last year could still be felt. "Wounds remain, and one simply should not poke them with a blunt political scalpel - our actions should be
precise, appropriate and honest," Koscahev urged his PACE colleagues.

He also said that he disagreed with the fact that the report mainly spoke about Russia and that "there is nothing about Georgia, despite the fact that it is the only country which in the 21st century has done something that Cyprus, Serbia, Azerbaijan or Moldova have not done - it tried to restore its territorial integrity by military means, moreover against the will of the people living in the conflict zone".

Kosachev said that, in the previous two PACE resolutions on the matter, "if one takes out the irrelevant bits", what would remain was "a call on the Georgians to stop attacking the Ossetians and a call on us to stop defending the Ossetians". "We shall not stop until the forces responsible for all this remain in power in Tbilisi and we shall continue defending (the Ossetians) by all available means, including in this hall," the head of the Russian delegation said.

He put forward the supposition that the 72 PACE deputies who had signed the draft resolution - which is to be discussed on Thursday (1 October) - on stripping the Russian delegation of its powers "are mainly those who like recalling the crimes of Stalinism". "For your information, Georgia, within its so-called internationally recognized borders, is also a crime committed by Stalin, a Georgian national, who by force added two peoples against their will to his native Georgia," Kosachev stressed.

"A year ago the whole world could see how Mr (Mikheil) Saakashvili (Georgian president) had to eat his own tie. The day after tomorrow (1 October), when yet more Georgian initiatives regarding our powers will be discussed here, you will have to eat your own tie, which has been tied or rather imposed on you by today's followers of the Stalin cause," Kosachev said.

(By whipping up "radical sentiments and by resolutions on depriving Russia of its powers, one cannot achieve an isolation of Russia", a deputy head of the Russian delegation at PACE and deputy head of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs, Ilyas Umakhanov, said during the debate, according to an ITAR-TASS report.

"This policy is more likely to lead to PACE's self-elimination. It will undermine the assembly's efforts, and not only in the Caucasus" he said.

In Umakhanov's view, "by adopting the knowingly unimplementable resolution a year ago, PACE has driven itself into a corner and is now ineluctably losing its chance of becoming a platform for constructive, albeit difficult, dialogue and turning, instead, into a platform for mutual accusations". To normalize the situation in the South Caucasus, one needs time and meticulous efforts to restore trust. Using the language of ultimatums in the Caucasus is a futile affair and putting forward pre-conditions for the beginning of a dialogue is a dead end, Umakhanov said.

He particularly stressed that "no resolution after what happened will make the Abkhaz and South Ossetian peoples give up their independent ways of development which they chose a decade ago". In Umakhanov's opinion, by insisting on this, "MPs are demonstrating their total disregard for reality and their total ignorance of the history, traditions and the mentality of the Caucasus people".

Having suffered a defeat in his attempt to bring South Ossetia back to Georgia by force, Saakashvili is now using the PACE platform to achieve this, Leonid Slutskiy, another deputy head of the Russian delegation at PACE and first deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs, said at the PACE debate on the matter, ITAR-TASS said in another report.

According to Slutskiy, none of the PACE members who accused Moscow of the absence of progress in the South Ossetian situation "talks of the victims of Georgia's villainous aggression in August 2008".

"During the Olympic truce Saakashvili attacked the people whom he called his own and Russia saved them," he recalled.

Slutskiy said Russia was not against the presence of international observers in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. "But today two independent states have appeared on the map of the world and these matters should be coordinated with their authorities," the Russian MP stressed, according to ITAR-TASS.)

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