Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Today's The New York Times carries a story by Olesya Vartanyan and Ellen Barry reporting that a former Saakashvili associate caused a near riot with his testimony yesterday that people in the Georgian government told him last April that Saakashvili planned to start a war in Abkhazia. It turned out that Saakashvili changed his plans and actually attacked pro-Russian-leaning civilians in South Ossetia.

Write Vartanyan and Barry:

"A parliamentary hearing on the origins of the war between Georgia and Russia in August ended in a furor on Tuesday after a former Georgian diplomat testified that Georgian authorities were responsible for starting the conflict.

Erosi Kitsmarishvili, Tbilisi’s former ambassador to Moscow, testified for three hours before he was shouted down by members of Parliament.

A former confidant of President Mikheil Saakashvili, Mr. Kitsmarishvili said Georgian officials told him in April that they planned to start a war in Abkhazia, one of two breakaway regions at issue in the war, and had received a green light from the United States government to do so. He said the Georgian government later decided to start the war in South Ossetia, the other region, and continue into Abkhazia.

He would not name the officials who he said had told him about planned actions in Abkhazia, saying that identifying them would endanger their lives."

The BBC reports on the same story today on its web page.

""Russia was ready for this war, but the Georgian leadership started the military action first," Mr Kitsmarishvili told the commission on Tuesday.

He said he had this information "from high-ranking Georgian officials". However, he said he believed Georgia had been provoked into war by Russia.

Mr Kitsmarishvili has been an outspoken critic of the Georgian president since being replaced as ambassador to Moscow, the BBC's Tom Esslemont in Tbilisi says.

On Tuesday, the former envoy also claimed that Mr Saakashvili told him in March of plans to use force to retake Abkhazia - another Georgia's rebel region.

He said the president had also told him he would move the Georgian capital to Abkhazia's capital, Sukhumi, in August.

Several members of the bi-partisan commission and Georgian government officials described Mr Kitsmarishvili's comments as "shameless" and "irresponsible"."

Remember not too long ago when John McCain saw the Georgian/Russian conflict in stark black and white without any shades of grey in between? And how all the Republicans including Bush rushed to condemn Russia for being the "aggressor" and threatening its former satellites. And do you remember how Cheney and Rice each visited Saakashvili to commit American support and protection?

How much more evidence do those guys need to see that their support for Saakashvili is support for a hot head who would start a war for domestic political reasons, so that he could defuse those Georgian critics who accused him of trampling over civil liberties and human rights in Georgia.

Saakashvili is no more than a thug. It is a shame that the U.S. government is blind to that reality and continues to support him with millions in military aid.

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