- ‘Only an idiot can ask a question: who started this war’;
- ‘Putin’s remarks are admission of guilt’;
- Saakashvili to Ivanishvili: ‘Your patron Putin himself said today that he started the war’
President Saakashvili seized upon Bidzina Ivanishvili-funded television station’s August war-related gaffe and said that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin was “patron” of the Georgian Dream opposition coalition leader and “his slaves”.
When reporting about the August war anniversary on August 8 and giving a background information about those events, a newscaster of the Channel 9 TV station’s noon news bulletin read out a text from one of the Georgian news agencies, saying: “Military hostilities were launched on August 7, 2008 between Ossetian separatists, backed by the Russian troops, and the Georgian army. Russia, which legally brought into the region its army units and military hardware, formally engaged in the war on August 8.”
In its 3pm news bulletin the television station apologized for reporting that Russia deployed troops legally, blaming mistake on a news agency, whose text a newscaster was reading. The news agency, GHN, said it made a mistake by not putting the word legally in scare quotes.
“Channel 9’s newsroom apologizes for reading out a text prepared by a news agency without verifying and checking it. At the same time the Channel 9 wants to specify that it does not share such formulation of the text,” a newscaster of TV station’s news bulletin announced.
Channel 9 was not the only TV station which read out this text; Imedi TV’s journalist used the same text, saying that Russian troops were deployed “legally”, while delivering live report in Imedi TV’s 11am news bulletin on August 7. Imedi TV is co-owned by Saakashvili’s ally and former economy minister Giorgi Arveladze.
Speaking in the Black Sea port of Poti, which was one of the targets of Russia’s air strikes during the August war four years ago, President Saakashvili said later on August 8: “This morning one of the political party’s television channel announced that Russian forces… were completely legally operating on the Georgian territory.”
“We are a democratic state and they can think whatever they want; they can say whatever they want, no matter how horrible and disgusting it might be,” Saakashvili said. “But shouldn’t you have at least slight of decency not to say something like this on the day when we all should be paying respect to our fallen compatriots? These people have not even a slight sense of solidarity.”
“Not a single law bans to speak and think this way, but not a single law bans us to express what we think about these people,” he continued.
“One thing is to hate you government and it’s another issue to justify aggression against your own country and to justify an attempt of conquering and destroying your country.”
He then continued by speaking about the August 8 remarks of Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling them “admission of guilt.” Putin said that the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces had drawn up a plan of repelling Tbilisi’s possible attack on South Ossetia more than a year before the August, 2008 war and in addition was also training South Ossetian militias as part of this plan.
“But here is the biggest paradox – today, the major initiator and culprit of [the August, 2008] war, Vladimir Putin, absolutely explicitly stated that for several years he had been planning and training armed groups within our sovereign, independent territory; that is a classical legal definition of an international aggression,” Saakashvili said.
“He [Putin] himself made this admission and when this man states: ‘Yes, I did it, I did it and I’m proud of that’, there are Georgian politicians and their [media] outlets, funded with Russian money, which are sowing uncertainty and confusion about this issue and asking one and the same idiotic question – no one but an idiot will ask this question – ‘who started this war?’.”
“I want to address these people, this man [Ivanishvili] and his slaves: your patron Putin himself said today that he started the war and he’s proud of that; maybe you will now revise your versions about this issue and fit [your versions] to what Putin himself has said,” Saakashvili said.
“This situation now looks like when an offender admits committing a crime… but [the offender]-financed lawyer still says: ‘No, no, that’s not what you think’,” Saakashvili said. “I want to address these people: should not be there a difference between Putin and you? He is Putin and you are Georgians. How can there be uncertainty and confusion about who bombed our homes and our towns?”
Also on August 8 the Georgian Foreign Ministry released a statement saying that Putin’s “open admission of the long-term, pre-meditated nature of the 2008 invasion offers critical insight into the conflict.”
“His statements confirm Georgia's long-standing position that Russia's armed incursion into Georgia in August 2008 constituted a premeditated act of aggression against a sovereign nation,” the Georgian Foreign Ministry said. "Based on today's statement, the Georgian government calls upon the international community to continue to pressure Russia to withdraw its occupying forces from Georgia and to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbors."