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Russia’s chief investigator slams the Hague Court’s interpretation of South Ossetia events

February 03, 9:51 UTC+3 MOSCOW
According to Bastrykin, the United States financed delivery of military equipment used in the South Ossetian conflict to Georgia and trained Georgian servicemen
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© ITAR-TASS/Valery Matytsin

MOSCOW, February 2. /TASS/. Russian Investigative Committee chief Alexander Bastrykin said the interpretation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of events in South Ossetia in August 2008 as an international armed conflict between Russia and Georgia during which Russia controlled the actions of the South Ossetian authorities is ungrounded.

In an interview with the Russian government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Bastrykin said: "In my view, in this way the ICC set the vector of investigation and started trying to bring the case’s circumstances in line with the dubious judicial doctrine of effective control of the territory, formulated among other biased rulings of international court bodies aimed against Russia’s interests."

"During investigation of the criminal case [by Russian investigators] no data were established to be grounds for such a legal assessment," he said.

"The peace compelling operation for Georgia was aimed exclusively to protect the life and health of Russian peacekeeping forces deployed in South Ossetia, as well as nationals of the Russian Federation living there," Bastrykin said. "The Russian Constitution, among other things, obligated us to do so."

"If the events are to be interpreted from the viewpoint of the 1949 Geneva conventions, which regulate the legal regime of an armed conflict, then it would most likely be logical to give them the status of a non-international armed conflict," he said.

"I will recall that these conventions determine a non-international armed conflict as a conflict localized on the territory of a member country between its armed forces and antigovernment troops or other armed groups being under the command and exercising such control of a part of the country’s territory," the Investigative Committee chief said.

"Besides, making the conclusion that Russia controlled the actions of the South Ossetian authorities, the ICC completely ignored that joint peacekeeping forces made up of the peacekeeping contingents of Georgia, South Ossetia and Russia were on South Ossetian territory then, and they, in line with the mandate, jointly and in a coordinated manner controlled the ongoing processes and ensured peace," he recalled.

"Besides, it should not be forgotten that the South Ossetian conflict in itself emerged long before the 2008 events, back in the early 1990s, when Russia was unable to render any influence on the authorities of South Ossetia," Bastrykin said.

He said the United States financed delivery of military equipment used in the South Ossetian conflict  to Georgia  and trained Georgian servicemen.

"In this way, if the effective control doctrine is to be used, it would be logical to do that not regarding Russia but the United States," Bastrykin said.

Moscow recognized as independent the Georgian breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which resulted in the cutoff of Russia-Georgia diplomatic ties. The recognition followed Georgia's attack on South Ossetia that entailed Russia's peacemaking operation in August 2008.

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