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On Wednesday, on the fourth anniversary of the Georgian-South Ossetian armed conflict, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visited Tskhinval. Tskhinval residents welcomed him with flowers and pies, the Vedomosti daily reported. People remember that it was he, who being the Russian president, stood up in defence of South Ossetia, an eyewitness of the meeting and local political expert Irina Gagloyeva said. The decision to bring the troops in South Ossetia was taken timely, quite quickly, and much more massive victims were avoided, Medvedev noted at a meeting with South Ossetian President Leonid Tibilov.
However, Vladimir Putin did not give such an unequivocal assessment to a short period of time, for which the decision was taken. He gave comments again to the film “Lost Day” accessible in the Internet with the participation of former and incumbent commanders, which claimed that the victims could have been fewer, if the president had not taken a decision for a so long time. In reply to the question why he delayed his decision for a day Putin stated, “This was not a day, but three days – August 6, 7, 8.” He stated that he learnt about the events from the journalists through the press secretary and cited their reports in the conversation with Medvedev. “I had two telephone conversations with Dmitry Anatolyevich,” Putin affirmed.
Meanwhile, in August 2011 Medvedev said in an interview with Russia Today and Ekho Moskvy that he telephoned to Putin, when he had given all the orders. “The first conversation since the start of active hostilities on August 7 took place at 23:35 Moscow time on August 8, and the retaliatory strike on Georgia was delivered in four hours in the morning. I remember this well as a witness of the events,” Russian premier’s press secretary Natalia Timakova told the Vedomosti daily.
“I understand the feelings of the generals, who did not win any war, and they have a pity to acknowledge that other military did it and saved hundreds of civilians,” Timakova added. Medvedev told reporters that one of the heroes of the film – the former chief of the Russian General Staff Yuri Baluyevsky was already transferred to the Security Council by the moment of the start of the tragic events and “he did not give any comment at that period of time, but after he quitted it, he probably began to feel the need to tell about it.”
Baluyevsky confirmed to the Vedomosti daily that he was featured in the film, but refused to say to whom and under what circumstances he gave that interview.
“Any criticism against Medvedev, even in analytical articles was suppressed before. He has been under protection of Putin,” political expert Olga Kryshtanovskaya stated. “Now this criticism is possible. I believe that Medvedev’s defence is lifted. The split in the elites was hypothetical before. Now this became the fact. This is an important signal for me, as the preparation of the public opinion towards Medvedev began,” she said.
The screening of the film may be linked with the struggle of two former Putin’s successors, namely head of his administration Sergei Ivanov and Medvedev and their teams, a source close to the Kremlin believes. The elite is on the verge of split and pushes Putin to give an answer to the main question, what will happen in 2018, as the lack of answer is fraught with political and economic destabilization.