TSKHINVAL, February 8. /TASS/. South Ossetian President Leonid Tibilov has accused the International Criminal Court of conducting policy of double standards following a statement from its prosecutor Fatou Bensouda who said there were allegedly Georgian peacekeepers among casualties in the five-day warfare that started on August 8, 2008.
"The whole world knows that it was Georgia that in August 2008 attacked South Ossetia, its sleeping peaceful city [Tskhinval], children and women," he said. "In today’s statements by Belsouda we see a clear use of double standards and approaches to what seems to be obvious things," Tibilov told a session with heads of republic’s law enforcement agencies.
"A statement of Bensouda alleging there were killed peacekeepers from a Georgian battalion among the victims of 2008 is not true and absurd to put it mildly," he said.
"It was the Georgian peacekeeping battalion, intended to defend peace and working in a trilateral format, that had left the place of its stationing and went away long before the start of the Georgian operation… organized by the Georgian authorities against our people," Tibilov’s spokeswoman Gana Yanovskaya quoted him as saying.
Tibilov said that only Russian peacekeepers in Tskhinval and the Russian army came to the rescue to rebuff Georgia’s aggression had ‘really suffered casualties."
No ethnic cleansing
"As President of South Ossetia, I state there was no ethnic cleansing in South Ossetia. Practically all Georgian population of the Tskhinval region was also moved to Georgia in advance. Knowing that there would be a full-scale war against South Ossetia these people were destroying, setting on fire their houses, leaving nothing behind as they were leaving their settlements," he continued.
He said the ICC launched a probe into war crimes of 2008 seven years after, as hopes in the West that this war would be forgotten in due time and those guilty would avoid punishment, failed.
"The ICC is now trying to prove that the Ossetian people and their friends represented by Russia were guilty. With this approaches we don’t expect objective conclusions from the ICC," the president said.
On January 27, a probe into crimes allegedly committed during a brief war between Georgia and Russia began in The Hague.
"Today, the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court ) has been authorised by the Judges in the Pre-Trial Chamber I to commence an investigation into the alleged ICC crimes occurring on the territory of Georgia between 1 July 2008 and 10 October 2008," an ICC press release said on January 27.
More than 1,000 people were killed and Russian troops had to intervene. Russian military, being part of the CIS-mandated peacekeeping mission, were the first to come under attack. Seventy-two of Russian military were killed in the conflict.
After the war, South Ossetia declared independence. It was recognized by Russia, and only a few other countries followed suit, while the rest of the world considers the territory part of Georgia.