Russian Investigative Committee: Georgia was trying to discredit Russian army in Aug 2008 conflict

An investigation into the Georgian-Ossetian conflict in August 2008 has determined that Georgian military servicemen simulated crimes allegedly committed by Russian soldiers during Russia's peace enforcement operation against Georgia, Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said.

"In the course of an investigation into this criminal case, facts have been established confirming Georgian authorities' actions aimed at discrediting the Russian armed forces," Markin told Interfax. In particular, "corpses of dead Georgian servicemen were dressed in civilian clothing in order to fabricate photo and video evidence of significant civilian casualties in Georgian villages," he said.

"Testimony obtained from witnesses also indicates that, to spread propaganda and mislead residents of Georgia and the international community before Russian troops entered the city of Gori and other populated areas located near the border with Georgia, Ukrainian mercenaries dressed in Russian military uniforms took part in fabricating photo and video evidence of violence and looting by Russian soldiers against peaceful civilians living in Georgian villages," Markin said. The investigation into the August 2008 events in South Ossetia is continuing, and the deadline by which it should be completed has been extended until February 8, 2013, he said.

"A large amount of investigative and other procedural work has been done under this criminal case, which includes more than 400 volumes. The investigation also carefully examined the sites of incidents, questioned several thousand witnesses, victims and specialists, carried out about 600 forensic analyses and other investigative procedures, based on which undeniable evidence has been collected that, apart from Georgia's top government officials, Georgian military and security chiefs of various rank were also responsible for committing crimes against peace and humanity in the territory of the republic of South Ossetia in August 2008," Markin said.

Based on the combination of proof collected, including the nature and location of the destruction, "it has been determined certainly that the peacekeeping battalion's territory was fired upon with heavy offensive weapons from Georgian populated areas, and this was not provoked or prompted by anything," he said.

"Presuming that the top Georgian government officials and military chiefs of Georgian security forces of different rank responsible for these crimes cannot be held criminally liable in Russia in line with international law and that Georgia is refusing to do so itself, Russian competent agencies are making steps to initiate an investigation procedure in the International Criminal Court," Markin said.

In officially investigating the crimes committed by Georgia, the International Criminal Court prosecutor may look into "facts of armed aggression against Russian peacekeepers and the use of heavy indiscriminate action weapons against the civilian population of South Ossetia, which have been determined by Russian investigators."

"To engage the International Criminal Court mechanisms as soon as possible, Russian investigative bodies recently forwarded additional information to the office of the prosecutor to indicate reasons that obstruct the administration of justice," he said.

Georgian forces fired Grad multiple rocket launchers at Tskhinvali and then tried to seize the city in the early hours of August 8, 2008. A significant part of the South Ossetian capital was destroyed. Considering that most of the residents of South Ossetia were Russian citizens, Russia sent its troops to the republic and ousted Georgian troops from the region following five days of combat actions.

The Russian Investigative Committee is probing genocide and mass killings of Russian citizens residing in South Ossetia and Russian peacekeepers stationed there with the use of banned methods and means of warfare and mercenaries.

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