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Oct 28 08 9:28 AM
Oct 31 08 9:18 AM
Georgia accused of targeting civilians
The BBC has discovered evidence that Georgia may have committed war crimes in its attack on its breakaway region of South Ossetia in August.
Eyewitnesses have described how its tanks fired directly into an apartment block, and how civilians were shot at as they tried to escape the fighting.
Research by the international investigative organisation Human Rights Watch also points to indiscriminate use of force by the Georgian military, and the
possible deliberate targeting of civilians.
Indiscriminate use of force is a violation of the Geneva Conventions, and serious violations are considered to be war crimes.
The allegations are now raising concerns among Georgia's supporters in the West.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has told the BBC the attack on South Ossetia was "reckless".
He said he had raised the issue of possible Georgian war crimes with the government in Tbilisi.
The evidence was gathered by the BBC on the first unrestricted visit to South Ossetia by a foreign news organisation since the conflict.
Georgia's attempt to re-conquer the territory triggered a Russian invasion and the most serious crisis in relations between the Kremlin and the West
since the Cold War.
And Georgians themselves have suffered. We confirmed the systematic destruction of former Georgian villages inside South Ossetia.
Some homes appear to have been not just burned by Ossetians, but also bulldozed by the territory's Russian-backed authorities.
The war began when Georgia launched artillery attacks on targets in the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, at about 2330 on 7 August 2008.
Georgia said at the time that it was responding to increasing attacks on its own villages by South Ossetia militia, although it later said its action was
provoked by an earlier Russian invasion.
Georgy Tadtayev, a 21-year-old dental student, was one of the Ossetian civilians killed during the fighting.
His mother, Taya Sitnik, 45, a college lecturer, told the BBC he bled to death in her arms on the morning of 9 August after a fragment from a Georgian tank
shell hit him in the throat as they were both sheltering from artillery fire in the basement of her block of flats.
Mrs Sitnik said she subsequently saw the tank positioned a few metres from the building, firing shells into every floor.
Extensive damage to the five-storey block appeared consistent with her version of events.
She said she and her son were watching television when the Georgian attack began.
"They started firing not from rifles, but from heavy weapons. Shells were exploding."
"We jumped up straight away, switched off the lights and ran down to the cellar."
"And we sat here on boxes. We thought it would end, but the firing got heavier and heavier," she added.
"They went on firing all the next day without stopping. At some point there was a pause, and we saw Georgian soldiers going along the street in their
Nato uniforms," according to Mrs Sitnik.
"Then they started firing again, even more heavily. The Grad rockets were coming over all the time."
"How can you trust those people now? What possible friendship can there be? Let them all be cursed, cursed for the deaths of our children."
Neighbours said another resident of the block, Khazbi Gagloyev, also died of wounds received during the attacks.
The Russian prosecutor's office is investigating more than 300 possible cases of civilians killed by the Georgian military.
Some of those may be Ossetian paramilitaries, but Human Rights Watch believes the figure of 300-400 civilians is a "useful starting point".
That would represent more than 1% of the population of Tskhinvali - the equivalent of 70,000 deaths in London.
Allison Gill, director of the Moscow office of Human Rights Watch, said: "We're very concerned at the use of indiscriminate force by the Georgian
military in Tskhinvali.
"Tskhinvali is a densely populated city and as such military action needs to be very careful that it doesn't endanger civilians."
"We know that in the early stages there were tank attacks and Grad rockets used by Georgian forces," she added.
"Grad rockets cannot be used in densely populated areas because they cannot be precisely targeted, and as such they are inherently indiscriminate.
"Our researchers were on the ground in Tskhinvali as early as 12 August.
"And we gained evidence and witness testimony of Grad rocket attacks and tank attacks on apartment buildings, including tank attacks that shot at the
"And basements are typically areas where civilians will hide for their own protection.
"So all of this points to the misuse, the inappropriate use of force by Georgia against civilian targets," according to Alison Gill.
Human Rights Watch will talk only of the "possible" deliberate targeting by Georgian forces of individual civilians, a still more serious charge,
though some Ossetians the BBC spoke to in Tskhinvali claim to have witnessed such cases.
Marina Kochieva, a doctor at Tskhinvali's main hospital, says she herself was targeted by a Georgian tank as she and three relatives were trying to
escape by car from the town on the night of 9 August.
She says the tank fired on her car and two other vehicles, forcing them to crash into a ditch.
The firing continued as she and her companions lay on the ground.
She showed the BBC the burnt-out wreckage of the car on the town's ring-road, riddled with bullet holes and with a much larger hole, apparently from a
tank round, in the front passenger door.
Ms Kochieva says a nurse from her hospital was killed while fleeing Tskhinvali in similar circumstances.
She says she counted 18 burnt-out cars on the ring-road on 13 August, at the end of the war, suggesting there may have been more casualties.
Asked if, at night, Georgian soldiers might not have suspected her car of carrying Ossetian fighters, Ms Kochieva said: "Fighters wouldn't have
gone away from town, they would have gone towards town. We were escaping like other refugees.
"The Georgians knew this was the 'Road of Life' for Ossetians. They were sitting here waiting to kill us," she said.
Georgia's Foreign Minister Eka Tkeshelashvili told the BBC, "I can firmly say that the Georgian military, on intention, never attacked directly any
"On the surface, the damage to some of the houses in Tskhinvali that can be observed might lead to this conclusion. But to see if some is damage
inflicted by direct targeting, for that an in-depth military assessment needs to be done.
"I think the best response is a fully-fledged independent, impartial international inquiry into the issue," she added.
Her British counterpart David Miliband, who visited Georgia immediately after the war to show solidarity with its government, said he took the allegations
of war crimes "extremely seriously" and had raised them "at the highest level" in Tbilisi.
Apparently hardening his language towards Georgia, he called its actions "reckless".
But he added: "The Russian response was reckless and wrong".
"It's important that the Russian narrative cannot start with Georgian actions; it has to start with the attacks on the Georgians from the South
Ossetians and that is the tit-for-tat that got out of control," he said.
The BBC saw evidence of the cycle of revenge since the war, with the demolition of most houses in the former ethnic Georgian villages on the northern
outskirts of Tskhinvali.
The houses, whose occupants fled during the war to other parts of Georgia, were burnt by Ossetians immediately after the fighting.
They are now expected to be replaced by a brand-new housing complex with a cinema and sports facilities to be financed by the city of Moscow.
Zaur Gagloyev, a 20-year-old former law student, now unemployed, claimed he was one of those responsible for the burning.
"There were so many provocations in these villages by Georgians," he said.
"For example, they were taking Ossetians as hostages and that's why I feel so angry."
Mr Gagloyev added: "If you want an advice on how to burn a house, just set light to a curtain and the whole house will catch fire."
Asked if he was guilty of ethnic cleansing, he replied, "No, it wasn't ethnic cleansing.
"No-one was killed there. We just let them go from our land. I don't know whether they will return or not," he added.
"But I did everything I could for them not to return. Never. You can call it ethnic cleaning, but I think I just did it to prevent a future war,"
Oct 31 08 10:17 AM
Bush Administration Considers Emergency Funds for GM and Chrysler
The Bush administration is examining a range of options for providing emergency financial help to spur a merger between General Motors and Chrysler. Reuters
reports that the Treasury is considering at least a $5 billion package that could come in the form of direct capital injections and government purchase of
loans. Congress has already given the automakers $25 billion in low-interest loans.
Nov 2 08 8:15 AM
US vice-presidential hopeful Sarah Palin has become the victim of a prank phone call by a Canadian comedian posing as the French
Marc Antoine Audette convinced Alaska's governor she was speaking to Nicolas Sarkozy during a six-minute chat aired on a Montreal radio programme.
Topics discussed ranged from the beauty of Mr Sarkozy's wife, Carla Bruni, to the prospect of a joint hunting trip.
A spokesperson for Mrs Palin said she was "mildly amused" by the prank.
At one point during the phone call, aired three days before the US election, Mr Audette told Mrs Palin he could see her as president one day.
Laughingly, the Republican candidate replied: "Maybe in eight years."
Mr Audette said he would be keen to join her on a helicopter hunting trip.
"I just love killing those animals. Mmm, mmm, take away life, that is so fun," he said in an exaggerated French accent.
"I'd really love to go, so long as we don't bring along Vice-President [Dick] Cheney."
In 2006, Mr Cheney infamously shot and injured a hunting partner while quail-hunting in Texas.
Mrs Palin responded: "I'll be a careful shot."
Mr Audette told the BBC he had wanted to see whether Mrs Palin was right when she talked about being "treated unfairly by a lot of principal
medias" in the US.
"We tried to speak with her a little bit about foreign affairs, and well, it gave the result that you can air," he said.
Mr Audette and fellow comedian Sebastien Trudel present a programme on the radio station CKOI Montreal.
Calling themselves the Masked Avengers, the duo have in the past duped Nicolas Sarkozy himself, former French President Jacques Chirac, and the music star
Britney Spears with prank phone calls.
Nov 15 08 6:35 AM
My respect goes to those, who worked over this issue!
Nov 15 08 11:32 AM
London After Midnight music available on iTunes
Karina Blood wrote:
I have a bit out-dated information for you, but I find that it's a kind of interesting one.
Even if someone says that it's a hoax designed to make people visualize such a cover in reality, I still think
that that was a very good idea. It's expressing an optimistic view with a big part of hope on situation in the world, and of course it's free voices, which say, what people DO think about this, and what they want from their government and its new
My respect goes to those, who worked over this issue!
My respect goes to those, who worked over this issue!
Nov 15 08 12:39 PM
Dec 7 08 12:33 PM
ATHENS - Thousands of protesters rampaged through Athens and the northern Greek city of
Thessaloniki on Sunday, burning dozens of shops and vehicles in a second day of rioting after police shot dead a 15-year-old boy.
Greece's worst protests in years erupted in the capital late on Saturday after the shooting of the teenager, identified by
police as Alexandros Grigoropoulos, and quickly spread to Thessaloniki and the tourist islands of Crete and Corfu.
Despite appeals for calm from the conservative government, leftist demonstrators and anarchists held running battles with
security forces on Sunday.
Authorities said some 34 people had been injured, including one woman with a serious head wound. Private TV stations said at
least five more people were being treated in private hospitals.
"I've never experienced anything like this," said Hara Christopoulou, 27, resident of the volatile Exarchia
district where the boy was shot. "I tried to leave my house but there's tear gas everywhere and the roads are full of youths in
In recent years, anger among Greek youths has been fanned by the growing gap between rich and poor. Violence at student rallies
and fire bomb attacks by anarchist groups are common.
In Athens, tear gas choked the streets and protesters rained petrol bombs down on rows of riot police while helicopters hovered
overhead. Demonstrators chanted "Killers in Uniform."
Glass, debris and charred cars were strewn across the streets and acrid smoke filled the air after protesters torched more than
30 shops and a dozen banks in the capital's busiest commercial districts ahead of the busy Christmas period.
As night fell, more than 1,000 students played a cat and mouse game with police, retreating to the university campus which
security forces are forbidden to enter. At least 13 people have been detained by police so far, many for looting.
In Thessaloniki, a protest by more than 1,000 people descended into violence when marchers lobbed firebombs at police, set fire
to a bank and smashed several stores.
TWO POLICE ARRESTED
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, whose government has been rocked by scandal and an economic slowdown, pledged action in a
public apology to the father of the dead boy.
"I know nothing can relieve your pain, but I assure you ... the state will act, as it ought to, so that yesterday's
tragedy won't be repeated," he said.
Two police officers were arrested in connection with the shooting and prosecutors said in a statement one would be charged with
willful killing and the other with abetting him.
A police statement said one officer fired three shots after their car was attacked by a group of 30 youths in Exarchia. A police
official said the officer described his fire as warning shots but witnesses told Greek TV he took aim at the boy.
It was the first time since 1985 that a minor had been killed in clashes with police. The 1985 killing sparked months of almost
daily clashes between police and protesters.
Greece, where one in five lives below the poverty line, has seen a rising wave of anti-government strikes and youth protests in
recent months as the global slowdown has started to bite.
"We must not feel weak and disgraced, but furious with the government's incapacity, apathy and irresponsibility,"
said opposition Socialist party leader George Papandreou.
The Socialists have taken the lead in opinion polls amid anger at public scandals and the government's economic stewardship.
Many analysts say Karamanlis could be forced to call an early election next year.
(Writing by Daniel Flynn; editing by Andrew Roche)
Dec 7 08 1:50 PM
Dec 7 08 4:17 PM
Dec 7 08 6:03 PM
Dec 8 08 2:48 PM
Dec 9 08 7:55 AM
Dec 9 08 8:46 AM
Dec 9 08 9:38 AM
Dec 9 08 11:02 AM
Dec 10 08 1:47 PM
Dec 12 08 6:05 AM
Dec 12 08 9:26 AM
It has provoked a heated discussion among the members of the anarchist group here, I just checked their message board. People argue over who started it, who
provoked who, was it a ricochet or not... but obviously nobody knows for sure.
So keep us updated, Sonia and others And be
Dec 14 08 3:27 AM
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