Thursday, October 02, 2008

Nino's 43 Questions

read this and ask yourself why no similar debate is happening in Russia

Burjanadze’s 43 War Questions
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 2 Oct.'08 / 02:16

On October 1, former parliamentary chairperson, Nino Burjanadze, said she had 43 questions on which she wanted answers from the authorities over the August war with Russia:

Before the War

The Russian forces have launched preparations for possible military operation against Georgia since spring, 2008. The culmination came in July, when the Russia’s 58th Army held military exercises with the scenario to repel Georgian aggression against so called South Ossetia and to destroy the enemy forces on its territory. The Georgian drone has been downed, Russia has increased its military contingent [in Abkhazia] and there was a significant increase in anti-Georgian military rhetoric.
• Why the Georgian authorities could not foresee anticipated consequence and did not prevent direct military confrontation with Russia?
• Why the Georgia’s National Security Council did not revise the national security concept and define new threats and failed to set out ways to neutralize them?
• Why the action plan of the General Staff of the Armed Forces did not envisage possibility of Russia’s large-scale military intervention in the conflict regions?
• Why the advantage of the Russia’s air forces was not taken into consideration?
• Why the decision was taken on launching large-scale military actions, despite the fact that Georgia’s friendly states have been numerously and directly warning [Georgia] – not to yield to Russia’s provocations?
• Was there any alternative plan to avert further escalation of the conflict and why the plans were rejected?
• Was the 2004-2008 armament policy of the Ministry of Defense in the line of Georgia’s strategic and tactical goals and tasks?
Launch of Military Actions
Today the Georgian authorities state that Georgia went into the Russian trap. The major issue is – did the authorities do their utmost for not going into that trap.
• What was the military and political goals of the military actions: “restoration of the constitutional order;” “neutralization of armed gangs;” “protection of the Georgian population from the separatists’ aggression;” “neutralization of Russia’s aggression;” “toppling of the separatist regime;” or there was other goals?
• Who has given the order to launch the military operation and why? How this decision was taken and was this decision discussed at the National Security Council? Were the preliminary consultations held over this decision within the country and internationally – with whom and what was their [those with whom consultations were potentially held] opinion?
• If Russia’s military aggression was inevitable, why the Georgian authorities did not take measures for evacuation of women and children from the Tskhinvali and Gori districts and why they [civilians] were left alone to face Russian, Ossetian and North Caucasian marauders?

Combat Process

Despite billions spent [on defense] and four-year long active preparation, it was possible to carry out combat activities only for four days. More questions have been triggered in the society during this period of time, rather than answers.

• Who has in particular planned, who was tasked and who was in fact in charge of the military operation?
• Units of which structure participated in the combat activities in the direction of Tskhinvali and how effective was their coordination and interaction?
• What was the level of interference of civilian officials in the combat operations and command? In what capacity was Mayor of Tbilisi [Gigi Ugulava] in the combat zone and what was the reason that he was charged with announcing temporary ceasefire?
• In what capacity did the Parliamentary Chairman [Davit Bakradze] called on the population in live televised address for carrying out guerilla warfare against the Russian occupiers, while the military units were ordered to retreat? Did this call contain additional threat for the population? Was this decision supported by the National Security Council and what military and financial resources have been mobilized to support the population?
• What was the strategic goal of attacking Tskhinvali with all the forces and why other more strategic directions for gaining military advantage were ignored – including blocking the Roki Tunnel, as well as capturing the separatists’ strongholds and heights – Java, Khetaguri, Tsveriakho, Sarabuki, Zeda [upper] and Kveda [lower] Roki etc?
• What was the reason and who ordered sending thousands of reservists in Gori? Who was in charge of their action plan and who was in command?
• Why hidden communication systems were not secured in the combat theater and why orders were given through mobile phone?
• Were the secret services aware of the planned Russian incursion on the Abkhazia-Samegrelo direction and why there was no defense line on the Enguri river?
• Is there civil defense system in the country and why the civil defense mechanisms did not work in parallel to the combat operations?
• Did the President’s statement made in live televised address that most of the army and armament was preserved and hidden in the woods, amount to revealing the state secret and did it contain the threat?
• Why did the logistics fail and why did the problem of logistics of the reserve troops emerge in such a brief war?
• Were those officials, who have left the civilian population, hold accountable?


The Georgian armed forces started disorganized retreat and stopped resisting the enemy few days after the launch of the combat operations.

• Who ordered and what was the reason of the order to stop resisting?
• In the process of retreating, was there any red line beyond which the Georgian military units would have resumed resistance, or the decision was made for a total capitulation?
• Why was not the plan of retreat and evacuation of civilians worked out and why the process of retreat was chaotic, which resulted into seizure of large number of military hardware and armament by the enemy?
• Why was the strategic Kodori Gorge – which from the military point of view is regarded to be almost impossible to capture – left without any battle, despite the fact that there was the Interior Ministry’s special purpose unit?
• In the process of retreat, was there any order to destroy or to save the military hardware and if there was any order, why was not the large number of military resource destroyed, which eventually was seized by the enemy?
• Why was not the full evacuation of Poti navy base, Senaki 2nd brigade; Gori tank, artillery and 3rd brigades carried out and why the large number of expansive equipment, ammunition and arms left in the hands of the enemy?
• Based on what did the President tell the residents of Tbilisi that he would have warned them 12 hours prior in case of any threat of attack on Tbilisi, while the Russian air force could have carried out air strikes on the capital city at any time and while the Russian tanks were at Igoeti and could have carried out attack on Tbilisi in maximum two hours?
• What was the authorities’ plan and how well the capital city was protected, if there was no timely international (EU, U.S.) intervention?

After the War

The Georgian villages in Didi and Patara Liakhvi gorges [in breakaway South Ossetia] have been torched as a result of the war. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced. Significant part of Georgia’s territories – including Kodori and Akhalgori - have been lost even for a longer time; the country has in general suffered huge economic damage. Numerous families have been devastated.

• Do the authorities acknowledge that restoration of Georgia’s territorial integrity has become more difficult now than it was before the war and that the problem resolution has been postponed for an indefinite period of time?
• Who must be held responsible for the political, military and economic consequences of the war?
• While the issue of accountability of lower level officials and military commanders has been arias, why the top level officials and military commanders are not held accountable?
• Why do we have so many unknown fallen soldiers in the four-day war?
• Why the Georgian authorities hidden from the population gathered at the mass rally [outside the Parliament] that the occupiers took over Kodori Gorge on that very same morning?
• Why the condition of refugees is still extremely difficult despite the fact that Georgia has been provided huge assistance?
• Who assessed and based on which data that Georgia’s damage amounted to GEL 1 billion?
• What is the authorities’ plan if Russia decides to use against Georgia economic leverages, including through use of the capital openly or covertly owned by Russia in Georgia?
• Why the following documents signed by the Georgian authorities are not publicly accessible for the Georgian population:
o The August 12 Medvedev-Sarkozy [six-point] plan;
o Clarification of this agreement [sent by the French President to his Georgian counterpart];
o A letter of the Georgian President on non-resumption of hostilities;
o A letter of the Georgian President sent to President Medvedev about Abkhazia (the so called Abkhazia partition plan, or peace plan).

• Why the Georgian authorities are spending millions of Lari on various entertainment events and PR campaigns, while the President, at the same time, calls on the world for a financial aid for Georgia?
• Why did not the authorities create an investigative commission on the August events and instead why they set up a temporary parliamentary commission – rights of which are more restricted – through violation of law?
• Based on what the announcements are being made that “we have won,” while our territories are occupied and in addition we have lost Kodori and Akhalgori, which have never before been under the control of separatists?
• Do the authorities realize defeat in the war and do they take further strategic decisions based on this assumption?


Unknown said...


You asked, "Read this and ask yourself why no similar debate is happening in Russia...."

Answer: Because Russia was right and Saakashvili is an idiot.

Ryan Erickson said...


Do you even know who Nino Burjanadze is? Burjanadze was once Saakashvili's closest ally (#2 in his party)--that is, until Saakashvili started to go off the deep-end, and she left his party earlier this year.

The fact that she, a Saakashvili insider and Georgian patriot first and foremost, is criticizing her former ally should speak volumes. The Georgians themselves see who is at fault.

Edward Lucas said...

Timothy, the whole point is that the Georgians are able to debate whether Saakashvili is an idiot, whereas the Russians can't discuss whether Putin is a crook.

Ryan: of course I know who Nino is. That's the point. The Georgian political system allows someone like her to break ranks and ask hard questions. Maybe Misha has good answers. If not, he's toast. That's how it should be


plasma-jack said...

Hitler's speech on Poland and on pact with Russia.
Funny, it seems that I've heard that kind of rhetoric lately:
if Poland continued its methods of oppression against the Germans, and if on the Polish side an end was not put to Customs measures destined to ruin Danzig's trade, then the Reich could not remain inactive. I left no doubt that people who wanted to compare the Germany of today with the former Germany would be deceiving themselves. An attempt was made to justify the oppression of the Germans by claiming that they had committed acts of provocation. I do not know in what these provocations on the part of women and childrcn consist, if they themselves are maltreated, in some cases killed. One thing I do know-that no great Power can with honour long stand by passively and watch such events.

Grigol said...

And he does...The answer has been setting up a parliamentary inquiry commission on this issue chaired by.... yes opposition. Unfortunately this is impossible in Russia because there is no opposition in parliament as well.

Luis Dingley said...

Mr Lucas, and how about answering just one question, who will be hold responsible for the following crimes:

S Ossetia ‘emptied of Georgians’

Journey through a ghost village

Georgia: Satellite Images Show Destruction, Ethnic Attacks

Russia’s cruel intention
In South Ossetia, I witnessed the worst ethnic cleansing since the war in the Balkans

Pictures ’show Georgia torching’

‘Putin has given us an order that everyone must leave or be shot’

South Ossetia’s abandoned villages

Human Rights Violations by Russian and Ossetian Militants

Edward Lucas said...

To Luis Dingley

I am not sure about your question. Are you saying that these are invented atrocity stories by the western media which always tells lies. If so, please be specific and explain why and how these reports are wrong. I am not saying that we journalists get everything right all the time, but I resent the implication that we are part of some huge propaganda machine.

I hope I have misunderstood you.

Edward Lucas

aldo said...

May I ask you, do you have any conversation with Abhazian and Osetian people? Did you ask them : Why they preffer to die, but live within Georgia. Try to step in their shoes

Luis Dingley said...

Mr Lucas

I just try to ask a simple question: who will be responsible for these atrocities and human rights abuses in this region? How can we stop the process of ethnic cleansing which is still underway in South Ossetia? In Tskhinvali we have 4 apartment buildings destroyed while 135 Georgiaqn houses were bulldozed and completely destroyed. ( Instead of asking these questions, although valid, we must concentrate on more vital questions which need to be urgently addressed. It reminds me of Rwanda case, where instead of finding out why Interahamwe and France collaborated in ass extermination of Tutsi, the focus is on who shot down the plane of Hutu President Habyarimana (I guess Kegami would be “toast” too if he did not provide evidence that it was Hutu military and not his RPF) first. These series of questions, need to be included in the event background analysis when burning and looting of Georgian village sis over. This untimely questioning of Mrs Burjanadzes only emphasizes enormous personal ambitions and revanchism to undermine Saakashvili’s presidency.


Did you ever talk to 350,000 Georgian IDPs who were expelled from their ancestral homes in Abkhazia or 35,000 Georgians in South Ossetia who were forced under the gun point to leave or die? Did you ask them if they wanted the puppet bloody regime of separatists and their FSB Kremlin masters? Did you ask those Chechens (by the way citizens of Russia) against whom 2 bloody sadistic and genocidal wars were launched by their own state (at least constitutionally) ?

Edward Lucas said...

Hi Luis

Clearly I misunderstood you. I though you were denouncing me as an agent of western propaganda against Russia. Sorry about that. I think that Misha's record in recent months is highly questionable and it is entirely right that he should be held to account. Georgia won't win the battle of ideas against Chekistan by being the victim: it needs to get its soft-power advantage up and running. And that means showing that the political system allows the powerful to be held to account.


Alexander said...

Mikheil Saakashvili has been
questioned by Georgian Parliamentary commission today, as of 28.11.08.
This will never happen in Putin's Russia. This is the real expression of democracy. Georgia has proved once again that it is on the right path.

Mr. Lucas thank you for your insightful articles and an amazing book about Putin's Russia.

P.S. I would also like to thank you for signing one of the copies of your book for me, when Bishop Malkhaz of Georgia asked you to. (I don't know whether you remember him or not).