South Ossetia Leader Talks to Russian TV, Slams Georgia, US

[Presenter] Just before the news, we managed to talk to the president of South Ossetia, Eduard Kokoity. Hello, Eduard Dzhabeyevich.

[Kokoity] Hello.

[Presenter] What is your assessment of the situation in South Ossetia and surrounding it?

[Kokoity] The situation is extremely grave. Given unceasing provocations from the Georgian side, since earlier today, in the morning, when the shooting stopped, Georgian troop movements have been in evidence. Several artillery systems have also been spotted, which are now in position to fire on South Ossetian positions, on population centres.

[Presenter] What can South Ossetia do in response in the event of an unfavourable turn of events in the next few hours?

[Kokoity] Undoubtedly, our response will be appropriate. Enough warnings to the Georgian side - we will be delivering very aggressive strikes against those firing positions that will be exposed today, both today and in general.

Let me say that these are the results of Condoleezza Rice's trip to Georgia. We can now see what these results are, this peace, in inverted commas, efforts by the US and the EU. We want to say that full responsibility for further escalating the tension will be shared along with Georgia equally by the United States, Ukraine and other nations that are arming Georgia.

[Presenter] How likely is it that general mobilization will be declared in South Ossetia in the next few hours?

[Kokoity] In principle, everything hinges on how the situation develops. In general, our intention as a whole is to use all possible resources to resume the process of negotiations, to come back to the negotiations table and discuss all these issues. At the same time, we are in a very resolute mood. Let no-one be in any doubt about it.

[Presenter] During today, have you made any attempts to establish contact with Tbilisi?

[Kokoity] The situation today is that there is no such need. We are highly appreciative of the efforts of the Russian Federation, and personally special envoy and JCC [Joint Control Commission] co-chairman Yuriy Popov, who has come and in practice has done a lot for the sides to embark on dialogue.

However, we can also see what the Georgian side's attitude is to these initiatives from the Russian Federation, and how the efforts of the Russian Federation and of Popov personally have been negated.

The fact is that agreement had virtually been reached to begin the work of the Joint Control Commission, to which the Georgian side had also given its preliminary consent and the South Ossetian side had backed the initiative of the Russian Federation.

At the last moment, however, the Georgian side staged more provocations, which resulted in the events everyone saw happen overnight.

[Presenter] Thank you, Eduard Dzhabeyevich, for agreeing to answer our questions. This was Eduard Kokoyty, president of South Ossetia, with his comments on the latest developments in the Georgian-Ossetian conflict area.

[Elsewhere on Russian TV, there was further condemnation from Kokoity of last night's attacks. "It is a dastardly tactic by the Georgian military commanders to hide behind the backs of civilians and fire on the town of Tskhinvali and other population centres.

"We will put an end to this, for we also reserve the right to deliver strikes on Georgian towns. We have what to respond with, we have what to worry them with and we have what to inflict significant losses on the enemy with," Kokoity told state-controlled Russian Channel One TV, interviewed in Vladikavkaz, Russia's North Ossetia

[Source: Rossiya TV, Channel One TV, Moscow, in Russian 1700 gmt 02Aug08]

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The Question of South Ossetia
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