Dimitri Sanakoev, the head of the Tbilisi-backed South Ossetian provisional administration, testified before the parliamentary commission studying the August war on November 22.
He said that his administration was involved in evacuation of the population from the Georgian villages on August 8-9.
Below are key points of Sanakoev’s testimony:
- From spring, 2008 the separatist authorities have intensified setting up of posts and digging entrenchments;
- Tensions started to escalate along the administrative border starting from June; the separatist authorities in Tskhinvali were interested in these tensions;
- Russian peacekeepers had no reaction to these facts and actually;
- On August 1-2 the villages of Avnevi and Nuli were under intense fire from the separatist forces;
- Late on August 6 I met with the President [Saakashvili] and we discussed the current situation in the region;
- Shortly before midnight [on August 7], Interior Minister [in the South Ossetian provisional administration] Jemal Karkusov called me from the [Didi Liakhvi] gorge [a Georgian-controlled enclave inside the breakaway region] and informed me that the village of Tamarasheni [in an immediate vicinity of Tskhinvali from the northern side] was being shelled;
- Russian military units were already deployed in the Java district [in the north of breakaway region] on August 1-2; Russian troops have entered into South OSsetai before August 7. The main part of the Russian troops started to enter into the region on August 7-8;
- It was my initiative of establish a humanitarian corridor from 3pm to 6pm on August 9 to help the people - both Georgians and Ossetians – to leave the [war-affected] areas. There was no other way out as the bypass Eredvi-Kekhvi road was extremely dangerous, as it was being shelled;
- I was at the Gori headquarters by then – it probably was a military headquarters as there were two ministers there - [Interior Minister Vano] Merabishvili and [Defense Minister Davit] Kezerashvili. I have not seen the chief of staff of the armed forces [Zaza Gogava] there;
- The population of the Georgian villages [inside the breakaway region] started to leave on August 8. The major part of population had already left those villages by August 9. The representatives of our administration [which was based in the village of Kurta] left the gorge [the Georgian-control enclave inside South Ossetia] on August 9;
- On August 9 I was in Tbilisi working over the issue of providing accommodation for displaced persons. We were not preparing for the war, so we had not even imagined that we would have had to evacuate the population. We had no evacuation plan and on August 8 people even did not want to leave their homes.
- We have registered over 16 thousand persons from Tigvi community, Didi and Patara Liakhvi, who left the Tskhinvali region. This data do not include the Akhalgori district. I will submit additional information about how many ethic Ossetians are among them;
- The roots of this conflict have originated in 2004, as I have witnessed myself how Russian military instructors in Tskhinvali were training militias there; those military instructors were telling them [militias] that it was necessary to create conditions for genocide in order to gain recognition [of independence]; genocide requires the death of 5-6 thousand persons. We could not understand then why we should have died in order to be recognized. Training and armament of these armed groups were financed from the Russian budget;
- He said that after he switched sides in favor of Tbilisi and after he was appointed as the chief of the provisional administration, “the Russian KGB” tried to convince him to reject his new job by offering bribe;
- The Georgian authorities did its best to settle the problem peacefully, but it was unacceptable for the Tskhinvali totalitarian authorities.