Defense/Security

Salome Zourabichvili’s Manipulative Statement: Ex-President Restored South Ossetia within Soviet-old Borders

17 October, 2018

On October 12, Rustavi 2 TV’s news program Kurieri (Courier) aired a statement made by the ruling party-endorsed presidential candidate, Salome Zourabichvili, who said during her campaign meeting with the population of Shida Kartli region that the previous government, particularly, ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili restored South Ossetia within its Soviet-old borders.
"

Salome Zourabichvili, the ruling party-endorsed presidential candidate: “Why did the then President [Mikheil Saakashvili] restore South Ossetian within its Soviet-old borders, instead of the borders defined by our partners in OSCE, which did not involve either Akhalgori district or Liakhvi Gorge and which did not lie where we see creeping borders today.”

Salome Zourabichvili’s statement is manipulative, because portrayal of Russia’s occupation of Georgian territory, particularly Samachablo, as restoration of Soviet-old borders by the previous government aims at removing the burden of responsibility from Russia.

In 2008, Russia annexed those territories, which were administered by Tbilisi during the Soviet period. Similar statement was made a year ago by the host of Obieqtivi TV affiliated with the pro-Russian Alliance of Patriots party, who claimed that no Russian creeping occupation had actually taken place and that Mikheil Saakashvili restored South Ossetia within its autonomous borders.

Chronology of the conflict

  • South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast was created on April 20, 1922, under the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic and existed until December 11, 1991.
  • During the First Republic of Georgia, Russian Empire’s system of territorial division of Georgia was maintained – the territory of Shida Kartli populated by Ossetians was included in Gori Uyezd, hence – in Tbilisi Governorate.
  • After the annexation of Georgia by the USSR in 1921, the Soviet government changed the territorial division system of Georgia. According to the decree from April 20, 1922, South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast was created in the boundaries of Georgian SSR.
  • In response to this, based on the resolution of the High Council of the Republic of Georgia from December 11, 1990, the status of South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast was revoked. The confrontation later evolved into hostilities between the Government of Georgia and the separatists.
  • In 1992, after the end of the military conflict, the so-called Russian peacekeeping powers and the Ossetian separatists occupied the main part of Tskhinvali region, as well as Java and Znauri regions.
  • In 2008, as a result of the Russo-Georgian August War, Georgia lost control over 135 settlements in Tskhinvali region, most of which were Georgian-Ossetian. Villages populated only by Georgian were nearly completely destroyed.

Georgian-Ukrainian parallels

Like Georgia, Ukraine’s pro-Russian opposition also blames its own government for unleashing the war. Ukraine’s opposition bloc is most loyal towards Russia. The Kremlin Influence Index, a quantitative tool designed by the group of think tanks from Eastern and Central Europe to measure the ability of the government of the Russian Federation to influence on information space of other countries, reads that “the Opposition Bloc avoids direct positive assessment of the Russian Federation aggressive policy (justification of the aggression, the occupation of Crimea, etc.), but primarily blames Kyiv for unleashing and continuing the war and calls for dialogue with the Kremlin, promising peaceful life to citizens.”

According to the same report, in late 2016, the experts observed the targeted communication of the message that restoring relations with Russia is inevitable. As a rule, Kyiv is made responsible for the outbreak of war (it didn’t “hear Donbas”, it has interest in the war continuation) in such cases. This rhetoric is particularly used by the Opposition Bloc.

The material on a similar topic: Obieqtivi Host Rejects the Annexation of Georgia by Russia