On August 8, a Russian TV channel НТВ broadcasted an original documentary by a journalist Sergei Kholoshevsky – August 2008: Justice Enforcement. The same day, a video was published on the official Facebook page of the TV channel, the description of which mentioned that on August 8, Georgia attacked South Ossetia. According to HTB, an information war, together with the military action, began on this day.
HTB: “The West directed all the available information resources towards covering the events in South Ossetia. TV channels were not showing the aggression of Georgian warriors, but rather unanimously accused Russia of attacking Georgia. This was the only version that should have formed the public opinion. The real war, hundreds of victims, evaluation of actions of Saakashvili, who ordered to open fire on Tskhinvali at night – all of this was not interesting for the Western media outlets.”
Director of a bakery in Tskhinvali, Vadim Tskhovrebov, said in the video that Georgian soldiers were entering houses in Tskhinvali and leaving hand grenades in basements. Afterwards, the video shows footage with Sophio Muradov, wounded during the bombings of residential buildings in Gori by the Russian Air Forces on August 9, 2008. HTB used the given footage to illustrate the attack on Tskhinvali by the Georgian side.
The destruction of residential buildings with the Russian bombs and the photo of wounded Sophio Muradov with the flaming buildings on the background became a point of interest of the international media the same day it happened. It became the symbol of the aggression carried out by Russia in Georgia. Both of Muradov’s legs were injured by the fragments of the Russian missile, due to which she had to go through 13 surgeries in 7 years. In total, the Russian bombings of residential buildings on August 9 killed 15 people.
This is not the first case of using footages of the Gori bombings for disinformation purposes by the Russian media. On August 10, 2008, the Russian media outlets Комсомольская Правда, Правда.ru, Вести.ru disseminated materials that allegedly proved that the footages of the Gori bombings were fake. In the framework of the disinformation campaign, one of the media outlets even invented an interview. The accusations towards Georgia for initiating the war began on August 8, 2008. НТВ, Russia Today together wit Аргументы и Факты, Комсомольская Правда were disseminating materials mentioning that Georgia attacked the so-called South Ossetia, destroying various settlements, including Tskhinvali. In fact, regular units of the Russian Federation entered the Tskhinvali region of Georgia through Roki Tunnel on August 7. This was preceded by the bombings of Georgian villages and death of two Georgian peacekeepers. The same day, the President of Georgia ordered to stop the Russian forces.
About the author: Sergei Kholoshevsky has been a correspondent of HTB since 1996. According to the information on the website of the TV channel, he graduated from the Faculty of Journalism at Lviv Military-Political Higher Education Facility in 1992, after which he served in Dzerzhinsky Division of the Soviet Army. In the different periods, he was publishing materials in the newspapers – “На боевом посту”, “Комсомольская правда”, “Собеседник”- and covered the events of the First and Second Chechen Wars, hostilities in Yugoslavia, and the Conflict in Israel. In 2014, Sergei Kholoshevsky was awarded “a Medal for Services to the Country” for covering the events in Crimea.
Prepared by Dali Kurdadze and Ana Chitaladze