I have been accused of being biased in favour of Georgia in prior posts. I guess I should explain.
Since the conflict I have been watching just as much CNN and Sky News as I have been Russia Today. The coverage of Russia Today has been astounding. I can’t recall watching such bile, it could even compete with Fox News for sheer blatant propaganda. Indeed one British Russia Today journalist resigned as a result of an editorial decision not to let him talk about the Russian bombardment of Gori.
But it is not so much that I am biased in favour of Georgia, it is that I question the claims of Russia. In order for 2,000 civilians to be killed in Tshinvali, there would have to be several times that figure injured. Not even the pictures from Russia Today show that level of injury (and I’m sure if there were, they would). Recent reports from media outlets and Human Rights Watch back up the claim that far, far less than 2,000 people were killed in any bombardment of Tshinvali. Perhaps just 5% of that figure.
So too is Russia using Ossetia as a casus belli in Abkazia, and further movements into Georgia proper, including the destruction of Georgian civilian infrastructure which goes far beyond Russia’s stated aims of reducing Georgian military abilities.
But I realise that from Ireland it is not entirely easy to ascertain the facts of the situation. Depending on the security situation in Georgia, I plan on going to Tbilisi in mid-September. Perhaps I can get a better idea of what happened or what is happening.
I plan to start from the Georgian side simply because it is easier in terms of access and visas, and I have contacts in the city who can provide accommodation and translation. If I can gain access to the Russian side, I will. And again it depends on the security situation.
Any trip will also include travel away from Tbilisi, specifically to Telavi in the north-east of the country, where relatives of friends reside. This region has been relatively unaffected by the conflict.
I won’t decide on any travel to the more volatile regions, such as Gori, until I am in the country. And if readers are concerned that I am being somewhat rash, please don’t be. I had planned on visiting Georgia last year but had to postpone it. Things look like they have settled down sufficiently to allow safe travel to a degree I find acceptable.