Conflict in Georgia: A War of Bullets and Bulletins

August 13th, 2008 - by admin

Anastasia Ustinova / San Francisco Chronicle – 2008-08-13 21:24:33

(August 13, 2008) — If you have spent the last several days paying attention to the Russian-language news media, this is what you would know – Russia didn’t start the fire.

At least, that’s what I and millions of other Russians glued to their TV sets are being told by the government-controlled news outlets, which have portrayed the conflict in South Ossetia as an effort by the Russian peacemakers to salvage the region from war-hungry Georgia.

“The actions of the Georgian authorities in South Ossetia are obviously a crime. It is a crime against its own people, first and foremost,” the pro-government newspaper Pravda quoted Prime Minister Vladimir Putin saying. “The aggression has resulted in numerous victims, including those among civilians and has virtually led to a humanitarian catastrophe.”

Reports about displaced and terrified refugees from South Ossetia have filled the evening newscasts, with dozens of Russian journalists deployed to the region interviewing Ossetians in hospitals, refugee camps and funeral homes. Some say they watched their children being killed by the Georgian military, others survived all-night bombing, and all appear to be thankful for the intervention by the Russian peacemakers.

“The city itself is ruined, there is no food or water,” a refugee from the capital of South Ossetia, Tskinvali, told the TV news agency Russia Today. “There are so many dead bodies lying on the streets, it reminds me of the World War II.”

While the Western news media often portrays the conflict between Russian and Georgia using the familiar Cold War imagery – CNN’s headline on Tuesday suggested that the “Russian empire strikes back” – the Russian media has a different story to tell.

Who is right? You be the judge.
Russian media versus Western media

Here are the latest reports on the Georgian conflict from the Russian press:

Newspaper Pravda:
“The position of the Western media mirrors the public opinion in the West. U.S. and British media outlets lay the entire blame for the conflict on Russia and Ossetian ‘separatists,’ whereas German and Italian publications tend to take a more reasonable stance in their reports.”

State-run news agency RIA Novost
i says its Web sites in both Russia and Georgia have been hit by cyber attacks “since Georgia launched a major ground and air offensive to seize control of South Ossetia on Friday.”

24-hour TV news agency, Russia Today:
“President Medvedev has issued a decree declaring Aug. 13 a day of mourning in Russia for the humanitarian disaster in South Ossetia.”

Financial News RosBusinessConsulting:
“The General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces believes Georgia’s reports on alleged bombing of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline were aimed at drawing other states into the conflict. As Anatoly Nogovitsyn, Deputy Chief of General Staff of Russia’s Armed Forces stated today, the reports aimed to get a response from Turkey, while a pipeline is not a worthy target for bombs.”

State-run news agency Ria Novosti:
“Russia’s peacekeepers didn’t enter Georgia but for unrecognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia, General Staff Deputy Chief General-Colonel Anatoly Nogovitsyn specified during a briefing in Moscow. By making this statement, the general refuted allegations of Tbilisi about the capture of Georgian towns by Russian military.”

TV news agency Vremya:
Regarding the photo on the front page of the Tuesday New York Times, which featured bodyguards shielding President Mikhail Saakashvili as a Russian jet flew over the city of Gori? Vremya says the president either staged this photo op or got scared of his own gunmen.

© 2008 Hearst Communications Inc.
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