Exactly after 2 monthes since August war in Georgia it’s time for asking questions and analizing what heappend. Former Parliamentary Chairperson Nino Burjanadze said she had 43 questions on which she wanted answers from the authorities over the August war with Russia. “The authorities claim that they have answers to all the questions; so, we expect them to give answers publicly within the next few days,” Burjanadze said at a press conference on October 1.
On September 12 Burjanadze said the government’s responses would largely determine her position on whether to demand early presidential or parliamentary elections.
President Saakashvili reiterated late on October 1 that questions regarding the war were natural and the authorities would provide answers, as they have previously done.
“Questions have been asked previously as well, and we have always answered them,” Saakashvili said.
“If a person fails to perform his or her duties or pushes for demands at odds with democracy, such people can not be part of the government. Recently we have seen people removed from the government, who then became angry and bitter. We should tolerate this.”
The president’s remarks came in response to a journalist’s request for him to comment on recent criticism leveled by former government insiders, namely Burjanadze; former Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli and Erosi Kitsmarishvili, a former Georgian ambassador and close confidant.
The written questions unveiled by Burjanadze on October 1 are divided into five groups: pre-war developments; the launch of military operations; the conduct of combat operations; the Georgian retreat; and the post-war situation.
Burjanadze pointedly asks “who is responsible for the political, military and economic consequences of the war?”
President Saakashvili said several times in recent weeks that he was ready to assume “full responsibility” for the events preceding the war and its aftermath.
The former parliamentary chairperson slammed the authorities for portraying the August events as a Georgian victory, saying that Georgian re-unification was less likely now than ever before. She demanded to know if the authorities were ready to acknowledge this.
Here are Burjanadze’s 43 questions: Before the War
The Russian forces have launched preparations for possible military operation against Georgia since spring, 2008. The culmination came in July, when the Russia’s 58th Army held military exercises with the scenario to repel Georgian aggression against so called South Ossetia and to destroy the enemy forces on its territory. The Georgian drone has been downed, Russia has increased its military contingent [in Abkhazia] and there was a significant increase in anti-Georgian military rhetoric.
• Why the Georgian authorities could not foresee anticipated consequence and did not prevent direct military confrontation with Russia?
• Why the Georgia’s National Security Council did not revise the national security concept and define new threats and failed to set out ways to neutralize them?
• Why the action plan of the General Staff of the Armed Forces did not envisage possibility of Russia’s large-scale military intervention in the conflict regions?
• Why the advantage of the Russia’s air forces was not taken into consideration?
• Why the decision was taken on launching large-scale military actions, despite the fact that Georgia’s friendly states have been numerously and directly warning [Georgia] – not to yield to Russia’s provocations?
• Was there any alternative plan to avert further escalation of the conflict and why the plans were rejected?
• Was the 2004-2008 armament policy of the Ministry of Defense in the line of Georgia’s strategic and tactical goals and tasks?
Launch of Military Actions
Today the Georgian authorities state that Georgia went into the Russian trap. The major issue is – did the authorities do their utmost for not going into that trap.
• What was the military and political goals of the military actions: “restoration of the constitutional order;” “neutralization of armed gangs;” “protection of the Georgian population from the separatists’ aggression;” “neutralization of Russia’s aggression;” “toppling of the separatist regime;” or there was other goals?
• Who has given the order to launch the military operation and why? How this decision was taken and was this decision discussed at the National Security Council? Were the preliminary consultations held over this decision within the country and internationally – with whom and what was their [those with whom consultations were potentially held] opinion?
• If Russia’s military aggression was inevitable, why the Georgian authorities did not take measures for evacuation of women and children from the Tskhinvali and Gori districts and why they [civilians] were left alone to face Russian, Ossetian and North Caucasian marauders?
Despite billions spent [on defense] and four-year long active preparation, it was possible to carry out combat activities only for four days. More questions have been triggered in the society during this period of time, rather than answers.
• Who has in particular planned, who was tasked and who was in fact in charge of the military operation?
• Units of which structure participated in the combat activities in the direction of Tskhinvali and how effective was their coordination and interaction?
• What was the level of interference of civilian officials in the combat operations and command? In what capacity was Mayor of Tbilisi [Gigi Ugulava] in the combat zone and what was the reason that he was charged with announcing temporary ceasefire?
• In what capacity did the Parliamentary Chairman [Davit Bakradze] called on the population in live televised address for carrying out guerilla warfare against the Russian occupiers, while the military units were ordered to retreat? Did this call contain additional threat for the population? Was this decision supported by the National Security Council and what military and financial resources have been mobilized to support the population?
• What was the strategic goal of attacking Tskhinvali with all the forces and why other more strategic directions for gaining military advantage were ignored – including blocking the Roki Tunnel, as well as capturing the separatists’ strongholds and heights – Java, Khetaguri, Tsveriakho, Sarabuki, Zeda [upper] and Kveda [lower] Roki etc?
• What was the reason and who ordered sending thousands of reservists in Gori? Who was in charge of their action plan and who was in command?
• Why hidden communication systems were not secured in the combat theater and why orders were given through mobile phone?
• Were the secret services aware of the planned Russian incursion on the Abkhazia-Samegrelo direction and why there was no defense line on the Enguri river?
• Is there civil defense system in the country and why the civil defense mechanisms did not work in parallel to the combat operations?
• Did the President’s statement made in live televised address that most of the army and armament was preserved and hidden in the woods, amount to revealing the state secret and did it contain the threat?
• Why did the logistics failed and why the did the problem of logistics of the reserve troops emerge in such a brief war?
• Were those officials, who have left the civilian population, hold accountable?
The Georgian armed forces started disorganized retreat and stopped resisting the enemy few days after the launch of the combat operations.
• Who ordered and what was the reason of the order to stop resisting?
• In the process of retreating, was there any red line beyond which the Georgian military units would have resumed resistance, or the decision was made for a total capitulation?
• Why was not the plan of retreat and evacuation of civilians worked out and why the process of retreat was chaotic, which resulted into seizure of large number of military hardware and armament by the enemy?
• Why was the strategic Kodori Gorge – which from the military point of view is regarded to be almost impossible to capture – left without any battle, despite the fact that there was the Interior Ministry’s special purpose unit?
• In the process of retreat, was there any order to destroy or to save the military hardware and if there was any order, why was not the large number of military resource destroyed, which eventually was seized by the enemy?
• Why was not the full evacuation of Poti navy base, Senaki 2nd brigade; Gori tank, artillery and 3rd brigades carried out and why the large number of expansive equipment, ammunition and arms left in the hands of the enemy?
• Basedon what did the President told the residents of Tbilisi that he would have warned them 12 hours prior in case of any threat of attack on Tbilisi, while the Russian air force could have carried out air strikes on the capital city at any time and while the Russian tanks were at Igoeti and could have carried out attack on Tbilisi in maximum two hours?
• What was the authorities’ plan and how well the capital city was protected, if there was no timely international (EU, U.S.) intervention?
After the War
The Georgian villages in Didi and Patara Liakhvi gorges [in breakaway South Ossetia] have been torched as a result of the war. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced. Significant part of Georgia’s territories – including Kodori and Akhalgori – have been lost even for a longer time; the country has in general suffered huge economic damage. Numerous families have been devastated.
• Do the authorities acknowledge that restoration of Georgia’s territorial integrity has become more difficult now than it was before the war and that the problem resolution has been postponed for an indefinite period of time?
• Who must be held responsible for the political, military and economic consequences of the war?
• While the issue of accountability of lower level officials and military commanders has been arias, why the top level officials and military commanders are not held accountable?
• Why do we have so many unknown fallen soldiers in the four-day war?
• Why the Georgian authorities hidden from the population gathered at the mass rally [outside the Parliament] that the occupiers took over Kodori Gorge on that very same morning?
• Why the condition of refugees is still extremely difficult despite the fact that Georgia has been provided huge assistance?
• Who assessed and based on which data that Georgia’s damage amounted to GEL 1 billion?
• What is the authorities’ plan if Russia decides to use against Georgia economic leverages, including through use of the capital openly or covertly owned by Russia in Georgia?
• Why the following documents signed by the Georgian authorities are not publicly accessible for the Georgian population:
o The August 12 Medvedev-Sarkozy [six-point] plan;
o Clarification of this agreement [sent by the French President to his Georgian counterpart];
o A letter of the Georgian President on non-resumption of hostilities;
o A letter of the Georgian President sent to President Medvedev about Abkhazia (the so called Abkhazia partition plan, or peace plan).
• Why the Georgian authorities are spending millions of Lari on various entertainment events and PR campaigns, while the President, at the same time, calls on the world for a financial aid for Georgia?
• Why did not the authorities create an investigative commission on the August events and instead why they set up a temporary parliamentary commission – rights of which are more restricted – through violation of law?
• Based on what the announcements are being made that “we have won,” while our territories are occupied and in addition we have lost Kodori and Akhalgori, which have never before been under the control of separatists?
• Do the authorities realize defeat in the war and do they take further strategic decisions based on this assumption?