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Posted on 12 August 2008 at 0:00 GMT

Statement issued on 9 August 2008

South Ossetia: Georgia / Russia conflict brings disaster for working people of region

Statement on South Ossetia from the CWI in CIS (former Soviet Union)

As the Olympic Games in China open, attracting the attention of the world's mass media, the conflict over the recognition of the republic of South Ossetia in Georgia exploded into open military conflict. The pro-American president of Georgia, Mikhail Saakashvilli, sent troops to attack Tskinvalli, the capital of South Ossetia, and other places, with, according to South Ossetia's president, the loss of over 1,000 lives. At least 15 Russian "peacekeeping troops", who were based in South Ossetia were killed. In response, Russia sent in tanks and started air attacks, not only on Georgian troops, but, according to Saakashvilli, air bases, ports and even civilian areas away from South Ossetia. Sakashvilli has now declared that Georgia is in a 'state of war' and is calling up reserves.

Many residents in South Ossetia will, undoubtedly, look at the intervention of Russian troops as a means to defend the peaceful South Ossetia population from the aggression of the Georgian army. However, as the experience of the bloody ethnic conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and elsewhere shows, the use of troops can not guarantee the safety of peaceful citizens. The Russian "peacekeeping mission" that was based in South Ossetia failed, and the current conflict threatens to pull in nearby unrecognized republics such as Abkhazia and Nagorno-Kharabakh. The Caucuses face the threat of a full scale regional war, with the possible involvement of other world powers.

The powers in both Russia and Georgia will use this conflict for their own ends. The Kremlin will blame ordinary Georgians, the Saakashvilli regime will blame ordinary Russians, and the people who suffer, as always, will be the ordinary people, Ossetins and Georgians. In the next period, there will be a new racist campaign against Georgians in Russia. But it is these very powers that are to blame for the death and destruction. These measures will be used to divide the peoples of Georgia, Russia and Southern Ossetia on ethnic lines. We must not let them defend their interests at the expense of ordinary people.

We call on all worker and left activists in Russia, Georgia and South Ossetia, and, of course, in other countries, to demand that military activities are immediately halted. Workers can not rely on the uncontrolled actions of their governments or intervention by some outside forces to solve the conflict; they can only rely on their own forces.

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