Stories of Russian Atrocities in Georgia Mount: Where's the US Media?

Rick Moran
Giving credit where credit is due, the European wire services AFP and Reuters as well as the BBC, Times of London, and even the Guardian have been giving extraordinarily good coverage on the entire Russian-Georgia conflict.

It was Reuters reporters who first uncovered the fact that the Russians were lying about Georgian attacks on the city of Tskhinvali. The Russians claimed 2000 civilians were killed and the city nearly razed to the ground by Georgia. In fact, Reuters got a couple of reporters in the city and saw immediately that Russia had wildly misstated the number of casualties while downplaying the fact that it was their artillery that did most of the damage.

The BBC has been doing a bang up job reporting on the diplomatic ins and outs - the unbelievable naivete of the French who keep getting the Russians to sign pieces of paper on a cease fire and withdrawal and then promptly ignoring what they just promised to do.

Now the
Times Online informs us that Russians have been forcing the people of Gori - an extremely important rail and road junction that is the lifeline for the capitol Tblisi - to leave. And they are killing them if they stay:

"We didn't have any guns, so he shot Georgi in front of me without saying a word," she said. "A neighbour helped me to bury him in our garden and then I just fled."

Manana Galigashvili, 53, whose husband Andrei stared vacantly from a bed behind her, said that Ossetian soldiers had returned later and torched the house. They, too, had left after a soldier threatened to slit their throats.

Frightened refugees told similar stories all over the city of Gori yesterday as the Russian army extended its reach deep into Georgian territory despite a ceasefire agreement signed by President Medvedev that requires them to withdraw.

Troops and tanks moved to within 25 miles (40km) of the capital, Tbilisi, setting up roadblocks and digging in defensive positions in the hills above the highway. A line of tanks faced towards Tbilisi outside the village of Kaspi, a day after soldiers had blown up the railway line linking the capital to Georgia's main port of Poti.

It has been 48 hours since President Medvedev signed an agreement that Russian troops would stop their movements and leave Georgia. But Putin sees no need to obey what is an unenforceable agreement so he continues his threats against the Georgian capitol, putting enormous pressure on President Saakashvili while the world waits and wonders whether Putin will take it upon himself to overthrow the Georgian leader.

But this move on Gori is perhaps the biggest threat to Georgian sovereignty. It basically cuts the country in two leaving the capitol defenseless and desperately in need of relief supplies. The Russians have also apparently blown up a railroad bridge that was a major link to the Black Sea port of Poti. In effect, Tblisi is isolated and ripe for Russian plucking any time they choose.

Back in Gori, the forcible depopulation of a city under threat of death represents an escalation in Russian brutality. So where's the American media? All we are getting from the
New York Times is story after story that this is our fault, or Georgia's fault, or NATO's fault - anything but face the fact that Russia is raping and pillaging a tiny neighbor.

The Washington Post is doing slightly better in that they have been on top of the diplomatic representations by the EU and pointing out how incredibly ineffective they have been in getting the Russians to stop. But when it comes to the situation on the ground, the American media is nowhere to be found.

If Reuters and AFP can get the story, one would think our own media would be capable. Instead, for the most part, they seem much more eager to parrot Russian talking points than attempt to tell what is going on in the Caucasus.




Giving credit where credit is due, the European wire services AFP and Reuters as well as the BBC, Times of London, and even the Guardian have been giving extraordinarily good coverage on the entire Russian-Georgia conflict.

It was Reuters reporters who first uncovered the fact that the Russians were lying about Georgian attacks on the city of Tskhinvali. The Russians claimed 2000 civilians were killed and the city nearly razed to the ground by Georgia. In fact, Reuters got a couple of reporters in the city and saw immediately that Russia had wildly misstated the number of casualties while downplaying the fact that it was their artillery that did most of the damage.

The BBC has been doing a bang up job reporting on the diplomatic ins and outs - the unbelievable naivete of the French who keep getting the Russians to sign pieces of paper on a cease fire and withdrawal and then promptly ignoring what they just promised to do.

Now the
Times Online informs us that Russians have been forcing the people of Gori - an extremely important rail and road junction that is the lifeline for the capitol Tblisi - to leave. And they are killing them if they stay:

"We didn't have any guns, so he shot Georgi in front of me without saying a word," she said. "A neighbour helped me to bury him in our garden and then I just fled."

Manana Galigashvili, 53, whose husband Andrei stared vacantly from a bed behind her, said that Ossetian soldiers had returned later and torched the house. They, too, had left after a soldier threatened to slit their throats.

Frightened refugees told similar stories all over the city of Gori yesterday as the Russian army extended its reach deep into Georgian territory despite a ceasefire agreement signed by President Medvedev that requires them to withdraw.

Troops and tanks moved to within 25 miles (40km) of the capital, Tbilisi, setting up roadblocks and digging in defensive positions in the hills above the highway. A line of tanks faced towards Tbilisi outside the village of Kaspi, a day after soldiers had blown up the railway line linking the capital to Georgia's main port of Poti.

It has been 48 hours since President Medvedev signed an agreement that Russian troops would stop their movements and leave Georgia. But Putin sees no need to obey what is an unenforceable agreement so he continues his threats against the Georgian capitol, putting enormous pressure on President Saakashvili while the world waits and wonders whether Putin will take it upon himself to overthrow the Georgian leader.

But this move on Gori is perhaps the biggest threat to Georgian sovereignty. It basically cuts the country in two leaving the capitol defenseless and desperately in need of relief supplies. The Russians have also apparently blown up a railroad bridge that was a major link to the Black Sea port of Poti. In effect, Tblisi is isolated and ripe for Russian plucking any time they choose.

Back in Gori, the forcible depopulation of a city under threat of death represents an escalation in Russian brutality. So where's the American media? All we are getting from the
New York Times is story after story that this is our fault, or Georgia's fault, or NATO's fault - anything but face the fact that Russia is raping and pillaging a tiny neighbor.

The Washington Post is doing slightly better in that they have been on top of the diplomatic representations by the EU and pointing out how incredibly ineffective they have been in getting the Russians to stop. But when it comes to the situation on the ground, the American media is nowhere to be found.

If Reuters and AFP can get the story, one would think our own media would be capable. Instead, for the most part, they seem much more eager to parrot Russian talking points than attempt to tell what is going on in the Caucasus.