Dmitry Medvedev: Georgia has subjected South Ossetia to very serious and cynical aggression. People have been killed, our citizens: residents of South Ossetia and peacekeepers.
There is no other name but that of genocide to describe the forms the Georgian forces’ action has taken, because these acts have become mass-scale in nature and have been directed against specific people, against the civilian population and against peacekeepers who were carrying out their duties to maintain peace. The information we are receiving attests to the fact that crimes of the most serious kind have been committed: people have been murdered, burnt, crushed by tanks, had their throats cut.
I believe that we must undertake every possible effort to collect documented evidence on these crimes in order put together the necessary basis for criminal prosecution of their perpetrators and get an international evaluation of what has taken place. At the same time, of course, the operation to enforce peace on Georgia will continue and the guilty will be punished.
I would like to hear from you about what is being done at the moment and what proposals you have on collecting and putting together the evidence regarding the crimes committed.
Alexander Bastrykin: Dmitry Anatolyevich, our advance group from the inquiries department is already at work in South Ossetia. We have begun collecting evidence and documenting the indications of crimes committed by Georgian military forces. We are examining the bodies of the dead and questioning the refugees and the wounded. We have begun carrying out forensic examinations. We will be reinforcing this group from the Committee of Inquiry.
Today I am sending a large group of criminal investigations specialists to Vladikazkaz. This is a group of around 150 qualified personnel, who have already begun work taking statements from refugees from South Ossetia. The process of questioning the victims has already begun. Documentary evidence and video footage of the consequences of the criminal acts you spoke of has begun. We will do everything necessary to fully document the criminal acts committed by Georgian forces in accordance with the proper legal procedure and the laws in force, in order to establish, as you said, a complete and objective base of evidence that we will be able to use as the grounds for future criminal prosecution of the perpetrators in accordance with the law.
Dmitry Medvedev: Once you have collected the necessary evidence and the first stage is completed, make a separate report on it to me.
Alexander Bastrykin: I will fly tomorrow [to Vladikavkaz] with our head of department. The Emergency Situations Ministry has made a plane available for us and we will therefore be able to begin work straight away and in full tomorrow.
Dmitry Medvedev: Good.