August 27, 2008
The great Russian conductor Valery Gergiev who works in London has travelled to Tskhinvali and given a concert among the ruins of that city. NATO lay behind Saakashvili in the attack just past midnight on 7 to 8 of August, an attack which has killed very many innocent civilians, including the complete destruction of the Jewish Quarter.
It is a great thing which Gergiev has done. The responses from the British public and presumably many music lovers is not half bad either.
Gergiev is an Ossetian, and grew up in North Ossetia. He is also a close friend of Vladimir Putin, the Russian Prime Minister. The two men are godfathers to each other’s children.
On Wednesday evening he conducted the London Symphony Orchestra, of which he is principal conductor, in Tchaikovsky’s ballet score The Sleeping Beauty at the Albert Hall in London. By last night he was in South Ossetia.
The concert, organised by the Kremlin, was broadcast live on television across Russia. The orchestra played the Shostakovitch and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony Pathétique on a stage erected next to the bombed-out shell of Tskhinvali’s local administration.
Candles covered the steps leading up to the orchestra in memory of the victims of the conflict. Soldiers waved Russian and South Ossetian flags, many standing on armoured personnel carriers to see the concert. People lit candles as soon as the music began and soldiers handed out ribbons merging the tricolours of the two flags.
Gergiev arrived on stage with a group of children and said that he had come to Tskhinvali “to see with my own eyes the horrible destruction of the city”. He told the audience that Tskhinvali reminded him of pictures of Stalingrad, the city where Soviet troops began to turn back the invading Nazi army. He flatly blamed Georgia for the destruction and repeated earlier Russian claims that 2,000 people had died, which led the Kremlin to accuse Georgia of genocide.
Russian prosecutors announced a sharply reduced figure on Wednesday, saying that the bodies of 133 civilians had been found in South Ossetia, while Georgia placed the number of its dead in the conflict at 215.
Gergiev, addressing the crowd in Russian and in English, said: “It was a huge act of aggression on the part of the Georgian Army . . . I think Tskhinvali can be called a hero city, we know how much people suffered here.
“If it wasn’t for the help of the Russian Army here, there would be thousands and thousands more victims. I am very grateful as an Ossetian to my country, Great Russia, for this help.”
Earlier the President of South Ossetia, Eduard Kokoity, addressed a crowd in the city’s main Theatre Square. “This is the last tragedy on the land of South Ossetia. I have already prepared an appeal to the President of Russia and the Government of Russia to recognise the independence of the Republic of South Ossetia,” he said.
The announcement means that both of Georgia’s breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, are now seeking Russian recognition. Mr Kokoity blamed the West for the conflict, saying: “This war was prepared not only in Tbilisi, but also in the United States and Ukraine.
“We have never fought and will never fight against the people of Georgia. We offer them the hand of friendship and to all those who want to live in peace in the Caucasus, which is our common home. I am convinced that we will all meet here again soon to celebrate the recognition of the independence of South Ossetia . . . The Caucasus is a Russian region and we will never surrender it to such adventurists as [Mikhail] Saakashvili [the Georgian President] and [Condoleezza] Rice [the US Secretary of State].”