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Russian General’s phone calls transcribed on internet

By Temuri Kiguradze
Monday, August 10
Recordings of certain phone conversations of Russian General Vyacheslav Borisov, who was in command of Russian airborne units during the Russian-Georgian war in August 2008, was published on the internet on August 8.

The conversations reveal several details of the military operations of Russian troops during and after the war in Georgia. “We have lost up to 300 infantrymen,” Borisov tells an unnamed interlocutor, and two soldiers in his unit were killed and 15 wounded as a result of friendly fire by Russian aviation. This figure of the number of Russian soldiers killed is much different to the official Russian one: the Russian Defence Ministry has stated that Russia lost only 64 soldiers during the South Ossetia war, and the Russian General Prosecutor’s office has recently raised this number, but only to 67.

General Borisov also talks about the exchange of captured Georgian soldiers and returning the bodies of dead soldiers. Parts of the conversation concerning the exchange of Georgian soldiers for former Georgian General Roman Dumbadze, who had been imprisoned by the Georgian Government in Batumi, had been already published in the Georgian media. Borisov notes that Dumbadze, who was under the command of Adjaran leader Aslan Abashidze, will be taken to Moscow where Abashidze and Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov will help him get a Russian passport and an apartment.

Some conversations are dedicated to the “competition” between Russian military units to get medals and military rank during the August war. “Go to the human resources department now and tell them to prepare the papers for giving me [the rank] of General-Lieutenant,” Borisov tells an employee of the Russian military headquarters, explaining that this has been already negotiated with the higher command. “And if they [the command] ask what [my] feats were, there [in the hq] will come [Russian] Colonel Krasov with the whole history of our military actions colourfully written, and half of those you can ascribe to me,” states Borisov.

The phone conversations were published on the internet blog of Russian journalist Orkhan Jemal, who was working as the war reporter for Russian Newsweek magazine during the August conflict. “These conversations were recorded by Georgian special services when General Vyacheslav Borisov was an occupation forces commander in Gori last August,” stated Jemal. He also added that he waited for a year, for the anniversary of Georgian-Russian war, to publish them so as not to prevent Borisov gaining privileges after the military actions in South Ossetia.

Borisov was the focus of the media in June 2009, when he gave an interview to Russian radio station Ekho Moskvy stating that the Russian Army had conducted preparations on the territory of Georgian breakaway region South Ossetia before the start of military actions on August 8. ”We hold regular trainings in those regions, our troops gain full practical experience. We had conducted trainings in those areas, precisely there, one week before, and had just left, which is why we made a much better job of carrying out the march to Tskhinvali than the central and regional troops. For us, this did not entail any sort of difficulty. We also dealt with certain other tasks in a much better way and this was noted by the leadership of the armed forces, the Chief of the General Staff and the Defence Minister,..." stated Borisov.

The Georgian Government evaluated this interview as the “Russia’s confession” that it started the war. “We are hopeful that this additional confession by yet another Russian aggressor will help the international commissions come to adequate conclusions about the 18-year undeclared war carried out by Russia against Georgia, the last episode of which took place on August 7, 2008,” stated the Georgian Foreign Ministry in June, commenting Borisov’s statement.