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9 Aug, 2008 21:45

Putin accuses Georgia of genocide

Vladimir Putin says Georgia has broken the rules of war in its offensive in South Ossetia. After visiting a refugee camp in North Ossetia, the Prime Minister accused Georgia of genocide and said those responsible for war crimes should be prosecuted.

Shortly after his trip to the capital of North Ossetia, Vladikavkaz, the Russian Prime-Minister Vladimir Putin met with President Dmitry Medvedev to discuss the crisis in South Ossetia.

Medvedev claims those guilty of crimes against South Ossetians should bare responsibility and even face charges.

Putin says Georgia is leading a “war against the rules”, calling Tbilisi's actions against South Ossetia genocide:

“They are mostly women, children and the elderly. Of course, they faced a dramatic tragedy. What they told me is beyond any war rules. I believe there were elements of genocide.

Putin went on to say that criminal charges could follow: ”I think our Prosecutor General’s office should take note of all incidents since most of the South Ossetian population is Russian. These are crimes against the civilian population.

Addressing the humanitarian situation, Putin said a mobile hospital has been sent to North Ossetia. He also said a second temporary hospital can soon be deployed.

Putin also said he is very concerned about the condition of people in South Ossetia and in Tskhinvali in particular.

“Several hours ago we contacted people there. They’ve been staying in their basements for several days now without water – there is no source of water”.

Earlier the Prime Minister changed his travel plans to see for himself the efforts being made to help the war refugees from South Ossetia. The former president went to Vladikavkaz to hold talks with evacuees and local officials.
Medical support keeps arriving in Russia's republic of North Ossetia, where the majority of refugees are being taken to from the conflict zone.

“The Georgians were bombing up heavily through the night so we fled because we were afraid of dying. We came to Vladikavkaz by bus along the mountain roads because the main road was under fire,” said Fatima Khaseva, evacuee with two small children.

She is safe for now on Russian territory. But her loved ones remain inside the conflict zone.

“It’s so hard to be here knowing that my husband is still in South Ossetia. Every day I’m afraid I’ll hear news that he’s dead,” said Fatima Khaseva.

With power lines destroyed in South Ossetian villages there’s no way the refugees can contact their families, and the stream of official information is low. There evacuees say they’re holding out hope that Russia will bring the war to an end. News that Russian forces are taking action is met with relief.

Locals in Vladikavkaz continue to provide much needed clothes and food to the evacuees.