“Saakashvili preparing for another war” – deserted Georgian soldier
A soldier who deserted the Georgian army and has now fled to Russia says US instructors are currently training Georgian soldiers for a war – just as they did before Georgia’s assault last year on South Ossetia.
Eduard Korotkov also spoke about Georgia’s military provocations against Russian peacekeepers prior to the Georgia-South Ossetia conflict, the weapons that the US supplied to Georgia, and Georgians’ shooting of POWs during the conflict.
Below is the transcript of what he said:
Eduard Korotkov: My name is Korotkov Eduard Igorevich, born on July 27, 1981. From August 2007 I served in the 4th brigade of the 42nd battalion in the Georgian army as head of my unit, with the rank of junior sergeant.
Question: Did you take part in any actions?
Eduard Korotkov: No, I did not. I had deserted earlier.
Question: You must have served in [Georgian] peacekeeping forces stationed in the Georgian–Ossetian conflict zone, just prior to the war. Please tell about that.
Eduard Korotkov: We were stationed in an area of the Ossetian village of Tsinuri – our entire company. We were training to carry out inspections of vehicles, ID documents and belongings, as well as how to stand on duty and use handguns and assault rifles – we had a whole arsenal there. We had a lot of weaponry.
We went to the top of a mountain to guard the village of Avreli. I recall an episode in December  – don’t remember the exact date – we were told that something was starting in Abkhazia. In the place where our unit was stationed – on the mountain – there were Russian peacekeeping forces.
So we were trained how – during night time – should something come up, to quickly get out and be ahead of the Russians. Our mobile phones were taken away from everyone in the company and in the whole of the battalion amid talk of a war starting. We were prepared – additional ammunition was issued to us. We put additional bandages and medical supplies into our backpacks. So we were prepared.
Question: Against the Russians?
Eduard Korotkov: Against the Russians, because besides us there were only peacekeepers from Russia deployed there. No Ossetians.
A month later we were transferred to Nikozi [sic] from where we clandestinely moved to Igneti where an outpost of the Russian peacekeeping forces recorded the number of personnel and our weaponry. We stood there at night, along with Georgian interior special forces, amid the cold weather. They also had all kinds of weapons, the same as us – a whole arsenal sufficient for a battalion.
Question: Did they stage provocations?
Eduard Korotkov: Oh, yeah, they did. They [Georgian special forces] staged provocations, saying “Come on, shoot, shoot!”, “Don’t fear!” Exactly there and then, on the road we were on, which was later confirmed by our guys, it was from there they went.
Question: Started advancing on the village?
Eduard Korotkov: Yes.
Question: What can you recount particularly about the events of August 2008?
Eduard Korotkov: After the war I met my friends there – from Kakhteti. They said to me: “After you deserted the unit, American instructors came and conducted training for two months.” Various kinds of weapons were brought from the USA, including M-16 rifles that were distributed. There were also Hummer vehicles, containers. So, they [my friends] said, it was likely preparation for war.
And we were all saying – that no battalion was standing like ours, in those villages. That’s why we were sent first – to capture the villages of Nunitana and Nitaguli. After which we entered Tskhinval.
Question: Please tell us what you know about Russian pilots.
Eduard Korotkov: I don’t know much about Russian pilots, but I do know something. For instance, the one captured by the Georgian peacekeeping forces who was wounded. He was guarded by my friend who works in the Justice Department. In a hospital.
We heard about the second one, too. He was [captured] alive but was shot to death and buried somewhere – I don’t know where exactly. They tried not to leave traces, in order to avoid claims by the Russians. What I know is the one who was alive, was shot to death and buried. The other one was later exchanged for someone from the Georgian peacekeeping forces who was here in hospital.
Question: What are your plans for the future?
Eduard Korotkov: First, I think that I won’t be able to live in Georgia anymore. I want to ask the president of the Russian Federation to grant me Russian citizenship. I want to lead a normal life. I won’t return to Georgia anymore. And I am not going to. Let them take me there dead rather than get me to live there. They are all preoccupied with war preparations, training.
Question: For a war?
Eduard Korotkov: Yes, for a war. Instructors keep arriving for training in how to wage a war – to handle all kinds of weapons. There was a ship that arrived in Batumi with some weapons – tanks. There is talk all over the country that there will be a war again – Saakashvili is engaged in preparations. I don’t want to live there.