So now they tell us. Two months after the brief but bloody war in the Caucasus which was overwhelmingly blamed on Russia by western politicians and media at the time, a serious investigation by the BBC has uncovered a very different story.
Not only does the report by Tim Whewell – aired this week on Newsnight and on Radio 4's File on Four - find strong evidence confirming western-backed Georgia as the aggressor on the night of August 7. It also assembles powerful testimony of wide-ranging war crimes carried out by the Georgian army in its attack on the contested region of South Ossetia.
They include the targeting of apartment block basements – where civilians were taking refuge – with tank shells and Grad rockets, the indiscriminate bombardment of residential districts and the deliberate killing of civilians, including those fleeing the South Ossetian capital of Tskinvali.
The carefully balanced report – which also details evidence of ethnic cleansing by South Ossetian paramilitaries – cuts the ground from beneath later Georgian claims that its attack on South Ossetia followed the start of a Russian invasion the previous night.
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