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  Tuesday, September 29, 2020
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Georgia's aggression in breakaway South Ossetia in August affected
Georgia's aggression in breakaway South Ossetia in August affected more than 5,000 people, Russia's top investigator has told a German newspaper.

A number of Russian peacekeepers and a reported 1,600 South Ossetian civilians were killed and thousands fled as Tbilisi attacked the capital of Tskhinvali on August 8 in an attempt to regain control of the republic. Russia's military intervention forced the Georgian troops out of the region, which split from Georgia in the early 1990s.

"We have established that over 5,000 were affected and we have recognized them as such. Our investigation comprises two lines - Georgia's attack on Russian peacekeepers and on civilians, Russian citizens," Alexander Bastrykin, head of the Investigation Committee under the General Prosecutor's Office, said in an interview published Monday in the German Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

Most people living in South Ossetia have Russian citizenship. Previously the number of victims was put at 4,400.

Bastrykin said a probe had been launched into the August events in South Ossetia on charges of the murder of two or more persons and genocide.

He said investigators had finished collecting evidence.

The majority of Western states criticized Russia's operation to "force Georgia to peace," which spread to undisputed Georgian territories, and its subsequent recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another breakaway Georgian republic. All sides involved have sought international legal rulings on the conflict.

Russia has accused Georgia of committing "genocide" by launching the offensive in South Ossetia, and called for an international war crimes trial for the Georgian leadership.

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg said in a news release Friday that it had received 2,729 lawsuits against Georgia from residents of South Ossetia, adding that Georgia had lodged "an inter-State application ... against the Russian Federation arising out of last summer's events."


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