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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A Murder With No Killer

The EU fact-finding commission report that was released last week on the causes of the Russia-Georgia war was terrible — not because it placed blame for the conflict on one particular side, but because it failed to place any blame at all.

“Who is responsible for what happened?” the authors of the report ask. The answer given: The conflict was the result of too many factors to be able to “place responsibility on only one side.”

The commission was supposed to carry out an investigation, and the primary purpose of any investigation is to discover who is guilty. Imagine Agatha Christie’s detective Hercule Poirot gathering the relatives of a murder victim together to reveal the identity of the killer and saying, “You know, all of you are such complex people, and you’ve all committed so many misdeeds, that the person simply died as a result of your collective wrongdoing.” If a murder has been committed, there must be a killer.

How can a commission come to the unbelievable conclusion that a person was murdered as a result of collective responsibility? Here is how:

According to the report, Georgia claimed that it gave notice of a large-scale concentration of Russian forces on Georgian territory prior to Aug. 7, when the five-day war began. Russia denies Georgia’s allegation, and the Kremlin asserts that Russian forces entered South Ossetia well after Georgia started military operations in the breakaway republic.

Who is correct? It might strike you as funny, but the commission doesn’t know. It couldn’t confirm that Georgia’s assertions “are well-founded,” despite the significant number of “witnesses, including Russian” witnesses who confirmed it.

Thus, we have a so-called fact-finding commission, formed and financed under the auspices of the European Union, but the only thing it can conclude is that Georgia says one thing and the Russians another? Thanks for this valuable information, but we all knew this without any help from the commission. The task of a tribunal is to determine who is lying and who is telling the truth.

There are some other amazing treasures in the report. For example, the commission labors at length over whether Georgia violated human rights by shelling Tskhinvali with truck-based Grad missiles “on the night of 7 to 8 August.” Naturally, the report concludes Georgia did violate human rights.

But Tskhinvali was shelled on Aug. 9 and 10 as well. During these days, Georgians were in the city, but the Georgian Air Force was already grounded.

It is really possible that the commission didn’t know that Tskhinvali was bombed on Aug. 9 and 10 and didn’t know who started the bombing? Why didn’t the commission evaluate the actions of those who bombed Tskhinvali during those days?

It is clear from the findings of the commission, which was chaired by Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini, that the EU thinks it is impossible for Europe to exist without Russia and that respect for Russia will bring more positive results than fruitlessly trying to isolate it. This may be true. But if you want to be a diplomat, you can’t be a judge at the same time.

Yulia Latynina hosts a political talk show on Ekho Moskvy radio.