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Page last updated at 16:26 GMT, Friday, 15 August 2008 17:26 UK

Russian reflections on Georgia conflict

US President George W Bush has accused Russia of "bullying and intimidation" in the conflict with Georgia over South Ossetia.

Here, four Russian readers share their views on international perceptions of the country following the fighting.

ANDREY KROUPNIK, 28, ANLAYST AT INVESTMENT BANK, MOSCOW

Andrey says nobody was in the right over the war
Andrey says nobody was in the right over the war
There are no good guys here. Not Saakashvili, not Putin, not the South Ossetian separatists, not the politicians from the West.

I believe the Georgians were reacting to provocation from Ossetian separatists, and the situation gave Russian forces the chance to make their presence felt in Georgia.

But there is no justification for Saakashvili to order the attack on South Ossetia as it was bound to lead to civilian deaths.

From what I've read he's just as bad as Putin.

This situation is analogous to Kosovo, where separatists there provoked action from Milosevic and Serbia. He was called a war criminal, but Saakashvili is seen as the victim in the West.

The media coverage has been biased on both sides. I expect this from the mainstream Russian media - but not from Western media. The only information I can rely on is independent Russian news sites.

There was a lack of historical context in much of the Western media and the overwhelming sense that Russia was to blame.

The reaction from the international community merely plays into Putin's hand. He wants Russia to be feared and respected. Condemnation from the West results in ordinary Russians rallying behind the government.

NADEZHDA ERMAKOVA, 24, TEACHER, EKATERINBURG

Nadezhda Ermakova
Russians don't have anything against Georgians, says Nadezhda
When the fighting began I was in Spain and the reports I saw did not explain the situation fairly.

For some years in Russia we have been watching how Georgia was buying armaments and sending more soldiers to the border with South Ossetia.

And when Russia responded to protect people in South Ossetia, the US government paints the picture of Russia as a huge, bad, anti-democratic state that only wants to suppress its neighbours.

But we don't want to suppress our neighbours. The Russian people don't have anything against the Georgians. Can't Russia protect its people? I am Russian and I want my country to protect me if necessary.

I don't know what will happen in the future.

I don't care if Georgia joins Nato, the only thing that is important for me is not to see all these people suffering. I want peace.

TATIANA SOKOLOVA, 24, PhD STUDENT, MOSCOW

Tatiana Sokolova
Tatiana says Russia lost the media war
Russia simply couldn't have stayed out of this conflict.

The Ossetians did not carry out any action that could have justified the Georgian assault and civilian death.

For such a long time Ossetians and Georgians lived side-by-side and never felt hatred against each other.

My grandmother is a Georgian and she has many Ossetian friends in Tskhinvali. From the very beginning of this disastrous campaign she was trying to contact them in floods of tears.

She would never believe that Georgians would attack Ossetians without any serious motive or provocation.

The intentional reaction has been unfairly anti-Russian. But maybe this is to be expected, since Georgia is an ally of the West.

Most Russians support the government and the Ossetians. But Russia has lost the international media war.

The coverage I saw in Western media was biased, with reports emphasising Russia's aggressive stance without underlining that Georgia began the war. There was little coverage of the suffering people in Tskhinvali.

But again this is to be expected. For years commentators in the West have speculated about Moscow's lust for power and its wish to expand its territory, painting the relationship between Russia and America in Cold War cliches.

NIKOLAY ZYLYAEV, 36, VISUAL COMMUNICATIONS, MOSCOW

I was a pro-Western guy but now I have seen the real face of Western countries toward Russia - double-standards and hypocrisy.

Western countries always said they wanted to see a strong Russia - but really they want to see us weak. As Russia recovered from the chaos of the '90s, Nato expanded up to the edge of our borders.

I expect to see the West continue to act against Russia in the future
America can do anything it wants - bomb Serbia, bomb Iraq. But when Russia acts to defend the people of South Ossetia it is in the wrong. Russia is always seen as the guilty one, the aggressive one.

I have watched Western coverage of the war and there seemed to be no reflection of the Russian viewpoint.

In short, we lost the information war. Maybe we should try and learn something from President [Mikhail] Saakashvili.

I blame the pro-Washington leadership in Georgia. The Russia and Georgian people have more than a century of friendship.

I have friends in Georgia and I hear internal tension is growing there and the opposition will move against the government in the near future.

I expect to see the West continue to act against Russia in the future. But I think we have become stronger after this episode. We are united behind the government.





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