Judgement day dawns after Russia pledges to quit Georgia

The moment of truth on Russia's intentions in Georgia comes today when, according to President Dmitry Medvedev, his forces will start pulling out of the parts of the country it has occupied. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, also faced one of the toughest diplomatic missions of her career when she arrived in Tbilisi yesterday to hold Russia to its side of the ceasefire and prop up the Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.

The Russian leader told French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who brokered the ceasefire, that troops and armour will reposition from Georgia proper to the borders of the breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The situation on the ground remained confused with Russian commanders saying that Russian soldiers will withdraw, but would be replaced by Russian "peacekeepers". At the same time Georgian officials were refused permission to return to the city of Gori, held by the Russians.

Alexander Lomaia, secretary to the Georgian National Security Council, said: "This is just a redeployment. They have pulled out of their bases but they are still all over the place, you can see that. It doesn't matter which uniforms the Russians wear." The Georgian government claimed that instead of retreating, Russian troops were retrenching inside Georgia and "hundreds" of Abkhaz irregulars had moved in.

President Saakashvili said in a press conference with Chancellor Merkel: "They have continued aggression, taken over new areas and have mined new bridges. Russian generals have told us they have two options, they can withdraw or advance to the capital. They are still waiting for orders on what course to take."

The Georgian leader continued: "We shall defend the capital, most of our forces are intact and most of our weapons are intact."

However, Georgian troops had fled Gori merely at reports that the Russians were coming and large amounts of American-supplied arms and ammunition have been seized by the Russians.

Ms Merkel said the cease-fire terms made it clear that the Russian forces should pull back. "The cease-fire was signed by President Medvedev on Saturday and this must happen in the next few days."

In Paris, President Sarkozy said the Russians would "face serious consequences" if they failed to honour the truce agreement, without specifying what these consequences may be. And US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Russia had already broken its ceasefire commitment by the continued presence of its troops in Georgia.

The Russian officer in command at Gori, General Vyacheslav Borisov, said he was opening the road into the city for aid to get through. But UN officials said only a trickle of supplies were arriving.

Gori is mainly deserted with up to 80 per cent of the population fleeing the city. A Russian soldier at a checkpoint just outside the city said: "We are here to maintain order. "I think we will be in Georgia for a very long time."

Groups of refugees were still making their way towards the capital Tbilisi from Georgian enclaves in South Ossetia and villages around Gori, where Ossetian, Chechen and Cossack paramilitaries had been responsible for killings, looting and burning.

Nino Chikladze, who had fled Avnevi in South Ossetia with his 68-year-old mother, wife and five children, said: "They have stolen everything and burnt the houses. They are killing young men, saying they are Georgian soldiers, when the men were just farmers."

Irakli Marashvilli said his aunt and uncle are terrified but too old to leave their village north of Gori.

"They think they will be killed any day now. The international people must do something," he said.

News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Life and Style
fashionThe supermodel on her career, motherhood and Cara Delevingne
News
i100
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Music Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

Maths Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

C# asp.net Developer - West Sussex - permanent - £40k - £50k

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments