Abkhazian Armed Forces
The Abkhazian Armed Forces are the military of Abkhazia. The Ministry of Defence and the General Staff of the Abkhazian armed forces were created on 12 October 1992, after the outbreak of the 1992-1993 war with Georgia; the basis of the armed forces was formed by the ethnic Abkhaz National Guard created early in 1992 prior to the outbreak of the war. During the war, the Abkhazian forces - with the critical support from the Confederation of Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus, Cossack volunteers and Russian regular military units stationed in or near Abkhazia - succeeded in defeating the Georgian troops. 200,000 to 250,000 Georgian civilians became Internally displaced persons. Most of the military's weapons come from the Russian airborne division base in Gudauta, while others were captured from Georgian forces. On 24 November 2014 the governments of Abkhazia and Russia signed a treaty of cooperation that creates a joint force of troops from the two countries. Georgia regards the Abkhaz armed forces as "unlawful military formations" and accuses Russia of supplying and training the Abkhaz troops in exchange for Abkhaz land or hotels.
The Abkhaz deny this, saying they bought what they have on the free market except for five sea cutters received from Russia and speedboats from the Abkhaz diaspora in Greece. In March 2005 Abkhazian defence minister Sultan Sosnaliev admitted that the senior and middle-ranking officers in the Abkhaz army are sent to Russia for 2-3 month training courses within the framework of the Russia's "Vystrel" program. Sosnaliev himself is a Russian officer from the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic and held the same post during the Abkhazian war, when Chechen field commander and militant Shamil Basayev was his deputy. Former chief of staff, Major General Anatoly Zaitsev had served as deputy commander of the Transbaikal Military District in Russia. Another top official, Deputy Defence Minister Aleksandr Pavlushko is a Russian colonel and the former chief of staff of the Russian peacekeeping forces in Abkhazia. Georgia regularly accuses Abkhazia of forcibly recruiting Georgian returnees from the Gali district into the armed forces.
The Abkhaz military is a ground force but includes small sea and air units. In 2006, an "anti-terrorist centre" of some 200 personnel was created under the de facto ministry of interior; the de facto minister of finance estimated, in 2006, that 35 per cent of Abkhazia’s budget was spent on the military and police. On 8 May 2007, Minister of Vice Premier Sultan Sosnaliyev resigned, he was succeeded as Defence Minister by First Deputy Defence Minister Mirab Kishmaria, in an acting fashion from 10 May and permanently from 26 July onwards. On 14 April 2010, five Deputy Ministers of Defence were retired, including Chief of the Armed Forces Anatoli Zaitsev. Aslan Ankvab was appointed acting First Deputy Minister of Chief of Staff. On 21 May 2010, Beslan Tsvishba was appointed First Deputy Minister of Defence. On 29 March 2011, Vladimir Vasilchenko succeeded Aslan Ankvab to become the new, Chief of Staff and First Deputy Minister of Defence. On 18 May 2015, retired Russian army general Anatoly Khrulyov was appointed Chief of the General Staff by President Raul Khajimba.
According to the authorities of the Republic of Abkhazia, the Abkhazian Land Forces are organised along the Swiss model - in time of peace they have personnel of 3,000 to 5,000 and in case of war further 40-50,000 reservists are called out. They are authorised to keep registered weapons at home. General Staff Headquarters 3-4 Motorized rifle battalions Tank battalion Artillery regiment, Engineering battalion Mountain battalion Intelligence battalion Spetsnaz troops Honour Guard Battalion Military Band Service of the Ministry of Defense Central Military District Eastern Military District Western Military District Sukhumi Higher Combined-Arms Command School - The school was founded on October 31, 2000 by order of the Minister of Defence of Abkhazia; the school carries out the training for cadets in the Abkhazian Armed Forces. The academy maintains a Honour Guard Battalion, made up of 35 cadets; the Abkhazian Navy consists of three divisions that are based in Sukhumi and Pitsunda. Four ships Project 1204 Shmel class PBR, 657, 658, 328 were transferred from the Russian Navy in the late 1990s.
An additional ship ex-AK-527 was transferred and cannibalized for spares. The three Abkhaz ships did not take part in the 2008 South Ossetia conflict, but their state was unclear; as of 2005 the first two of them had one PSKA Project 1400M Grif class PC speed-boats each. The navy includes several civil vessels that were equipped with guns and unguided rocket artillery systems. NOVOSTI gives the following naval figures: over 20 motor boats armed with machine-guns and small-caliber cannons; the Abkhazian Air Force uses Soviet-built aircraft. It is a small force, which numbers only 7 aircraft, 3-4 helicopters, 250 personnel; the exact numbers and types of equipment remain unverifiable as no thorough international monitoring has been carried out in Abkhazia. NOVOSTI gives the following army figures: 10,000-strong Abkhazian Self Defense Force wielding 60 tanks, including 40 T-72s, 85 artillery pieces and mortars, including several dozen with a 122-152-mm caliber and 116 armored vehicles of different types has numerous anti-tank weapons ranging from RPG-7 rocket launchers to Konkurs-M anti-
South Ossetia the Republic of South Ossetia – the State of Alania, or the Tskhinvali Region, is a disputed territory in the South Caucasus, in the northern part of the internationally recognised Georgian territory. It has a population of 53,000 people who live in an area of 3,900 km2, south of the Russian Caucasus, with 30,000 living in Tskhinvali; the separatist polity, Republic of South Ossetia, is recognised as a state by Russia, Nicaragua and Syria. While Georgia lacks control over South Ossetia, the Georgian government and most members of the United Nations consider the territory part of Georgia, whose constitution designates the area as "the former autonomous district of South Ossetia", in reference to the former Soviet autonomous oblast disbanded in 1990. Georgia does not recognise the existence of South Ossetia as a political entity, therefore its territory does not correspond to any Georgian administrative area, with most of the territory included into Shida Kartli region; the area is informally referred to as the undefined Tskhinvali Region in Georgia and in international organisations when neutrality is deemed necessary.
South Ossetia declared independence from the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1991. The Georgian government responded by abolishing South Ossetia's autonomy and trying to re-establish its control over the region by force; the crisis escalation led to the 1991–92 South Ossetia War. Georgian fighting against those controlling South Ossetia occurred on two other occasions, in 2004 and 2008; the latter conflict led to the Russo–Georgian War, during which Ossetian and Russian forces gained full de facto control of the territory of the former South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast. In the wake of the 2008 war, Georgia and a significant part of the international community consider South Ossetia to be occupied by the Russian military. South Ossetia relies on military and financial aid from Russia. South Ossetia, Transnistria and Abkhazia are sometimes referred to as post-Soviet "frozen conflict" zones; the territory of contemporary South Ossetia was part of the kingdom of Iberia, the latter was unified under the single Georgian monarchy in 11th-century, extending its possessions up to Dvaleti.
The Ossetians are believed to originate from an Iranian tribe. In the 8th century a consolidated Alan kingdom, referred to in sources of the period as Alania, emerged in the northern Caucasus Mountains. Around 1239-1277 Alania fell before the Mongol and to the Timur's armies, that massacred much of the Alanian population; the survivors among the Alans retreated into the mountains of the central Caucasus and started migration to the south. In 1299, Gori was captured by the Alan tribesmen fleeing the Mongol conquest of their original homeland in the North Caucasus; the Georgian king George V recovered the town in 1320, pushing the Alans back over the Caucasus mountains. In the 17th century, by pressure of Kabardian princes, Ossetians started a second wave of migration from the North Caucasus to Georgia. Ossetian peasants, who were migrating to the mountainous areas of the South Caucasus settled in the lands of Georgian feudal lords; the Georgian King of the Kingdom of Kartli permitted Ossetians to immigrate.
According to Russian ambassador to Georgia Mikhail Tatishchev, at the beginning of the 17th century there was a small group of Ossetians living near the headwaters of the Greater Liakhvi River. In the 1770s there were more Ossetians living in Kartli than before; this period has been documented in the travel diaries of Johann Anton Güldenstädt who visited Georgia in 1772. The Baltic German explorer called modern North Ossetia Ossetia, while he wrote that Kartli was populated by Georgians and the mountainous areas were populated by both Georgians and Ossetians. Güldenstädt wrote that the northernmost border of Kartli is the Major Caucasus Ridge. By the end of 18th century, the ultimate sites of Ossetian settlement on the territory of modern South Ossetia were in Kudaro, Greater Liakhvi gorge, the gorge of Little Liakhvi, Ksani River gorge and Truso; the Georgian Kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti, part of, the major territory of modern South Ossetia, was annexed by the Russian Empire in 1801. Ossetian migration to Georgian areas continued in the 19th and 20th centuries, when Georgia was part of the Russian Empire and Ossetian settlements in Trialeti, Borjomi and Kakheti emerged as well.
Following the Russian revolution, the area of modern South Ossetia became part of the Democratic Republic of Georgia. In 1918, conflict began between the landless Ossetian peasants living in Shida Kartli, who were influenced by Bolshevism and demanded ownership of the lands they worked, the Menshevik government backed ethnic Georgian aristocrats, who were legal owners. Although the Ossetians were discontented with the economic policies of the central government, the tension soon transformed into ethnic conflict; the first Ossetian rebellion began in February 1918, when three Georgian princes were killed and their land was seized by the Ossetians. The central government of Tiflis retaliated by sending the National Guard to the area. However, the Georgian unit retreated. Ossetian rebels proceeded to occupy the town of Tskhinvali and began attacking ethnic Georgian civilian population. During uprisings in 1919 and 1920, the Ossetians were covertly supported
The Russo-Georgian War was a war between Georgia and the Russian-backed self-proclaimed republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The war took place in August 2008 following a period of worsening relations between Russia and Georgia, both constituent republics of the Soviet Union; the fighting took place in the strategically important Transcaucasia region. It was regarded as the first European war of the 21st century; the Republic of Georgia declared its independence in early 1991 as the Soviet Union began to fall apart. Amidst this backdrop, a war between Georgia and separatists left parts of the former South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast under the de facto control of Russian-backed but internationally unrecognised separatists. Following the war, a joint peacekeeping force of Georgian and Ossetian troops was stationed in the territory. A similar stalemate developed in the region of Abkhazia, where Abkhaz separatists had waged war in 1992–1993. Following the election of Vladimir Putin in Russia in 2000 and a pro-Western change of power in Georgia in 2003, relations between Russia and Georgia began to deteriorate, reaching a full diplomatic crisis by April 2008.
By 1 August 2008, South Ossetian separatists had begun shelling Georgian villages, with a sporadic response from Georgian peacekeepers in the area. Artillery attacks by pro-Russian separatists broke a 1992 ceasefire agreement. To put an end to these attacks and restore order, the Georgian Army was sent to the South Ossetian conflict zone on 7 August. Georgians took control of most of a separatist stronghold, in hours. Russian troops had illicitly crossed the Russo-Georgian state border and advanced into the South Ossetian conflict zone by 7 August before the Georgian military response. Russia accused Georgia of "aggression against South Ossetia", launched a big land and sea invasion of Georgia on 8 August with the pretext of "peace enforcement" operation. Russian and South Ossetian forces fought Georgian forces in and around South Ossetia for several days, until Georgian forces retreated. Russian and Abkhaz forces opened a second front by attacking the Kodori Gorge held by Georgia. Russian naval forces blockaded part of the Georgian coast.
The Russian air force attacked targets in undisputed parts of Georgia. This was the first war in history. An information war was waged during and after the conflict. Nicolas Sarkozy, the President of France, which had the presidency of the European Union, negotiated a ceasefire agreement on 12 August. Russian forces temporarily occupied the Georgian cities of Zugdidi, Senaki and Gori, holding on to these areas beyond the ceasefire; the South Ossetians destroyed most ethnic Georgian villages in South Ossetia and were responsible for an ethnic cleansing of Georgians. Russia recognised the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia on 26 August and the Georgian government severed diplomatic relations with Russia. Russia completed its withdrawal of troops from undisputed parts of Georgia on 8 October. Russian international relations were unharmed; the war displaced 192,000 people and while many returned to their homes after the war, 20,272 people ethnic Georgians, remained displaced as of 2014.
Since the war, Russia has occupied Abkhazia and South Ossetia in violation of the ceasefire agreement of August 2008. In the 10th century AD, Georgia for the first time emerged as an ethnic concept in the territories where the Georgian language was used to perform Christian rituals. After the Mongol invasions of the region, the Kingdom of Georgia was split into several states. In the 19th century, the Russian Empire took over the Georgian lands. In the aftermath of the Russian revolution, Georgia declared independence on 26 May 1918; the Ossetian people are autochthonous to North Ossetia. Controversy surrounds the date of Ossetian arrival in Transcaucasia. According to one theory, they first migrated there during the 13th and 14th centuries AD, resided alongside the Georgians peacefully for hundreds of years. In 1918, conflict began between the landless Ossetian peasants living in Shida Kartli, who were affected by Bolshevism and demanded ownership of the lands they worked, the Menshevik government backed ethnic Georgian nobility, who were legal owners.
Although the Ossetians were discontented with the economic stance of Tbilisi authorities, the tension shortly transformed into ethnic conflict. During uprisings in 1919 and 1920, the Ossetians were covertly supported by Soviet Russia, but so, were defeated; the independent Democratic Republic of Georgia was invaded by the Red Army in 1921 and a Soviet government was installed. The government of Soviet Georgia created an autonomous administrative unit for Transcaucasian Ossetians in April 1922, called the South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast. Historians such as Stephen F. Jones, Emil Souleimanov and Arsène Saparov believe that the Bolsheviks awarded this autonomy to the Ossetians in exchange for their help against the Democratic Republic of Georgia, since this area had never been a separate entity prior to the Russian invasion. Nationalism in Soviet Georgia gained momentum in 1989 with the weakening of the Soviet Union; the Kremlin endorsed South Ossetian nationalism as a counter against the Georgian independence movement.
On 11 December 1990, the Supreme Soviet of Georgia, responding to South Ossetia's attempt at secession, annulled the region's autonomy. A military conflict broke out between Georgia and South Ossetian separatists in January 1991. Georgia declared its restoration of independence on 9 April 1991, thus becoming the first non-Baltic state of the Soviet Union to do so; the South Ossetian separatists were aided by
Bloomberg L. P. is a held financial, software and media company headquartered in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. It was founded by Michael Bloomberg in 1981, with the help of Thomas Secunda, Duncan MacMillan, Charles Zegar, a 30% ownership investment by Merrill Lynch. Bloomberg L. P. provides financial software tools such as an analytics and equity trading platform, data services, news to financial companies and organizations through the Bloomberg Terminal, its core revenue-generating product. Bloomberg L. P. includes a wire service, a global television network, radio stations, subscription-only newsletters, two magazines: Bloomberg Businessweek and Bloomberg Markets. In 2014, Bloomberg L. P. launched Bloomberg Politics, a multiplatform media property that merged the company's political news teams, has recruited two veteran political journalists, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, to run it. In 1981, Salomon Brothers was acquired, Michael Bloomberg, a general partner, was given a $10 million partnership settlement.
Bloomberg, having designed in-house computerized financial systems for Salomon, used his $10 million severance cheque to start Innovative Market Systems. Bloomberg developed and built his own computerized system to provide real-time market data, financial calculations and other financial analytics to Wall Street firms. In 1983, Merrill Lynch invested $30 million in IMS to help finance the development of "the Bloomberg" terminal computer system and by 1984, IMS was selling machines to all of Merrill Lynch's clients. In 1986, the company was renamed Bloomberg L. P. and 5,000 terminals had been installed in subscribers' offices. Within a few years, ancillary products including Bloomberg Tradebook, the Bloomberg Messaging Service, the Bloomberg newswire were launched. Bloomberg launched its news services division in 1990. Bloomberg.com was first established on September 29, 1993, as a financial portal with information on markets, currency conversion and events, Bloomberg Terminal subscriptions. In late 1996, Bloomberg bought back one-third of Merrill Lynch's 30 percent stake in the company for $200 million, valuing the company at $9 billion.
In 2008, facing losses during the financial crisis, Merrill Lynch agreed to sell its remaining 20 percent stake in the company back to Bloomberg Inc. majority-owned by Michael Bloomberg, for a reported $4.43 billion, valuing Bloomberg L. P. at $22.5 billion. Bloomberg L. P. has remained a private company since its founding. To run for the position of Mayor of New York against Democrat Mark Green in 2001, Bloomberg gave up his position of CEO and appointed Lex Fenwick as CEO in his stead. Peter Grauer is the chairman. In 2008, Fenwick became the CEO of a new venture capital division. Daniel Doctoroff, former deputy mayor in the Bloomberg administration, serves as president and CEO. In September 2014, it was announced that Michael Bloomberg would be taking the reins of his eponymous market data company from Doctoroff, chief executive of Bloomberg for the past six years after his term as deputy mayor. In September 2014, Bloomberg sold its Bloomberg Sports analysis division to the data analysis firm STATS LLC for a fee rumored to be between $15 million and $20 million.
Since its founding, Bloomberg L. P. has made several acquisitions including the radio station WNEW, BusinessWeek magazine, research company New Energy Finance, the Bureau of National Affairs and the financial software company Bloomberg PolarLake. On July 9, 2014, Bloomberg L. P. acquired RTS Realtime Systems, a global provider of low-latency connectivity and trading support services. In 1992, Bloomberg L. P. purchased New York Radio station WNEW for $13.5 million. The station was converted into an all-news format, known as Bloomberg Radio, the call letters were changed to WBBR. Bloomberg L. P. bought a weekly business magazine, BusinessWeek, from McGraw-Hill in 2009. The company acquired the magazine—which was suffering from declining advertising revenue and limited circulation numbers—to attract general business to its media audience composed of terminal subscribers. Following the acquisition, BusinessWeek was renamed Bloomberg Businessweek. Joel Weber edits the magazine. In 2010, Bloomberg L. P. acquired Eagle Eye Publishing, a Fairfax, Virginia-based company that publishes data about procurement by the Federal Government.
This acquisition became part of Bloomberg Government, launched in early 2011. In 2009, Bloomberg L. P. purchased New Energy Finance, a data company focused on energy investment and carbon markets research based in the United Kingdom. New Energy Finance was created by Michael Liebreich in 2004, to provide news and analysis on carbon and clean energy markets. Bloomberg L. P. acquired the company to become an industry resource for information to support low-carbon energy solutions. It was renamed to BNEF for short. Liebreich continued to lead the company, serving as the chief executive officer until 2014, when he stepped down as CEO but remained involved as Chairman of the Advisory Board. Bloomberg L. P. purchased Arlington, Virginia-based Bureau of National Affairs in August 2011, for $990 million to bolster its existing Bloomberg Government and Bloomberg Law services. BNA publishes specialized online and print news and information for professionals in business and government; the company produces more than 350 news publications in topic areas that include corporate law and business, employee benefits and labor law, environment and safety, health care, human resources, intellectual property and tax and acco
Russian Ground Forces
The Ground Forces of the Russian Federation are the land forces of the Russian Armed Forces, formed from parts of the collapsing Soviet Army in 1992. The formation of these forces posed economic challenges after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, required reforms to professionalize the Ground Forces during the transition. Since 1992, the Ground Forces have withdrawn thousands of troops from former Soviet garrisons abroad, while remaining extensively committed to the Chechen Wars and other operations in the Soviet successor states; the primary responsibilities of the Ground Forces are the protection of the state borders, combat on land, the security of occupied territories, the defeat of enemy troops. The Ground Forces must be able to achieve these goals both in nuclear war and non-nuclear war without the use of weapons of mass destruction. Furthermore, they must be capable of protecting the national interests of Russia within the framework of its international obligations; the Main Command of the Ground Forces is tasked with the following objectives: The training of troops for combat, on the basis of tasks determined by the Armed Forces' General Staff.
The improvement of troops' structure and composition, the optimization of their numbers, including for special troops. The development of military theory and practice; the development and introduction of training field manuals and methodology. The improvement of operational and combat training of the Ground Forces; as the Soviet Union dissolved, efforts were made to keep the Soviet Armed Forces as a single military structure for the new Commonwealth of Independent States. The last Minister of Defence of the Soviet Union, Marshal Yevgeny Shaposhnikov, was appointed supreme commander of the CIS Armed Forces in December 1991. Among the numerous treaties signed by the former republics, in order to direct the transition period, was a temporary agreement on general purpose forces, signed in Minsk on 14 February 1992. However, once it became clear that Ukraine was determined to undermine the concept of joint general purpose forces and form their own armed forces, the new Russian government moved to form its own armed forces.
Russian president Boris Yeltsin signed a decree forming the Russian Ministry of Defence on 7 May 1992, establishing the Russian Ground Forces along with the other branches of the military. At the same time, the General Staff was in the process of withdrawing tens of thousands of personnel from the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany, the Northern Group of Forces in Poland, the Central Group of Forces in Czechoslovakia, the Southern Group of Forces in Hungary, from Mongolia. Thirty-seven divisions had to be withdrawn from the four groups of forces and the Baltic States, four military districts—totalling 57 divisions—were handed over to Belarus and Ukraine; some idea of the scale of the withdrawal can be gained from the division list. For the dissolving Soviet Ground Forces, the withdrawal from the former Warsaw Pact states and the Baltic states was an demanding and debilitating process; as the military districts that remained in Russia after the collapse of the Union consisted of the mobile cadre formations, the Ground Forces were, to a large extent, created by relocating the full-strength formations from Eastern Europe to under-resourced districts.
However, the facilities in those districts were inadequate to house the flood of personnel and equipment returning from abroad, many units "were unloaded from the rail wagons into empty fields." The need for destruction and transfer of large amounts of weaponry under the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe necessitated great adjustments. The Ministry of Defence newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda published a reform plan on 21 July 1992. One commentator said it was "hastily" put together by the General Staff "to satisfy the public demand for radical changes." The General Staff, from that point, became a bastion of conservatism, causing a build-up of troubles that became critical. The reform plan advocated a change from an Army-Division-Regiment structure to a Corps-Brigade arrangement; the new structures were to be more capable in a situation with no front line, more capable of independent action at all levels. Cutting out a level of command, omitting two out of three higher echelons between the theatre headquarters and the fighting battalions, would produce economies, increase flexibility, simplify command-and-control arrangements.
The expected changeover to the new structure proved to be rare and sometimes reversed. The new brigades that appeared were divisions that had broken down until they happened to be at the proposed brigade strengths. New divisions—such as the new 3rd Motor Rifle Division in the Moscow Military District, formed on the basis of disbanding tank formations—were formed, rather than new brigades. Few of the reforms planned in the early 1990s eventuated, for three reasons: Firstly, there was an absence of firm civilian political guidance, with President Yeltsin interested in ensuring that the Armed Forces were controllable and loyal, rather than reformed. Secondly, declining funding worsened the progress. There was no firm consensus within the military about what reforms should be implemented. General Pavel Grachev, the first Russian Minister of Defence, broadly advertised reforms, yet wished to preserve the old Soviet-style Army, with large numbers of low-strength formations and continued mass conscription.
The General Staff and the armed services tried to preserve Soviet era doctrines, weapon
Tskhinvali is a city in the cultural region of South Ossetia,Georgia Transcaucasia and the capital of the de facto independent Republic of South Ossetia and the former Soviet Georgian South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast. The city had been administratively divided into the region of Shida Kartli by Georgia after the revocation of the autonomous oblast. It’s located on the Great Liakhvi River 100 kilometres northwest of the Georgian capital Tbilisi; the name of Tskhinvali is derived from the Old Georgian Krtskhinvali, from earlier Krtskhilvani meaning "the land of hornbeams", the historical name of the city. See ცხინვალი for more. From 1934 to 1961, the city was named Staliniri, compilation of Joseph Stalin's surname with Ossetian word "Ir" which means Ossetia. Modern Ossetians call the city Tskhinval; the area around the present-day Tskhinvali was first populated back in the Bronze Age. The unearthed settlements and archaeological artifacts from that time are unique in that they reflect influences from both Iberian and Colchian cultures with possible Sarmatian elements.
Tskhinvali was first chronicled by Georgian sources in 1398 as a village in Kartli though a account credits the 3rd century AD Georgian king Aspacures II of Iberia with its foundation as a fortress. By the early 18th century, Tskhinvali was a small "royal town" populated chiefly by monastic serfs. Tskhinvali was annexed to the Russian Empire along with the rest of eastern Georgia in 1801. Located on a trade route which linked North Caucasus to Tbilisi and Gori, Tskhinvali developed into a commercial town with a mixed Jewish, Georgian and Ossetian population. In 1917, it had 600 houses with 34.4 % Georgians, 17.7 % Armenians and 8.8 % Ossetians. The town saw clashes between Georgian People's Guard and pro-Bolshevik Ossetian peasants during the 1918-20 period, when Georgia gained brief independence from Russia. Soviet rule was established by the invading Red Army in March 1921, a year in 1922, Tskhinvali was made a capital of the South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast within the Georgian SSR. Subsequently, the town became Ossetian due to intense urbanisation and Soviet Korenizatsiya policy which induced an inflow of the Ossetians from the nearby rural areas into Tskhinvali.
It was an industrial centre, with lumber mills and manufacturing plants, had several cultural and educational institutions such as a venerated Pedagogical Institute and a drama theatre. According to the last Soviet census, Tskhinvali had a population of 42,934, according to the census of Republic of South Ossetia in 2015, the population was 30,432 people. During the acute phase of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict, Tskhinvali was a scene of ethnic tensions and ensuing armed confrontation between Georgian and Ossetian forces; the 1992 Sochi ceasefire accord left Tskhinvali in the hands of Ossetians. In late June, 2008 Russian military expert Pavel Felgenhauer predicted that Vladimir Putin would start a war against Georgia in Abkhazia and South Ossetia in August; the Kavkaz Center reported in early July that Chechen separatists had intelligence data that Russia was preparing a military operation against Georgia in August–September 2008 which aimed to expel Georgian forces from the Kodori Gorge. At 8:00 am on 1 August, a Georgian police vehicle was blown up by an improvised explosive device on the road near Tskhinvali, injuring five Georgian policemen.
In response, Georgian snipers assaulted some of the South Ossetian border checkpoints, killing four Ossetians and injuring seven. Ossetian separatists began intensively shelling Georgian villages on 1 August, with a sporadic response from Georgian peacekeepers and other troops in the region. During the night of 1/2 August and mortar fire were exchanged; the number of Ossetian casualties rose to six and the number of injured to fifteen, including several civilians. The Russian deputy defence minister, Nikolay Pankov, had a secret meeting with the separatist authorities in Tskhinvali on 3 August. An evacuation of Ossetian women and children to Russia began on the same day. According to researcher Andrey Illarionov, the South Ossetian separatists evacuated more than 20,000 civilians, which represented more than 90 percent of the civilian population of the future combat zone. On 4 August, South Ossetian president Eduard Kokoity said that about 300 volunteers had arrived from North Ossetia to help fight the Georgians and thousands more were expected from the North Caucasus.
On 5 August, Georgian authorities organised a tour for journalists and diplomats to demonstrate the damage caused by separatists. That day, Russian Ambassador-at-Large Yuri Popov declared that his country would intervene on the side of South Ossetia; the destruction of the village of Nuli was ordered by South Ossetian interior minister Mindzaev. About 50 Russian journalists had arrived in Tskhnivali, they were waiting for "something to happen". A pro-government Russian newspap
The Soviet Union the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were centralized; the country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Minsk, Alma-Ata, Novosibirsk, it spanned over 10,000 kilometres east to west across 11 time zones, over 7,200 kilometres north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, steppes and mountains; the Soviet Union had its roots in the 1917 October Revolution, when the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, overthrew the Russian Provisional Government which had replaced Tsar Nicholas II during World War I. In 1922, the Soviet Union was formed by a treaty which legalized the unification of the Russian, Transcaucasian and Byelorussian republics that had occurred from 1918. Following Lenin's death in 1924 and a brief power struggle, Joseph Stalin came to power in the mid-1920s.
Stalin committed the state's ideology to Marxism–Leninism and constructed a command economy which led to a period of rapid industrialization and collectivization. During his rule, political paranoia fermented and the Great Purge removed Stalin's opponents within and outside of the party via arbitrary arrests and persecutions of many people, resulting in at least 600,000 deaths. In 1933, a major famine struck the country. Before the start of World War II in 1939, the Soviets signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, agreeing to non-aggression with Nazi Germany, after which the USSR invaded Poland on 17 September 1939. In June 1941, Germany broke the pact and invaded the Soviet Union, opening the largest and bloodiest theatre of war in history. Soviet war casualties accounted for the highest proportion of the conflict in the effort of acquiring the upper hand over Axis forces at intense battles such as Stalingrad and Kursk; the territories overtaken by the Red Army became satellite states of the Soviet Union.
The post-war division of Europe into capitalist and communist halves would lead to increased tensions with the United States-led Western Bloc, known as the Cold War. Stalin died in 1953 and was succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev, who in 1956 denounced Stalin and began the de-Stalinization; the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred during Khrushchev's rule, among the many factors that led to his downfall in 1964. In the early 1970s, there was a brief détente of relations with the United States, but tensions resumed with the Soviet–Afghan War in 1979. In 1985, the last Soviet premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, sought to reform and liberalize the economy through his policies of glasnost and perestroika, which caused political instability. In 1989, Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe overthrew their respective communist governments; as part of an attempt to prevent the country's dissolution due to rising nationalist and separatist movements, a referendum was held in March 1991, boycotted by some republics, that resulted in a majority of participating citizens voting in favor of preserving the union as a renewed federation.
Gorbachev's power was diminished after Russian President Boris Yeltsin's high-profile role in facing down a coup d'état attempted by Communist Party hardliners. In late 1991, Gorbachev resigned and the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union met and formally dissolved the Soviet Union; the remaining 12 constituent republics emerged as independent post-Soviet states, with the Russian Federation—formerly the Russian SFSR—assuming the Soviet Union's rights and obligations and being recognized as the successor state. The Soviet Union was a powerhouse of many significant technological achievements and innovations of the 20th century, including the world's first human-made satellite, the first humans in space and the first probe to land on another planet, Venus; the country had the largest standing military in the world. The Soviet Union was recognized as one of the five nuclear weapons states and possessed the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction, it was a founding permanent member of the United Nations Security Council as well as a member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the World Federation of Trade Unions and the leading member of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance and the Warsaw Pact.
The word "Soviet" is derived from a Russian word сове́т meaning council, advice, harmony and all deriving from the proto-Slavic verbal stem of vět-iti, related to Slavic věst, English "wise", the root in "ad-vis-or", or the Dutch weten. The word sovietnik means "councillor". A number of organizations in Russian history were called "council". For example, in the Russian Empire the State Council, which functioned from 1810 to 1917, was referred to as a Council of Ministers after the revolt of 1905. During the Georgian Affair, Vladimir Lenin envisioned an expression of Great Russian ethnic chauvinism by Joseph Stalin and his supporters, calling for these nation-states to join Russia as semi-independent parts of a greater union, which he named as the Union of Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia. Stalin resisted the proposal, but accepted it, although with Lenin's agreement changed the name of the newly proposed sta