ALA, JBANC join in condemning attack on Georgia

The American Latvian Association (ALA) and the Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC) have joined the growing list of civic organizations and government leaders denouncing Russia’s invasion of Georgia.

The two groups, along with the Central and East European Coalition, announced Aug. 12 that they want Russia to end its military action against Georgia, to accept a ceasefire and withdraw its forces from the country.

“We stand together with the nation of Georgia in this critical moment,” the Maryland-based ALA said in an e-mail sent to supporters. “We stand united with the Joint Baltic American National Committee, the Central and East European Coalition, the presidents and the parliaments of the Baltic States in expressing deep concern over Russia’s violation of the borders of the Georgian Republic and the deaths of innocent people of this proud nation in the Caucasus.”

Latvian-Americans, the ALA said, should e-mail U.S. President George Bush and their representatives in Congress to voice concern about “Russia’s expansionist policies and violence.”

The conflict began after Georgian forces entered South Ossetia in a bid to take control over the breakaway region, where Russian peacekeepers have been stationed since the 1990s. Russia, which has granted citizenship to many residents of South Ossetia, responded Aug. 8 by sending its forces into South Ossetia. However, the following day Russian forces began to drive deeper into Georgia.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, in an Aug. 8 statement issued by his government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, blamed Georgia for attacking peacekeepers and citizens in South Ossetia.

“We will not allow the deaths of our fellow citizens to go unpunished,” Medvedev said. “The perpetrators will receive the punishment they deserve.”

The Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs countered in an Aug. 11 announcement that Russian claims of arrests and repression of Russian citizens are “an absolute lie.”

The Washington, D.C.-based JBANC said it condemns the invasion.

“Russia has unjustifiably escalated a minor border incident into a major confrontation resulting in numerous unnecessary civilian casualties,” JBANC Managing Director Karl Altau said in a press release.

“Russia’s invasion of Georgia is a challenge to all democracies seeking to promote peaceful coexistence among nations,” the JBANC release continued. “The world’s response to Russia’s current aggression is critical since it will undoubtedly dictate the future course of Russia’s policies towards its neighbors. Therefore the United States and the European Union must take all necessary steps to end Russia’s aggression against Georgia.”

JBANC’s members include the ALA, the Estonian American National Council and the Lithuanian American Council.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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