I have avoided so far to discuss the conflict of South Ossetia because it is such a complex issue extending all through the Caucasus and involving the power ambitions of at least two great powers (Russia and the USA) that I felt overwhelmed. Initially, all I could think was in the bombing of civilians by both sides and wish them to stop at once.
Also I was somewhat reluctant to give credibililty to mainstream western media, as they are not neutral in such issues normally. But when more distanced media such as Al Jazeera reports that Ossetian and Khazak dead squads, protected by Russian occupation troops, are involved in mass rapes and robbings in the villages around Gori, I feel I cannot remain silent anymore.
There is a most worrying trend in modern war to become "totalist", i.e. not to be anymore a matter of armed clashes for the control of the territory but to involve and attack the civilian populations. That is not war but genocide and is certainly illegal under all international conventions.
Overall, just to make clear my stand, I support the righ of self-determination of all peoples, and that applies to Ossetians and Abkhazians as well as to Chechens. One cannot use double standards in such issues: if it is self-determination, it must be for all without exceptions.