Daily Archives: August 10, 2008

Special Extra — EDITORIAL: A New Low For Neo-Soviet Russia


A New Low for Neo-Soviet Russia

The Voice of America reports that “at the rare Sunday session of the [U.N. Security] council, called jointly by the United States and Georgia, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad questioned Russia’s motives in sending some 10,000 troops into South Ossetia in recent days to prevent Georgia from reasserting control over the Russian-backed breakaway region.”  VOA quotes Khalilzad:  “Russia has claimed that its military operations were intended to protect its peacekeepers and the civilian population in South Ossetia. Yet, its reaction goes far beyond any reasonable measures required to do so. Indeed, its escalation of the conflict has been the immediate cause of increased loss of innocent life and humanitarian suffering.” 

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Special Extra — Socor Explains the Georgia Outrage

Writing in the Jamestown Foundation’s Eurasia Daily Monitor (EDM), the brilliant Vladimir Socor explains how Russia provoked the Georgian military crisis, and why:

As anticipated (see EDM, July 11, August 4) Moscow has initiated an offensive military operation by proxy against Georgia in South Ossetia. Although the blow had been expected in upper Abkhazia and may yet materialize there, Russia shifted the direction of attack to the South Ossetian front.The brazen attacks during the night of August 7 to 8 in South Ossetia left Tbilisi with no choice but to respond. Continuing Georgian restraint would have resulted in irreparable human, territorial, and political losses. Moscow’s military and propaganda operation bears the hallmarks of its blitzkriegs in Transnistria in 1992 and Abkhazia in 1993. Georgia’s defensive response in South Ossetia since August 8 is legally within the country’s rights under international law and militarily commensurate with the attacks.

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August 11, 2008 — Contents


(1)  EDITORIAL: The Russian Carcinogen, Spreading

(2)  Russia Destroys its Relationship with the United States

(3)  Russia Bombs Civilians in Georgia Proper

(4)  A Clarion Call on Russia

(5)  The Russian Olympic Cheating Scandal Widens

(6)  Nazism and Sovietism were Just the Same

NOTE:  Russian forces have crossed the border from South Ossetia and invaded Georgia, seeking to conquer the city of Gori and “cut Georgia in half.” The New York Times reports: “The advance appeared to answer the question on which the conflict had been pivoting: Would Russia simply occupy the two separatist territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, or would it push into Georgia, raising the possibility of a full-scale invasion?”  As we report below, Russia has also bombed the outskirts of Tbilisi, the Georgian capital.  Vladimir Socor of the Jamestown Foundation explains how Russia provoked this conflict and what it hopes to gain from it.

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EDITORIAL: The Russian Carcinogen, Spreading


THE Russian Carcinogen, Spreading

Two weeks ago Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez visited Russia and held a joint news conference with “president” Dmitri Medvedev, a transcript of which the Kremlin proudly posted on its website. The pair discussed a deal in which Venezulea would spend billions of dollars buying Russian weapons, and Chavez then promptly took delivery on a shipment of Russian-made warplanes. Soon after that he began issuing statements about using them to sink “gringo” ships from the United States. In Moscow, Chavez had stated that “if Russian military forces ever visited Venezuelan territory, they would be greeted ‘by flying colors, drum beats and songs, as this means the arrival of our allies with whom we share the same view on the world.'”

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Russia Destroys its Relations with the United States

Reuters reports that both U.S. presidential candidates have condemned Russia’s action in Georgia in the strongest terms, after the White House declared:  “If the disproportionate and dangerous escalation on the Russian side continues, this will have a significant long-term impact on U.S.-Russian relations.”

U.S. presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain stepped up their criticism of Russia’s military activity in Georgia on Saturday, calling for Moscow to withdraw its forces and the international community to facilitate peace talks. McCain, a Republican senator from Arizona who has made foreign policy and national security the centerpiece of his campaign, said he spoke to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili on Saturday, their second conversation since the crisis erupted. Obama, on vacation in Hawaii, said he had also spoken to Saakashvili and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Russia and Georgia came into direct conflict after Tbilisi launched an offensive to regain control over the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

McCain, an outspoken critic of Moscow, said it was clear the situation in Georgia was dire. “Tensions and hostilities between Georgians and Ossetians are in no way justification for Russian troops crossing an internationally recognized border,” he said in a statement. “I again call on the government of Russia to immediately and unconditionally withdraw its forces from the territory of Georgia.”

Obama called for direct talks among all sides and said the United States, the U.N. Security Council and other parties should try to help bring about a peaceful resolution. “I condemn Russia’s aggressive actions and reiterate my call for an immediate ceasefire,” Obama said in a statement. “Russia must stop its bombing campaign, cease flights of Russian aircraft in Georgian airspace, and withdraw its ground forces from Georgia.”‘


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Russia Bombs Apartment Buildings in Georgia Proper

Russia Bombs Civilians in Gori

Russia Bombs Civilians in Gori

The New York Timesreports that Russian aircraft have bombed civilian targets, two apartment buildings, outside the breakaway region of South Ossetia, in Georgia proper.  Even the Russian side admits that at least 1,500 civilians have been killed, and Georgia claims to have shot down 10 Russian war planes flying over Georgian territory.

A Georgian man mourned a dead relative in the town of Gori

A Georgian man mourned a dead relative in the town of Gori

This act of barbarism by Russia must not stand. It is no different than Hitler or Stalin invading Eastern Europe. If we do not stand against it now today, we will face it again tomorrow, this time much closer to home.

Gori, Under Siege

Gori, Under Siege

Do you dare to imagine how Russia would have reacted if a foreign country had marched tanks and troops into Chechnya on the side of the rebels and then launched sorties against Russian cities like Krasnodar and Sochi in support of ousting the Russians?  Russia now deserves exactly that response.

Make no mistake, this is Vladmir Putin’s Waterloo, no differently than the incursions by Stalin and Hitler outside their borders were theirs.  Any moral ascendancy Russia had to demand a free hand in Chechnya was lost in Gori, Georgia, and the barbaric KGB regime in Moscow was finally, utterly exposed.

UPDATE #1:  President Bush has spoken out loud and clear:  “Georgia is a sovereign nation, and its territorial integrity must be respected. We have urged an immediate halt to the violence and a stand-down by all troops. We call for the end of the Russian bombings.”  Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin has left the Olympics and is taking charge of the assault on Georgia, clearing making a mockery of the so-called “Medvedev presidency.”  Putin is going to do in Georgia exactly what he condemned the U.S. for doing in Iraq, with the main difference being that the president of Georgia is a democratically elected leader who hasn’t been condemned by the world as the Iraqi dictator had been. Russia is utterly exposed by its actions, laid bare before they eyes of the world.

UPDATE #2: As if the Putin regime specifically wanted to make fools out of those Russophile idiots who claimed it was limiting its assault to the Ossetia region, the Associated Press now reports that Russia is bombing  the Georgian capital of Tbilisi and moving against Abkhazia, another breakaway republic which is totally uninvolved in the Ossetia action.  Reuters says a civilian airport was also hit outside Tbilisi.  This kind of crazy, self-destructive action is what you get when you have a government run by proud KGB spies with no opposition of any kind.  It’s what you got in the USSR.

NOTE:  For information about Georgia and its struggles with Russia, check out Georgia Daily and Georgia Times newspapers.

A Clarion Call on Russia

A brilliant editorial in the Washington Post:

THE OUTBREAK of fighting between Russia and the former Soviet republic of Georgia was sudden but not surprising. Conflict has been brewing between Moscow and its tiny, pro-Western neighbor for months. The flashpoints are two breakaway Georgian provinces, Abkhazia and South Ossetia — the latter being the scene of the latest fighting. The skirmishing and shelling around Georgian villages that prompted Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to launch an offensive against the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, may or may not have been a deliberate Russian provocation, to which Russia’s tank and air assault was the inevitable follow-up.

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The Russian Olympics Scandal Widens

The Times of London reports:

AN UNKNOWN official in the Moscow visa office is now a prime suspect in a conspiracy to tip off leading Russian athletes that foreign testers were about to swoop on their training camps, in the murkiest drugs scandal since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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Sovietism and Nazism Were Just the Same

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, former Estonian Prime Minister Mart Laar explains that people who saw them both up close know very well that Stalinsim was just as bad as Nazism.

Last week Russia furiously attacked President Bush for his proclamation on Captive Nations Week (July 20-July 26), which was established to raise awareness of countries living under communist and other oppressive regimes. Mr. Bush said that, “In the 20th century, the evils of Soviet communism and Nazi fascism were defeated and freedom spread around the world as new democracies emerged.”

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August 10, 2008 — Contents



(1) The Sunday Photos

(2) The Sunday Sacrilege

(3) The Sunday Shock

(4) The Sunday Funnies

The Sunday Photos: Oborona Stands for Democracy

Photos from yet another public protest action by the heroic patriots of Oborona, this one just a couple of weeks ago. The activists protested for democracy in Belarus outside the barbaric nation’s embassy in Moscow. They were responding to the latest round of draconian crackdowns by the Belarussian dictator Lukashenko after an explosion in the capital city of Minsk on July 4th, which Lukashenko shamelessly used as a pretext. They carried copies of signs that protesters in Belarus were jailed for carrying.

The Sunday Sacrilege: Annals of Russia’s Islamic Bomb

Paul Goble reports:

The Russian government’s failure to enforce its own laws and to provide basic community services in the modernized sector is to blame for efforts by non-Russian groups there to revive pre-modern traditions like shariat, according to a leading Moscow commentator. Such groups in the current political environment have few chances of influencing the behavior of the Russian government, Sobkorr.ru observer Yuri Gladysh says, and consequently, they are taking the only steps available to them to protect themselves and their families from increasing official arbitrariness.And the Russian authorities will have only themselves to blame if they do not change course and then must confront communities far less adaptable to Russian-style modernization than they were only a few years ago and far more ready to listen to those, often radical in their politics, who speak within that alternative, pre-modern tradition.

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The Sunday Shock: Chechens Take over the Russian Army!

Paul Goble reports:

Because of an unusual combination of circumstances, Chechens could easily make up one-third of young Russian citizens to be drafted this fall, a figure that means non-Russians would easily form more than 50 percent of that draft class and one that is certain to disturb Russian commanders and politicians, according to a Moscow military analyst. In an extensive article in the current issue of “NG-Regiony,” Vladimir Mukhin calls into question official claims that the just-completed spring draft cycle was successfully fulfilled and points to even greater troubles ahead this fall in complecting the Russian Federation’s armed services. It is true, Mukhin says, that the military was able to draft the 133,200 young people in the plan and that 21.5 percent of them had higher educations, double the figure from a year earlier. It reduced the number of evaders to 6700, a quarter the rate one year earlier. But the military was able to do that only by drafting individuals whose health is at the very least questionable.

Human rights groups like the Soldiers’ Mothers committees believe that as many as half of those drafted should not have been because of poor health, and even the General Staff announced this time around that 30 percent of those it was calling to the colors should not have been. But the prospects Moscow faces this fall are even more problematic, Mukhin continued. On the one hand, the services will have to draft 200,000 young people all at once, 180 percent of the number drafted this spring, and on the other, it will have to fill simultaneously two classes who will be leaving service at the same time because of changes in the length of service required. Indeed, Mukhin argued, “such a large influx into the army as is scheduled to occur this fall has not happened before in post-Soviet Russia to their more senior commanders and the media, about whether they will be able to cope.

In this situation, Mukhin says, “it is not excluded that in order to fulfill draft quotas for the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and other Russian forces, the military commissariats will begin to draft young people from Chechnya,” a step they have not taken in recent times because of the troubles there but which could generate about 70,000 draftees this fall. Because Chechens are “more healthy and accustomed to the military way of life than are young people from other regions,” few of them would be excluded under the new and more relaxed health grounds. And if Moscow does decided to take this step, Mukhin writes, then this fall “every third new draftee could be a Chechen.” Mukhin’s article is not the only one focusing on these problems. “Gazeta” reported that the military’s draft program on “The New Face of the Armed Forces” anticipates retaining the draft until at least 2030, thus eliminating one means commanders might have to maintain Russian dominance in the army.

And an essay carried by Sobkorr.ru discussing the situation argued that the desire of commanders to continue to rely on draftees not only reflects the continuing impact of what it called a Soviet-era mentality but also raised questions about what kind of conflicts Russia’s military in fact needs to be prepared for. Obviously, there are certain steps Moscow could take to address this situation – drafting a higher percentage of ethnic Russians than of others as it has done in the last two draft cycles or reducing the size of the military – but neither of those are attractive militarily or politically and consequently underscore just how many problems the Kremlin now has in filling the ranks.

The Sunday Funnies

Source: Barbarossa.

Russian bloggers have noted that from Lenin on Russian rulers have alternated between bald and hairy rulers. The above cartoon shows the continuation of flip-flops between Putin and Medvedev as they become fodder for worms, co-rulers for life.