Boris Suvarin, Ezhednevny Zhurnal, 8 September 2008
translated from the Russian by Dave Eseel
South Ossetia has a population of 60 thousand people. Almost all of them hold Russian passports. Strangely enough, who ordered that they should be given them and why is still a mystery. Some say it was A.S. Voloshin [former chief of Russian presidential administration] but he is not being asked to step forward. For his part, he is keeping his mouth tight shut.
Be that as it may, Ossetians, unlike, say, many of the people from the Caucasus living in Moscow, most certainly did not have to pay for their passports. On the contrary, it was Russia which paid for the pleasure.
Over the last 10 years, South Ossetia has received $100 million a year, paid out of the Russian budget. Of course, no accounts for these funds have ever been produced. No one is asking how precisely Mr. Kokoity spent the money – on the needs of his people, of course. That’s clear since no one is complaining, right?
By a rough calculation, that means every inhabitant of South Ossetia has been having fifteen hundred dollars of Russian budget spent on him every year. It’s worth bearing in mind that South Ossetia contributes no taxes to the Russian budget.
Then came the war.
The cost of the military operation was, according to official figures, about $500 million. The restoration of South Ossetia, according to Kudrin [Minister of Finance] in a first estimate, will eat up another $500 million.
We hear that Russia’s gold and currency reserves went down by $16.5 billion during the war. This figure includes the cost to the Central Bank of supporting the rouble, whose value has dropped like a stone. Nonetheless, I do not think it quite fair to include this money in the “cost” to us of South Ossetia’s passports.
The next problem is the recognition of south Ossetia as a country.
Nicaragua has recognised it.
How much that cost the Russian budget is very difficult to say. Also, the Ministry of Finance is hoping that other countries will follow suit.
It is said (and not by Russophobe enemies but by the RBK TV channel) that in the matter of recognition by Belarus A.G. Lukashenko asked for a cool $1 billion loan – not for recognition per se but “just because” – and a reduction in the price it pays for gas which would amount to $200 million.
After that, it will be recognition time for Kyrgyzstan and Tadzhikistan. Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have been merciful towards the Russian budget with outright refusals to play the recognition game as “not something one drives bargains over”.
I am not asking why Russia is twisting its allies’ arms and turning out its pockets with the whole world watching on and laughing as various countries get to fill their budget shortfalls with recognition money. What are we try to demonstrate or prove by doing this?
It’s incomprehensible. One can only hope that this is some diplomatic magic ritual that the normal mind cannot comprehend.
Doesn’t stop one from totting up the figures, though. So here goes:
• 10 years of maintenance for Kokoity (and the other inhabitants of SO): $1 billion
• The war itself plus the restoration: $1 billion
• Next the most expensive item – the recognition of South Ossetia (or rather recognition of Russia’s right to hand out independence to whomsoever it wishes) by Nicaragua now and in progress by other leading lights of world public opinion such as Belarus, Kyrgystan, Tadzhikistan… Let’s say another $4 billion.
Total – $6 billion.
The population of South Ossetia is, I repeat, 60,000.
It’s easy to work out that the ‘recognition plan’, if it works, means that Russia will have paid something around $100,000 for each one (1) for the right to hand out Russian passports.
But no cloud without a silver lining! It follows from this that the Crimea, at least, is safe from being engulfed: at that price per passport, Russia’s budget can’t cover the cost since the population of Crimea is 2 million. And everyone knows the going rate now.
Only people born in Russia take up and carry Russian passports for nothing. Others will not let Russia off so lightly.
But I don’t envy the Russian taxpayer. The budget spend on the ‘passport for SO’ project will not go to line Ossetian pockets but into the accounts of the likes of Ortega, Moscow generals, and the owners of the constructions firms who amongst other things built ranches in the Moscow countryside for Kokoity and his relatives.
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The population is 60,000 of which 40,000 are Ossetians. The rest are Georgians and other ethnic minorities. Russia has been supporting a tiny minority of people for 10 years. Why? Is there oil in South Ossetia? Gold? Diamonds? There is only one explanation. Russia wants to control the Caucauses by force rather than by good will.
Russia was protecting Ossetians from genocide. It is the only explanation. Saakashvili is a marionette and a war criminal. Russia acted as policeman who prevented domestic violence in it’s neighbors house and set a restricting order for the fascistic maniac by placing peacekeepes.
Are you aware of Congress hearings yesterday?
Why it is so hard to believe that not everything in this world is driven by oil & blood .. There is no economical interest, and both Ossetia and Abkhazia declared independence today.
And what is shown in the picture – is a russian Foreign passport of Russian girl (by name) living in Moscow.
LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS: There was no genocide against Ossetians. Please use language more carefully. At most you can say Russia was protecting Ossetians from genocide it feared would occur, without any evidence of any kind to support its views. Russia has already been convicted as a war criminal in the European Court for Human Rights on many occasions, and Saaskashvili has never been convicted of anything. Therefore, your comment is nothing but ignorant slander. We publish your silly, stupid dreck just because better than any other method it shows the utter emptiness of the Russophile position, which has been totally repudiated by the entire globe.
Ossetians from genocide? Do you have substantial evidence to back this up? I mean, there’s a evidence to support that there was actually genocide taking place against Georgians in Abkhazia in the early 90’s. Also, should we forget about the genocide carried out by the Ossetians (backed by russian forces) against the Ingush? Regardless, there’s an underlying player in each one of these events: The Russian Government…
Well, I’ve spoken to Ossetians, people who were there in Tskhinval. Remember Amanda Kokoeva interview on Fox News?
The only underlying thing is Baku-Tbilisi-Jeyhan oil pipe that makes republican administration so nervous; Not the Georgian or Ossetian people.
Russia has restored peace and stopped conflict. It is an unarguable outcome of the whole story.
There is Darfur and other places to help, if one wants to.
I am glad that my comments are constantly called “silly, stupid dreck”, “utter emptiness “, etc. It serves very well to describe intellectual abilities of the blog author when arguing, just nothing to add.
It is very interesting how people form they opinions, what they base them on and how they express them. The outcome (ones post or blog) usually is transparent enough to see how it got formed. While there is no doubt Russia has its interests in Caucasus, is there anything wrong with it? As far as passports go, I think it is a bit complicated. Soviet passports expired, Ossetians in SO that wanted to get any passport had no choice, but to get Russian one, they couldn’t get a Georgian passport till 2004, 86-04 to be precise. So what is the deal here? It is not like Russia was forcing someone to get one! There still people in SO that have no passport at all. To summarize, this blog sounds like a pointless place, opinions should be heard along with the logical conclusions and facts, using profound language and empty accusations are pointless.
LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS:
Ukraine has an interest in Chechnya. Does that mean, you clueless dolt, that it is entitled to plunge troops into Russia in support of the Chechen rebels? To issue them Ukrainian passports and declare Chechnya part of Ukraine?
Thanks for your comment! Your incredible dishonesty and stupidity make the case against Russophile rubbish better than anything we could possible say!
Kokoeva! I have to ask myself, did this poor little innocent girl break a nail on the way out of the hotzone? LOL Hanna Montanna doesn’t belong in a place well known for counterfeiting millions in USD, drug trafficking, uranium smuggling, kidnapping, extortion, and murder. Afterall, the puppet regime in power, can’t save her from these things when it’s directly involved. A parental figure needs a slap in the face. I didn’t follow how this fit into “genocide” either…
LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS: The picture is merely illustrative. Hormones acting up, baby?
They are all ethnic americans. That is the only justification I need to invade a democracy.
If your going to put a headline about South Ossetian passports please don’t put a picture of a Russian one. Its misleading. Many UN member states started this dangerous trend when recognising Kosovo and at the time they where warned about it.
South Ossetians consider themselves Russian as does Russia and that justifies them getting Russian passports. Its the same reasoning for people in Northern Ireland getting British and Irish passports.
As for genocide its more than justified, its clear that Georgia’s did not attack Russian forces apparently marching from the north but a civilian area of a city. Georgia had taken the high ground around that city in July. This genocidal trend has been apparent since the early nineties where Georgian leaders where calling for “Georgia for Georgians”.
LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS:
You moron, Russia is giving RUSSIAN passports to Ossetians, AS YOU YOURSELF SAY. It’s not the least bit misleading. YOU are the one who is misleading. Please read your own comment before posting it. Cretin.
The WHOLE WORLD considers South Ossetians to be GEORGIANS. Chechens considered themselves to be independent, what did Russians say then? You have the brain of tree frog.
Georgia killed less than 200 civilians. That’s not genocide. Russia killed at least as many Georgian civilians. Is Russia guilty of genocide?
Every word you say further discredits Russia. Please continue!
LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS:
We called you a moron because you are one. The reason is simple. You don’t understand how this blog works. You read it, then you comment. We don’t publish the comments of those who have clearly not read the blog. We’ve previously published our sources on the number of Ossetians killed by Russians, we don’t repeat them on demand for insignificant little trolls like you. READ THE BLOG FOR YOURSELF, don’t ask us to read it to you. We won’t, nor will we publish your INANE requests that we do so.
If you violate our rules, we insult you. Simple as that. Don’t like it? Then get lost, idiot.
UPDATE: Congratulations. Due to your refusal to abide by our rules, you are now banned from commenting on this blog. You had a forum and you lost it. Nice work, dumbass.