Trying to Hide Russian Failure in Ossetia
Russia has imposed a Soviet-style crackdown on reporters in Ossetia, largely preventing any foreign journalists from seeing what is going on under Russian rule in the region. What does Russia have to hide?
Russia already faces a massive storm of international criticism over its barbaric conduct in Georgia. Just a few days ago, senior U.S. diplomat David Merkel, deputy assistant secretary of state for Russia, reiterated “previous remarks by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the Georgia war had reduced Russia’s chances of joining the World Trade Organization. ‘Russia’s actions have put in jeopardy its membership in WTO, its accession to the OECD and others,; he said, adding that Moscow would probably not make it into the WTO next year. Asked whether he considered Russia imperialist, Merkel said that although Moscow had cooperated with the United States and Europe in the past, its ‘recent actions are more in line with a 19th-century imperial country.'”
So the last thing in the world Russia can afford right now is for anyone to witness its annexation of Ossetia and Abkhazia in full detail.
Moreover, Russia can use the cloak of secrecy for propaganda purposes against Georgia. Most recently, Russia has tried to tell the European Union that Georgian forces were violating the ceasefire agreement and even attempting to foment acts of terrorism against Russia. The EU scoffed at these ridiculous claims, specifically because Russia was unable to document them — something that’s impossible since Russia won’t allow anyone to actually observe what is going on. So, in this way at least, Russian secrecy in the region has come back to bite it, hard.
What if foreign reporters started asking the people of Ossetia and Abkhazia whether they want real independence or to become simply forgotten parts of Russia? What if they said they’d prefer true freedom? That wouldn’t look too good, now would it?
Finally, Russia is simply panicked. The Kremlin is besieged by economic disasters of every kind, and certainly cannot afford the domestic pressure that being seen to fail in Ossetia would generate.
The extent to which the world’s leading media outlets have simply accepted this situation is utterly shameful. Where is the courage displayed when they go into battle with U.S. troops in Iraq? What are the real thoughts and feelings of the people of Ossetia and Abkhazia about the new government that is being imposed upon them? Is Russia really equipped to take on new financial responsibilities even as its economy crumbles all around it?