EDITORIAL: Trying to Hide Russian Failure in Ossetia


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?

11 responses to “EDITORIAL: Trying to Hide Russian Failure in Ossetia

  1. Damn, Russia needs to change!

    Throw that moron Pukin to jail and ELECT a normal democratic president.

  2. I’m sorry, but I feel I have to say this:

    A normal democratically-elected president like Bush?

  3. Electing someone else wont initially solve anything. It would just create a power vacuum fuelled by the propaganda.

    The blatant lies that spew out of the Kremlins mouth are daily rubbished by the western press – of course… but I would not be at all suprised if the majority of people in Russia actually believe that Georgia is indeed comitting further acts of Terrorism.

    Even 5 weeks after Russia had apparently complied with its ceasefire (according to Russian press)… the headlines still almost daily ran ‘President Terror’ in attempts to add to Saakashvilli’s sins.

    The reason Russia lies in public, is so that they can pretend to the Russians through Propaganda that these lies are actually real.

    Unless Russia experiences a free press, then they can’t be expected to believe anything than that which they hear in the media.

    Even if the elected Govt wanted to do what was right, there are enough people opposed to it that if people genuinely were acting in Russias best interests they would soon be punished by Russians who’ve grown up believing in corruption and a USSR style of doing things.

    It seems to me that politics is not a solution to Russia’s primal situation. The question is, where does that leave Russia?

  4. http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/news/2008/10/081028_whewell_ossetia.shtml

    BBC, British Broadcasting Service (which I liked before the war and like again now) has after two months started pointing out what Georgia did in South Ossetia. Which, strangely enough, coincides with what the Russian Government has said over the past months. I’m sorry, but it seems like ‘Russian propaganda’ is now being accepted in the west, and I’m pretty sure RIA Novosti isn’t shown there. When the West suddenly starts turning (albeit slowly) against Georgia without apologizing for ignoring South Ossetia in the conflict in any way, I start smelling hypocrisy.

    You can call it a lie all you want, but when Miliband starts saying the same thing… what, now you’re going to say he’s a traitorous Russian-lover?


    Listen, imbecile, nobody has ever said Georgia was innocent or perfect in this crisis. War is war. In war, bad things happen. Russia’s human rights violations in Chechnya are legion and legendary and proved in court. What we’ve said is that the number of civilians killed by Georgians was a tiny fraction of what Russia claimed, and that Russia also killed many civilians. NOTHING in your link disputes that. Moreover, your link admits that Russia has sealed off Ossetia and prevented any real reporting from taking place there, and your link has NOTHING to do with Russian war crimes, which the BBC certainly does not dispute having occurred.

    Here are the facts that matter, which NOBODY disputes except Russian propagandists like you: (1) Ossetian forces attacked the Georgian territory first; (2) Georgia called for cease fire, and Russia did nothing to accept it or halt the Ossetian aggression; (3) Russia attacked Georgian forces when they moved against the Ossetian aggressors and then crossed into Georgia proper, and did not pull out even after signing a cease fire agreement; (4) Russia annexed Ossetia without international approval and sealed it off from contact with the outside world.

    No amount of gibberish from apelike imbeciles like you can change that, nor can it change the fact that Russia has been totally repudiated for its barbarism by the entire outside world.

    Dream on, you sick little neo-Soviet freak.

  5. I love being called a little neo-Soviet freak. It makes me want to rethink my thoughts, to see arguments spouted in such a logical manner. As to the facts:

    1) There have been many border skirmishes between South Ossetia and Georgia. First one starts it, then the other. This particular time, South Ossetia may have started it – but Georgia rapidly escalated it into a full-out war, not South Ossetia.

    2) Call a ceasefire what you want. Saakashvili didn’t agree with getting his troops out of South Ossetia and signing a treaty of non-aggression against South Ossetia. He could’ve ended the war by doing so.

    3) Russia didn’t pull out of what it saw as independent states after signing a ceasefire, yes. You may remember ‘recognition’, where Russia began ignoring all claims to Georgia controlling South Ossetia.

    4) South Ossetia isn’t being annexed any more then Belarus is. However, it is getting financial and reconstruction aid from Russia. Just like Georgia is from.. oh, pretty much the rest of the world. As for sealing off from contact, that’s just not true. Diplomatically, Georgia refused to talk to Russia if South Ossetian or Abkhazian ambassadors were present. Media-related, the damn area was a war-zone, and afterwards (read: a bit before the article I had posted was written) was open to international media.

    NYT estimated roughly 600,000 civilian Iraqi deaths in 2006. Two years ago. There are roughly 50,000 speculated deaths in Chechnya. Please, be more hypocritical. I mean, I don’t see how it’s possible. And at least Russia didn’t make up some half-assed WMD excuse to invade.

    I’m not saying Russia handled everything perfectly. They could’ve been more careful with it. However, when people like you and pretty much the rest of NATO start whining about a war with less then 400 total casualties after invading Iraq and Afghanistan and bombing Serbia. Let’s count that, shall we? Human Rights Watch estimated 488 NATO-caused deaths in Serbia – NATO itself claimed no more then 1500 and Serbia claimed ~2500. Wow, yes, I see, you have full moral OBLIGATION to criticize Russia over maybe 150 dead Georgians. (The 400 counted Russian and Ossetian deaths)

    The NATO Afghanistan war casualties estimates ranged from 1200 to 4500+ (discounting indirect deaths, such as lack of hospital equipment, etc) And, of course, maybe 800,000 in Iraq, so… (yeah, I should’ve just stuck to Iraq. The other two are minor, though both far deadlier then Georgia).

    You can say what you want, but every source except the occasional NO ONE DIED (as compared to 50,000 South Ossetians died) source shows that each of the three conflicts had far more casualties then Georgia. And, Iraq War in particular, far, far more then Chechnya.

    Americans have no moral ground to criticize anyone.

  6. Anon,

    Describing your opinions as facts makes you a freak. In your list
    1) Georgia rapidly escalated it into a full-out war, not South Ossetia.
    2) [Saakashvili] could’ve ended the war by doing so (not to mention that SO is recognized part of Georgia, and signing a treaty of non-aggression with SO is like for UK to sign a treaty of non-aggression with Northern Ireland – but I’ll leave this to the you habit of spouting arguments in such logical manner)
    3) You may remember ‘recognition’, where Russia began ignoring all claims to Georgia controlling South Ossetia.
    4) South Ossetia isn’t being annexed any more then Belarus is.

    These are all your opinions. They may be right (eg., I partially agree with 4 – staffing prime minister and the whole government doesn’t equate annexion). Or they may be wrong (I disagree with 1 and 2). And they may be delusional (that’s what I think of 3), but when you call your opinions as fact, it makes you a freak.

    And when you say something that looks like a fact (“NYT estimated roughly 600,000 civilian Iraqi deaths in 2006”) you are actually lying. I am no fan of NYT, but in that case NYT actually quoted somebody else. So the fact is, “NYT cited a study by a little-known anti-war group that estimated roughly 600,000 civilian Iraqi deaths”. That would be true, but that wouldn’t sound as impressive as what you said.

    And last – Americans have no moral ground to criticize anyone.
    Yep. That honorable right has been usurped by Soviet Union and it’s successor (rising from its knees Russia) since 1917. You *are* neo-Soviet freak indeed.

  7. There is a world of difference between how Russia and Georgia are handling war results.
    Illarionov describes numerous parliamentary, NGO, and press investigations of who did what when and why in Georgia.

    And in addition on September 16 Saakashvili introduced a new wave of liberalization reforms.

    When Russia has 10 per cent of Georgian transparency, we can start discussing what Russian government says. And only when Russian transparency is equal to Georgian, one can talk about moral equivalency between the warring parties. Until then anything that Russian government says, requires very high burden of proof. And just because Western useful idiots (Valdai club or BBC) agree – doesn’t make it any more truthful.

  8. “Americans have no moral ground to criticize anyone.”

    My ass, first of all, was Georgia a threat to Russian allies? I guess that’s a trick question because Russia doesn’t have any.

    Quoting the New York Times is ironic, because theirs stock has just been labeled as “JUNK”.

    If you want to know how they reached the “600,000” casualties, I found a hospital that had 4000 war related, and non-war related deaths, all we need to do now is multiply this number by the amount of hospitals. This is why the New York Times was downgraded to junk.

    This number has been debunked on several occasions. Saddam’s mass graves have been providing more work for our investigators than allegations of war crimes.

  9. regards to anon vs russophobe arguement…
    I love it when a debate resorts to ad hominem- it reminds me of how desperate the other side is in its attempts at personal assault, rather than deal with the issue at hand.
    silly russophobe.


    Physician, heal thyself! What a hypocrite. Not a single substantive word appears in your comment, which is an ad hominem attack on us. Thanks for the laugh!

  10. the big p, small caps are fitting. Tell my why America is to blame for murders perpetrated by insurgent groups when there is no soldier within 50 miles.

    Saddam’s death toll estimate is between 1 million and 5million, executed by state authorities. When we finish digging up the mass graves, I guess we’ll find out.

    Over the course of the next thirty years. If the American high estimate and the Saddam low estimate are both accurate, considering trends. The Iraqi people will be much better off.

  11. I think your 600,000 number is bs, but I will give it the benefit of the doubt. Even if that number is accurate, you have to realize that car bombing victims, suicide bombing victims, murders by insurgents, including children that were baked in a oven in order to intimidate their parents. They are all pinned on America.

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