MONDAY AUGUST 10 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: Long Knives in Sukhumi
(2) EDITORIAL: Georgia, Triumphant!
(3) Sidorov on Georgia and Russian Imperialism
(4) The West must not Abandon Georgia (Again)
(5) The Women of Gori Remember Russian War Crimes
NOTE: A special issue devoted to the Russian threat against Georgia on the one-year anniversary of the war of aggression by Putin against Saakashvili. Remember this first of all: Russia lied about civilian casualties in Ossetia, claiming thousands were killed in “genocide” when in fact only 162 were killed, 40% less civilian casualties than Russia inflicted on Georgia. If anyone was guilty of “genocide,” then, it was Russia. Russia has never apologized for its lies, and that tells you all you need to know about its role in war. As the New York Times states: “It was as if senior Russian officials pulled out a dog-eared Soviet propaganda playbook that called for hurling the most outlandish charge, without recognizing that in the modern global media climate, their credibility would quickly suffer if the facts proved otherwise”
Long Knives in Sukhumi
Blogging on Live Journal (backed up on Google), Twitter and Facebook, a Georgian lecturer on economics at Sukhumi State University named “Giorgi” last week faced a massive campaign of cyberwar from Russia (read his posts in translation here and here). Thanks to the free advertising from his beloved Russians, which got him written about in such places as the Times of London and interviewed by The Guardian, by the time the dust settled and he was fully back online (though the LJ blog still seems to be under assault), laughing at the Russian cowards who attacked him, the professor (who blogs as “cyxymu,” which looks like the Russian script for Sukhumi) now has well over 2,000 followers on Twitter and is ten thousand times more well read than before the crazed Russophile set tried to silence him. By the weekend, there were nearly 1,000 articles in the mainstream Western press blaming Russia and praising the Georgian’s courage.
Nice job, Russians! Maybe you’d like to do the same favor for La Russophobe?
It’s not surprising that Russians are motivated to acts of craven, violent desperation as they see tiny Georgia humiliate them before world.
Last week, even as the proud and defiant words of Georgia’s president were appearing in the Washington Post, the IMF announced that it was increasing economic support to the Georgian government by more than 50%. Meanwhile, Russia is saddled with the massive economic burden of maintaining the impoverished Ossetia and Abkahazia regions, while Georgia is relieved of it, even as the Russian economy enters its worst recession in modern history. And that’s to say nothing of the nearly $30 billion in costs and losses Russia incurred from the war itself — money Russia’s sick population, which does not rank in the top 150 nations of the world for lifespan, desperately needed for social services.
How can Russia respond? Only with truly pathetic efforts to crash websites through cyberterrorism.
Dmitri Sidorov, bureau chief for Kommersant in Washington DC, writing in Forbes:
The Russian proverb “trust but verify” gave Ronald Reagan some of his most memorable moments. He produced it repeatedly in interactions with the Soviets, including the 1978 ceremony to sign the INF (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) treaty in Moscow. There, he said it first in English, and then in Russian, incurring the displeasure of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
In July 2009 President Obama signed a number of documents in Moscow, and according to sources in the Russian capital and Washington, he received the Kremlin’s assurance that Russian troops will not invade Georgia again. But Mr. Obama, following the practice of his recent predecessors, shied away from publicly stressing the importance of verification, and emphasized instead the value of trust.
But this doesn’t work with the Russians. No matter which leader occupies the throne in the Kremlin, Moscow has no plans to waive its proclaimed spheres of influence in most, if not all, the former republics of the USSR.
Ronald Asmus, executive director of the Brussels-based Transatlantic Center of the German Marshall Fund of the United States and author of The Little War that Shook the World: Georgia, Russia and the Future of the West, to be published by Palgrave Macmillan, writing in the Financial Times:
A year ago this Friday Russia and Georgia went to war. By the standards of modern warfare it was a little war. It lasted five days. Casualties were modest. It nevertheless sparked the greatest European security crisis since Slobodan Milosevic unleashed the dogs of ethnic cleansing in the Balkans in the 1990s. Moscow invaded a neighbour for the first time since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. It broke the cardinal rule of post-cold war European security that borders in Europe should never be changed by force of arms. It showed an ugly neo-imperial side of its policy that many in the west had hoped was part of the past.
The women of Gori, Georgia, commemorate the civilians from their city brutally murdered by Russian cluster bombs and other savage attacks on civilians during the war of aggression against the country one year ago last Friday.