FRIDAY AUGUST 29 CONTENTS
(6) The Mailbag
FRIDAY AUGUST 29 CONTENTS
(6) The Mailbag
Dear La Russophobe,
As always, “La Russophobe” is the best place to get all the relevant facts of the Georgia crisis.
Given that the governments of Western Europe, and indeed, sadly, our own, are unwilling to take meaningful military action to protect Georgia’s territorial integrity, I’ve been wondering what can be done to come out of this crisis with Russia genuinely put in check.
I’m curious about your opinion on what may be both a realistic and an effective way forward. While I’m loathe to suggest it, the best option I see is as follows: Have Georgia let go of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and then, have NATO fast-track Georgia and Ukraine in. I’m talking a matter of weeks, not years.
Writing in the New York Times Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of Young Stalin and the forthcoming novel Sashenka, warns us of the test we now face from the man who stands “in the shadow of the Red Czar.”
AT the center of Gori, Georgia, where every window has been shattered and Russian T-72 tanks patrol, the marble statue of the world’s most famous Georgian — Josef Stalin — stands gleamingly, almost supernaturally unharmed. As this vicious colonial war turns into an international battle over spheres of influence, Stalin is Banquo at the feast, metaphorically present in the palaces of the Kremlin, the burning houses in the villages, the cabinets of Europe’s eastern capitals.
Today, as far as Moscow is concerned, the Georgian cobbler’s son and Marxist fanatic has been laundered of any traces of Georgia and Marx. He is now a Russian czar, the inspiration for the authoritarian, nationalistc and imperial strains in today’s capitalistic, pragmatic, swaggering Russia. In this crisis, and in who knows how many future ones, Stalin represents empire, prestige, victory.
Writing in the Moscow Times Alexei Bayer (a Russian) offers a fitting epitaph for Alexander Solzhenitsyn:
Post-Soviet Russia is a curious place. It revels in unbridled jingoism that Soviet propaganda would have envied while renaming streets to honor dissident writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn. But these may not be so incompatible after all.
Paul Goble reports that Ossetian leaders have admitted to systemmatic ethnic cleansing:
In an interview published in Kommersant, South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity said that his people and Russian forces behind them had driven the ethnic Georgians who had been living there out and would not allow them to return, although he said his government would investigate and punish cases of burning and looting. Kokoity’s words are a rare public acknowledgement by an official that he and the forces under his command or with whom he is working are engaging in what can only be called ethnic cleansing, a form of genocide.
FRIDAY AUGUST 22 CONTENTS
(7) The Mailbag
NOTE: A bipartisan group of U.S. legislators is calling for an invitation to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to address a joint session of Congress. If you’re an American, call or write your representative or senator and tell them you support this outstanding initiative! If you’re not, contact your own national legislature and ask them to do the same.
NOTE: Check out Civil.ge for updates on Georgia from the source.
On Being “Russian”
We have a challenge for you. Go to Moscow, sidle up to the first Russian you see, and ask them whether the following names are “Russian” — Nazyr, Islam-Beka and Aslanbek.
You won’t need to hear an answer. The quizzical “what kind of moron am I talking to” stare you will get should be sufficient. People with names like Nazyr, Islam-Beka and Aslanbek are subject to being lynched on sight in the Moscow city subway system or being cut to ribbons by machine gun fire in places like Chechnya and Georgia.
Yet, as the first week of the Olympic games drew to a close, Russia had won only seven gold medals, a puny total exceeded or matched by seven other countries, and six of them had been won by Nazyr, Islam-Beka and Aslanbek — two each in the sport of Greco-Roman wrestling. The only athlete with a “Russian” name who had won a gold medal was Valeriy Borchin in race walking (20 km).
How is it that folks like Nazyr, Islam-Beka and Aslanbek get to be suddently “Russian” when the are capable of winning medals at the Olympics, but then immediately lose that status everywhere else in Russia? How is it that, having divested them of that status, Russians can still lay claim to the territories they live in as being “part of Russia”?
These are the questions we are asking.