Alexei Pankin, writing in the Moscow Times:
It is difficult to imagine a greater joy than visiting Georgia.
Amazingly, the blood spilled in the Russia-Georgia war three years ago has not cooled the warm feelings that Georgians feel toward Russians, and that is the result of several centuries of living together in one nation. And because few Russians now visit the country — made worse by the fact that there are only three overpriced flights per week between Moscow and Tbilisi — those who do come are treated to an outpouring of the great love that Georgians feel for all Russians.
Russia in the WTO? Just say NO!
Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) was another of Yeltsin’s ideas – and with much the same purpose. If implemented, that idea would make Russia dependent on imports of foodstuffs and just about everything else the exporting countries would like to sell against their Russian rivals, after the latter were to give up their competitive price advantages, such as cheap energy, cheap land, cheap transportation, cheap fertilizer, etc. So, if Russia were a democracy, the WTO terms of accession for Russia – now 18 years in the negotiation – wouldn’t have a chance of acceptance.
We are not shy about saying that we want to see Vladimir Putin’s police state in Russia utterly destroyed. Nor do we disagree with the brilliant John Helmer’s analysis, quoted above, which concludes that admission to the WTO would be extremely harmful, if not a fatal toxin, to the Putin regime. But we still vehemently oppose Russian admission.
Putin Knifes the Infant RuNet
If we were talking international basketball scores, those would be good numbers for Russia. But we’re not. We’re talking Internet freedom, as analyzed by Freedom House. The higher the score, the less the freedom.
FH reviewed Internet access among a group of 37 countries around the world, and found that Georgia ranks #12 in the group, in the top third and right behind South Korea, while Russia ranks #22, right behind Rwanda and well into the bottom half of all countries surveyed. In the group of nations designated by FH as “partly free” only four have lower scores than Russia (including Egypt at 54 and Pakistan at 55). The USA’s score is 13, surpassed in the group only by Estonia.
Twice as many Russian bloggers were arrested in the most recent survey period compared to the last one. Russia’s rank fell three places since the prior survey, and its score got much worse, from 49 in 2009 to 52 in 2011.
If course, it may not matter much how free or unfree Russia’s Internet is, because according to FH two-thirds of the Russian population has no Internet access at all.
Posted in editorial, georgia, internet, neo-soviet crackdown, russia
Tagged freedom house, georgia, Internet in Russia, Mikheil Saakashvili, russia, vladimir frolov, vladimir putin
Blood on the Olympic Snows of Sochi?
Last week in the city of Vladikavkaz, capital of North Ossetia and just 250 short miles from Sochi where the 2014 Winter Olympics are to be held, a bomb exploded in a marketplace, injuring at least 173 people. Seventeen people, and the suicide bomber who triggered the blast, were killed. Rioting followed, and even more were killed.
If it can happen in Vladikavkaz, it can happen in Sochi. If it does, world leaders who send their athletes to the Russian games will have blood on their hands.
Paul Goble reports:
Two years after Moscow recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia, a step the Russian people overwhelmingly backed as a signal that their country could stand up to Georgia and the West, the failure of many other countries to recognize these republics and the high cost of supporting the two new states have combined to reduce public backing for them.
In an article posted online, Mikhail Smilyan says that polls show “ever fewer [Russians] remain support recognition of South Ossetia” and that they are less prepared to continue to provide assistance to that republic.
Drawing on poll results collected by the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion (VTsIOM), Smilyan notes that fewer Russians are paying attention to the political aspects of Moscow’s decision and more to the actual costs of supporting these republics.
Russian Failure in Georgia
“The invasion proved the limits of Russian power. They couldn’t take over our country or remove our government. And . . . [t]hey’ve failed to drag us into their sphere of influence. Yes, they’ve occupied strategic terrain and purged our citizens but, soon, it’s the very people the Russians supposedly saved who will feel occupied by them. Many already do. Russian subsidies don’t reach the general population any more than they do in Russia.”
–Georgian cabinet minister Temuri Iakobashvili, to the Wall Street Journal, on the Russian invasion of his country
Georgia is coming back stronger and better than ever following Russia’s wanton invasion against it. Russia failed to achieve regime change, failed to obtain international recognition, and was condemned for egregious violations of international law by both the European Union and the United Nations. World leaders rushed to the side of besieged Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili, snubbing Russia openly, and only weeks ago the U.S. Secretary of State referred openly to Russian “occupation” of South Ossetia (an artificial state created by Stalin) and Abkhazia (a state that received absolutely no hint of Georgian fire before it was brazenly invaded by Russian forces). Even more recently, a report on terrorism praised Georgia and infuriated the Russians. Russia is reminded of its total diplomatic failure in Georgia, in other words, on a daily basis. And the heinous Russian aggression has even driven a wedge between Russia and its Slavic little brother, Belarus.
And that’s only the beginning of Russia’s troubles in the region.
Clinton and Saakashvili in Tbilisi last week
Clinton and Saakashvili
Russians were appalled and terrified last week to see U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Tbilisi drinking a toast with the Kremlin’s public enemy #1, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.
They denied it, of course. Just the same way that, a few days earlier, they had denied the spies arrested in the United States were Russian. Soon, however, they were forced to admit their denials were pathetic lies, and that the spies were in fact Russian citizens. Soon, they were bartering for the release of those spies they said did not exist.
We can imagine the thoughts racing through the rodent-like “minds” of the KGB spies who rule the Kremlin, the same spies whose pathetic plans were exposed in the United States, when viewing the photograph at the head of this column.