Tag Archives: georgia

The Women of Gori remember Russian War Crimes

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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.

Saakashvili Speaks

Georgian president Mikheil Saaskashvili, writing in the Washington Post:

On the night of Aug. 7, 2008, Russia’s 58th Army crossed over Georgia’s internationally recognized borders. Thus began what the evidence shows was a long-planned invasion aimed at toppling my government and increasing Moscow’s control over our region. A year later, the results are not what the Kremlin expected.

Tragically, 410 of our citizens, mostly civilians, were killed, and more than 1,700 were injured. Almost 130,000 people were forced to flee their homes, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, including tens of thousands ethnically cleansed from villages in the Georgian territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Costs ran into the billions. And in violation of the cease-fire that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed Aug. 12, about 10,000 Russian troops remain in the two Georgian territories.

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Latynina on the Coming war in Georgia

Yulia Latynina, writing in the Moscow Times:

Events in South Ossetia are unfolding according to last year’s scenario. No sooner had U.S. Vice President Joe Biden announced that the United States would not provide arms to Georgia than South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity accused the United States of complicity in genocide against the Ossetian people and announced that Tskhinvali had come under fire from the Georgian village of Nikozi. Considering the fact that South Ossetian forces had already wiped Nikozi off the map, his statement sounded a bit strange.

The next day, a Georgian citizen died after stepping on a mine on the Georgian side of the border with the Akhalgorsk district. (Remember that before the Russia-Georgia war last August, the Akhalgorsk region belonged to Georgia, and after the war both Georgians and Ossetians began leaving the area.) President Kokoity announced that Georgia had intentionally blown up its own citizen as part of its policy of preventing Akhalgorsk refugees from returning home.

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EDITORIAL: The Slobbering Russian Beast Eyes Georgia

EDITORIAL

The Slobbering Russian Beast Eyes Georgia

With no disrespect intended, we think the “analysis” of our blogging colleagues over at Robert Amsterdam and The Power Vertical, seeming to engage in some weird form of numerology regarding the signficance of the month of August in Russian history, is rather bizarre.  We see no reason for rational western commentators to dabble in the same sort of silly and barbaric astrological gibberish as do the Russian people themselves.

But just as even paranoids have enemies, that doesn’t mean Russia won’t invade Georgia this month, again.

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A Call to Arms in Europe on Georgia

French philosopher André Glucksmann, writing on City Journal:

Is there such a thing as the European Union? In Washington, the State Department has been seeking the phone number for such an entity since the days of Henry Kissinger. In Moscow, the EU is nothing but a television prop. Since the days of Soviet foreign minister Andrei Gromyko, regimes have come and gone, but the conviction endures that only classical powers matter: the United Kingdom, France, and above all Germany, long a political dwarf but always an economic giant. As for the historians, they’re uncertain: the De Gaulle–Adenauer and Mitterrand-Kohl relationships did not work for long, and London’s tiffs with Paris and Bonn (and then Berlin) were all the talk for decades. In the face of a global crisis, European disunity is evident.

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EDITORIAL: Biden in Ukraine & Georgia

EDITORIAL

Biden in Ukraine & Georgia

48207660Visiting Ukraine and Georiga last week, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (shown at left meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko) had some tough words for Vladimir Putin:  “As we reset the relationship with Russia, we reaffirm our commitment to an independent Ukraine, and we recognize no sphere of influence or no ability of any other nation to veto the choices an independent nation make.”   He told the people of these two besieged nations something they’ve been waiting too long to hear, that America sends “an unequivocal, clear message to all who will listen and some who don’t want to listen, that America stands with you and will continue to stand.” And he said that Russia “used a pretext” to invade Georgia

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Latynina on the Second War in Georgia

Hero journalist Yulia Latynina, writing in the Moscow Times:

Peacekeepers deployed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe must leave Georgia by June 30 after Russia vetoed on June 15 all attempts to keep their mission in force. That is about the same time General Nikolai Makarov, commander of Russia’s forces in the war with Georgia in August and the commander of the “Caucasus 2009″ military exercises planned for June 29 to July 6, announced that “Georgia is brandishing its weapons and is preparing to solve its territorial problems in any way it sees fit.”

This raises a question: If Georgia is really planning to start a war, why is Russia going to such lengths to expel international observers who will be able to testify to the whole world how Georgia started the war?

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Petty, Destructive Russia

A New York Times editorial brutally entitled “Small Minds in the Kremlin” (one of the world’s leading newspapers calling the rulers of Russia idiots — ouch!):

In a depressing sequel to its petty and destructive war against Georgia last summer, Russia has now cast a petty and destructive veto in the United Nations Security Council, compelling the abrupt withdrawal of 130 badly needed international military monitors from Georgia’s secessionist region of Abkhazia.

It was petty because Russia’s larger interest lies in calming, not stirring up, secessionist ambitions in the Caucasus, a violently fractured part of the world that includes other restive regions like Chechnya. And it was destructive because whatever hopes the Russian-backed Abkhazian separatists might still retain for a semblance of international legitimacy vanishes with the withdrawal of the United Nations mission.

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Obama must stop Putin in Georgia!

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An editorial in the Washington Post sounds the clarion call of warning on Russian aggression in Georgia:

A year ago, Russian military maneuvers and provocations of the former Soviet republic of Georgia caused a couple of astute observers to predict that Moscow was laying the groundwork for a military invasion of its democratic and pro-Western neighbor. The warnings were laughed off — until Russian forces poured across Georgia’s borders on the night of Aug. 7, routing the Georgian army and driving thousands of ethnic Georgians from two breakaway provinces. Ten months later, with another summer approaching, Russia is once again mounting provocations on the ground and in diplomatic forums; once again it has scheduled a large military training exercise for July in the region bordering Georgia.

LR Wants to Know

Defying the entire membership of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Russia has stood alone to eject OSCE observers from the disputed border between Ossetia and Georgia.  Not even Belarus and Kazakhstan would support Russia’s powerplay. And Russia has walked out of peace talks with Georgia.  Is this move a prelude to cover a second planned Russian invasion to depose Georgia’s democratically elected president? We’d like your view.

A Publisher at Large: Kim vs. Harvard

LR founder and publisher Kim Zigfeld discovered a nastly little appeasement freak lurking in the ivy-covered halls of Harvard University.  She outs her in a recent letter to the editor of the Harvard Crimson:

To the Editor:

In discussing NATO’s efforts to protect Georgia from further Russian aggression (“Exercising Power in Georgia,” Opinion, May 13), Ellen C. Bryson offers readers much information that is incomplete and misleading.

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Felgenhaur on the Coming war in Georgia

The brilliant and courageous Pavel Felgenhauer sounds another warning on Georgia, in the pages of the Eurasia Daily Monitor:

The situation in Georgia appears to be deteriorating rapidly. Last month the Georgian opposition parties began street protests in an effort to force President Mikhail Saakashvili to resign. Since April 9 massive rallies by opposition supporters failed to compel Saakashvili to yield, and the number of demonstrators steadily decreased. Western diplomats repeatedly urged the Georgian opposition to begin a political dialogue with the authorities, but without any results, as the radical opposition continued to demand Saakashvili’s unconditional resignation (www.civil.ge, April 28).

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A Trade Agreement for Georgia!

Wonder of wonders! John Kerry (writing with Republican congressman David Dreier) has something sensible to say, in the Washington PostIf even Kerry gets it, Russia is in big, big trouble.  Hopefully, President Obama is reading:

As the Obama administration seeks a fresh start in our strained relationship with Russia, the case for cooperation with Moscow on everything from nuclear terrorism to global finance is clear and compelling. So, too, is the case for protecting the freedom and sovereignty of the fledgling democracies on Russia’s borders. We must do both.  Part of the way we can continue to support allies such as Georgia even as we do more to pursue vital national interests alongside Russia is by focusing on areas that can deliver real benefits to one side without hurting ties to the other. That’s why we believe we should sign a free-trade agreement with Georgia and why we plan to introduce a resolution to this end today.

While some mistakenly view constructive relations with these two countries as mutually exclusive, we see no inherent contradiction in offering Russia a fresh start while maintaining our commitment to ensuring that its neighbors have the right to choose their own destinies. Yes, sometimes Russia and its neighbors see the world in zero-sum terms — and sometimes their interests collide violently, as when Russian tanks rolled into Georgia last August. But we need not define our relationships with these countries the same way.

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Russia Must be Stopped in Georgia

Writing in the New York Times Denis Corboy, director of the Caucasus Policy Institute at Kings College London and former European Commission ambassador to Georgia, William Courtney, former U.S. ambassador to Kazakhstan and Georgia and Kenneth Yalowitz, director of the Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College and a former U.S. ambassador to Belarus and Georgia, call upon the West to finally stand up to Russian aggression in Georgia, before it is too late.

Reports of military mutinies and Russian plots in Georgia, while still unclear, have heightened tensions which were already building this spring. The U.S. should lead preventive diplomacy now, underscoring to Russia the high costs of intervention in Georgia while seeking to engage Moscow in a broad security dialogue.

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EDITORIAL: Barbaric Russian Cowards on the Rampage in Georgia

EDITORIAL

Barbaric Russian Cowards on the Rampage in Georgia

Human Rights Watch has released what looks to be the definitive report on the use of cluster munitions by Russian forces in their August 2008 invasion of Georgia.  It concludes that Russia carpet-bombed the Georgian city of Variani twice and hit the city of Gori once, using cluster weapons all three times and in total killing 12 Georgian civilians while wounding 38.  For its part, Georgia killed only four civilians and wounded just eight  using cluster bombs – one third the Russian totals.

HRW’s investigation discovered remnants of Russian cluster munitions in or near nine different Georgian villages, meaning that the casualty tally could well be higher than HRW was able to conclusively document.

Let’s be clear:  “Russia definitely violated international humanitarian law with its use of cluster munitions.”  Those aren’t our words, they’re the words of HRW researcher Bonnie Docherty, author of the report.  Russia still denies even using the weapons, much less killing any civilians.  Georgia, at least, admits using them, though it claims only military targets were selected.

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EDITORIAL: Able to Leap Tall Russians

EDITORIAL

Able to Leap Tall Russians

Mikheil Saakashvili

Mikheil Saakashvili

Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s Mikheil Saakashvili!

In Russia, when thousands want to march against the president, their leaders don’t even make it to the meeting place. Vladimir Putin has them arrested before they ever get there, and then his stormtroopers crush the rank and file, as they did just last weekend in Vladivostok.  Once, Putin went so far as to draft Oleg Kozlovsky, one of the lead organizers, into the armed forces in order to block his participation.  Over and over, those who most staunchly criticize the Moscow Kremlin (from Starovoitova and Politkovskaya to Litvinenko and Markelov) have been brutally shot and killed.  There is not even one such instance under Saakashviili, who has no connection to the secret police where Putin spent his entire career.

In Georgia, by contrast, they simply march, and live to tell the tale.  Saakashvili’s only response is to call elections — real elections, with opposition candidates supported aggressively by Russia  — and win them over and over, exposing Russian power as inherently laughable.  No wonder Putin hates this heroic Georgian patriot so much.

Russia police arresting a protester in Vladivostok last weekend.

Russia police arresting a protester in Vladivostok last weekend.

 In Russia, the economy is in freefall, shrinking at least 7% in the first quarter of this year. Georgia, by contrast, expects 3-4% economic growth this year, up from 2% growth last year under Saaksashvili’s leadership.  Russia did better than Georgia in 2008 but Georgia, of course, didn’t have to overcome the obstacle of being invaded by a country ten times its size and having a huge part of its territory lopped off, as Georgia did, and Georgia doesn’t have any of the fossil fuel wealth by which Russia is blessed.  What would have become of the Russian economy last year if, in addition to all the other horror, it had been invaded by China? We don’t dare imagine.  In 2007, Georigan ecnomic growth was an amazing 12%.  One could almost think that the Kremlin decided to attack because it was the only way it could think of to stop Saakashvili’s economic juggernaut.

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Saakashvili Speaks

Newsweek‘s Anna Nemtsova interviews Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili:

Nemtsova: Who wants your resignation?

Saakashvili: Mostly unemployed people. We fired about 250,000 people as a result of our reforms. A big percentage of these people have not managed to find themselves in the new economy. Fighting corruption and crime, we put thousands of people in jail. In Tbilisi alone we convicted 8,000 people; all of their relatives are outside today, asking me to resign.

What is the most painful part of the criticism?

I am not hurt by the criticism in Georgia, as I am hearing it from two opposition TV channels all day long. I did not expect the West to put all the relationships with us on hold while waiting for this revolution. An official delegation from France decided to postpone their visit. A Turkish company moved a scheduled contract signing until after April 9, and an Arab company until April 12. What is the matter with these people? Do we stop going to Paris or Strasbourg during their street protests?

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Confirmed: KGB launched Cyber Attack on Georgia

Axis Global reports:

Security researchers from Greylogic published a report which concluded that the Main Intelligence Directorate of Armed Foces of the Russian Federation (GRU) and the Federal Security Service (FSB), rather than patriotic hackers, were likely to have played a key role in co-ordinating and organising the attacks, The Register writes. More circumstantial evidence has emerged linking the Russian authorities to cyber-attacks on Georgia that coincided with a ground war between the two countries in July and August last year.

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EDITORIAL: Stormclouds over Georgia

EDITORIAL

Stormclouds over Georgia

No sooner had we republished last week a report by the brilliant defense analyst Pavel Felgenhauer warning that dark clouds of Russian war were hovering over Georgia than the Georgian government arrested a group of so-called “opposition” political actors and charged them with attempting, on video, to purchase a huge cache of automatic weapons.

That’s “opposition,” all right — Russian-style opposition!

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Russia, Iran and Georgia: The New Great Game

The Caspian Sea Connection:
Iran’s nukes, the war in Georgia, and the New Great Game

by Stephen Smith

(original to La Russophobe)

In Obama’s first television interview, given to al-Arabiya, he said of Iran:  “If [they] are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us.”  Presumably at least a couple of fingers on this “clenched fist” that Obama speaks of represented Iran’s nuclear ambitions – an issue which has taken on an added urgency as UN officials reported recently that Iran is closer to having enough highly-enriched uranium to make a bomb than previously thought.

Unfortunately, though, Obama is unlikely to have much more success in dismantling Iran’s nuclear program than Bush did, since he doesn’t recognize the root cause of Iran’s nuclear ambitions: Russia’s ambitions for the Caspian Sea region.

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Felgenhauer says War in Caucasus Looms

The always brilliant Pavel Felgenhauer, writing on the Jamestown Foundation’s Eurasia Daily Monitor:

It is early springtime and in the mountain passes separating Georgia from Russia, there is snowfall one day and wet snow or rain the next. Avalanches and mudslides caused by wet snow regularly close down the only road connecting Russia and the breakaway region of South Ossetia through the Roki Tunnel (RIA Novosti, March 9). Low clouds and fog in the mountains keep Russian helicopters and jets grounded for days and weeks. But in two months, the weather will be fine. In May the last snow will melt on the high mountain passes and it will be wartime again in the region.

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Springtime War in Georgia?

The always brilliant Pavel Felgenhauer, writing on the Jamestown Foundation’s Eurasia Daily Monitor:

Six months after the French-brokered agreement ended the Russo-Georgia war on August 12, 2008 the ceasefire continues to be fragile with constant incidents that both sides describe as “provocations.” Last month the Defense Ministry of the separatist South Ossetia said Georgia was moving troops towards its border (RIA-Novosti, January 9). This week the South Ossetian authorities again accused Georgia of “increasing preparations to begin an aggression” and firing two RPG-7 shells at the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali and accused EU observers that monitor the Georgian side of the ceasefire line of turning a blind eye to the alleged Georgian military buildup. On January 26, Tbilisi signed an agreement with the EU observer mission to limit its armed presence near South Ossetia and Abkhazia to one battalion (500 men) and exclude all heavy weapons. The South Ossetian authorities called this agreement a sham to cover “the preparation of an aggression” (Interfax, February 9).

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EDITORIAL: Condemning Russian Aggression in Georgia

EDITORIAL

Condemning Russian Aggression in Georgia

On January 23rd the Human Rights watch released a 200-page report entitled  “Up in Flames: Humanitarian Law Violations in the Conflict Over South Ossetia.”   Based “on more than 460 interviews done over several months of field research” the report “details indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks by both Georgian and Russian forces, and the South Ossetian forces’ campaign of deliberate and systematic destruction of certain ethnic Georgian villages in South Ossetia. It also describes Russia’s failure to ensure public order and safety in areas of Georgia that were under its effective control.”

The New York Times reported:

Russia and Georgia had opposite reactions to [the] report. Moscow said it was “based on a series of shopworn and baseless theses actively discussed in foreign political and media circles.” Tbilisi called it “an objective and thorough picture.” Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Human Rights Watch, based in New York, had said “practically nothing about the colossal damage” to South Ossetia “as the result of Georgian aggression.” Georgia said the report “unambiguously places responsibility on the occupation forces of the Russian Federation and its proxy regime for ethnic cleansing and war crimes.”

In other words, once again Russia has suffered a crushing defeat in the PR campaign over the war in Georgia and been exposed as the wanton aggressor.   When a study finds that Russia is in the wrong, that study is “shopworn and baseless.” But if the study had found Russia was 100% in the right, the Kremlin would have praised it to the sky.  Welcome to the through-the-looking-glass world of Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

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EDITORIAL: Ask Not for Whom the Bell Tolls, Mr. Obama

EDITORIAL

Ask Not for Whom the Bell Tolls, Mr. Obama

Barack Obama has not even taken the oath of office yet, and his administration is already mired in scandal.  The Democrat governor of his home state has been indicted by a federal prosecutor for trying to sell Obama’s Senate seat to the highest bidder, and while Obama has steadfastly denied any involvement in the tawdry proceedings, he’s stonewalled the investigation.

And now we know why:   Obama was lying.

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EDITORIAL: What are you Hiding in Ossetia, Mr. Putin?

EDITORIAL

What are you hiding in Ossetia, Mr. Putin?

“There is, unfortunately, a silence and darkness with respect to the international monitors that has descended on South Ossetia.  The solution is hardly to keep monitors out of South Ossetia.  Russia has an obligation, since it controls this territory, to let in international observers.”

– U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried to reporters at a security conference in Helsinki, December 5th

Why is Vladimir Putin’s government refusing to allow international observers to view conditions in Ossetia?  Is it afraid that observers would see horrific violation of human rights, pogroms being carried out against innocent ethnic Georgians to drive them from their homes and “cleanse” Ossetia of their presence?

And why, may we ask, is President-Elect Barack Obama silent about this outrage? Where is his professed concern about social justice and international law?  As we reported earlier this week, Obama finally broke his silence on Georgia with an interview on Meet the Press, but his remarks were devoid of commentary on Russia’s current obstruction of inspectors and its attempt to annex Georgian territory.  He merely condemned Russia’s military attack on Georgia proper, labeling the G-8 member a “bully.”

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