Agressive Separatism in Abkhazia and South Ossetia

This blog is dedicated to the study and analysis of the separatist movements in Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. However, this blog will also be involved in exploring other problems of aggressive and militant separatism in Nagorny-Karabakh (Azerbaijan) and Transnistria (Moldova).

Basic facts on Abkhazia (Georgia):

350,000 ethnic Georgians were expelled by force by the Russian-backed separatist militant onslaught during the armed conflict of 1992-93 and 1998

Between 10,000-20,000 ethnic Georgians were killed by the militants which has been recognized by OSCE (Budapest and Lisbon Convention) as ethnic-cleansing

Russian-backed separatist de facto regime is mainly composed of ethno-nationalists and members of Russian FSB who refuse the rightful return of all Georgian IDPs to Abkhazia

Basic facts on South Ossetia:

There is no territorial uniformity of this de facto "state," which in fact is a chessboard land of many Georgian and Ossetian villages spread out throughout South Ossetia.

The main separatist strong hold is city of Tskhinvali (30,000 population) which as in case of Abkhazia has expelled most of its Georgian population.

As in case of Abkhazia, South Ossetia is run by militant gang of Russian-backed "president" Eduard Kokoity who is opposed by Ossetian alternative authorities (more friendly to Georgia) of Dmitry Sanakoev

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Russia vs Georgia

Russian journalist Pavel Felgengauer visited Georgia last week and gave an exclusive interview to the Russian web news agency about possible military conflict between Russia and Georgia. The text is in Russian:

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Russian Anschluss on Georgia

Moscow’s charge that Tbilisi preparing to invade Abkhazia is just as absurd as Stalin’s suggestion that Finland was planning to attack the USSR in 1939, according to a Moscow military analyst. But far more serious, the Russian Federation could soon find itself in a similar military situation to that in the Winter War, one in which the Russian side lost. In an interview to Georgia’s Interpressnews agency late yesterday, Pavel Fel’gengauer, military affairs analyst for Moscow’s Novaya gazeta, discussed the current military situation in Abkhazia, Moscow’s propaganda campaign against Tbilisi, and what is likely to happen next. Fel’gengauer, who is widely recognized as one of Russia’s most astute national security analysts, said that the Russia side had introduced forces into the Tkvarchel district that “unlike peacekeepers” have “artillery and heavy weapons,” a projection of force apparently intended to help drive the pro-Tbilisi “Abkhaz government in exile” out of Kodorskiy gorge.

That has long been a goal of the Abkhaz government, many of whose members believe that a major “cause of the non-recognition of the independence of Abkhazia” by Russia is that government and its role in maintaining Georgian control of the highland districts of their breakaway republic. Assertions by the Russian foreign ministry that “Georgia is preparing a place des armes I the Kodorsky gorge for an attack on Abkhazia are laughable,” Fel’gengauer says, because “even if the entire Georgian army were to be placed [there], it would be physically impossible to attack Sukhumi.” Indeed, the “Novaya gazeta” commentator says, “the declarations by the Russian side [on this point] recall [Stalin’s] propagandistic preparation for the [Soviet] attack on Finland in 1939 when [Moscow] accused the Finns of aggression.” Today, “military actions are being prepared in Kodorskiy gorge but not by the Georgians.”

According to his information, Fel’gengauer said, Abkhazian units are assembling near the village of Tsebella in the lower part of the gorge. From there they can reach the upper reaches of the gorge by passing along the new road Tbilisi has built. Using howitzers and Grad rockets, they can prevent the Georgians from an effective response. In addition, the additional Russian “peacekeeping forces” now in the Kodorskiy gorge will be in a position to prevent the Georgians from attacking Abkhazia on its flanks.” When his Georgian interlocutor noted that this was not a pleasant prospect, Fel’gengauer said that he understood but that “unfortunately, everything is going in that direction.” But then he pointed out that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is “speaking the truth when he says that Russia does not intend to conduct a serious fight with Georgia. Moscow only wants to teach Tbilisi a lesson.” Moscow understands that “threats by Russia against Georgia are insufficient” to force the Georgians to leave the Kodorskiy gorge and not begin military actions in other directions.” And consequently, it has introduced its own forces to help the Abkhaz achieve their goals against the pro-Tbilisi government.

But Fel’gengauer implies, Moscow may have seriously miscalculated. If events develop and get out of hand, “then Russia in reality will find itself in a worse situation than the Soviet Union did in 1939 in connection with Finland.” That is because whatever Russia’s diplomats or generals say, “in the contemporary world, no one will believe them.” And consequently, Fel’gengauer argues in conclusion, unlike the Finns in 1939, “Georgia today will receive what it has always wanted – international support.

Monday, March 24, 2008

CNN intervew with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili

Impressive interview of the Georgian President by well known CNN journalist Glenn Beck. Democracy can be successfully implemented if there is a true desire to achieve a standard of the democratic state. Clink Here.

Edward Lucas speech on Russia, NATO, Georgia

World renown scholar of Russian politics Edward Lucas delivers a ground breaking speech about current situation in Russia and its relations with NATO, Georgia, and the Baltic States. Clink Here

Also, Edward Lucas on Russian Presidential "Elections." Clink Here.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Попытка аннексии и аншлюса Абхазии

Если подходить упрошенно, я даже готов согласиться с Вами, что кукольный злодей Путин нужен Западу для собственной консолидации и что даэе может быть все идет по плану.

Но даже если это так, сушествует два на мой взгляд очень убедительных аргумента, почему мы не вправе более ждать.

1) Путин вовсе не для всех кукольный злодей. Он уже уничтожил пол-миллиона чеченцев и даже не поперхнулся. Для Грузии он тоже представляет очень и очень серьезную опасность.

2) Даже если все идет по плану, то не по нашему, а по какому-то чужому плану. А значит есть опасность, что решение будет найдено за наш счет. Потому что когда пишутся планы затрагиваюшие наши жизненные интересы, то либо мы участвуем в их составлении, либо они будут составлены без учета наших интерресов и даже скорее всего в ушерб им.

3) На Западе распространено мнение, что Холодная война завершилась как бы сама по себе. Наиболее наглядно это ленивое развратное пораженчество можно увидеть на примере Германии или Франции. А раз все происходит само по себе, следовательно можно не беспокоиться о том, что происходит в Чечне например, лучше позаботиться о домашних животных, с которыми некоторые хозяева грубо обрашаются.

Мы просто не можем даже таких рассуждений себе позволить. Слишком велика цена ошибки.

Самая большая опасность для нашей страны думаю в распространенном мнении, что кто-нибудь что-нибудь за нас сделает. То мы получим назад Абхазию руками русских. Теперь многие видимо полагают что руками американцев или кого-нибудь еше.

На самом деле, если у нас и есть шанс получить Абхазию, то только нашими собственными руками. Никто за нас делать этого не будет, кто бы какие бы планы и программы не писал.

Тут не обойтись без конфронтации. Тем более, если по вашему же мнению, из Путина сознательно лепят злодея, то грузинам сам бог велел явится в виде борца со злодеем.

Иначе просто невозможно доказать, что Абхазия оккупированная русскими грузинская территория, и что происходяшие ныне там процессы есть не что иное, как попытка аннексии, аншлюса, повторение Чехословакии и Польши, 1938 или 1939 годов.

Тем более невозможно доказать, что все эти безобразия не происходят по взаимному согласию, пока русские войска там стоят на основе соглашения подписанного грузинами же.

Сама судьба послала нам такой козырь в руки и история не простит, если мы его выпустим из рук. Надо дезавуировать абсолютно все и начинать с чистого листа. Да хоть с боевых действий.

НАТО это весьма сомнительный приз за бездействие, тем более, что это не НАТО а МАП, и тем более, что даже этот МАП нам не обюешают, потому что видите ли есть опасность конфронтации с русскими.

Минуточку, с русскими у нас не опасность конфронтации, а самая настояшая конфронтация, оккупация и попытки аннексии. И мы конечно же не против вступить в НАТО, чтобы голосовать там за американцев и направлять войска то в Ирак, то в Афганистан, в обшем куда немцы с испанцами и итальянцами боятся посылать солдат.

Но во всем в этом нашего интереса действительно нет. Нам нужно освободить Абхазию от оккупационных войск и предать суду военных преступников.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

What hope for reform under Medvedev?

To call it an election is insulting to countries that have real ones. Russia's political event today, in which Dmitri Medvedev, the lawyerly sidekick of Vladimir Putin, will romp home against token opposition, is both predictable and mystifying. Everyone knows who will win. But nobody knows what it means.

For Russia's political system is not only closed to real competition; it is also all but impenetrable to outsiders.

We are back to the era of Kremlinology, when analysts of Soviet politics would scrutinise every nuance in Pravda for faint reflections of the power struggles in the Communist Party's politburo.

For all its faults, Russia's political system under Boris Yeltsin was both open and unpredictable. Would the president be impeached? [You could] phone a powerful Russian politician or top tycoon and find out.

Now things are different. Kremlinology - which only a few years ago seemed to be an obsolete skill - is back. Russians and outsiders alike are reduced to reading the tea leaves.

How seriously should we take Dmitry Medvedev's reformist rhetoric? If he is sincere, does he have a chance of making it happen? Will real power rest with Mr Putin, or will it be shared? If so, will that double act, the first of its kind in Russian history, be stable?

We are told that Mr Medvedev is a pro-Western liberal, on the grounds that he likes rock music and the internet. Maybe he is. Or maybe he is the preferred candidate of the former-KGB people who seized power in Russia in 1999, and who want to put a presentable face on a system that has made them multi-billionaires.

Rather than using the mental equivalent of a flint axe to cut our way through the jungle of Russian politics, it may be more helpful to think in terms of films. The fundamental question is, are we watching Casablanca or Gone with the Wind?

Believe the latter, and today's poll is part of a carefully scripted melodrama in which the audience may be in suspense, but the actors know the ending. Mr Putin has neatly sidestepped the two-term limit stipulated in the Russian constitution, but achieves his other objectives, chiefly a speedy return to power in a few months or years.

The script ties up lots of other loose ends, too. The youthful and soft-spoken Mr Medvedev will repair an international image scarred by the hawkish rhetoric coming from Russia in recent years.

The intricate networks of power, money and personal favours that make Russia work may twitch, but will not be ripped apart. Russia's secret-police tycoons will continue to run the country, squashing public protest and making haphazard stabs at reform.

And cinema-goers, hoping to see their favourite characters in action again, will flock to the sequel, starring a "positively final appearance, due to overwhelming public demand" by Mr Putin, the man Mr Medvedev has served so faithfully for 16 years.

As so often in the past eight years, Russia's rulers will have preserved the letter of legality and political propriety, while trampling on the spirit.

The Russian people cannot possibly be trusted to make a real choice between real candidates in a free election. Instead, it must all be carefully stage-managed and scripted. The pay-off line is simple: "Democracy my dear? Frankly, I don't give a damn."

But suppose this political epic is not neatly plotted but hurriedly improvised - more like Casablanca, where for most of the film's production Humphrey Bogart (Rick) and Paul Heinried (Victor László) had no idea who was going to end up in the arms of Ingrid Bergman (Ilsa) at the airport.

On this reading, the choice of Medvedev was a desperate stop-gap move, the product of unmanageable feuding among the Kremlin clans. His election may give a glimmer of hope to the beleaguered economic reformers in Russia's government. It might even mean the sidelining of the incompetent ex-spooks who infest the heights of political and economic power.

That would truly be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

•Edward Lucas is a former Moscow bureau chief of 'The Economist' and author of 'The New Cold War: how the Kremlin menaces Russia and the West' (Bloomsbury, £18.99)

Why does the EU support independence for Kosovo?

Why does the EU support independence for Kosovo?

WHY is the West giving Kosovo independence when it refuses to recognise Transdniestria, South Ossetia and Abkhazia? These three places are nominally independent—at least in their own eyes—and have been so for many years.

At first sight it seems a clear case of Western double standards. Kosovar Albanians don’t want to be under Serbian rule any more than the Abkhaz feel Georgian or the Transdniestrians like Moldova. They have established their status by force of arms, and entrenched it over ten years of quasi-independence. Is not the real story just an American power-play in Europe, punishing Serbia and rewarding the only pro-American Muslims in the world?

Nobody would deny that such political calculations have influenced decision-making. But the real difference is another one. Kosovo wants to join the European Union. That much is at least clear, however badly run Kosovo may be at the moment, and however much gangsterism and ethno-nationalism have flourished there under the haphazard stewardship of the so-called international community. Kosovo does not want to join, say, Turkey in a new “Ottoman Caliphate”. Nor is it even interested in forming a “Greater Albania”.

That makes a big difference. Transdniestria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia do not subscribe to the Euroatlantic vision of multilateral security and law-governed political freedom. The main priority of the ruling elites there is self-enrichment, followed by at least a rhetorical commitment to closer integration with Russia (a goal that the Kremlin endorses in theory but seems remarkably cautious about in practice).

The West is reluctant to say so bluntly, but that makes a difference. The EU is sending thousands of lawyers, prosecutors and police officers to Kosovo, in what might be termed the continent’s most ambitious colonial adventure for decades. That “soft imperialism” creates at least a chance of success for Kosovo’s independence.

All this may yet be derailed. Bosnia is falling apart again; Macedonia still looks fragile; and Russia could not ask for more fertile soil for mischief, with Europe divided and indecisive. But it is worth a try.

Contrast that with Transdniestria or Abkhazia. Imagine that Russia and a bunch of other countries—Belarus, Uzbekistan, Armenia and Venezuela, say—decided to go ahead and recognise these breakaway statelets. It is almost laughable to imagine what such outside supporters could offer to promote the rule of law and good government. Would Hugo Chávez of Venezuela offer policemen? Would Russia provide prosecutors, or Uzbekistan start teaching Abkhaz civil servants about e-government?

This is the weakness at the heart of all the Kremlin’s foreign-policy efforts in the countries of the former Soviet Union. It offers a great deal for elites. Some enjoy lavish hospitality and lucrative directorships. Others get intelligence co-operation and sales of advanced weaponry.

But Russia has much less to offer from the public’s point of view. True, it offers passports, and a Russian passport is not worthless.

But the survival of the Soviet-era propiska system means that this does not confer the prized right to live and work in Moscow. Even the Kremlin’s most loyal allies can’t offer that to their citizens as a quid pro quo. (Admittedly, Schengen and American visas can still be shamefully hard to come by, even for citizens of ex-captive nations that are loyally Euroatlantic in outlook).

What the EU will not say, but thinks privately, is this: We are supporting Kosovo’s independence because of the chance that it will become more like us, and hence a better neighbour. We oppose independence for Transdniestria et al because it would make them more like Russia, and therefore worse for Europe.