I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Winston Churchill

Sep 29, 2008

What the Russians Left In Their Wake in Georgia

SEPTEMBER 24, 2008

Having devastated vast areas of its own lands in the Caucasus, such as Chechnya and Ingushetia, in order to "protect" them from instability, Moscow's obliterating shadow has settled deep over Georgia -- with the usual consequences. The full barbarism of Russian actions in Georgia may not emerge for years; much of the evidence lies behind the lines in terrain newly annexed by Russia. But some details are now beyond dispute. Alongside the various human atrocities, such as the bombing and purging of civilian areas, the invaders looted and destroyed numerous historical sites, some of which were profoundly revered by the Georgians as sacred building blocks in their national identity. This is especially true of the region around South Ossetia that served as a kind of cradle of early Georgian culture. The Georgian Ministry of Culture lists some 500 monuments and archaeological sites now mostly under Russian occupation and out of sight. read full text

Sep 24, 2008



63rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly
New York, 23 September 2008

Mr. President,
Mr. Secretary-General,
Distinguished delegates,

I thank you for the opportunity today to address this, the 63rd annual gathering of the General Assembly, at such a critical moment in the history of my own country and of the United Nations.

Sometimes, the most extreme tests of this institution’s towering ideals arise in small, even obscure places.

I come to you as the representative of one of those places, the country of Georgia, a land of fewer than 5 million, that last month was invaded by our neighbor.

Despite our small size, the legal, moral, political, and security implications raised by that invasion could not be larger in consequence.

Indeed, those issues cut through to the heart of the UN’s founding charter.

The principles enshrined in that charter included the inviolability of sovereign borders; the sanctity of human rights; the supremacy of international law; and the global rejection of armed aggression.

All of these principles were put to the test by the invasion, and now hang in the balance.

The invasion violated Georgia’s internationally recognized borders.

The subsequent recognition of the so-called “independence” of our two regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia challenged our territorial integrity.

The ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of our people did violence to the very idea of human rights.

This General Assembly, therefore, faces a General Challenge. read full text

Sep 15, 2008

Russian ‘brand’ takes a hit after losing the media wars

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Monday, September 15, 2008

Vladimir Putin all but conceded defeat last week in Russia’s war with Georgia, acknowledging that Russia had been whipped by Georgia’s better-prepared high-tech forces.

Really, he did.

In traditional military terms, Russia won that war easily, rolling over the Georgian army and seizing territory.

But as Putin now realizes, his country has come out of the war far more damaged than Georgia did.

That’s because it got outfought on the battlefield on which most modern wars are now decided, in the media.

“I am surprised at how powerful the propaganda machine of the so-called West is,” Putin admitted, calling it “awesome” and “amazing.”

More specifically, Putin said he had been struck by the media’s silence when Georgia’s military started the war by trying to retake two rebellious provinces by force.

There was “absolute silence, as if nothing was happening, as if this was commanded,” he said. “I congratulate you. I congratulate those who were involved in this.”

Russia’s defeat in the information war has cost it considerably. Its global strategic situation has declined, its enemies are more firmly united, its friends aren’t quite so friendly and its economy has suffered.

Up to $35 billion in foreign capital has fled Russia since the war, which in turn has sent Russia’s stock market spiraling.

The recent war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon offers another example of the media as the deciding battlefield.

By traditional standards, the war was an overwhelming Israeli victory. The Israeli Defense Force moved deep into Lebanon, inflicting many more casualties on Hezbollah than it took in return and destroying civilian and military infrastructure.

But as even Israeli officials acknowledge, they lost the war.

International opinion swung so hard against them that they were forced to abandon the fight before achieving their goals, leaving Hezbollah to claim victory.

In the Georgia-Russia war, public-relations and public-diplomacy experts marvel at the preparation and effectiveness of Georgia’s media “blitzkrieg.”

As soon as Russia counterattacked with tanks and troops, Georgia President Mikheil Saakashvili went on the media offensive, logging five hours of airtime on global news stations in just a few days.

Journalists around the world were flooded with e-mails explaining Georgia’s situation, and pro-Georgian Web sites were advertised in major newspapers.

Darren Spinck, a principal with Global Strategic Communications Group, points out that Georgia even reached into “new media.”

“One Facebook group, ‘Stop Russian Aggression against Georgia,’ has 22,000 subscribers, more than the registered subscribers for both the Obama/Biden and McCain/Palin groups,” writes Spinck. “Many of these young and educated Facebook subscribers supporting Georgia have turned the blogosphere against Russia, whipping up Russophobic sentiments not seen in such abundance since the Cold War.”

“It seems to me that the price Russia will pay for its minuscule territorial gains will be global and long-lasting,” writes Ira Strauss, the U.S. coordinator on NATO’s Committee on Russia. “And this has nothing to do with media bias; it is the bitter reality of a logical and unavoidable consequence of what was done.”

There are lessons in Russia’s experience for U.S. policymakers and citizens, lessons involving the limits of pure military power and the importance of what might be called a nation’s “brand.”

“Countries … lucky or virtuous enough to have acquired a positive reputation find that everything they or their citizens wish to do on the global stage is easier,” according to Simon Anholt, a British expert on the marketing of nations.

“Their brand goes before them like a calling card that opens doors, creates trust and respect.

“The only sort of government that can afford to ignore the impact of its national reputation is one that has no interest in participating in the global community,” he says.

And these days, not even insular Russia fits that bill.


Sep 13, 2008

RuSSian children about RuSSia-Georgia war and Ukraine...

This is a very good parody on Russian propaganda machine.
The guys cannot convince anybody... But actually, it's a habit... coming from USSR. Dear Medved and Vovan - have you ever heard: O tempora, O mores?
The world has changed - hello???

The Putin System - a movie

For three years, filmmakers Jean-Michel Carré and Jill Emery interviewed dozens of people to gain insight into the life and political motivations of Russia's most powerful politician, Vladimir Putin. They spoke to long-time supporters, like Putin's former schoolteacher, Vera Gurvich, to his harshest critics, like world chess champion Garry Kasparov, as well as many KGB and Kremlin insiders. What emerged is a point-of-view documentary that presents an ominous view of what Putin is willing to do to ensure Russia regains its position on the world stage.

A backroom bureaucrat in the KGB, Putin waited patiently and played by all the rules of the game in order to gain power. According to
The Putin System, Putin succeeded in framing the general prosecutor, who had pried into former Russian president Boris Yeltsin's business affairs, and in 2000, Yeltsin himself named Putin as successor to the presidency.

The Putin System chronicles the remarkable life of Putin, a tough, young leader who is not afraid to make harsh decisions and holds a secret purpose-to restore the old Russia of his dreams. Since March 2000, he has orchestrated a new system: Putin turned against the oligarchy that supported him, and turned their wealth into state-run corporations designed to finance his dream of a new Soviet empire. He also re-ignited the war in Chechnya in the name of Russian sovereignty, and launched a crackdown on political opposition. In the filmmakers' view, today, the former KGB agent is more powerful than ever before, and any opponents to Putin's system are seen as the enemy.

The Putin System is directed by Jean-Michel Carré in association with Jill Emery for the French production company Les Films Grain De Sable.

Sep 10, 2008

From Russia With Hate - CURRENT TV

Current TV's Christof Putzel investigates a growing movement in Russia where neo-Nazi groups are brutally attacking immigrants and spreading their hate by posting violent videos online.
Watch the whole 20-minute pod on current.com

Why Communist Russia hates Democratic Georgia

First Russia tried to kill Georgia economicaly increasing 3 times on gas prices and blocking Georgian export.
Georgia, instead, istablished good relations with the west and started to prosper.

Sep 8, 2008

Gori after bombing (video)

I remember discussions about the Reuters famous photos from Gori, where we have a tragic image of brother mourning over his killed brother. Some of the Russian nationalists called it fake and staged. It is such a misery.... And people make fun of it.

Here you have the video of the bombing:

And here you have the video of ongoing restoration works of the same neighborhood in Gori:

Russia opposes EU monitoring in Georgia

September 8, 2008

A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman says Moscow is against an independent European Union monitoring mission in Georgia.

Andrei Nesterenko says the deployment of an EU monitoring force would lead to unnecessary "fragmentation" of international monitoring efforts by the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Nesterenko's statement sets a tough tone for Russian officials in talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Sarkozy arrived in Moscow on Monday to push for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia and the deployment of EU monitors. read more here

Sep 6, 2008

Photos from Refugee Camps in Gori

Victims of the war - Children

Other material:ეს სურათები გადაღებულია ჩემი და ჩემი მეგობრების მიერ. დანიშნულება - გავრცელება/ These photos are taken by me and my friends in Gori, Nikozi, Karaleti.

გორი, დევნილთა ბანაკი - 1-5 გვერდი/ Gori, refugee camp

ნიქოზი - სოფელი, დანგრეული მონასტერი. მე-5 გვერდიდან./ Nikozi - village and the Monastery destroyed. 5th page

ცხინვალის ხედები შორიდან მე-11, 12 გვერდები/ Tskhinvali view from Nikozi. pages 11,12


კარალეთი/ Karaleti


აქედან იწყება ბორჯომი და სხვა დანარჩენი სურათები, რომლებიც ჩვენი გადაღებული არაა./ Page 15 - other photos not taken by us - Borjomi, Demonstrations etc

Sep 4, 2008

Second Russian journalist in three days killed / another out of 220 journalists, who have been killed in Russia since 1991.

MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- A Russian journalist died Wednesday from gunshot wounds sustained the night before -- the second Russian journalist fatally gunned down this week.

Abdulla Alishayev -- a host on one of the most popular Islamic television stations in the Russian republic of Dagestan -- was shot in the head and shoulder late Tuesday while he was in his car, police told CNN.

Police said he was attacked by two unknown assailants in the Dagestan capital of Makhachkala, and the incident is under investigation.

His death comes less than three days after another journalist and prominent Kremlin critic Magomad Yevloyev was shot and killed in Ingushetia, a small Russian republic in the Caucasus region.

Dagestan and Ingushetia, which lie on opposite sides of Chechnya, are predominantly Muslim republics in southern Russia where Russian forces have sought to quell Islamist rebels.

Reporters Without Borders said authorities are looking into whether Alishayev's murder was linked to his professional work.

Last week, Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists denounced what they called Russian authorities' month-long offensive against a weekly opposition newspaper in Dagestan. read full text

Sep 3, 2008

Two Estonian farms establish 'Soviet republic,' seek recognition

source: http://en.rian.ru/world/20080903/116519145.html

ST. PETERSBURG, September 3 (RIA Novosti) - Two farms in north-east Estonia have joined forces to declare an independent "Soviet republic" and intend to seek Russia's recognition, a Russian communist organization said on Wednesday.

"We no longer want to live in bourgeois Estonia, where nobody cares about the common people...with raging unemployment and corruption, and where everything depends on NATO and the Americans," Russian communists from St Petersburg, who are assisting the 'republic,' quoted its founder, Andres Tamm, as saying.

Residents and founders of the 'Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic' have already formed a national 'Soviet government,' a police force, and have begun demarcating the state's borders.

Meanwhile, residents of the republic claim that the "bourgeois" Estonian government has sent a "squad of relatives of Estonian Nazi SS veterans" to regain control over the breakaway territory.

The republic is currently drafting a treaty of friendship with Russia to be submitted to the Russian president in the next few days.

Estonia is a former Soviet republic and a current member of both NATO and the EU.

Sep 2, 2008

Russia recognises Disneyland

The new Cold War crisis deepened yesterday following Russia’s decision to recognize the breakaway region of Disneyland in Florida. Previously part of the United States, Disneyland has for many years been a semi-autonomous, self-governing region, with distinctive traditions, culture and strict border controls which requires United States visitors to queue at length before presenting their papers (such as the 7 Day ‘Magic Your Way’ e-ticket)American servicemen yesterday entered the disputed territory, and screams and sirens were heard by witnesses. The servicemen then emerged looking excited and soaking wet, clutching a photo of themselves sliding down a water chute. The crisis comes after other nations have expressed concerns about worker exploitation in Disneyland, where it is rumoured that dwarves are employed in the diamond mines and forced to sleep seven to a room, despite the huge diamonds that are unearthed, ready-cut from the ground. There are also a number of on-going power struggles within the area, between local leaders such as Cruella De Ville and Pongo, Sheer Khan and Bagheera, Gaston and the Beast and Maleficent and Sleeping Beauty. ‘These are complex disputes’ said one UN observer, ‘there is no simple right and wrong in any of these cases.’But now with Russia’s formal communiqué to Mickey Mouse, the spiritual leader of Disneyland, a huge boost has been given to the region’s hopes for full independence, prompting jubilant scenes outside the Enchanted Palace, where Disneyland inhabitants paraded through the streets, dressed in giant cartoon animal costumes, waving at the crowd. ‘It makes me so proud,’ said a Disney merchandise vendor from Main Street, ‘We haven’t seen a parade like this since, well, yesterday…’

Georgia Splits the Kremlin - By Andrei Piontkovsky (Opinion)

(Andrei Piontkovsky is an independent political expert and a researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences)

The Georgia crisis revealed a new strategic force in the Kremlin that
opposes both Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev. We
still cannot name its players, but we are aware of its interests and impact
on events in the same way that astronomers discern a new but invisible
planet by recording its impact on known and visible objects in space.

One after another, loyal Kremlin pundits have appeared on television and
radio to denounce "provokers," whom they dare not name, for "planning the
incursion of Russian troops all the way to Tbilisi and the establishment
there of a pro-Russian government."

The line in the sand that U.S. President George W. Bush drew on the night of
Aug. 11, warning against Russian air strikes on Tbilisi's airport and
shortly thereafter sending Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to visit
Tbilisi, provoked a split in the Kremlin. The split divides those who are
and are not concerned about the fate of Russian elites' vast personal
holdings in the West.

I call these camps Russia's global and national kleptocrats. Both sides
firmly agree that there is nothing that the "weakened and cowardly West" can
do to restrain Russia, a nuclear and petroleum superpower, beyond financial
retribution against those Russian rulers with vast assets abroad.

But the national kleptocrats seem to believe that they can live without
overseas assets, or without educating their children and maintaining
residences in the West. Instead, they are content to own properties in elite
areas around Moscow and in Sochi.

Both Putin and Medvedev (and their television propagandists) currently
reflect the views and goals of the global kleptocrats. Neither leader wants
to capture Tbilisi. Putin, of course, would have been glad to see Georgian
President Mikheil Saakashvili, his sworn enemy, put in a cage. But other,
more down-to-earth considerations are more important to him.

That said, Putin is keeping his options open to join the national
plutocrats, in case their position dramatically strengthens. If he crosses
over to their side, he could even become their leader and triumphantly
return to the throne that he formally abandoned only recently.

While no one yet knows the national plutocrats' names, I believe that they
are new, influential players in or associated with the Kremlin, and that
they have now become bold enough to challenge both Putin and Medvedev.
Russia's military chiefs, for whom it is psychologically difficult to be
ordered by politicians to abruptly end a large-scale and successful military
operation, are their natural allies.

I cannot predict who will win this growing confrontation. But even if the
global kleptocrats sustain their more "moderate" position on Georgia, theirs
could be a Pyrrhic victory. Every day and every hour, by means of their own
propaganda, these globally minded kleptocrats, are setting the path to power
for the nationalists.

In order to justify their authoritarian rule and camouflage from the Russian
public their massive theft of the country's resources, the global
kleptocrats have already convinced ordinary Russians that they are
surrounded by ruthless enemies who are trying to dismember and destroy
Russia. Now it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to explain why
their wives and children are buying palaces in the capitals of countries
that are supposedly Russia's sworn enemies.

By contrast, the national kleptocrats' position is more consistent. They are
not constrained by huge assets in the hated West. It would not be difficult
for them to convince ordinary Russians, who have already been primed by
today's xenophobic propaganda, that Tbilisi, Sevastopol, Astana, and Tallinn
belong to Russia and should be taken by force.

Putin once said that "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth
century was the fall of the Soviet Union." The national kleptocrats may soon
start calling for its reversal, and they are in an increasingly strong
position to do so.

(c) Project Syndicate

source: http://www.sptimesrussia.com/index.php?action_id=2&story_id=27004

Sep 1, 2008

European Union Summit Conclusions - Sept. 1, 2008

12594/08 2

The meeting of the European Council was preceded by an exposé by the President of the European Parliament, Mr Hans-Gert Pöttering, followed by an exchange of views.

1. The European Council is gravely concerned by the open conflict which has broken out in Georgia, by the resulting violence and by the disproportionate reaction of Russia. This conflict has led to great suffering on both sides. Military action of this kind is not a solution and is not acceptable. The European Council deplores the loss of human life, the suffering inflicted on the population, the number of displaced persons and refugees, and the considerable material damage.

2. The European Council strongly condemns Russia's unilateral decision to recognise the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. That decision is unacceptable and the European Union calls on other States not to recognise this proclaimed independence and asks the Commission to examine the practical consequences to be drawn. It recalls that a peaceful and lasting solution to the conflict in Georgia must be based on full respect for the principles of independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity recognised by international law, the Final Act of the Helsinki Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and United Nations Security Council resolutions. read full text

Rally in Georgia - HUMAN CHAIN calling for PEACE

(c) G. Zghuladze

HUMAN CHAIN in GEORGIA calls for PEACE!!! 12:00 GMT, 01.09.08. GEORGIA is OURS!

Russia's cruel intention - In South Ossetia, I witnessed the worst ethnic cleansing since the war in the Balkans

 Luke Harding 
The Guardian, Monday September 1 2008 
Article history

After three weeks in Georgia reporting on the war and its aftermath, I find one conversation sticks with me. I had arrived in Karaleti, a Georgian village north of Gori. I had gone there with a group of foreign journalists in a Russian army truck; our ultimate destination was Tskhinvali, in South Ossetia. Several houses along the main road had been burned down; an abandoned Lada lay in a ditch; someone had looted the local school.

Refugees from Karaleti and nearby villages gave the same account: South Ossetian militias had swept in on August 12, killing, burning, stealing and kidnapping. Sasha, our Kremlin minder, however, had a different explanation. "Georgian special commandos burned the houses," he told us. I demurred, pointing out that it was unlikely Georgian special commandos would have burned down Georgian villages north of Tskhinvali, deep inside rebel-held South Ossetia. Sasha's face grew dark; he wasn't used to contradiction. "Those houses suffered from a gas or electricity leak," he answered majestically. 

Despite Sasha's inventive attempts to lie, it's evident what is currently happening in Georgia: South Ossetian militias, facilitated by the Russian army, are carrying out the worst ethnic cleansing since the war in former Yugoslavia. Despite the random nature of these attacks, the overall aim is clear: to create a mono-ethnic greater South Ossetia in which Georgians no longer exist. 

Before Georgia's attack on Tskhinvali on August 7/8, South Ossetia was a small but heterogeneous region, a patchwork of picturesque Georgian and Ossetian villages. Georgia's government controlled a third; the separatists and their handlers from Russia's spy agencies controlled another third, principally around the town of Tskhinvali; the other third was under nobody's control. Surprisingly, both groups coexisted in South Ossetia. 

A week after the conflict started I drove up to Akhalgori, a mountain town, 41km north-west of Tbilisi. South Ossetian militias, together with Russian soldiers from Dagestan, had captured the town the previous evening. Most residents had already fled; by the bus stop I found a group of women waiting for a lift. The town had no history of ethnic conflict, they said. Its population was mixed. Now almost all the Georgians had fled. I asked a militia leader, Captain Elrus, whether his men had ethnically cleansed Georgian villages between Tskhinvali and Gori. "We did carry out cleaning operations, yes," he admitted. 

The Kremlin's South Ossetian allies have re-established the old Soviet borders of South Ossetia. This new, greater territory will, as South Ossetia's parliamentary speaker made clear on Friday, become part of the Russian Federation: a large Georgian-free enclave stretching almost to the suburbs of Tbilisi. 

Back in Karaleti, meanwhile, villagers are continuing to flee. After August 12, dozens escaped on foot, walking for three days across the fields, hiding from the militias and eating wild plums. South Ossetian gunmen are preventing refugees from returning, and forcing the few elderly residents who remain to leave as well. The Russian military has done nothing to stop this. Its peacekeeping mandate is little more than a pretext for occupation. There are Russian checkpoints between Gori and Tskhinvali. 

EU leaders meet today in Brussels to discuss how to respond to Russia's invasion and occupation of Georgia, and President Dmitry Medvedev's unilateral recognition of South Ossetian and Abkhazian independence. Already the European appetite for sanctions appears to be fading, with the French and the Germans signalling an unwillingness to punish Moscow. But the EU needs to be clear about what is happening. Russia is not merely redrawing the map of Europe but changing its human geography too.