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Books on Georgia
Update No: 328 - (28/04/08)
The deja vu of Georgia
Georgia is the republic that the Russian elite most miss as a result of the
collapse of the USSR in 1991. It is indeed a splendid bit of real estate, with a
marvellous coastline on the Black Sea, magnificent mountain scenery inland, a
great cuisine and an abundance of fine wines and brandies.
No wonder that the Politburo and lesser comrades made a point of having dachas
on the Georgian shore. Stalin was a Georgian, as was his prime henchman, Beria.
Stalinism was inter alia a sort of Georgian mafia outfit.
Putin is on record as admiring Stalin as the greatest ruler Russia has ever had.
In this he echoes Russian popular opinion. Imagine his outrage at Georgia's
independent antics, as he sees them.
Russia in effect rules in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the original home of the
blessed Stalin no less. Their populations are genuinely pro-Russian, given
generous subsidies and subventions handed out lavishly by the Kremlin to spite
Tbilisi and salve their own wounds. Russia has plenty of energy to spare;
But all is not lost. Abkhazia and South Ossetia may be legally Georgian. They
are in effect run by the Russians.
UN Security Council to meet on Georgia-Russia dispute
Tensions between the two countries have escalated over the two breakaway regions
— Abkhazia and South Ossetia — which have close ties to Moscow and have been
independently run since the early 1990s when fighting with Georgian troops
Georgia claimed a Russian fighter jet shot down an unmanned Georgian spy plane
on April 20 as it flew over Abkhazia and last week, Russian President Vladimir
Putin ordered his government to increase cooperation with the separatist
authorities in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed-door meeting on April 23 to discuss
Georgia's claims of Russian military aggression in the breakaway region of
Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters after the council
discussed Georgia's request for an emergency meeting on April 21 that "we
did not object to having a meeting ... and we'll have things to say at that
meeting as well."
Georgian Foreign Minister David Bakradze is expected to attend the council
meeting. Churkin said he reminded the council of the need to hear the views of
the Abkhazian side "and we will continue to work having them invited to
speak to the council."
Moscow has granted the vast majority of the region's residents Russian
citizenship, and recently lifted 12-year-old trade sanctions against Abkhazia.
Russian officials have warned that Georgia will have to abandon its claims on
the regions if it joins NATO.
NATO declined to offer Georgia a road map for membership at a summit earlier
this month, but assured pro-Western President Mikhail Saakashvili that his
nation will eventually join the alliance.
Georgia's U.N. Ambassador Irakli Alasania said Putin's order on April 16
launching full-scale cooperation and formalizing its relations with Abkhazia
(clearly a tit-for-tat for the western recognition of Kosovo’s independence),
motivates the separatists "to completely withdraw" from the
"We witness a new dangerous reality," Alasania said. "The Russian
Federation is legitimizing annexation of Abkhazia and ... South Ossetia —
integral parts of the internationally recognized territory of Georgia."
Alasania said the latest Russian actions and separatist threats forced Georgia
to use unarmed capabilities to collect intelligence data "on our sovereign
territory" — and on April 20 "Russian military aircraft intruded
Georgian airspace above Abkhazia" and shot down an unarmed vehicle.
Alasinia called on the U.N. military observer mission in Georgia to expand its
monitoring capabilities "with emphasis on detection of any military
activities on Abkhazian segment of Georgian-Russian border."
Looming elections; the Speaker departs
On May 21 there will be parliamentary elections in Georgia. Speaker of the
Georgian parliament Nino Burjanadze will not seek reelection in the May 21
elections, where she was expected to head the party list of the ruling United
National Movement. This practically means her departure from politics. She was
the last remaining of the politicians who helped President Saakashvili come to
power in the Rose Revolution.
Burjanadze expressed the hope that her exit would not cause “a political, much
less state crisis.” The influential politician, who was twice elected speaker
of the parliament (the first time in 2001 under president Eduard Shevardnadze,
then again after the revolution in 2004), was along with Saakashvili and Zurab
Zhvania, one of the key figures in the Rose Revolution. Zhvania, known as the
brains behind the revolution, died under mysterious circumstances in 2005.
Burjanadze explained that her decision was due to “differences with the ruling
party during the formation of the list of candidates for MP.” Political
scientist Nika Imnaishvili told Kommersant,
“Burjanadze was unable to contain her emotions after she realized that her
personnel were not being included on the list of the ruling party, and that
would reduce her chances not only of becoming chairman of the parliament, but
also of replacing Saakashvili as president in 2013.” There are signs that her
disagreement with the president went even farther than that. Burjanadze stated
yesterday that “many things, from the tactical point of view should be changed
and the political process needs correcting.”
Burjanadze stated that she would not join the opposition. Another one-time
supporter of Saakashvili, Irakly Okruashvili, said the same thing after being in
effect fired by Saakashvili from his position as defense minister in November
2006. Less than a year later, he emerged as a major opponent of the president.