Some news items about events in and around Georgia during the last few days which have attracted less attention than they may deserve:
SOROS, WESTERN INVESTORS PULLING OUT OF RUSSIAN MARKETS. In the wake of recent corporate problems in Russia and the war in Georgia, Soros Fund Management and some other Western investors are reducing their holdings in the Russian markets, Russian financial websites report (www.point.ru/business-news/2008/08/15/17456).
IOC, RUSSIAN BANKERS SAY SOCHI OLYMPICS AT RISK. The war in Georgia may make it impossible to complete preparations for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, according to officials of the International Olympic Committee (www.sobkorr.ru/news/48A0234B513C0.html). And in the short term at least, tensions in the region are making it more difficult for Moscow to attract the outside investment it had counted on, according to Yevgeny Nadorshiin of Moscow’s Trust Bank (www.nr2.ru/moskow/191030.html).
RUSSIA USING DRAFTEES RATHER THAN CONTRACT SOLDIERS IN GEORGIA. Despite Moscow’s pledge not to send draftees to fight in hotspots, the Russian military has been using recent draftees in its Georgian campaign (www.permnews.ru/story.asp?kt=2912&n=453). Both their inexperience and their lack of global positioning systems have meant that some Russian units reportedly have been shooting at other Russian units rather than at their Georgian opponents (www.nr2.ru/incidents/191424.html).
MOST VOLUNTEERS FOR RUSSIAN SIDE COME FROM MIDDLE VOLGA, URALS. The Russian and international media have focused on the formation of volunteer units in the North Caucasus who reportedly want to fight on the Russian side in Georgia, but according to several reports, most of the 10,000 such volunteers come from the Middle Volga and Urals regions rather than the North Caucasus (www.islam.ru/rus/2008-08-12/#22195).
TURKEY, IRAN WEIGH IN ON GEORGIA EVENTS. Both Ankara and Tehran have supported Russia concerning Georgia, with the Turkish government proposing the creation of a Russian-Turkish Caucasus Union to provide a “bipolar system of guarantees” for stability in the region (www.vlasti.net/news/19280) and Iran, while calling for negotiations, offering to provide assistance in the rebuilding of South Ossetia (www.islamrf.ru/news/world/w-news/3997/).
RUSSIAN TOURISTS CHANGE TRAVEL PLANS BECAUSE OF WAR. The war in Georgia has led many Russians to drop plans to travel to the Black Sea coast this year. Russian tourist firms have not offered tours to Georgia for some time, but now they face a wave of cancellations from those who had reserved places in Abkhazia or nearby areas. This development if forcing tourist firms to explore what alternatives to offer and how to protect themselves and their clients from future problems of this kind (www.iamik.ru/?op=full&what=content&ident=39688).
RUSSIAN ACTIONS HAVE UNITED GEORGIANS BEHIND SAAKASHVILI. Russian actions in Georgia have had the unintended consequence of strengthening Mihkiel Saakashvili’s hand in Tbilisi, Russian newspapers say. Now, even most of those who were his die-hard opponents support him. Whether that will last as tensions continue, of course, is far from clear (www.newizv.ru/news/2008-08-12/95817/).
AZERBAIJAN MIGHT CONSIDER RUSSIAN ROUTE FOR OIL EXPORTS. Although Azerbaijani and Georgian officials denied reports that Baku had stopped the flow of oil through Georgia, some Russian experts have suggested that Azerbaijan is now considering exporting its oil via a Russian route through Novorossiisk if the Georgian crisis should lead to a blockage of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline (www.annews.ru/news/detail.php?ID=164940).
NAZARBAYEV SAYS CIS ‘AMORPHOUS,’ INCAPABLE OF ADDRESSING CONFLICTS. In some of his harshest language yet, Kazakhstan’s president Nursultan Nazarbayev said that the Commonwealth of Independent States “has become amorphous and does not have a mechanism” for addressing serious conflicts (www.easttime.ru/news/1/3/685.html).
OSSETIANS, INGUSH CLASH IN NORTH OSSETIA. A fight took place between 13 members of the two ethnic groups yesterday in the North Ossetian town of Kurtat, Ingushetiya.ru reported, citing RIA Novosti (www.ingushetiya.ru/news/15162.html). Three people had to be hospitalized, the latest indication of rising tensions between the two groups and possibly the impact of the influx of South Ossetians into the region.
YOUNG REFUGEES FROM CONFLICT IN TERRIBLE SHAPE PSYCHOLOGICALLY. Leonid Roshal, the director of the Moscow Institute for Emergency Surgery for Children, told “Trud” that young people among the refugees from South Ossetia who have arrived in central Russia are in terrible shape psychologically and will need a great deal of time to recover from what they have experienced (miloserdie.ru/index.php?ss=20&s=36&id=7663). .