Some news items about events in and around Georgia during the last week which have attracted less attention than they deserve:
NOT ALL RUSSIAN ANALYSTS AGREE WITH PUTIN ON AMERICAN ELECTIONS. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s suggestion that the Bush White House pushed Tbilisi to provoke Russia as part of an effort to boost the electoral chances of Republic candidate John McCain has received widespread coverage not only in the Russian media but in American outlets as well (www.mignews.ru/news/politic/cis/280808_171244_69112.html). But many
Russian analysts do not agree with him either on the existence of a White House plot or on what the outcome of the US election is likely to be (www.nr2.ru/policy/192867.html).
HAMAS WANTS TO HELP MOSCOW BUILD ‘A NEW WORLD ORDER.’ Hamas, which welcomed Moscow’s extension of diplomatic recognition to the two breakaway republics in Georgia, has announced that it is ready to help the Kremlin build “a new world order” directed against Israel and the United States (zavtra.ru/cgi//veil//data/zavtra/08/771/41.html). The Georgian foreign ministry on August 29 congratulated Moscow on its new alliance with this terrorist group. Meanwhile, however, Moscow’s effort to get other countries to follow its lead on Abkhazia and South Ossetia has fallen flat. Venezuela’s Ugo Chavez has expressed sympathy but neither Caracas nor Mensk has moved (grani.ru/Politics/Russia/m.140732.html). Given that Moscow routinely compares what it has done to the West’s support for Kosovo, it is perhaps worth noting that 46 countries have now recognized that Balkan republic (http://www.nm.md/daily/article/2008/08/29/0101.html/).
RUSSIAN NATIONALISTS STEP UP CAMPAIGN TO LINK JEWS TO GEORGIA. Russia’s extreme right continues its effort to blame Israel and the Jews for their support of Georgia against Russia, an effort that could lead those attacking “persons from the Caucasus” to attack Jews (www.za-nauku.ru//index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=917&Itemid=36).
RUSSIAN JEWS IN ISRAEL URGE DIASPORA NOT TO BUY ANYTHING GEORGIAN. A group of Russian Jews living in Israel have urged their compatriots not to buy anything Georgian in order to demonstrate their support for South Ossetia and to weaken the regime in Tbilisi, a call that some Russian nationalists welcome (www.homeru.com/news/content/view/6059/174/).
RUSSIANS DEBATE THE IMPACT OF MOSCOW’S ACTIONS IN GEORGIA ON RUSSIA. A few Russian analysts argue that Moscow’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia will lead to demands for independence by at least some of the non-Russian republics within the Russian Federation (www.regnum.ru/news/1046955.html). But far more Russian analysts and officials insist that there is no danger of “a domino effect” inside their country (www.ia-centr.ru/expert/2119/).
WESTERN HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS ACTIVE IN CAUCASUS DENOUNCED AS ‘BANDITS’ … Russian commentators have been stepping up their attacks on human rights groups either based in Western countries or funded from abroad over the last several weeks. A particularly blatant and vicious example called these groups “bandits” because of their work in the Caucasus region (www.fondsk.ru/article.php?id=1584).
… AS HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH RELEASES SATELLITE PHOTOS SHOWING ETHNIC CLEANSING SOUTH OSSETIA. Human Rights Watch, one of the groups Russian media have been attacking, has used satellite photography to show that Russian and South Ossetian forces have engaged in the ethnic cleansing of Georgian villages in that breakaway republic (abkhazeti.info/news/1220052197.php).
LIBERAL COMMENTATOR SAYS RUSSIA AS ‘A PIRATE STATE’ SHOULD HAVE A PIRATE FLAG… Valeriya Novodvorskaya, a liberal Russian commentator, says that as Moscow’s actions in Georgia have shown, Russia has become “a pirate state” and should be flying a pirate flag rather than a tricolor one intended to stress its links to the countries of Europe (grani.ru/Politics/Russia/p.140673.html).
… WHILE ONE RUSSIAN SAYS HE NO LONGER RECOGNIZES ‘SELF-PROCLAIMED’ RUSSIAN FEDERATION. One Russian at least is taking an even more radical step to protest Moscow’s actions in Georgia. He has posted online a declaration saying that “effective immediately” he no longer recognizes “the self-proclaimed Russian Federation” as a state or himself as its citizen (yun.complife.ru/miscell/norussia.htm).
MOSCOW OFFICIALS SAY U.S. ‘REVIEWING CANDIDATES’ TO REPLACE SAAKASHVILI. In a transparent effort to sow discord in Tbilisi and to raise new questions in Europe about the Georgian government, Russian officials and commentators are suggesting that Georgian opposition figures are now travelling to Washington or meeting with American officials elsewhere as part of a supposed vetting process in which the United States will choose who will succeed Mihkiel Saakashvili (http://www.nr2.ru/inworld/192936.html).
RUSSIA’S MUSLIMS BACK MOSCOW ON RECOGNIZING ABKHAZIA, SOUTH OSSETIA. Russia’s Muslim establishment – including the Union of Muftis of Russia (SMR), the Central Muslim Spiritual Directorate (MSD), and almost all other MSD heads – have backed Moscow’s moves in Georgia and called on Muslim countries to follow Russia’s lead and extend diplomatic recognition to Abkhazia and South Ossetia (www.islam.ru/rus/2008-08-25/#22385 and www.islam.ru/rus/2008-08-28/#22458).
CRITICISM OF QUALITY OF RUSSIAN MILITARY ACTION IN GEORGIA INTENSIFIES. As more information comes out about Russian military actions in Georgia, an increasing number of Russian analysts are suggesting that Russian forces were not only poorly equipped but did not perform all that well in Georgia, winning as Soviet forces typically did only by their overwhelming numbers (www.polit.ru/analytics/2008/08/27/vol.html). And several have openly complained that this is an especially unfortunate situation because Russia has been spending more on defense but appears from the events in the Caucasus to be getting less for it (http://www.newizv.ru/news/2008-08-27/96780/).