Some news items about events in and around Georgia during the last week which have attracted less attention than they deserve:
SINCE INVASION, RUSSIAN STOCK MARKET WORST PERFORMING IN WORLD. Since Moscow’s invasion of Georgia, the Russian stock market has declined by a greater percentage than any other equities market in the world, costing Russian and foreign investors millions of dollars (forum.msk.ru/material/news/528670.html). Initially, much of the decline was caused by the withdrawal from Russia of foreign funds, but in recent weeks, much of it reflects decisions by Russian investors to sell their Russian holdings and send their money to safer harbors abroad (grani.ru/Politics/Russia/m.141281.html).
IDP PROBLEM IN GEORGIA FAR FROM RESOLVED. Among the many things the Sarkozy plan does not make provision for is the return of Georgians who were forced to flee from South Ossetia as a result of the violence there and who would if allowed to return find most of their homes destroyed. And consequently, even though some Georgian IDPs have been able to return to Gori and other cities from which Russian forces have withdrawn, there are still more than 60,000 of them from this war, on top of the 500,000 from earlier conflicts in the two breakaway republics (www.sobkorr.ru/news/48C37E5B2F9F4.html).
EU CALLS FOR CAUCASUS CONFERENCE, INCLUDING PEOPLES WITHOUT STATES. The European Union Parliament has adopted a resolution calling for the convention of a Trans-
Caucasus conference to consider crimes against humanity that have been committed in that region. What makes this resolution unusual is that it specifically urges that nations which do not have independent statehood should be allowed to send representatives to it, a step that would undoubtedly radicalize some of them (www.unpo.org/content/view/8607/81/).
RUSSIA, IRAN TO EXPAND INTELLIGENCE COOPERATION. In the wake of the Georgian events and following Russia’s commitment to complete the construction of nuclear power facilities in Iran, Moscow and Tehran have agreed to expand cooperation in intelligence matters (www.islamnews.ru/news-14185.html). And in yet another indication of expanding ties between the two countries, an Iranian oil expert says that the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline bypassing Russia is not secure (www.ethnoglobus.com/?page=full&id=362).
KALMYK OPPOSITION FIGURE DENOUNCES MOSCOW’S MOVES IN GEORGIA. Semen Ateyev, a leading figure in the Kalmyk opposition, said that Moscow had provoked Georgia to take military action in South Ossetia in order to have a pretext for its own plans to invade that country. Other Kalmyk opposition leaders immediately distanced themselves from his argument (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/newstext/news/id/1228777.html and www.annews.ru/news/detail.php?ID=166922).
CIRCASSIANS BACK TURKEY’S NEW LINE IN THE CAUCASUS. Even though many countries have expressed skepticism about Ankara’s effort to promote a Russian-Turkish agreement to provide security for the Caucasus, leaders of Turkey’s nearly five million Circassians have strongly backed the proposal, viewing it as a means of gaining greater political standing for their co-ethnics in the North Caucasus (www.ng.ru/cis/2008-09-08/8_kavkaz.html).
MOSCOW GETS SUPPORT FROM KHODORKOVSKY, NONE FROM JAPANESE CP. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former head of Yukos and perhaps Russia’s most famous prisoner, sent word from his jail cell in Chita that he supports Moscow’s decision to send forces into Georgia (evrazia.org/news/4365). But the Japanese Communist Party issued a sweeping and stinging denunciation of Russia’s “violation of the national sovereignty of Georgia” (www.jcp.or.jp/english/jps_weekly08/20080906_georgia.html).
RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER COULDN’T BE FOUND WHEN GEORGIANS MOVED. In the weeks since Russian forces invaded Georgia, Moscow commentators have focused on the tactics, training, and equipment of the participants, but perhaps the most intriguing report, if true, is that the Russian defense ministry could not locate its top man for ten hours after Georgian forces moved toward Tskhinvali. Such a breakdown in communications would not be unprecedented, but the Kremlin could use this against him if it decides it needs a scapegoat (www.za-nauku.ru//index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=957&Itemid=36).