Sunday, August 17, 2008

News from Georgia, Ossetia, Abkhazia

Go to: for the latest news from Georgia, Ossetia, and Abkhazia. You will read reports straight from the region, translated by people there who will tell you what is really going on!Galina and Medea

Monday, March 3, 2008

March 2, 2008: Dmitrii Anatolevich Medevedev Elected President of Russia

March 2, 2008: Dmitrii Anatolevich Medevedev was elected President of Russia!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Kosovo: Independence, Instability, Violence

February 22, 2008: Serbian President Boris Tadic called for an emergency meeting of the national security in the aftermath of violence following Kosovo’s declaration of independence. The United States, Britain, France and Germany have formally recognized Kosovo.

In northern Kosovo, a traditional Serbian stronghold, demonstrators waved Serbian flags.

Serbian police said one person died and more than 150 people were injured in unrest which erupted after a state-sponsored rally. Nearly 200 people were arrested and 90 shops ransacked, police said in a statement.

Nearly 200,000 demonstrated in downtown Belgrade against Kosovo independence. Rioters stormed the U.S. Embassy and set fire to offices and security checkpoints on the sidewalk in front of the building.

The tensions have exposed the deep rift within the country's unstable coalition government, prompting speculation that nationalist anger over Kosovo was providing support to those who want to move Serbia away from the European Union and closer to its traditional ally Russia.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Independence for Kosovo?

The debate over independence for Kosovo is likely to contribute to the return of the Cold War in Europe. Separating Kosovo from Serbia is certain to renew disputes between Russia and the West over issues including missile defense and NATO membership for the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Ukraine.

Kosovo is sacred to Serbs, who call it the cradle of their statehood and religion. The province is also special to the Kremlin, for reasons beyond the roots Russia shares with Slavic, Orthodox Christian Serbia.

To many, Kosovo is a symbol of Russia's weakness in the post-Soviet era. Despite its fury over the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia, Moscow recognized a peace deal that put the mostly ethnic Albanian province under the control of the U.N. and the Western alliance.

Putin has built part of his popularity by restoring Russian pride, working to regain global influence and demonstrating increasing assertiveness toward the West.

An independence declaration could come as early as this week, and Moscow says it has developed a secret plan for responding to it.
Meanwhile, Russians are warning that Western recognition will set a dangerous precedent, legitimizing independence claims from separatists across Europe: Scots, Basques, Turkish Cypriots, and others . A report on a government-supported English-language Russian satellite TV channel even threw Vermont secessionists into the mix!

More seriously, Moscow has implied that it could hit back by recognizing the independence claims of Abkhazia and South Ossetia: two provinces with Russian support in Georgia, whose pro-Western government plays a key role in the struggle for influence pitting Russia against the U.S. and European Union.

Such a move coulkd mean a war with Georgia, further deterioration of relations with the West, and a boost for various separatists inside Russia. In the short run, its response will probably be limited to steps such as blocking U.N. recognition of Kosovo, while portraying itself as a protector of international law and the United States as a reckless global bully.

Putin seems less interested in Serbia as a potential military ally than as an outpost of Russia's growing European energy empire. Kremlin support on Kosovo has already helped it land deals for a gas pipeline and control of Serbia's state oil company, furthering its efforts to increase Europe's dependence on Russia for energy supplies and distribution.

Friday, January 18, 2008

RIP Bobby Fischer

January 18, 2008: US Grandmaster Bobby Fischer died in Reykjavik, Iceland at the age of 64.

Fischer became world champion after a legendary game against Soviet player Boris Spassky in Reykjavik in 1972.

After winning the world title, he did not play another chess match for 20 years.

In 1992, he played a rematch against Boris Spassky in Serbia, in violation of UN sanctions.

As a result, he could have faced a ten year sentence if he ever returned to the United States.

He lived in Hungary,the Philippines, and Japan.

He was arrested at Tokyo's Narita airport in 2004 for travelling on a passport that had been revoked by the US government.

After spending months in Japanese custody, he was granted citizenship by Iceland in tribute to his making the island famous in 1972.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Opposition to Georgian Election Results

TBILISI, Georgia, January 13, 2007: Tens of thousands of opposition protesters in rallied against presidential poll winner Mikhail Saakashvili on Sunday alleging vote fraud.

Opposition leader Levan Gachechiladze called for a second round of elections.
Gachechiladze came second in the January 5 vote to the incumbent Saakashvili, who was the outright winner in the first round with 53.47 percent, according to final results issued by the Central Elections Commission earlier on Sunday.

The opposition has accused the authorities of rigging the vote in favour of Saakashvili, a pro-Western reformer who led a popular revolt in 2003 but whose popularity has waned because of continued high levels of poverty.

Salome Zurabishvili, another opposition leader and a former foreign minister, called on foreign leaders to boycott Saakashvili's inauguration ceremony.
Opposition leaders billed the rally as a show of force against Saakashvili, who was first elected with a sweeping majority in January 2004 in this former Soviet republic.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the main election monitoring group, said that despite some irregularities, the election had largely met democratic standards.
The Central Election Commission said the courts were considering a number of complaints regarding the election, and that so far more than 33,000 votes had been declared invalid due to irregularities.

The presidential election was called a year early in response to violent unrest in November, which dented Saakashvili's image as a democratic reformer in this strategic corner of the former Soviet Union.
US-backed Saakashvili now has a new five-year mandate to pursue radical reforms to transform Georgia's economy. He is also wants Georgia to join NATO and the European Union.

A flamboyant and multilingual politician, Saakashvili has won plaudits for pulling Georgia out of years of economic chaos and political instability.
But, while the opposition backs his pro-Western course, it accuses him of authoritarian tendencies and forgetting impoverished Georgians who have been left behind in free-market reforms. Addressing those complaints, Saakashvili told reporters on Saturday that he aims to eliminate poverty. He added that he wanted to improve relations with neighboring Russia.

Angered by Tbilisi's overtures to the West and its NATO ambitions, Moscow has imposed economic sanctions on Georgia. It also supports armed rebels controlling the Georgian separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

RIP: Benazir Bhutto

It is unfortunate that the 2007 holidays will be remembered for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

Memory Eternal.