Tag Archives: Russia

Georgia Protests Grow Against Saakashvili

Last year President George Bush blasted Russia for provoking a war against Georgia and hailed President Saakashvilli as an outstanding leader and defender of freedom. The prevailing mood in the American Congress was that Georgia was the victim and Russia the aggressor. However, the people of Georgia have a different perspective than what is found in the United States. An expected 150,000 will be protesting over the coming days demanding the resignation of their president. They believe he was responsible for the war which has caused their nation to lose land. Zaza Gachechiladze, editor of the newspaper, Messenger, notes that Saakashvilli “doesn’t recognize last year’s war as a defeat. He keeps stubbornly saying he is going to stay… He now has very little support in the country.”

Bush, as always, rushed for judgment on the basis of limited evidence and never conducted a serious investigation as to the origin of the war in Georgia. Fortunately, the people of Georgia know what the war was about and how their president blundered.

Is There Rule Of Law In Russia?

Dimitry Medvedev upon assuming the presidency promised the Russian people that law would be respected, but the second trial of former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky raises questions about the accuracy of that promise. Khodorkovsky challenged Medvedev to carry out the promise of an honest judiciary and create independent courts or face the prospect that people eventually will protest in the streets. He charged in court that he had been “deprived of my right to know what I am being accused of,” because the charges are vague. He has also been denied the right to have his former chief financial officer to be allowed to testify on his behalf.

Naturally, prosecutors once again trotted out charges about conspiracies and plots because in Putin Russia if an individual believes in law that means he is, by definition, involved in some sort of plot.

Russians Protest Economic Conditions

The current economic collapse which is impacting nations throughout the world is the first serious one to hit Russia since the Putin gang took power in the nation. Putin assumed office just as oil prices zoomed and he had access to large amounts of money, but today Russia, along with other nations is feeling the impact of lower production and lower prices for oil. The Russian Communist Party believed it could draw millions in protest demonstrations in the nation. There were thousands in the streets holding signs and shouting, “Where is the money, Dima?”(President Medvedv). Viktor Ilyukhin, a Communist Party official, said demonstrators were reflecting anger in the country. “Many families are on the edge of survival, unemployment is growing.”

It will be interesting to discover if the current economic crisis can really stir anger within Russia against Putin and his crowd. Will it be enough to awake Russians from their lethargy and demand truly free elections? Only time will tell.

North Korea And Missiles- What Next?

North Korea announced plans to fire a rocket which it claims is carrying a satellite and there are no weapons connected with it. A senior American military official says there is nothing to doubt the accuracy of the North Korean claim about their space launch. However, there is genuine concern and President Obama discussed the issue with President Medvedev of Russia and supposedly both agreed they did not want North Korea to be sending missiles into the air. Even the Chinese who are close to North Korea have some concerns. The issue is whether to have the Security Council impose sanctions on North Korea if it pursues its missile program. The flip side is would China support sanctions against an ally even if it does not agree completly with the the idea of satellites.

Hopefully, after the years of Bush confusion President Obama will work with Russia and China to develop an intelligent foreign policy program that reassures North Korea while working for peace and stability in Asia.

Human Rights Worker Attacked In Russia

Russia is termed a democratic society because there are elections and, in theory, there is freedom of speech and the press, but in all too many cases those who stand for the rights of those in opposition to the government all too often wind up beaten into unconsciousness by unknown assailants. Lev Ponomaryov arrived home only to be greeted by thugs who beat him so bad he was sent to a hospital. Amnesty International once again called on President Medvedev to take a stand against this hooliganism which was spawned under the regime of Prime Minister Putin. Ponomaryov said bluntly: “I am firmly convinced that this was not a casual attack by hooligans but revenge.”

Ponormaryov has been attending the trial of former Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky who was imprisoned for daring to stand up to Putin. The human rights activist has also been meeting with representatives from Europe rights groups. This is not the first time he has been beaten and this is not the first time those who stand for human rights in Russia are beaten, and, in some cases like that of human rights lawyer, Stanislav Markelov they are killed.

President Medvedev was a lawyer who promised to respect human rights. He still has not carried out his promises.

Medvedev Wants Peace With Obama

The reality is that issues of conflict between the United States and Russia are not insurmountable and all it requires is common sense and a willingness to compromise. President Medvedev expressed his hopes in a Washington Post article that the two nations could become friends and cease their conflict. George Bush created one crisis after another in order to antagonize Russia with his ill advised effort to construct anti-missile bases on the border of Russia. There is no doubt George Bush would have ordered the air force out if Russia constructed anti-missile bases in Cuba. The Bush support for Georgia certainly played a role in encouraging that nation to begin the war in South Ossetia.

Medvedev said quite clearly, “I believe that removing such obstacles to good relations would be beneficial to our countries.” It is simple, end the thought of anti-missile bases in Poland and take up Russia’s offer to construct anti-missile bases on its territory that would be controlled by both nations. Invite Russia to become a member of NATO and end the conflict over nothing.

US General Blames Russia For Aggression

American General John Craddock blamed Russia for engaging in aggressive actions which have resulted in creating tensions in the world. He noted the world had been moving toward a position that no nation in Europe should engage in aggressive actions in order to achieve its foreign policy goals but Russia by invading Georgia in August, 2008 had violated this basic premise. “Russia seems determined (to) use Euro-Atlantic security institutions weakened and has shown a readiness to use economic leverage and military force to achieve its aims.” Of course, this is a typical George Bush interpretation of what has been going on. However, the evidence is now overwhelming that Georgia initiated the invasion, not Russia, but no mention is made of this event.

America all too often sees the world through its own lens. Was it an aggressive action to inform Russia that missile bases were being built on its border? Was it an aggressive action to incite Georgia to initiate an invasion of South Ossetia? The United States constantly uses economic sanctions against nations like Cuba or Iran, but according to General Craddock that is not an example of aggressive action. When will Americans begin to see the world through the perspective of other nations?

Did Georgia Plan To Invade South Ossetia?

The German newspaper, Der Spiegel, has come into possession of information which indicates the Georgian government lied about its reasons for invading South Ossetia. Instead of responding to a Russian attack, evidence suggests that Georgia leader Mikhail Saakashvili, planned an invasion even before there was any indication that Russia would intervene. On August 7, 2008, Mamuka Kurashvili, commander of the Georgian peacekeeping force that had been stationed in South Ossetia, told the press in what appeared to be a carefully staged and prepared talk, that his forces had to intervene in order to “reestablish constitutional order in the entire region.” Der Spiegel sources believe the general was quoting directly from Order, No. 2, August 7.

The government of Georgia still refuses to release the controversial Order No. 2. After Russian troops entered the fight, President Saakashvili, argued that he learned at 10:00 p.m. that Russian tanks had entered, but on the morning of August 7, Georgian forces of 12,000 troops and 75 tanks already had entered South Ossetia.

President Bush and most members of Congress immediately sided with Georgia and condemned Russia for initiating the conflict. Will the American government now acknowledge the events do not reveal it was a Russian initiated war?

Russian Leaders Welcome Signs of New US Policies

Among the legacies of George Bush is creating problems with Russia that had no basis in reality and arose due to a Republican paranoia which played out in seeking to surround Russia with missile bases in complete disregard to the feelings and security of the Russian people. Three former American foreign policy leaders, Henry Kissinger, George Schultz and former Senator Sam Nunn, visited Moscow in order to emphasize their nation’s desire for positive, cooperative relations with Russia. President Medvedev expressed his government’s desire to accept a new American foreign policy approach as reflecting “the goal to significantly improve ties.” The Russian leader indicated his nation would welcome a change in the anti-Russian policies of George Bush.

Senator Nunn put it aptly when he said it is important for the United States and Russia to cooperate in order to avoid catastrophe in the world. Russia can play a key role in dealing with Iran and assisting in bringing about peace in Afghanistan. Russia has millions of Muslims living on the border of Afghanistan and it is not in their national interests to have the Taliban gain control of the government. Bush never grasped that Russia does not wish aggressive Muslim groups on its border.

US Russia Meet About Afghanistan

The Obama administration has accepted an invitation to attend a Russian sponsored meeting concerning the situation in Afghanistan. This represents a sharp contrast with the Bush administration whose policies only served to antagonize the Russians. A senior American delegate will attend a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization even though the United States is not a member of this group. Defense Department spokesperson Robert Wood noted, “we think it is important to go to this conference (because) it is about Afghanistan” and how nations of the world can cooperate in dealing with the situation.

Iran will be an observer at the meeting which represents an opportunity for the United States to interact with Iranian officials in a meeting where there will be many nations represented. It is through such opportunities that America can establish new relations with Iran.