Abkhazia, South Ossetia to become a measure of Russia's international influence

Both houses of Russia’s parliament have urged Dmitri Medvedev to recognize the independence of Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, BBC Reports. Although voted unanimosly in favour by both houses of Russian Duma, the bill will have to be ratified by President Medvedev, before it comes into action. The choice is not as easy as it seems, however, and the Kremlin might delay its decision while it carries out wider negotiations with the West on the crisis. The decision to recognize the independence of the two breakaway regions might become a testing ground of Russia’s international influence and the Abkhaz and South Ossetian struggle for independence might end up either like Kosovo, whose independence was accepted by a substantial number of governments, or like Northern Cyprus, which is recognized only by Turkey. Will Russia want to take the risk? Will it have to force allies like the CSTO members, Venezuela and Cuba?
It is almost certain, that if Russia pushes for it, Armenia will have to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Meanwhile Armenia hasn’t recognized Kosovo yet, although given our quest for self-determination of Nagorno-Karabakh, it would have seemed like the most natural thing for us to do. We would have everything to gain and nothing to loose, especially as it would be fully in line with out ‘complimentary’ foreign policy and would demonstrate at least a limited degree of independence from Russia. Meanwhile, recognizning the two breakaway regions of Georgia, our main export route, is going to be a controversial choice. And while it would be great news for Nagorno-Karabakh, the economic consequencies might prove destructive for the Armenian economy.

Artur Papyan

Journalist, blogger, digital security and media consultant


  1. All Armenian blogs are reacting pretty happily to these news apart from you Observer and though I don’t think this Ossetian independence is actually going to happen but for all these short-sighted people who support that idea I’m simply going to copy the commet i just made on Nazarian’s blog….
    When are Armenians going to stop filling with joy whenever Georgia gets in trouble? We hope this is going to help Armenia? Recognition of South Ossetian independence? How exactly? You guys actually think Russia loves us so much they’re going to upset Azerbaijan, whose oil and gas they’re trying to get to transport to Europe and partly started this war to kill Nabucco gas pipeline project which was going to transport Azeri and Middle-Asian gas through Georgia. Russia now effectively gave these countries no choice but to use its territory and pipelines. Recognizing Karabakh’s independence will give Russia nothing at all. Zero. Actually, they will loose their main tool of control over both Armenia and Azerbaijan. When is this blind love for mother Russia going to come to an end? If anything, it’s Azerbaijan who is in a winning position out of all this, not Armenia. We are blockaded from all directions, Azerbaijan doesn’t have that problem and if they decide to become Putin’s great petrogas political plan of control over Europe, then we’re fucked. Georgia is like air to Armenia, we should be very careful not to upset our dear neighbours. Do you guys really care for Ossetian independence. If you ask me, then fuck them, don’t give a shit about their aspirations, whether they’re Russian, Georgian or Chinese controlled. But Georgia has to be stable and democratic for the sake of Armenia’s stability. So Georgia is who I support.

  2. […] over Nagorno Karabakh to consider. However, despite strong ties with Moscow, it is unclear whether it too would recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia given a reliance on Georgia as the main trade conduit to the outside […]

  3. I think the case for South Ossetian independence is probably very clear given that there is — or was until they were ethnically cleansed from the region by militia — only a 30 percent ethnic Georgian population. The parallels with Karabakh are closer than Abkazia.
    Basically, Abkhazia is another matter, and the largest ethnic group there was over 45 percent Georgian. Hundreds of thousands remain displaced in Georgia proper and should have the right to return. Therefore, I am not sure that the right to self-determination exists in the case of Abkhazia.
    As for Armenia recognizing either or both, this will probably create unecessary tensions with Georgia where most of Armenia’s imports and exports have to pass through. Recognition by Yerevan might create problems in this respect.
    On the other hand, failure to do so would likely not go down well with Moscow, but Armenia is in a pretty difficult situation as always. It needs Russia, but it also needs to maintain good relations with Europe, the U.S. and Georgia.
    I suppose it would go to a vote in the Armenian National Assembly, and I suspect recognition would be overwhelmingly supported by the majority of deputies for the reasons Archuk gives.
    Whether Sargsyan would be then obliged to formally recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia? I don’t know, but it’s one which has significant geopolitcal implications, especially regarding whether Yerevan continues with a complimentary foreign policy.
    Not sure if Georgia would react badly to such a move by Yerevan, but if it did, it would leave us only with Iran as a friendly nation on our borders. Not sure I’d welcome that so can only hope a decision here is made weighing up all the issues.

  4. I don’t see why Russia would be angry with us if we don’t recognize South Ossetia and Abkazia. They will be angry if we start arguing that they should be part of Georgia but if we not commit then they shouldn’t be angry. They control Armenia all the way, so why would they need a confirmation from us that we are loyal to them? So if we just keep our mouths shut, maybe everything will be fine. If they do press for recognition then perhaps looking towards West should be a serious option. But I doubt that Russia would press Armenia to recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia. That would unnecessarily complicate our relationship and sort of give a way for westerners to do their work in Armenia.

  5. Well, yeah, I suppose I hope we keep our mouths shut too. The only “safe” situation for Armenia to recognize their independence would be if a few European countries did so. No sign of that, however. Besides, it would be quite weird if Armenia were to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia when it doesn’t officially recognize Nagorno Karabakh.

  6. Interestingly, even more nationalist-leaning political parties are not rushing to recognize Karabakh after Russia recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia. One supposes that without recognition of Karabakh, it would be weird for Armenia to follow Russia’s example in the case of Georgia’s breakaway regions. It’s also important Armenia remains as neutral as possible in this crisis, so Yerevan appears to be acting quite cautiously — and rightly so.

    RFE/RL Press Review
    Interviewed by “Hayots Ashkhar,” Armen Rustamian, chairman of the Armenian parliament’s foreign relations committee, says Armenia should not follow Russia’s example and rush to formally recognize Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence. Rustamian, who is also a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, says Armenia should first formalize its “military-political alliance” with Karabakh.

    Anyway, it would seem that the precarious situation Armenia continues to find itself in is understood by most politicians and the government.

  7. Incidentally, before Armenians get too carried away by the Russian recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, it’s worth pointing out that while Medvedev has warned Moldova about Transdniestria, it has not said anything about Karabakh.
    Indeed, in his last statement on the matter, Medvedev recognized the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and as long as Baku doesn’t veer too much to the West, I suppose Russia is unlikely to do so.

    Medvedev used his meeting with Aliyev to make an unusually explicit statement of support for Azerbaijan in its dispute with its neighbour, Armenia, over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. […] “The two sides underlined the importance of a speedy resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on the basis of respect for … sovereignty, territorial integrity and the inviolability of a state’s borders,” said a joint statement after the talks. Commenting after the talks on that statement, Aliyev said: “We are grateful to Russia for this position.”
    The Guardian, 3 July 2008

    Yesterday, the Russian Ambassador to Azerbaijan reaffirmed this position.

    Russia does not have any changes to its formerly declared position regarding territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, the Ambassador of Russia to Azerbaijan, Vasiliy Istratov, briefed the media on 26 August.
    On 25 August, the Council of Federation and State Duma unanimously supported the appeal to the President of Russia regarding recognition of independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The President of Russian Federation, Dmitry Medvedev, signed an order recognizing independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
    According to Istratov, the declaration, signed between the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Russia in July of this year, does not lose its force.
    “The decision recognizing independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia is related to the concrete situation, which appeared in the region as a result of beginning of military operations by the Georgian authorities in South Ossetia on 8 August. This decision was made with regards to the concrete situation in the concrete area,” said Istratov.
    Trend News Agency, 26 August 2008

    Let’s face it. The crisis in Georgia has nothing to do with South Ossetia and Abkhazia, especially as though while the former has some kind of argument for independence, the latter does not.
    Instead, it has everything to do with destabilizing Georgia and the South Ossetians and Abkhaz are just pawns for Moscow. It has everything to do with hitting out at Georgia for it’s pro-West and pro-NATO orientation.
    Perhaps the main question Armenians should be asking is why did Russia recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia when it has not recognized Nagorno Karabakh. Perhaps this says a lot about Moscow’s actual policy in the region.
    Frozen conflicts and the right of self-determination are just smoke screens for nations to implement their geopolitical goals. This is what is happening in Georgia (and Kosovo was the same for the West).
    Basically, unless Azerbaijan was to follow the example of Georgia and not nurture good relations with Russia, it’s unlikely that Armenia or Nagorno Karabakh will benefit from what is happening up north.
    Perhaps instead, Armenia will just feel some of the consequences although one interesting thing to come out of this — it spells out the need for normalizing Armenian-Turkish relations and opening the border.
    Will Russia react harshly to that? Don’t know, but it’s attitude to Armenia is not one based out of concern for the country’s well-being. Otherwise, it would not have bombed the railway bridge outside of Kaspi.

  8. Onnik
    First of all for a long period of time Georgia doesn’t consider Armenia as a frindly state and aremnians as a friendly nation. I can bring you a lot of examples of such kind “friendship”(Javakhkj,armenian churches in Tiflis and etc) Even now,they cut the railroad’s shipment to influence Armenia not to be engaged in the conflict and this is VERY UNETHICAL from their sida.
    Of course we should not also wait for Russia’s recognition of the Karabakh independnce.
    But. What are the steps to do in my opinion,
    First,try to open Turkey-Armenia border without any pre-conditions. In this case we will not dependent on Georgia. Moreover,I think Turkey pretend on Adjaria and they are also partly interested in the destroy of the Georgia.
    Second step of Armenia should be recognition of Karabakh independence. Azerbaijan will not start any war. Then Karabakh should recognize Abkazia and Ossetia. In this case,Russia should ,at least support Karabakh,as one of the few states recognized Karabakh.
    After all,depending on what would happen with Georgia Armenia should decide whether recognize Abkhazia and Ossetia or not.
    For what I am sure is that Azeris wil never sart the war these 5 years.

  9. Sorry ,there were grammatical errors.
    Russia should support Karabakh as one of the few states recognized Abkazia and Ossetia.

  10. Tigran, see the lists I made on Unzipped’s blog. Should give you a lot to chew on.

  11. Tigran, the Georgians cut the railroad or the Russians bombed it? Meanwhile, Armenians and Azerbaijanis have been sent to Kaspi to help restore it. However, I do find it encouraging that you’re willing to consider re-opening the Turkish border without preconditions. If that was to happen I think it would be something positive to come out of all this. Indeed, it is madness to have only one major route in and out of the country.
    As for Karabakh recognizing South Ossetia and Abkhazia, I think this is bound to happen. All these breakaway regions are together anyway. However, one thing about the churches in Tbilisi. I agree this is bad and I raise this with Georgian friends all the time. However, the matter is more one of the frightening and increasing power of the Georgian Church rather than a government-intiated policy although yes, I would argue that Tbilisi needs to nip this in the bud very quickly indeed.
    It is however worth mentioning that there were mosques in Kond, but none exist now. Unfortunately, this tendency to destroy or convert religious centers is not just common to Georgia or Turkey.

  12. Incidentally, Armenians and Azerbaijanis are said to be working TOGETHER to repair the Kaspi railway bridge. Russia’s bombing has adversely affected BOTH countries.

  13. We need a person who can go and get the harissa. Nobody will give it to you if you don’t demand it.
    Will Shavarsh Kocharian, Nalbandian be that person or maybe Serj Sargssian? I highly doubt.
    It is another question if we still hold the iron spoon that we claimed in 1988-94.

  14. Onnik jan
    Do you have any proves that Russia bombed the railroad? Or who stands behind second explosion in Marneuli? You made nice report from Georgia,unfortunately you had no chance to visit Tskhinvali otherwise you wouldn’t be so much pro-georgian.
    For Mosques in Yerevan?
    Onnik as you know Georgia claimm itself as a democratic state,but unfortunately,concerning ethnic minorities there,georgian politics close to fascism much more than in any regional country.
    After independance Armenia haven’t destroyed any religious building,moreover ,Iranian mosque in the centre of Yerevan was renovated.
    I think it’s timer to sell drought “Guiness” in Armenia also:)))

  15. Tigran, I didn’t have a chance to visit Tskhinvali simply because the Russians were only letting RUSSIAN-ACCREDITED journalists in. Those that tried to go there were shot at or killed by Russian soldiers or South Ossetian military.
    Simply put, the Russians RESTRICTED the movement of journalists and harrassed or allowed militia to attack them. They even shut off Gori in Georgia proper.
    As for the bridge, I’m really astounded. You ask if there’s proof about the railway bridge being bombed by the Russians, but as every news agency out there has reported as much, the quesiton should rather be, have you proof that it wasn’t?
    Please bear in mind that most of the misinformation has come from the Russian side since day one. For example, the 1,600-2000 dead in Tskhinvali. After Human Rights Watch expressed their doubts about this figure, the Russians admitted they were wrong and put it at 133.
    Regarding being pro-Georgian, let me summarize my position on the matter. There has ALWAYS been Russian provocation and meddling in Georgia. However, Saakashvili — hothead and temperamental impulsive character that he is — over-reacted. This is probably what the Russians wanted and that’s what they got.
    A perfect excuse to try to bring him down.
    Ultimately, however, I think Saakashvili was wrong to go into Tskhinvali. He was certainly wrong to shell it. However, I believe the Russians were hoping for that and its obvious they had their forces ready for such a military incursion. I’ve made such points very clear in my posts on my blog.
    What you object to, however, is something that anyone other than pro-Russian and anto-Georgian groups and individuals can’t accept. That is, the inexcusable invasion of Georgian territory outside of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the documented ethnic cleansing of ethnic Georgian villages, the targetting of civilians and journalists, the use of cluster bombs over towns such as Gori, and breach of the six point ceasefire plan.
    Otherwise, as I’ve said on my blog, who is to blame for this conflict is quite simple. It’s Russia, the U.S., Europe and Georgia. It’s all of them. There are no angels in this conflict and that includes the mafia states in Abkhazia (which conducted an obscene ethnic cleansing of Georgians during its war) and South Ossetia. The only people that suffer are civilians on all sides.

  16. “hat is, the inexcusable invasion of Georgian territory outside of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the documented ethnic cleansing of ethnic Georgian villages, the targetting of civilians and journalists, the use of cluster bombs over towns such as Gori, and breach of the six point ceasefire plan.”
    Yes sure, but do you have proof of all of this? Just to clarify, “proof” in this case means authorized Vesti reports…

  17. […] If there were any doubt that the rules of the international game have changed for good, the events of the past few days should have dispelled it. On Monday, President Bush demanded that Russia’s leaders reject their parliament’s appeal to recognise the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Within 24 hours, Bush had his response: President Medvedev announced Russia’s recognition of the two contested Georgian enclaves. […]

  18. ME
    You have so stupid sense of humor that I’ll try to neglect you as I did it before.
    Zombie is zombie everywhere.
    Only one question.
    I am readin aroun 40 articles on daily basis from difference sources,but figure of 133 killed in Tskhinval I heard only from your side. Give me link please. I heard that around 133 russian soldiers were killed not ossetian civilans.
    For other thing you remind me angry Condolezza:)

  19. Onnik,you are speakin like angry Condolezza:)
    I think,it’s time to drink a cup of beer in Pilzner,isn’t it?

  20. Tigran, all kidding aside, reporters WERE killed, shot at, kidnapped, and robbed by South Ossetian irregulars and their helpers, and Russian military as well. See this report for starters: http: //www .rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=28213
    Not even to mention that the Georgian reporters that were killed were independent journalists that had been working to highlight problems of Georgia’s minority groups…I was pretty peeved myself the other day to hear Russia Today discussing how Western reporters weren’t reporting from South Ossetia, when they were very clearly barred from there. It’s mealy-mouthed propaganda, pure and simple. Please don’t fall for it.

  21. Well, once again my comment is stuck in moderation it seems..see, you’re not the only one. I’ll repeat it without the link:
    Tigran, all kidding aside, reporters WERE killed, shot at, kidnapped, and robbed by South Ossetian irregulars and their helpers, and Russian military as well. See the report on Reporters without Borders website for starters.
    Not even to mention that the Georgian reporters that were killed were independent journalists that had been working to highlight problems of Georgia’s minority groups…I was pretty peeved myself the other day to hear Russia Today discussing how Western reporters weren’t reporting from South Ossetia, when they were very clearly barred from there. It’s mealy-mouthed propaganda, pure and simple. Please don’t fall for it.

  22. Two cdomments stuck in moderation–I give up.

  23. Tigran, not at all. I am criticizing both sides, aren’t I?
    Anyway, once again I appear to be stuck in the middle. 😉
    Missed your call earlier. Busy tonight. Beer another day?

  24. Tigran, the figure of 133 comes from the RUSSIAN SIDE. They first stated thousands and then had to revise the figures when Human Rights Watch questioned that figure. I think you have to admit that when the Russian government says it was wrong it was obvious they simply made up the figure in the first place. It was a clear case of misleading the media and public.

    Russia scales down Georgia toll
    BBC, Wednesday, 20 August 2008
    Russia has issued new, reduced casualty figures for the Georgian conflict, with 133 civilians now listed as dead in the disputed region of South Ossetia.
    The figure is far lower than the 1,600 people Russia initially said had died.

    Meanwhile. Human Rights Watch continues to document cases of ethnic cleansing of Georgian villages around Tskhinvali.
    Georgia: Satellite Images Show Destruction, Ethnic Attacks
    Russia Should Investigate, Prosecute Crimes
    ( New York , August 29, 2008) – Recent satellite images released by the UN program UNOSAT confirm the widespread torching of ethnic Georgian villages inside South Ossetia , Human Rights Watch said today. Detailed analysis of the damage depicted in five ethnic Georgian villages shows the destruction of these villages around the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, was caused by intentional burning and not armed combat.
    “Human Rights Watch researchers personally witnessed Ossetian militias looting and burning down ethnic Georgian villages during their research in the area,” said Rachel Denber, deputy director of the Europe and Central Asia division of Human Rights Watch. “These satellite images indicate just how widespread the torching of these villages has been in the last two weeks.”
    As for reporting from Georgia and South Ossetia, the Russians prevented journalists from entering areas under their control and as Ani says, allowed South Ossetian militia to kill, wound and harass journalists,
    It was a pain to get into Gori under Russian control. The main checkpoints were under orders not to let journalists in. However, if you were willing to risk bumping into South Ossetian militia, it was possible to enter via bad country roads around the back.
    Finally, that’s what we did, but anyway, the point is that the Russian tightly controlled access for the media. The Georgians allowed unrestricted access.

  25. My response to Tigran re. the casualty figures which the Russians scaled down tremendously has also been stuck in the moderation queue for a day now.
    Anyway, Tigran, the news was widely reported –the Russians now say 133 civilians.
    The intial figure of 1,600 was bogus.

  26. Onnik,yesterday Putin told to ARD and CNN about 2 000 killed in Ossetia,so far,I can’t imagine your russian source. I think this “russian sourse” also paid from US:)
    By the way,I knew at least two accredited foreign journalists who were in Tskhinvali during the war.
    I knew one for sure,Saakashvili wanted to do “ethnic cleansing”.
    He started this conflict.
    He is not democratic person.
    He is not independent politic. He gets his salary not from budget of Georgia.
    Azerbaijan is warrant of Georgia’s national security-HIS words!!!
    Anti armenian behaviour with Javakhk people is FACT.
    That’s why I strongly want his and his team disappearance from politics.
    For russian activities we can speak later.

  27. Onnik all domains .ru are restricted in Georgia.
    No russian-language broadcast there.
    My previous comment is moderated again:(

  28. Tigran, both sides did many things wrong before the conflict started — and were both responsible for it escalating — just as they continue to do so even now. However, the continued occupation of parts of Georgia in contravention of the six-point ceasefire agreement as well as the ethnic cleansing of Georgian villages in South Ossetia seems to be the most significant in the post-war environment.
    Regardless, you asked me why I wasn’t in Tskhinvali and I’ve told you. It was impossible from the Georgian side unless you want to be shot at or killed (as some journalists were — others were detained) and it wasn’t exactly easy to get into Gori when the Russians were there.
    Fact is, the Russians controlled media and even attacked them. At other times, they simply refused to let them pass. Only journalists officially allowed into South Ossetia when I was there were those traveling from the North with Russian accreditation. Georgians didn’t require any accreditation at all and restricted none of us.
    I’ve also mentioned that the initial figures from Moscow about thousands of civilians dead in South Ossetia were later found out to be false — by Moscow’s own admission. It is now officially at 133 although I daresay it will increase as the region opens up.
    Anyway, long and the short of it is that Armenians have taken the Russian side and are believing the propaganda from a State-controlled media which doesn’t have the diversity that the West is fortunate to have. That’s not to say all reporting from the latter hasn’t been partisan either.
    However, what seems to be the case is that this conflict was one which could have been avoided, but brinkmanship was the order of the day from both the Georgian and Russian sides. It was a stupid and pointless conflict and everyone is to blame for it — the Georgian and Russian leaderships, in particular, but also the U.S. and Europe.
    Now I just hope the Russian troops will withdraw from parts of Georgia outside of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as well as see the deployment of a truly international peacekeeping force to separate the various sides.
    Then, perhaps, we can all move on. Georgia has lost South Ossetia and Abkhazia through recklessness, but make no mistake that the Russians were ready for it, probably wanted an excuse to invade, and sent out a lot of false information to justify their actions.
    The casualty figures were the best example of that. However, some concern has to be shown for the ethnic Georgian villages in South Ossetia although I daresay, like Abkhazia, the ethnic cleansing will be successful because nobody wants to see a direct military confrontation between the U.S., Europe and Russia.
    Saakashvili is a hot-head nationalist, and the Russians knew it. Putin is a hardliner and willing to crush anyone who stands up to him. Both were a recipe for disaster. And a disaster in which civilians on both sides suffered is precisely what we got.

  29. BTW: What is it with this moderation? I know anything with links in seems to be moderated, but short comments go through. Longer comments don’t. Observer, perhaps you can let us know how the moderation is working so we can keep it in mind when commenting?

  30. Onnik jan – I’ve blocked words like idiot, fool, kill, murder, etc. It also blocks IPs and servers which are on Akismet Antispam engines database, but I have no idea how the damn thing works 🙁 It even blocks my comments from time to time, especially when connected via Armentel dial-up.

  31. Just removed the word ‘kill’ from the moderation list. I think that caused the last two moderations. Also added livejournal to the safe list. I think when it was seeing Tigran’s blog address in the URL field as livejournal, it was blocking him. Sorry for the inconvenience, guys.

  32. Artur, the words on your “moderated” list so accurately describe this conflict, it’s no wonder our comments aren’t going through (!)
    Times reported a couple of days ago that plans were already in place to incorporate South Ossetia and Abkhazia into a Russian federation and to build military bases. I put the link into a comment on Khosq, so you can read it there if you want.
    Fingers crossed that “Khosq” is not a moderated term…

  33. Also on Khosq, Tigran, I put a story from a New York Times reporter who apparently was let into South Ossetia, but whose “sunny story” somehow I don’t think reflects an accurate assessment–previous ref I made was to Times of London story, sorry. Anyway, apparently there are Western reporters up there now.

  34. Putting faces on the independent Georgian reporters who died, here are obituaries from the Institute for War and Peace Reporting:

  35. Onnik,for sure in any conflict both side are guilty.
    By the way,I am in touch with all possible source of information,fortunately LJ allows to follow issues from different sides. Of course,I believe that you are honest journalist and you are not biased,as many of russia and american journalists.
    I am not prorussian at all,more precisely I am pro-ossetian and pro-abkhazian,and the only positive otcomes for me,that next time some georgian shovinists will think longer begore starting the same in Javakhk.
    And of course,for me,Russia interference into this conflict postponed possible atack of azeris for a long time.
    Ani jan,thnks for link,just another from my side:)

  36. All I can say is, be careful out there–just came back and looked at the news and now there’s this one–note this story is not from US or Europe, but from Dubai:
    Owner of Russian opposition website killed
    08/31/2008 11:24 PM | Agencies
    Nazran, Russia: The owner of an opposition Internet news site in Russia’s troubled Ingushetia region was shot dead on Sunday after police detained him, his colleagues said.
    Magomed Yevloyev, owner of the Ingushetiya.ru Internet site, was a vocal critic of the region’s Kremlin-backed administration which is accused by critics of crushing dissent and free speech.
    Interfax quoted the Russian prosecutor’s office as saying an investigation into the death had been launched.
    Ingusheti is an Autonomous republic of the Russian Federation, on the northern slopes of the Caucasus mountains.
    A posting on Yevloyev’s site – which has been the subject of repeated official attempts to close it down – said he was shot after police detained him when he landed in Ingushetia’s airport.
    It said he was taken to hospital but died from his injuries. The site also called on “all those who are not indifferent” to his killing to gather for a demonstration in Nazran, Ingushetia’s biggest town.
    “A preliminary investigation has been launched into the death of M. Yevloyev,” Interfax news agency quoted Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the investigations unit of the Prosecutor General’s Office in Moscow as saying.

  37. Ani, interesting. On Thursday I had an informal chat with a diplomat here and concerns were expressed about what might now happen Ingushetia. Dagestan was another.

  38. Ani jan,the person,you mentioned is usual xenofob and there is no need to claim him as an opposition .
    This site ingushetiya.ru for a l ng time was had a fascistic antiossetian contest,full of lie If you know russian you can read very interesting discussion here http://markgrigorian.livejournal.com/220669.htm were the owner of the journal changed his positive opinion about the site to negative.
    Anyway killing is not good,but claiming Evloev as an oppositioner at least funny.
    Moreover,today georgians accepted the use of prohibited cluster bombs in Ossetia.
    Waiting for Patrick Worm response:)

  39. That link says this: Page Not Found
    I’m sorry, you’ve reached a page that I cannot find. I’m really sorry about this. It’s kind of embarassing. Here you are, the user, trying to get to a page on LiveJournal and I can’t even serve it to you. What does that say about me? I’m just a webserver. My sole purpose in life is to serve you webpages and I can’t even do that!
    Guess you’d better check with Mark??
    Anyway, “opposition” isn’t my characterization, it’s the one that a couple thousand stories are using. And I think it’s fair, whatever his particular brand of wackoism was. And if everyone with a racist website was taken away by police and shot in the head, there would be a lot a funerals going on around the world. It ain’t a pretty thing that’s happening in Russia now.

  40. http://markgrigorian.livejournal.com/220669.html
    Ani jan,sorry for wrong link.
    In my opinion,evil should be punished ,otherwise we will have second Adolf.

  41. Armenian National Congress spokesman Levon Zurabian today came out with an important announcement on the major question concerning some Armenian bloggers:
    “Ostrich’s Policy Is Not Helpful”
    (I just had to, it was just getting too grim around here…)

  42. Russia’s casualty figure in Georgia disputed
    From the Associated Press, From the Associated Press
    September 12, 2008
    MOSCOW — Fewer than 100 civilians died in Georgia’s breakaway province of South Ossetia during last month’s conflict, human rights activists said Thursday, a far smaller number than Russian and South Ossetian officials have claimed.
    Tatiana Lokshina, a Russian researcher for the U.S.-based group Human Rights Watch, said trips to a hospital, a cemetery and conversations with residents failed to corroborate claims by Russia and its South Ossetian allies that 1,500 and even as many as 2,000 civilians were killed.
    Russian prosecutors have refrained from comment until their investigation of civilian deaths is complete.

  43. Here’s a good blogpost that contains a term we should file away for future use:
    In an environment where primary sources of information are opaque and of uncertain reliability (and perception is key here), we encounter the phenomenon of information vertigo.
    Information vertigo is the sickening feeling you get when you recognize that nothing reported can truly be verified. Mass media, ostensible eyewitness reports, images, video, documents: all blends into a mush of hearsay when root sources of information have been corrupted.
    In the absence of a sense of what to trust, we develop a frantic, aggressive assertion toward what we think we know. This would be possible to puncture with facts if there were any to be found. But with a tipping point of misinformation, or disinformation, it’s difficult to judge when data is accurate.

  44. Ani, yep, this was a particular problem with what happened in Georgia and of course, we know it happens everywhere. The first casualty in EVERY war is the truth.
    Still, although the Georgian side also spread misinformation and propaganda, the initial casualty figure from the Russian side was truly outrageous.
    It tried to shape public opinion even though it would eventually be discredited and shown to be false. Not to say that Saakashvili didn’t behave like a madman — he truly did.
    But anyway…

  45. Highly recommended (by me, at least!) major analytical article in the new issue of the New York Review of Books: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/21772
    Georgia and the Balance of Power
    By George Friedman
    The Russian invasion of Georgia has not changed the balance of power in Eurasia. It has simply announced that the balance of power had already shifted. The United States has been absorbed in its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as potential conflict with Iran and a destabilizing situation in Pakistan. It has no strategic ground forces in reserve and is in no position to intervene on the Russian periphery. This has opened an opportunity for the Russians to reassert their influence in the former Soviet sphere. Moscow did not have to concern itself with the potential response of the United States or Europe; hence, the balance of power had already shifted, and it was up to the Russians when to make this public. They did that on August 8.
    George Friedman is Founder and CEO of Stratfor, a private intelligence company publishing geopolitical and security analysis at http://www.stratfor.com. He is author of America’s Secret War . His new book, The Next Hundred Years , will be published in January 2009.

  46. Events in Georgia show how grave was danger for Armenia in March.

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