Georgians demonstrate against Saakashvili regime

This video is called McCain ‘s Protégé Georgian Dictator Saakashvili Continues Policy of Political Repressions.

From the Georgian International Media Centre:

Situation in Tbilisi tense as Okruashvili pledges to return to Georgia this week

Submitted by georgiamedia on Sun, 22/05/2011 – 15:13

A second day of public protest in Tbilisi, Georgia‘s capital, has seen the number of demonstrators sharply down on yesterday, when tens of thousands thronged in the central Freedom Square, but has also seen growing tension between the demonstrators and the police with both sides accusing the other of provoking violence.

Yesterday’s demonstrations were the first of the scheduled protests by the “People’s Assembly”, an umbrella group closely associated with Nino Burjanadze, the leader of the Democratic Movement and a former parliamentary speaker, and acting Georgian president.

This week a rival opposition grouping, the Georgian Party, is also to take to streets and one of its most prominent leaders, former defence minister Irakli Okruashvili, has pledged to return to the country for the first of their rallies on 25 May.

Okrusashvili is in exile, with assylum granted, in France and has been sentenced to prison in absentia by the Georgian courts. If he managed to get into the country – and plainly turning up at the airport in Tbilisi does not seem like a viable option – then he could turn into a rallying point, as he was once seen as a rival to Saakashvili in looks, vigour and rhetorical power.

However he also is tainted by his role in the most brutal period of Saakashvili’s presidency and was seen to be a leading advocate of even more harsh policies towards South Ossetia and Abkhazia and is unlikely to appeal to many of Saakashvili’s more liberal critics.

It is not the first time he has pledged to come back to Georgia, or named a time frame. But it is the first time he has given a specific date.

According to Dutch NOS TV:

The opposition has called for big demonstrations later today. The parties say that Saaskashvili has dictatorial traits and has destroyed the economy.

Georgia opposition protests enter third day: Demonstrators accuse Mikheil Saakashvili, the president, of authoritarianism: here.

South Ossetians about Georgia war

This video is an interview with “Joe Mestas, American citizen living in South Ossetia, who witnessed everything that [was] happening in the region.”

From United States magazine Rolling Stone, reviewing the new album by Metallica:

Death Magnetic is the musical equivalent of Russia’s invasion of Georgia — a sudden act of aggression from a sleeping giant.

Well, I don’t intend to discuss Rolling Stone‘s views on music here.

Not even whether Russia committed “aggression” against Georgia. However, even people who consider that the Russian army did commit “aggression” will have to recognize it was not “sudden”.

As it was a reaction to the invasion by the army of Georgian president Saakashvili in South Ossetia; which killed and wounded thousands of Ossetian civilians and drove ten thousands of them across the North Ossetian border; which also killed Russian soldiers, in South Ossetia as peacekeepers according to a treaty signed by the Georgian government.

Translated rom Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad, 11 September 2008, paper edition, page 4. Quoting a Russian soldier in South Ossetia:

“What an absurd war, really. Georgians and South Ossetians have always gotten along so well. Behind this fence, a Georgian-Ossetian couple has been living for years.” …

On the way back to Tschinvali we pass a burnt out customs office. “Here, we have been selling our products to the Georgians for years”, the very tall Zjota says … “It always went well. Until Saakashvili grabbed power, and immediately stopped that trade.”…

Then, his [Zjota’s] next door neighbour, Georgi Papashvili, comes out. He is a 63-year-old Georgian, married to an Ossetian. “No one here is against me”, he says. “Relationships between Georgians and South Ossetians in Tschinvali have always been good. I was born here and I want to get old here. I am only afraid because of my sister in Tblisi [capital of Georgia]. Because, if they will find out in Georgia that I have stayed here, they will take that out on her.”…

We drive out of the city in a western direction, to the village of Getagurova. It was along the way of the Georgian forces, who left a track of fire and destruction in all villages which they passed on their way to Tschinvali.

Four women are drinking coffee, sitting on stools along the road. “Here, eight people have been killed”, the least shy of them, Rita Bestajeva, says. “They shot my male next door neighbour’s head off”.

She takes us to the garden of a burnt out house and points out a bomb’s crater.

“There, we have buried a 75-year-old lady who lived next door. Her body was completely burnt. And in the garden on the other side, that nice man Pjotr Mamijev lies. Georgian soldiers had buried him in his cornfield”.

Can NATO Survive Georgia?” -Immanuel Wallerstein.

Scandinavian countries respond to Russia-Georgia conflict: here.

DID SAAKASHVILI LIE? The West Begins to Doubt Georgian Leader: here.

Palin even more pro war with Russia than Bush

This comic video from the USA is called Sarah Palin Exposed.

From British daily The Guardian:

A hawkish and occasionally combative Sarah Palin warned last night she might commit US troops to a war against Russia in defence of Georgia and Ukraine in her first interview since John McCain chose her as his running mate.

Ms Palin, very many people in Georgia and Ukraine themselves do not like the militarist, not really `defensive`, policies of their heads of state. And war with Russia might very probably mean nuclear war, with millions of American, Russian, Georgian, Ukrainian etc. etc, dead civilians.

Palin, who admitted last night she made her first trip outside North America last year, also said she was certain she was ready to step in for McCain as president, if the Republican nominee were to be incapacitated. She said repeatedly she would not hesitate to use all options in an international crisis or resort to force against Islamist extremists. …

Palin’s interview was carefully stage-managed to counter criticism that she lacks foreign policy experience and to deflect media scrutiny of her personal life. But her occasionally stilted answers and uncompromising view of the world could sit uneasily with American voters, weary of the war on Iraq and the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.

In sometimes tense exchanges, Palin demonstrated a more bellicose posture towards Russia than the Bush administration during the conflict with Georgia. She also supported military action against Islamist extremists in Pakistan even without the support of the Islamabad government.

So, under President Palin, even more bombs on Pakistani civilians who are not “Islamist extremists ” than is already happening now under Bush

See also here.

By Phoebe Tran in the USA:

Does anyone need to be reminded what Palin’s church, the Assembly of God, believes about the end of the world, that it is coming very soon, and will be ushered in by war with Russia?

Palin’s Dangerous Saber Rattling on Russia: here.

AP: Palin’s town charged rape victims to get evidence: here.

Washington Post: Palin Links Iraq to 9/11, A View Discarded by Bush: here.

The Palin interviews: Ignorance in the service of the ultra-right: here.

Alaska women against Palin: here.

Pseudo democracy in Georgia

This video is called South Ossetian refugees return to battered Tskhinvali.

By Tom Eley:

The political realities of “democratic” Georgia

18 August 2008

One of the constant themes in the US government and media presentation of the conflict in the Caucasus is the depiction of Georgia as a bastion of democracy. The Bush administration has increasingly invoked the terminology of the Cold War by referring to “democratic Georgia” as a symbol of the “free world” and its struggle against authoritarian Russia.

The reality of political life in Georgia is far different than the media image.

Only last November, in the midst of mounting protests against his regime, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili employed dictatorial methods against his opponents. On November 2, opposition demonstrations began in Tbilisi, demanding democratic reforms and the ouster of Saakashvili. These protests, while organized by billionaire media tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili, gave vent to grievances against government repression and the desperate living conditions of the population. They attracted tens of thousands to the streets of Georgia’s capital city.

The demonstrations continued until November 7, when the state police, acting on orders from Saakashvili, used tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons and truncheons to disperse the protesters. More than 600 required medical attention after the crackdown. On the same day, Special Forces raided Patarkatsishvili’s broadcasting corporation Imeldi, beating journalists and disabling equipment.

Saakashvili declared a state of emergency, suspending democratic rights such as freedom of expression and assembly. Independent broadcasting was halted even before the state of emergency was declared, and only the state-controlled television station was allowed to broadcast for a period of fifteen days. Imeldi was taken off the air indefinitely.

During the crackdown, Saakashivli called for snap elections to be held less than two months later, on January 5. The elections, held under conditions of political intimidation and repression, placed the opposition at an enormous disadvantage.

All media were under the de facto control of Saakashivli. In addition, two opposition leaders, Konstantin Gamsakhurdia and Shalva Natelashvili, were declared “wanted for treason.” The government accused them of conspiring with Russia to overthrow the government.

Patarkatsishvili, who likewise faced a government investigation for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government, began his campaign from Israel. He withdrew from the elections after the government released a recording of him attempting to bribe a police officer.

Patarkatsishvili died suddenly last February in London at the age of 52. Authorities attributed the death to a massive heart attack, but Patarkatsishvili believed the Georgian authorities were targeting him for assassination.

The early elections eliminated two other serious rivals for the presidency—former defense minister Irakli Okruashvili and lawyer Tinatin Khidasheli—both of whom were just shy of 35 years of age, the minimum, at the time of the vote.

Okruashvili fled the country shortly after the crackdown in what ABC News called “mysterious circumstances.” He had accused Saakashvili of corruption, but after being placed under arrest he was apparently forced to retract the allegations.

During the campaign, election observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe reported that the credibility of the election had been placed in doubt by allegations that Saakashvili had used state money, blackmail and vote-buying. With rivals under arrest, under police investigation, in exile or legally barred from running for office, it is little surprise that Saakashvili won reelection. After his victory, the opposition claimed that the vote had been manipulated. His vote total surpassed by 20 percent that which had been projected by an opinion poll released one week earlier.

The Saakashvili regime faced international criticism from foreign capitals and human rights organizations for its assumption of dictatorial powers. Though the level of repression Saakashvili employed exceeded the measures that had been taken by his predecessor, Eduard Shevardnadze, against the so-called “Rose Revolution” that brought Saakashvili to power in early 2004, criticism from the United States was much more muted.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew J. Bryza, a close ally and personal friend of the US-educated Saakashvili, acknowledged that the State Department was “hearing more and more reports that people were grabbed from stores or that passers-by were beaten,” but concluded merely that “Things got out of control.”

From the Stop the War Coalition in Britain:

MARK ALMOND, lecturer in History, Oxford University and expert on the Caucasus, provided the meeting with the sort of background information on Georgia so sadly lacking on the BBC.

Visiting a Georgian prison he had expressed concern to the prison governor at the possibility that political prisoners may have been tortured. ‘Don’t worry,’ he was told, ‘We torture everyone.’

Even Human Rights Watch, often close to the United States government, also in the present Ossetia conflict, have sometimes criticized the Saakashvili regime: here.

Crisis in Georgia Beginning to Turn Into a Big Political Liability for McCain: here.

Washington steps up its anti-Russian rhetoric: here.

Headline of Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad: Americans are governesses of the Georgian government.

NATO meeting in Brussels: US steps up pressure on Russia: here.

UK declares its support for Washington’s anti-Russian campaign over Georgia: here.

Georgians against Saakashvili’s Ossetia war

This is a video about refugees from South Ossetia.

From Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad; after describing a rally in the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi, by supporters of president Saakashvili [I have translated from the paper edition, 13 August 2008, page 5; slightly different from the web edition]:

One street away [from the Saakashvili meeting], people already think very differently about the victory [in the South Ossetia war; claimed at the Saakashvili meeting]. “That nutcase Saakashvili has plunged us into a war“, 60-year-old Irene Gogoladze says. “I am glad that my own son lives in Armenia”.

A bit further away, in the Republican Party headquarters, party chair Davit Usupashvili is annoyed about the hero-worship for the president as well. „The Russians have been waiting for years for a motive to invade our country. Saakashvili now has given it to them”, he says. „As some politicians are shouting now that we are supposedly the victors in this war, in practice we have lost NATO. We can forget about reunification with South Ossetia and Abkhazia for the next ten years now.”

According to Usupashvili, Saakashvili has been anxiously waiting for some time to start a war. „Like a small child, he wanted to try out his new weapons”, he says. „When he was told at the NATO summit in Bucharest that for the time being, Georgia could not join NATO, things got out of hand. From that moment on, he started to make his war plan, as reunification of Georgia with South Ossetia and Abkhazia was one of the demands which had to be met before a NATO membership was possible.”

Declaration by the Georgian peace movement on the Ossetia war: see here.

US forces to be sent to Georgia: here. And here. And here. And here. And here. And here. And here.

Ossetia war and John McCain: here.

Seumas Milne on Ossetia war: here.

British Stop the War on Georgia: here; videos here.

EU meeting on Georgia reveals tensions between European powers and US: here.

The New York Times covers for US role in Georgia crisis: here.


Russia and China settle longstanding territorial disputes: here.

Oil war horrors in Ossetia, and Abkhazia

This video is called Georgian tanks head for South Ossetia.

From Dutch daily Metro, 11 August 2008, page 2; only in their paper edition, not on their website:

Eyewitness account of the siege of Tschinvali in South Ossetia

South Ossetian student Christina Janovskaja fled from the war in Tschinvali and is now with aquaintances in Vladikavkaz [in North Ossetia] in Russia.

20 year old Christina was sitting at home with her brother Jan (17) and sister Jana (14) at the moment that the Georgian bombing of the city began. She lived in a neighbourhood of Tschinvsali which suffered very much. “An important target [of the Georgian invaders] was the TV tower opposite to our house. Some of the bombs hit our home”, Christina tells. …

To stay longer in a bomb shelter in Tschinvali was not a solution: “Georgian soldiers threw grenades into the shelters; though they knew civilians were inside.”

From Linda’s blog in the USA:

US-Backed Georgian troops burn South Ossetian refugees alive

Battles in South Ossetia continued throughout the night. Russian sources said that about 2,000 people had been killed in South Ossetia. Ossetian journalists wrote on their website that Georgian troops had captured a group of refugees from one of the regions of S. Ossetia. The Georgian military men locked them in a house and set the house on fire, burning all the people inside alive.

Meanwhile, the fighting has expanded to Abkhazia.

Abkhazia and oil: here.

See also here. And here. And here.

US Neocons Call For War on Russia: here.

Bush’s Georgian crony Saakashvili risks war on Ossetia

This video is called Tbilisi, Georgia Police State Takes Down News Network.

From British daily The Guardian:

Georgian troops have launched a full-scale bombardment of separatists in the breakaway region of South Ossetia, raising the risk of all-out war with Russia and other former Soviet states. …

Putin made his remarks in a meeting with the leader of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, on the sidelines of the Olympic games in Beijing. Nazarbayev’s reply raised the possibility that other former Soviet states could come in on Russia’s side in the conflict.

See also here.

Expert view: Georgia’s decision to shell Tskhinvali could prove ‘reckless’: here.

South Ossetia leader says 1,400 killed in conflict: here.