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Occupy and justify

By Messenger Staff
Friday, January 30
Russia presently occupies 22% of Georgia’s territory. It is ready and willing to occupy more, if not the whole country, as its recent threats to the EU, OSCE and other organisations, not to mention both Georgia and the US, graphically indicate.

In the “best traditions” of Soviet foreign policy Moscow is demagogically trying to justify its behaviour. The Kremlin, as ever, claims that it is protecting a small people’s homeland, their “independence and sovereignty.” During the Soviet period the Russians similarly “helped” the workers/proletariat in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan and many other places where they felt they had some right to carry out their “mission” to occupy and justify. The natives of these countries will tell you exactly what they think of this “help.” The people of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, who should already know what Russian intervention means, would be wise to think about this.

The double standards of Moscow are vividly demonstrated by the Chechen wars at the end of the twentieth century, otherwise known as the Russian genocide of the Chechen people. This genocide was described at the time as “protection.” Russian representative at the OSCE Constantine Kosachov claims that the Russians are similarly ‘protecting’ the Ossetians and Abkhaz. He is conveniently “forgetting” that the world has acknowledged and protested against the ethnic cleansing of Georgian nationals in the occupied territories, people who, according to international law, the Russian occupiers have a duty to protect in the proper sense of the word.

The cynicism of Russia’s representatives, from Medvedev, Putin and Lavrov down to ordinary bureaucrats, has no boundaries. Moscow violates international law and then accuses the other side of the same thing, carries out ethnic cleansing and makes the same accusation against the victims of it, on the basis of no evidence at all. Occupiers kill a Georgian policeman and immediately the Russian ‘diagnosis’ is – Georgians are killing each other. It must be nice to live in a world where there is no such thing as reality, but not when you are one of the thousands or millions of Georgians who are affected by it.

No, the war between Russia and Georgia started not on August 7, 2008, or at the beginning of the 90s of the last century. It started in 1921 when Bolshevik Russia occupied and annexed sovereign Georgia under the slogan of rescuing the proletariat in Borchalo, Kvemo Kartli. The Bolshevik occupation lasted 70 years, until in 1991 Georgia regained its independence despite fierce pressure from a shrinking Russian empire. Georgians might have thought this was the end of the story, if they had not already know the Russians better than that.

Moscow already had its retaliatory mechanisms in place, the ‘time bombs’ it exploded in the autonomous regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, whose distinct administrations had been created for this purpose. It tried to agitate Adjara against Georgian independence too by enthroning local mafioso Aslan Abashidze. As there is no Adjaran ethnicity whatsoever this element of the destabilisation project failed. However in the other two autonomous regions ethnicity could be used as an excuse to invade and the feeble, new born Georgian state was dragged into two confrontations simultaneously against Russia, which fought in a disguised way by sending mercenaries and adventurers from all around Russia to help its newly-discovered ‘brethren’ in parts of Georgia. Everything ended dramatically for Georgia. It lost control of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, major parts of the country which had been assisted and reinforced by Moscow.

The Georgian leadership under Eduard Shevardnadze chose the wrong policy when agreeing to grant Russia the role of peacekeepers. Russia not only opposed peace breaking out but encouraged the separatists by different means – distributing Russian passports to them and granting them Russian citizenship. Russia does of course have in its constitution a clause which states that it is obliged to protect its own citizens wherever they are, which says nothing about how they became citizens in the first place. Russian arms, ammunition and financial capital poured into these Georgian regions without restriction. This was called crawling annexation, among other less polite terms.

In 2008, after NATO’s refusal to grant MAP, Moscow provoked Georgia to start an operation to restoring constitutional order in its breakaway province of South Ossetia (the Tskhinvali region). The consequences where tragic: the Russian Army occupied not only the previously separatist-controlled zones but adjacent territories as well, creating out of them so-called “sovereign” states and officially recognizing them. Later it concluded bilateral agreements with them and started building military bases there. Russia’s dream came true. It had snatched Georgian territories, obtained military bases on Georgian territory, could take over Ochamchire naval port. The cost of this was rather dear, as by taking these actions Russia unmasked its true nature before the entire world. But this was a price Russia was prepared to pay to get its hands on Georgia, and it is clearly prepared to keep paying it.

Initially the Kremlin wanted to annex the separatist-controlled territories to the Russian federation. Later it decided to first establish “sovereign” entities and then, at the request of their people, unite them with the resurrected empire. However Russia has recently begun to play an additional wicked game. It has begun to undertake a new demarcation operation on its southern borders. Its aim is to conclude an agreement on the voluntarily transfer of desirable territories to Russia from the new ‘sovereign’ states. Any part of them Russia wants, it can have, under its new mechanism. Occupy and justify, once again. The Georgian Foreign Ministry has of course protested against these plans. But this is Russia, which does not care about any international rules or laws or commitments or civilized conduct, or what anyone else thinks about its attitude or behaviour.

It is about time the rest of the world realised that Russia does play the same political games, but will only ever do so by rules the rest of the world will never acknowledge. It should also realise that sooner or later, for the sake of every person on this planet, it has to do something about it.