Interview with an Azeri woman living in Tbilissi about her multicultural neighbourhoud





Author and Copyright: © Onnik Krikorian

Onnik Krikorian's blog OneWorldMultimedia

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Commemorative events on Heydar Aliyev to be held in Georgia

Will Georgia take revenge?

11 Dec 2009 Baku. Viktoria Dementieva – APA. Azerbaijani embassy in Georgia will hold commemorative events on Heydar Aliyev on December 10-11, press service of Azerbaijani embassy in Georgia told APA.

Commemorative events will be held together with Kvemo-Kartli administration in Georgia’s Marneuli, Bolnisi, Gardabani and Dmanisi regions on December 10-11. The events will begin with laying wreath in the park named after Heydar Aliyev in Tbilisi. Representatives of Georgian government, Azerbaijani community and intellectuals will attend the commemorative event.

We're waiting for the latest news:

Georgian Embassy in Azerbaijan Hails Eduard Shevardnadze!


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"Absense of Will" - Young Georgians investigate the reasons of Abkhaz/Ossetian/Georgian conflicts


Full title: "ABSENCE OF WILL. A journey through Georgia’s conflict zones"
Director: Mamuka Kuparadze

Description: "Vakho and Teo are twenty-something university graduates from the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. Born as the Soviet Union collapsed, they've grown up in the shadow of the wars that tore their country apart in the early nineteen nineties. They're too young to remember the fighting, but like everyone from their generation, their lives have been shaped by the legacy of the violence.
In the summer of 2008 Vakho and Teo set out to try to understand for themselves what caused the war in Abkhazia, and why after fifteen years of peace talks the sides are still no nearer to resolving their differences. Halfway through filming, fighting broke out again over South Ossetia. For a few brief days in August, war suddenly became a reality for Vakho and Teo, and as they experienced its horrors first hand, their search for answers became more personal and more urgent."

The documentary was shown on 10 September 2009 at the offices of the Heinrich Boell Foundation, Tbilisi.













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Unbelievable: French Minister Expects Deal on Warship Sale to Russia

Published: October 1, 2009



Moscow has just recently sent a warship to the Abkhazian coast to counter Georgian attacks on illegal trade with Sukhumi. Now this would be just the right class of ship for that mission, right? Can't believe the French government would be so stupid, or should I?

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Truso-valley / Truso-Tal


Tensions between Georgia, Russia and self-declared South-Ossetia are running high. Now Kokoity claims the Trusso-valley for South Ossetia. Perhaps the incident Moscow is looking for - another provocation, while russian military continues to build up (not only) in the Akhalgori-region and vows to protect russian citizens.

The truso-valley opens up to the main road connecting Kasbegi with Tbilisi and runs north-east of South-Ossetia. It is therefore of strategic interest. If Kokoity`s militiamen enter the Trusso-valley, Russia might speak of a legitimate cause. (The same, by the way, that made them keep Akhalgori, breaking the six-points-ceasefire-plan). Then, if Saakashvili reacts with force, he fulfills Putin´s desire. If he doesn´t, he becomes a lame duck.

After a few kilometers, which you can still make with a normal car, you reach Okrakana. To go further, you need a good jeep.




Okrakana comprises just half a dozen houses. The valley becomes very narrow (follow the path to the left).


River Terek running through the gorge - the "middle section" of the valley


A wishing-tree. Georgians and Ossetians both pray to St. George.


a horse-rider of unknown origin passing by




After the gorge, the valley opens up again. Note the sedimentary rocks to the left.


Looking back in the direction of the gorge. Detail of sedimentary rocks. There are numerous springs with different waters; apparently, there is also a poisonous one on the other side of the Terek.


The high mountains to the left (SSW) mark, since 2008, the de-facto border to South-Ossetia.



Village of Kertisi. There are very few settlements in Trusso-valley. Many of the houses were in fact abandoned (in 2005).


an Azeri (!) sheperd with his wife


Village of Kertisi. The mountains in the back (about West) mark the border with Russia.






Unconstrained, Russia Eys More Georgian Territories

September 29, 2009

by Giorgi Kvelashvili


"... One year after its military aggression against Georgia, Russia, is apparently trying to not only secure the already impressive territorial gains it has made but to explore the feasibility of more expansion. As was the recent case with navigation in Georgia’s territorial waters along the Abkhazia coast, local adjutants’ claims nearly always precede Russian “concrete” and “decisive” measures, all in the absence of unequivocal international condemnation of the Russian moves.

Arguably, an occupation and annexation of the Truso Valley, let alone of the entire Kazbegi district, is more difficult to justify than the naval control of Georgia’s Abkhazia coast, but given the all-powerful “ethnic” and “humanitarian” nature of the “problem” – as portrayed by the Kremlin – in the Kazbegi district, it would not be impossible for the Russians “to come to the rescue of ethnic Ossetians” once again.

Russia is apparently creating advantageous international conditions to overthrow the pro-Western Saakashvili government in order to complete the process of Georgia’s disintegration."

Full text: GeorgianDaily

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Südossetien: Bücherverbrennung an Uni von Zchinwali

"Zchinwali. Während in ganz Russland in Solidaritätsaktionen Bücher für Südossetien gesammelt werden, lässt der Rektor der Universität Zchinwali einen Teil der alten Bestände verbrennen. 30 Prozent davon sind georgische Bücher…"

weiter gehts bei Russland-Aktuell...

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Aserbaidschan: Personen, die beim Schlager-Grand-Prix für das benachbarte Armenien gestimmt hatten, erhielten Besuch von der Polizei

Wie Aserbaidschan die Vorratsdatenspeicherung nutzt

Mit Telefon- und Internetverbindungsdaten, wie sie seit der Umsetzung einer EU-Richtlinie auch in Deutschland gespeichert werden, lässt sich viel anfangen. Das führt nun die im südlichen Kaukasus gelegene ehemalige Sowjetrepublik Aserbaidschan vor Augen, in der Personen, die beim Schlager-Grand-Prix für das benachbarte Armenien stimmten, Besuch von der Polizei erhielten.

...

Weiter gehts bei Telepolis.



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Paul Rimple:: Signifying mud

One year after the Russia-Georgia war and the scum is still floating on the top. In some cases, it is still rising.
...
The equation was simple. If Bush’s foreign policy was bad, then Saakashvili was bad. Therefore, his enemy Putin must be good. The man that leveled Grozny during his dirty war with Chechnya had suddenly become a victim of the Cheney doctrine. Blah blah blah.

I have friends in Armenia and Abkhazia that really believe the US masterminded the war, based on Russia’s successful propaganda machine and the logic that the US wouldn’t have armed and trained Georgia otherwise. The US can be blamed for lots of things but not for instigating or taking part in last August’s war. The US had repeatedly told Saakashvili to mellow out on the war drum stuff. Renewed conflict would only crush Bush’s big plan to get Georgia into NATO, which it ultimately did.

People also believe that Georgian troops were doped to kill civilians, as that is what the headlines said. The Moscow Bureau for Human Rights (MBHR) interviewed witnesses who claimed that captured Georgian troops had needle marks in their arms. Think about it. Georgian commanders handing out fixes of heroin to their men to help them run over babies in tanks and shoot grandmothers. The logic is compelling.

And as I have mentioned before, people are still stuck on the number of 2000 civilian deaths in Tskhinvali, a number that was accepted before the smoke cleared in the de facto South Ossetian capital, only two days after the August 8th attack. Later, the number fluctuated between 1400-2100, depending on who was reporting. Numbers are good for news. Even Reuters fell for it. It was too late when head of the Russian Prosecutor-General’s investigative committee, Alexander Bastyrkinet, came out with the official civilian death toll of 162 on Christmas 2008. Yet the number is enough for South Ossetia and Russia to claim “genocide” with a straight face, while marauders amped up on the conviction of 2000 deaths systematically destroyed Georgian villages, by flame and bulldozer, displacing tens of thousands people from their homes.

And today, because the Ukraine isn’t playing ball on Russia’s terms, the country has become implicated in the South Ossetia war. Mud flinging is free and easy when the state controls the media and Russia well knows that mud sticks, if you throw enough of it, often enough.

Find the full article here.

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Convent of Samtavro, Mtskheta / Frauenkloster Samtawro, Mzchreta



The cloister is located near the center of the city.

Das Kloster befindet sich nahe dem Zentrum der Stadt. Eine ausführliche Beschreibung findet sich in der KAUKASISCHEN POST. (Link hier.)


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Das Land, in dem Mama Vater heißt...

Friedhelm Weinberg (PLASTE):

"Bisher steht es nach Fahnen 3-0 für Europa. Mental herrscht noch ein eindeutiges Unentschieden. Wozu gehört Georgien denn nun eigentlich: Europa, Asien, Kaukasus? Alles nur post-sowjetischer Raum?

Wenn es Sarajevo wäre, dann würde man darüber sprechen, dass die Moschee, die katholische, die orthodoxe, die armenische Kirche und die Synagoge in unmittelbarer Nähe stehen; dass sich Schiiten und Sunniten die Moschee teilen und seit einiger Zeit auch auf den Vorhang verzichten, der sie trennte. Oder darüber, dass die Fensterbilder in der katholischen Kirche doch sehr orthodox inspiriert sind – die Heiligenscheine sind rund und golden -, also dass hier ein bisschen alles zusammenkommt und sich mit Eigenem, Georgischem, Kaukasischem vermischt.

Aber weg von Religion und Politik. Was wirklich zählt ist Gastfreundschaft. Die ist wirklich so wie der Reiseführer androht. Wenn die Mutter nach Verputzen eines Teigfladens androht, dass Zuhause weiter gegessen wird. Oder wenn die Tochter auf Nachfrageerlaubt, dass ich morgen auch mal was bezahlen darf (ich habe es aber vorher geschafft). Dann ist man wohl in Georgien. Dem Land, in dem Mama Vater heißt, sonst auch einiges auf dem Kopf steht, aber das Herz am richtigen Fleck ist.


Hier gehts zu den Fortsetzungen.


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Who is Kokoity? (South Ossetian Diary by Tbilisi blues)

UPDATE vom 6.8.09

Anlässlich der Absetzung des von Moskau unterstützten bisherigen Regierungschefs Aslanbek Bulazew schreibt Russland Aktuell über Kokoity:

„Schmuggler mit autoritärem Regierungsstil“

Politische Gegner werfen Kokoity nämlich vor, in der Vergangenheit, die schlecht bewachten Grenzen Südossetiens ausnutzend, einen regen Schmuggel vor allem mit Alkohol aufgebaut zu haben. Als Präsident pflegt er seit Jahren einen autoritären Regierungsstil, kritisiert Ex-Premier Oleg Tesijew.

Zuletzt wurde dies bei den Wahlen zum Parlament deutlich: Dort gewann Kokoitys Partei deutlich, nachdem die Opposition von den Wahlen ausgeschlossen wurde. Nun hat der Präsident ein Taschenparlament, um die von ihm gewünschte Verfassungsänderung für eine dritte Amtszeit nach 2011 durchzusetzen.

Kokoity-Clan hat das Sagen

Viele in Moskau lebende Südosseten kritisieren die selbst für russische Verhältnisse enorme Korruption in der kleinen Kaukasusrepublik. Der Kokoity-Clan kontrolliert praktisch alle wichtigen Politikfelder und Wirtschaftszweige. Selbst Premier Bulazew wurde von Kokoity buchstäblich aus der Politik und dem Land gedrängt.

Seit Monaten war Bulazew nicht mehr in Südossetien, ehe er nun wegen „gesundheitlicher Probleme“ zurücktreten musste. Bei einem Besuch von Russlands Präsident Medwedew kürzlich in Zchinwali fiel die Entscheidung, einen Nachfolger für Bulazew zu bestimmen."

Der ganze Artikel findet sich hier.




Original post of May 2009:


If you want to know who exactly South-Ossetia's leader Kokoity is, you might find this article by Paul Rimple, author of "Tbilisi blues'", worth-while:

"Last month I met with Alan Parastayev, the former head of the South Ossetia's North Military HQ during the 1991 war with Georgia, Minister of Interior in 1994-1999 in the Chiborv government, and Chief Justice of South Ossetia's Supreme Court under Kokoity.
In 2005, Kokoity ordered his arrest. Parastayev states the beef stemmed from the illegitimate party lists Kokoity had submitted for upcoming parliamentary elections that he blocked .
Consequently, Parastayev was asked to resign but he refused until his 25 year-old son was imprisoned on a trumped up charge and sentenced to 8 years in prison. Parastayev resigned on the condition his son would be freed, but his captors reneged and he was arrested, beaten and charged for “committing a terrorist act” against de facto MP Bala Bestaute a year earlier by detonating a bomb near his home.
On the pretense of being released, Parastayev was persuaded, after being tortured and drugged, to read a prepared statement stating that the Georgian secret service had offered him US$220,000 to “commit a terrorist act against President Kokoity.” He insists the last line of the text was “but I refused.” That didn't matter to Kokoity.
After 17 months in prison, much of it in solitary confinement, Parastayev was sentenced to 18 years for betraying his homeland and preparing an act of terror against the president.
“I still don't understand what those charges meant,” he says.
When Georgia began its offensive against Tskhinvali in August 2008, the prison was under constant bombardment and authorities opened the gates and set the prisoners free. Parastayev and his son were in Tskhinvali on the 8th and 9th and got word that Kokoity, who had left Tkshinvali on the 6th, discovered prisoners had been freed and ordered the murder of the two Parastayevs. They fled to Georgia where Parasayev now works as the deputy minister of the newly created Ministry of Corrections and Legal Assitance.
Parastayev compares Kokoity's Tskhinvali to the USSR in 1937 where “you can't say a word against Kokoity, nobody dare says their thoughts,” he says. “Until Kokoity came, the word “terrorist” wasn't heard – we didn't have terrorist acts, they came with him."

The full article can be found here.





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Colorful houses in Sololaki, Tbilisi / Bunte Häuser in Sololaki, Tiflis




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Arms race in the Caucasus (Georgian-Russian Conflict)

Abchazia + South Ossetia / Russian Federation:

"Russland hat laut seinem Nato-Botschafter Dmitri Rogosin das Recht, Abchasien und Südossetien bei Bedarf mit Waffen zu versorgen, damit sich diese vor erneuten Aggressionen schützen können."

(Translation:)
"Russia has the right to supply arms to Abkhazia and South Ossetia, if needed, says Dmitri Rogosin, Russian envoy to NATO. They must be able to defend themselves from renewed hostilities." Full text at RIA Novosti

Truth is, most of the (modern) weaponry will go to the russian military bases there.

Georgia / USA:

Philip J. Crowley, assistant secretary of state, said at a press briefing in Washington on July 23:
...
"Asked if the United States were “contemplating rearming Georgia” Crowley responded: “Georgia is on a path that the United States supports towards NATO membership. Clearly, a fundamental tenant of NATO membership is to have a military that meets NATO standards and would add to the capability of the alliance. So it is logical that the United States would have a military-to-military relationship with Georgia.” Full text at CivilGeorgia

(In fact, most arms come from the Ukraine, some from Israel. The US want to focus on military training, but don´t excluse arms-delivery in the future.)

It is interesting to note that provocations from both sides go on. Examples of the last week: Saakashvili openly hails Lukashenko´s maneuver against Moscow, urging who? to take the road to Sukhumi or Tskhinvali via Georgia proper. (Europe´s last dictator should know better: The roads from Georgia proper to Sukhumi and Tskhinvali are closed for foreigners.)
The russian government continues to launch anti-georgian propaganda. Rogosin mocks NATO and Georgia alike that there were only two choices for Georgia to achievie NATO membership: Accepting the de-facto borders or admitting Abchazia, South Ossetia and russian army bases alike into NATO. Furthermore, Moscow wants to know that the georgian governement plans manifestations on the de-facto border to South Ossetia or even a march into Tskhinvali. In this sweet story, RIA Novosti quotes US Secretary of State Joe Biden telling Michael Saakashvili to listen to his mother´s advice, just as he would listen to his 92-year-old mum himself. Well, you get the idea. (Interestingly, there seems to be no english version.) Finally, Russia is boasting about military advantages over its opponent. It seems as if the russian government desperately stems against the last remaining super-power just for a matter of principle: The more danger, the more honour.

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Sioni-Kathedrale / Sioni cathedral

Sioni, seen from the banks of River Tkvari. In the background Narikala castle
Sioni, gesehen vom Kura-Ufer. Im Hintergrund die Burg Narikala.

Virgin Mary dormition church Sioni is located on the street having the same name , in one of the oldest districts of Tbilisi , in upper Kala. According to the legend the first church on the very place was constructed by the king Vakhtang Gorgasali in the V century,
And a hundred years later in 570- 580 a new church was constructed by the wish of the Georgian Erismtavari ( head of the nation, title of a Georgian nobleman) Guaram Kurapalati, the Erisnmatavaris and the population of the town actively participated in the construction of one of the most important church, its construction ended during the rein of the Erismtavari Adarnese in 620. According to the legend Adarnese and Guaram lay in rest in this church.
Sioni church was attacked on and restored several times, this church is said to be totally restored by David IV the Builder , in 1122 when Tbilisi was still in the hands of Georgians, In 1226 during Mongolian attack the church was still damaged , its dome was ruined according to Jalal Ed Din’s order, but the Sioni Church was soon repaired after this occasion, this church was equally damaged during Temur Lang ( Lame ) attack in 1386, but it was still renovated by the king Alexander the first.
Sioni church was devastated in the XVII century, during the Persian attack, the Archbishop Elise Saginashvili restored it in 1657, in the XIII century St. Michael Archangel crypt was entirely restored , where Elise Saginashvili is buried. ( died in 1670), but in 1668 the earthquake damaged the renovated building again.
In 1710 the restoration by Vakhtang the VI resulted in the change of the roof and frame order ,In 1795 when Agha Makhmad Khan attacked Tbilisi Sioni church was damaged again, this building was repaired several times in the XIX century.
In 1980-1983 the church facing tiles were partially renovated, and a Vakhtang Corgasali crypt was built to the church in the north part.
...
Sioni church had been the crypt of Georgian Catholicos Patriarchs. According to the saying St. Evstati Mtskheteli ( died in 550 as a tortured) lies in rest under the refectory, St. Nino’s vine cross is kept in the church.

Full text: Tbilissi.Gov.Ge


Entrance to Sioni-cathedral in 1998. Nowadays, a new entrance hall hides the wonderful mosaic.
Eingang zur Sioni-Kathedrale, 1998. Mittlerweile wird das wunderbare Mosaik von einer kleinen Eingangshalle verdeckt.

cupola / Kuppel

Die Mariä Entschlafung Sioni Kirche wurde im oberen Kala unterhalb der Sioni Straße mit der östlichen Fassade zum Mtkwari hin oriertiert errichtet. Der Bau der frühesten Kirche im 5. Jahrhundert ist mit dem Namen des Königs W. Gorgasali verbunden. 570-580 hat der Fürst von Kartli Guaram Kupalaschwili mit dem Bau der neuen Sioni Kirche angefangen, der 620 in der Regenschaft des Fürstes Adarnasse fertig gestellt war. An den Bauarbeiten haben sich neben Fürsten auch die Bürger der Stadt beteiligt. Wie bekannt, die Fürste Guaram und Adarnasse sind hier beerdigt. In den nächsten Jahren wurde die Kirche mehrmals zerstört und wiederaufgebaut. Eine grundlegende Instandsetzung der Sioni Kirche erfolgte wahrscheinlich 1122 in der Regentschaft des Königs Dawit IV (Dawit der Erbauer), als er Tbilissi zurückerobert und den Königssitz hierhin verlegt hat. 1226 wurde die Kirche durch den Einfällen von Mongolen völlig beschädigt. Der grausamste Erober Djalal-Eddin hat die Kuppel der Kirche abgebaut, obwohl das Gebäude zu bald restauriert wurde. Wichtige Zerstörungen waren auch während den Überfällen von Temur Leng 1386 zu beobachten. Die Kirche wurde im Auftrag des Königs Alexander I erneuert. Die mehrmaligen Einfälle der Perser im XVII Jh wurde die Sioni Kathedrale bis auf die Grundmauern ruiniert, die 1657 der Bischof Elisse Saginaschwili wiederaufbauen ließ. In diesem Zeitalter wurde die St. Mikael Erzengel Krypte völlig neuaufgebaut, wo selbst Elisse Saginaschwili beerdigt wurde (gestorben 1670). 1668 wurde das erneuerte Kathedralegebäude durch Erdbeben wiederbeschädigt. Bei der Restaurierung, die im Auftrag von Wachtang VI durchgeführt wurde (1710), wurden das Mauerwerk und das Dach der Kirche verändert. Auch den Einfällen von Aga-Mohammed-Khan wurde die Sioni Kathedrale zum Opfer gefallen. XIX wurde das Gebäude mehrmals restauriert. Die Obeflächenbeschaffenheit der Kirche wurde1980-1983 teilweise erneuert. Genau aus diesem Zeitalter datiert auch die nördlich angebaute Wachtang Gorgassali Krypte. ... 1851-1855 wurde der Innenraum der Kirche von G. Gagarini bemalt; die Zeichnungen des westlichen Teils aus den 1978-1979 Jahren gehören zum L. Tsutskiridse. Nördlich der Kirche ist der im Auftrag von Alexander I aufgebaute und im XVIII Jh erneuerte dreigeschossige Glockenturm errichtet. Der andere mit Spitze bekrönte Glockenturm aus dem 1812 Jahr, der sich nord-westlich auf der gegenüberliegenen Strassenseite befindet, stellt ein frühestes Beispiel russischer Klassizismusarchitektur dar. In der Sioni Kathedrale befanden sich die Gräber der Katholikos-Patriarchen Georgiens. Wie bekannnt, in der Kathedrale ist St. Ewsstate Mtscheteli beerdigt (gestorben ungefähr 550). In der Kirche ist auch das heilige Kreuz Ninos aufbewahrt.

Vollständiger Text:
Tbilissi.Gov.Ge

Two high ranking clergy men (2008 in front of Sioni)
Zwei kirchliche Würdenträger (2008 vor der Sioni-Kirche)

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Break / Pause (Pixel-Center Tbilisi)

Pixel-center Tbilisi (Chavchavadze ave. No. 34) under construction. Summer 2008
Baustelle des Pixel-Center Tiflis (Tschwtschawadse Allee Nr. 34). Sommer 2008


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Pedestrian tunnel under Chavchavadze street (with exit to Wake Park)

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A next Russian-Georgian war end of July/beginning of August?

Wu Wei refers to an article of the Moscow times and throws in the planned visit of US vice president Joe Biden between July 22 and 24.

"After that there's a clear run for Putin unless Sarkozy has any plans to visit as well."

Read the full article(s) here.

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Was bedeutet der Besuch von Obama für Georgien?

"Für Moskau ist das Leben wieder in Ordnung" (Die Presse)
...
Tatsächlich kann man die russische Tagesordnung für die Außenpolitik den Amerikanern gegenüber auf drei Positionen zurückführen: Haltet euch aus unseren Angelegenheiten (d.h. aus der GUS) heraus; baut keine globalen Raketenabwehrsysteme auf (erst recht nicht vor unserer Nase); und achtet unseren Großmachtstatus. Der Konflikt bezüglich dieser Positionen im Sommer und Herbst vorigen Jahres setzte die russisch-amerikanischen Beziehungen zurück in die Zeiten von Andropow und Reagan. Im Kaukasus wurde ein amerikanischer Satellitenstaat „geschlagen“, und man drohte damit, in Kaliningrad taktische Boden-Boden-Raketen des Typs Iskander aufzustellen. Anstelle von Achtung machte sich tiefes gegenseitiges Misstrauen breit.
...
Moskau seinerseits wird versuchen, Obama dazu zu bringen, die Positionen zu festigen, die Russland ins Konzept passen. In erster Linie betrifft das Georgien, die weitere Erweiterung der NATO Richtung Osten und die Raketenabwehranlagen in Polen und Tschechien. Als ob nicht bereits sechzig Jahre vergangen wären, spricht man in den Couloirs über geopolitische Tauschgeschäfte: Iran gegen Ukraine, Kosovo gegen Abchasien und Südossetien usw. Man schlägt einen neuen Vertrag zur Sicherheit in Europa vor, in dem Moskau nur ein Punkt interessiert, der ungefähr so lautet: „Keine der existierenden militärisch-politischen Unionen in Europa wird ihre Mitgliederanzahl ohne Zustimmung der anderen Unterzeichner dieses Vertrags erhöhen.“ Es ist klar, dass ein solcher Vertrag nicht unterzeichnet werden kann. Es ist auch klar, dass eine „juristisch verbindliche“ Fixierung der derzeitigen Moskau genehmen Position Washingtons nicht gelingen wird. Unter bestimmten Umständen können sich sowohl Georgien als auch die Ukraine und die Raketenabwehranlagen wieder bemerkbar machen.
...
In der europäischen Richtung der Außenpolitik sollte Russland die Versuche aufgeben, den „Geist von Helsinki“ in Form eines Pakts zwischen der NATO und der OVKS (Organisation des Vertrags über kollektive Sicherheit) mit einer fixierten Neutralität der Ukraine, Georgiens und anderer wiederauferstehen zu lassen, sollte direkt mit seinen Nachbarn zusammenarbeiten und nicht mit den USA, Deutschland und Frankreich über die Köpfe der anderen hinweg. Die europäische Sicherheit wird derzeit von zwei paranoiden Ideen geschwächt: der russischen bezüglich der Machenschaften des „hinterhältigen Amerika“; und der Nachbarn Russlands bezüglich des „revanchistischen Kreml“. Die erste Paranoia muss Washington behandeln, die zweite Moskau. Diese Arbeit erfordert Achtung für die „Kleinen“, die Berücksichtigung ihrer Interessen, ihrer psychologischen Verletzungen und vieles andere mehr, was Russland von den USA fordert, aber in seinem eigenen Umgang mit den „Grenzstaaten“ nicht für notwendig hält. Man muss sich ein für alle Male klarmachen: Die Ukraine, Georgien, Weißrussland, Moldawien und alle anderen (einschließlich dem Irak, Iran, Afghanistan) treffen ihre eigenen Entscheidungen. Das große Spiel ist vorbei. Eine Großmacht ist heutzutage nicht die, die jemand anderem etwas aufzwingen kann, sondern die, die Anziehung ausübt und anlockt – nicht ein Hegemon, sondern ein Leader.
...

Lesen Sie den ganzen Artikel bei Die Presse.

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Russland Aktuell: Kaukasus-Konflikt: Georgien bietet Nichtangriffs-Pakt


...
Georgien kommt damit Russland einen Schritt entgegen – aber nur einen: Russland fordert einen solchen Nichtangriffs-Pakt, will aber dabei durchsetzen, dass die Regierung in Tiflis dabei auch Abchasien und Südossetien als Vertragspartner anerkennt. Bokerija bekräftigte, dass Georgien dazu nicht bereit sei.
...


Lesen Sie den vollständigen Artikel unter Russland-Aktuell.

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Cats in summer

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Paul Goble: Russian Experts Divided on Probability of New War with Georgia


As Moscow continues a military exercise in the North Caucasus that it says is designed to prevent conflicts, one leading Russian expert says that the probability of a new war between Russia and Georgia may be as high as 80 percent, while another suggests that such predictions themselves constitute “a dangerous provocation.
...
“In the government of Russia, there are no idiots ready to take such steps,” he says, and he offers three reasons for that. First, there are the upcoming negotiations with US President Barak Obama about strategic nuclear weapons, talks which are “important to Russia” and which the outbreak of a conflict could threaten.

Sergey Markedonov, a leading Russian specialist on the Caucasus:
Suppose for a minute that as these talks are going on, “a war with Georgia” breaks out. “What do you think Obama would do? It is not excluded that he would break off the talks and leave,” not an outcome that the Moscow leadership or the American leadership for that matter would be very happy about.
Second, Markedonov argues that “after the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russia is not at all interested in a new escalation of the conflict.” It has its forces and regimes where it wants them. And “if there had been a desire to occupy Tbilisi, this would already have been done in August of last year.”
And third, he points out, “it is necessary to understand that any politician who comes to power after [Georgian President Mikhiel] Saakashvili be it [Irakli] Alasania or [Nino] Burjanadze will not be pro-Russian. And that will be even more true if this [change in Tbilisi] occurs in the course of military actions.
At the same time, Markedonov insists, Georgia too “cannot be interested in a war now” because “many of the illusions [its leadership had last year] have already been dispelled, since the situation now is far from the most favorable.” First of all, Saakashvili “does not have the sympathy of the West” that he did.
Second, “Georgia’s strategic positions are much worse than they were a year ago,” even if one considers that only from the point of view of geography. And third, Georgia, which has received negative comments from European institutions in the past for last year’s conflict, would receive even more negative ones if it appeared that Tbilisi had in any way triggered a new war.
But Markedonov says that the biggest mistake those who predicting a new conflict on the basis of the ongoing maneuvers are making is to assume that the war last year was a rapid reaction “to the events of August 7-8.” In fact, last year’s war was, in Markedonov’s view, “the result of a four-year-long policy of Georgia” and Moscow’s plans to counter it.

Pavel Felgenhauer:
... the probability of a new war is “quite high, from 50 to 80 percent,” with the conflict most likely to begin “in the middle of July ..."
...
First, Moscow’s military maneuvers in the region have grown larger and have become more focused on Georgia than in the past. Second, Georgia can be counted on to do something that Moscow can point to as a provocation.
These Georgian actions may be no more than German claims that the Poles attacked the Germans in 1939 or Soviet suggestions in the same year that the Finns fired on the territory of the USSR. But a similar claim about Georgia will be sufficient not only to allow Moscow to act but to explain its actions to others.
And third, Felgengauer notes, there is an important difference between 2008 and 2009. “In August of last year, Georgia was not planning to fight with Russia; it had prepared for war with the separatists and therefore it suffered complete defeat. Now it is preparing for a war with Russia,” a conflict it cannot win but one that might draw in others on its side.
But the Moscow writer’s clinching argument from his point of view appears to be this: Moscow was able to fight a war last year without being punished or even all that seriously condemned by the international community, and thus Russian leaders thus have concluded that they can engage in a new war at little or no cost.

Read the full article on Georgian Daily.

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Cows in the fog




seen in Adjara / gesehen in Adscharien

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Displaced in Tbilisi Underground / Flüchtlingsfrau in einer Tbilissier Unterführung

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Das Georgische Alphabet



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Deutschlandradio: Armenien ein zweiter Iran?

... "Im März hatte die neue Regierung auf protestierende Anhänger der Opposition schießen lassen, mindestens acht Demonstranten starben, viele wurden verhaftet. Die jetzt beschlossene Amnestie ist aber keine Lösung, sagen Oppositionelle.

Ein Bezirksgericht in Armeniens Hauptstadt Eriwan Mitte letzter Woche. Gerade ist der Prozess gegen zwei prominente Anhänger der Opposition zu Ende gegangen. Der eine leitete im vergangenen Jahr die Wahlkampagne des oppositionellen Präsidentschaftskandidaten; der andere war Parlamentsabgeordneter - bis die Staatsanwaltschaft seine Immunität aufhob. Die beiden Männer sollen die Unruhen im vergangenen Frühjahr organisiert haben, bei denen mindestens acht Menschen starben. Die Anhänger der Opposition halten das für eine Farce. Die Regierung trage die Verantwortung für die Toten. Unter den Zuschauern ist die Rentnerin Klara Khatschikowa. Wütend hebt sie die Hand.

"Die Regierung hat sich alles unter den Nagel gerissen: Geld, Gebäude, alles. Ich weine jeden Tag, jede Minute, dass diese ungebildeten Rowdys Armenien regieren. Das ist wirklich unerträglich. Das sind gerade mal 200 Leute. Der Rest der Bevölkerung hasst sie. Das ist eine Tragödie."

Lesen Sie den vollständigen Text hier.

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Tbilisi night-life / Tifliser Nachtleben

From freedom square (tavis suplebis moidani), follow Leselidze str. and take the second street to the left. (You can´t miss it, just follow the noise). Not a bad place for having a drink, but international beers, menus and prices aim at travellers as well as ex-pads.

Vom Freiheitsplatz (Tawis Suplebis Moidani) die Leselidse herunter, dann die zweite links rein. Nicht der schlechteste Ort zum Die-Seele-Baumeln-lassen, aber internationale Biermarken, Speisekarten und westliche Preise wirken sich auf das Publikum aus: viele Touristen und dauerhaft in Tbilissi lebende (zumeist westliche) Ausländer.







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Armenien und Iran bauen Kooperation aus (DW-World)

"Der Teheran-Besuch des armenischen Präsidenten Sersch Sarkisjan Anfang des Jahres hat den Wirtschaftsbeziehungen zwischen Armenien und dem Iran neue Impulse verliehen. Verhandelt wurde unter anderem über den Bau einer Pipeline vom iranischen Täbris bis zum armenischen Ort Ararat, heißt es im armenischen Energieministerium. Die Leitung könnte Armenien mit Erdölprodukten versorgen, was die Transportkosten und Preise auf dem armenischen Markt deutlich senken würde. Das Projekt ist auch deswegen von Bedeutung, weil es eine Alternative zu den bestehenden Benzin- und Diesellieferungen bietet. Bislang wird Armenien von einigen wenigen privaten Firmen mit Erdölprodukten beliefert.

Experten zufolge soll mit dem Bau der neuen Pipeline noch in diesem Sommer begonnen werden.

...

Intensivierte Zusammenarbeit

Der unabhängige armenische Wirtschaftsexperte Aleksandr Awanesow sagte der Deutschen Welle, sein Land sei gezwungen, eine Zusammenarbeit mit dem südlichen Nachbarn Iran einzugehen.

...

So sei erst vor kurzem die Gasleitung Iran-Armenien in Betrieb genommen worden, über die das Land bereits etwa sieben Millionen Kubikmeter Erdgas erhalten habe. Geprüft werde derzeit, ob bei einer Verlängerung dieser Pipeline in Zukunft auch Lieferungen turkmenischen Erdgases Richtung Armenien möglich wären. Noch in diesem Sommer werde mit dem Bau einer dritten Elektrizitätsleitung zwischen dem Iran und Armenien begonnen. "Das ist ein regionales Projekt, an dem sich auch GEORGIEN beteiligt", erläuterte Awanesow. Er fügte hinzu, verhandelt werde ferner über den Bau einer Eisenbahnlinie, die Armenien über iranisches Territorium sowohl mit den Ländern des Persischen Golfs als auch mit denen Zentralasiens verbinden würde.

Die Zusammenarbeit mit dem Iran werde die Qualität des armenischen Energienetzes verbessern und nicht zuletzt die Energiesicherheit des Landes erhöhen, meint Awanesow. Wichtig sei zudem, dass nach der Umsetzung der Projekte Armenien eine größere Rolle nicht nur in der Region, sondern vielleicht auch für EUROPA spielen könnte.

Ausweg aus der Isolation?

Armenien sucht damit eine engere Zusammenarbeit mit dem Iran in wichtigen Breichen wie Energie, Verkehr und Kommunikation, während gleichzeitig internationale Sanktionen gegen Teheran in Kraft sind.

...

Aufgrund des ungelösten Konfliktes um die Region Berg-Karabach dauert die Blockade Armeniens durch die Türkei und Aserbaidschan an. Auch die Probleme in den Beziehungen zwischen Georgien und Russland haben Auswirkungen auf Armenien. Das Land ist deshalb geografisch sehr isoliert. Es hat den Anschein, als suche Armenien nun zunehmend einen Zugang zur Außenwelt über den Iran."

Autor: Aschot Gasasjan / Markian Ostaptschuk
Redaktion: Birgit Görtz




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Save Georgia’s Peace Mission

...

Now, Moscow has taken aim at the only major international organisation with a solid track record in Georgia, the 56-member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The OSCE has been in Georgia for more than 15 years: monitoring unstable areas in and around South Ossetia, promoting conflict resolution, supporting minority issues, helping lay the foundations for democracy and the rule of law, and criticizing electoral fraud. In South Ossetia it even facilitated economic rehabilitation projects between ethnic Georgians and Ossetians until the August war.

Last Month, OSCE member states met in Vienna to work on a Greek-sponsored compromise to keep the OSCE in Georgia, one of the final steps in thorny negotiations which have been going on since January. But Moscow shot down the Greek proposal, which had already been heavily amended to try to address Russian concerns, by preventing it from coming up for a vote.

There are several possible reasons why Russia wants the OSCE out of Georgia, one of the Organization's biggest and most important missions.

Moscow could be reluctant for the world to see what has gone on inside South Ossetia under its eight-month military "liberation" activities.

Russia's huge military might did not prevent South Ossetian militias from driving about 25,000 ethnic Georgians from their homes. In many cases local militias burned, looted, and even bulldozed villages as Russian troops stood by, in actions that Human Rights Watch has called "crimes against humanity" and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe termed "ethnic cleansing".

By closing the OSCE in Georgia, Russia also adds another front in its long-term diplomatic endeavour to undermine the efficiency of the OSCE as a whole. Since 1975, the Organization has helped promote European peace and security. But for years now, Moscow has been unhappy with the group's focus on human rights, media freedom and fair elections as the best way to encourage stability. Russia has used the political tools available to it as a member state to delay and obstruct the Organization's smooth functioning. Moscow has, for example, repeatedly delayed the passage of the OSCE's annual budget.

...

Read the full article on Reuters.

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TBILISI BEING FORTIFIED FOR "POSSIBLE" MILITARY STRIKE


GEORGIA: TBILISI BEING FORTIFIED FOR "POSSIBLE" MILITARY STRIKE -- REPORT
6/05/09

Defensive fortifications are being set up around Tbilisi in anticipation of a possible military strike on the Georgian capital, according to a Georgian media report.

Rezonansi, an opposition-minded daily, claimed that in addition to Tbilisi, fortifications are being built near the administrative border with the breakaway region of Abkhazia, where Russia has troops stationed. Defense Ministry officials were not available to confirm or to deny the June 4 report.

In interviews with the paper, independent military experts stated that defense measures are being taken to protect Tbilisi. "This step is correct and logical because occupying troops are stationed just a few kilometers away from the capital..."

Read the full article on EurasiaNet.

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Good news about Mariam / Gute Neuigkeiten von Mariam

Mariam has been given a prothesis by the government. Therefore, Mariam received 4.000 GEL on a bank account registered to her name. We think Mariam knows best herself what to do with the money. Again, thanks a lot to all donators!

See the documentation on "Kultureller Pluralismus im Kaukasus".
Mariam hat eine Prothese von der Regierung erhalten. Daher haben wir Mariam 4.000 GEL auf ein Bankkonto überwiesen, das auf ihren Namen registriert ist. Wir meinen, Mariam weiß am besten, wofür sie das Geld brauchen wird. Allen SpenderInnen nochmals herzlichen Dank!

Siehe auch hier.
Und ganz ganz herzlichen Dank auch euch, Karu und Maja, für eure Mühe!



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Batumi at night / Batumi bei Nacht

Restaurant (harbour-area) / Restaurant am Hafen


Pioneers' Park / Park der Pioniere


University / Universität


big wheel near university and promenade /
Riesenrad nahe Universität und Promenade


trick fountains at the promenade / Wasserspiele auf der Promenade


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Robert Coalson: Burjanadze's Husband Becomes Focus Of Georgia Political Intrigue


...
Police have arrested 10 men and released several videos purportedly showing the suspects purchasing arms and discussing potential violence at antigovernment actions. Two of the men have been charged with antistate activities; the remainder face lesser arms-purchase charges.

Bitsadze attempted to defuse the situation after the pictures came to light, telling reporters in Tbilisi that his meeting with Breus was innocent and private.

"I am certainly not going to forbid myself from meeting with my friends," Bitsadze said. "I certainly know Shalva Breus, although we don't have such a close relationship that it would prompt us to set up special meetings in various cities. I was in Vienna and also in Kyiv on private business, and wherever I go, I have friends and I see them."

Although the subject of the meeting remains unknown, the photographs are further circumstantial evidence connecting the DMES with Kremlin-connected Georgian émigrés based in Europe and Russia. And it has heightened concerns in Georgia that Russia has stepped up its activity in an attempt to destabilize its southern neighbor.

Breus, 51, is a former Russian deputy property minister who currently serves on the boards of several large Russian firms. According to reports in the Ukrainian and Georgian media, he is a longtime friend of Aslan Abashidze, a multimillionaire and the former head of the autonomous Georgian republic of Adjara.

Abashidze was ousted by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili in 2004 and has since lived in Moscow. Both Breus and Abashidze are from the Adjaran capital, Batumi.

Batumi was a focus of attention earlier this week when police raided the local DMES office there and arrested the head of the party's Adjara branch, Zurab Avaliani, on charges of illegally purchasing and storing weapons. Burjanadze has said the evidence against Avaliani was fabricated.

Avaliani's brother, Mikhail Avaliani, sits on the city council in Arkhangelsk and is a member of Russia's ruling Unified Russia party. A DMES spokesperson told RFE/RL that the party had not been aware of this fact.

In one of the blurry videos released earlier this week as evidence of the antistate charges, an opposition member identified as Malkhaz Gvelukashvili is heard to say that the purported plot was being financially supported by Russian-based Georgians.

"You know the meeting that took place in Austria," the speaker says. "Those who were in Austria are practically our people too. I mean the Georgians who came from Russia. Do you understand? They have enough money to put the country back on its feet."
...
The meeting between Bitsadze and Breus took place in a Kyiv restaurant on the evening of March 13. Bitsadze stated that he had also been in Vienna "on personal business," and the Ukrainian website DailyUA reported on March 26 that Breus was also in Vienna and met on the sidelines of the conference with unidentified participants.

The Vienna conference was entitled "Perspectives for Georgia's Future" and brought together about 100 Georgians living abroad, as well as representatives of Austria's Freedom Party and observers from Russia. It was organized by former Georgian lawmaker Levan Pirveli, who heads the so-called coordinating council of the Georgian opposition in Europe.

Also in attendance at the Vienna meeting were prominent Georgian publisher Malkhaz Gulashvili, Industrialists party leader Zurab Tkemaladze, Liberty party head Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, and Vladimir Khomeriki, head of the Moscow-based Russian-Georgian Unity Foundation.
...

Read the full article on Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty.

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Shaun Walker (The Independent, Moscow): Viewing Georgia from both sides


Even though some eight months have passed since Russia's war with Georgia over the breakaway republic of South Ossetia, both parties are still feeling its consequences and remain very sensitive to interpretations of these events that appear in the media. While the Russians continue to blame the Georgians' aggression (and even made a movie about it), the Georgians insist that they have fallen victim to a bully. Anyone who believes the truth to be somewhere in between is said to belong to the enemy camp.

...

Probably nothing has done more to convince many Russians that the Western media are anti-Russian; meanwhile the one-sidedness of Russia Today or other Russian TV channels on the conflict leaves me feeling queasy.

But contrary to what many Russians seem to think, suggesting that Russia may not have covered itself in glory in South Ossetia doesn't imply support for Saakashvili.

I've always been a bit of a Saakashvili-sceptic, and it's true that a lot of the Western reporting on Georgia before last summer was rather naive and tended to take all the noble words the Georgian president said about democracy and neo-imperialism at face value, while ignoring some of the less savoury aspects of his regime.

But I think that since the war, the Western media - or the printed media at least - have struck a reasonable balance, reporting on the atrocities that were carried out by Ossetians under the eyes of Russian troops, covering various pieces of evidence that suggest that Russia was looking to provoke a conflict all along, while at the same time accepting that Georgia was responsible for sparking the war and waking up to the real nature of Saakashvili's regime.

...

As so often in international relations, the truth is surely that both sides behaved appallingly. Last year's war was rather like an obnoxious little kid picking a fight with the school bully and getting crushed. That the bully had been behaving badly before doesn't make the kid any less obnoxious, and vice versa."

Read the full article on Moscow News.

Shaun Walker is the Moscow correspondent of The Independent

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Georgian dance



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Ter-Petrosyan – Yerevan mayor? Clever move by Armenian opposition, and good news for democracy in Armenia

"Armenia’s first president and opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosyan will head the list of opposition Armenian National Congress candidates in Yerevan municipal election (= Yerevan mayor election). No. 2 in the list is Stepan Demirchyan. (I do not know if Ter-Petrosyan would step down after winning the election, to make Demirchyan a mayor, but this is not important right now) They will now continue formal consultations with the parliamentary opposition Heritage party for joint participation in election. I do hope that cool heads in the opposition (parliamentary + extra-parliamentary) will prevail to contest the election united.

“This is almost like presidential election, it’s a political election, and winning Yerevan municipal election will amount to regime change and restoration of constitutional order in Armenia” – this would be the main message by opposition directed at electorate. Not quite the regime change, but they have a point." ...

Read the full article on Unzipped (Blog by ARTMIKA).

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Philip P. Pan (Washington Post) - Georgia: Autocracy no more, not yet democracy

The article offers great inside into the problems transferring a post-communist-state into a western democracy:

... "The experience of this nation of 4.5 million after Saakashvili came to power in the Rose Revolution illustrates how difficult and complex the task of building a lasting democracy can be, even with ample funding and high-level attention from the United States and Europe.

"You have to change cultures, institutions, norms," said Larry Diamond, a scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. "It's a profound challenge. What you're talking about is changing the way people use power."

On May 10, 2005, a huge crowd assembled in Tbilisi's Freedom Square to see Bush. "You gathered here with nothing but roses and the power of your convictions, and you claimed your liberty," he declared. "Because of that, Georgia is today a beacon of liberty for this region and the world."

At the time, some Georgians were already accusing Saakashvili of monopolizing power and undermining Parliament, the courts, the news media and civil society. But criticism from the United States was expressed in private, when expressed at all.

When Saakashvili pushed through a constitutional amendment giving him the power to dismiss Parliament, for example, many supporters of the Rose Revolution objected. But U.S. officials were reluctant to take a position or even host a public debate on the subject, recalled David Usupashvili, an opposition leader who at the time was a Saakashvili ally and worked for a U.S. aid organization.

Lincoln Mitchell, a scholar at Columbia University who served as the National Democratic Institute's chief of party in Tbilisi, said the Bush administration equated support for Saakashvili, who studied law at Columbia, with support for democracy in Georgia.

"The relationship got personalized," he said, noting that Saakashvili named a highway after Bush and sent Georgian troops to Iraq. "The idea was don't make problems for the English-speaking leader who is our best ally in the region."

U.S. support for Saakashvili resulted in a sharp increase in foreign aid to the Georgian government. But funding for the advocacy groups that had been at the heart of the Rose Revolution dried up, forcing organizations to shut down programs that could monitor and challenge his decisions.

Civil society also suffered, because activists flocked to join the new government. If Western officials overlooked Saakashvili's autocratic drift, so did many of these reform-minded Georgians. Several top leaders of the current opposition worked with Saakashvili for years before quitting.

"We made compromises, telling ourselves that it wasn't so easy to achieve democracy overnight," said Georgi Chkheidze, a former chairman of the Georgian Young Lawyers Association who joined the Justice Ministry. "We waited too long to speak out."

...

Nino Zuriashvili, a vivacious, hard-charging journalist, produces investigative reports most Georgians never see. "We offer them to television stations for free, but the national broadcasters won't air them," she said.

In the years before the Rose Revolution, the news media operated with few restrictions, and she worked for the Georgian version of "60 Minutes," a top-rated show on the country's top-rated television station, Rustavi-2. The independent broadcaster's support of the opposition helped put Saakashvili in power.

But Zuriashvili ran into problems soon afterward. Station managers squashed a report on the seizure of property from private businessmen by government officials, then refused to broadcast an expose on prosecutors forging evidence. When she confronted them, she learned the station had been sold to new owners who wanted to take it easy on the new government. They canceled her show, giving her a different job.

So she quit and started her own news organization, Monitor Studio, which relies on international aid groups for funding. She and two colleagues have produced 26 investigative video reports, the latest of which documents how the government pressured the owners of nearly a dozen TV stations, including Rustavi-2, to sell to businessmen friendly to Saakashvili.

But the media environment in Georgia defies a single, sweeping verdict. Conditions under Saakashvili have varied over time, and there are two local stations in Tbilisi now run by the opposition. Newspapers, too, are generally critical of Saakashvili.

The mixed picture has allowed Saakashvili to ridicule critics who accuse him of stifling the news media by pointing out that they often make their allegations on live talk shows broadcast across the nation.

"If somebody in the morning has some idea and is a public figure, it just takes six to eight hours before most of the country hears about it. You can't shut up anybody here," he said, denying any effort to transfer TV stations into friendly hands or dictate coverage. "You can argue that some TV stations are more pro-government and some are less and some are against us, but it's like that in every country."

Journalists say the problems with the media here fall short of direct censorship and require long-term solutions, such as programs to raise journalistic standards and encourage media independence. "In some ways, this quasi-democracy we have is much more dangerous than a dictatorship," said Nino Burjanadze, a top Rose Revolution leader who joined the opposition last year. "The issues are less straightforward and more difficult to explain to our friends."

...

The problems led the advocacy group Freedom House to remove Georgia from its list of electoral democracies this year. But the opposition has also fared poorly in elections because it has been unable to unite behind a substantive agenda beyond replacing Saakashvili.

Several parties refused to take the seats they won in the May elections. The boycott further divided the opposition, with those outside Parliament accusing those inside of acting as Saakashvili's puppets.

Ghia Nodia, a former minister of education, blamed the problem on immature political parties, including the ruling party, that see revolution as the primary means of winning power. "The problem is this very confrontational political culture," he said, noting that not a single president has completed a full term since the country declared independence after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Targamadze, the minority leader, said his Christian Democratic party is losing patience. "I'm trying to be a moderate, but if Saakashvili doesn't start real political reforms, we'll become more radical, too."

You can find the whole article here on SFGate, home of San Francisco Chronicle.




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Hermes in Tbilisi / Tiflis / Tbilissi

seen in Leselidze street, Tbilisi. / Gesehen in der Leselidse-Straße, Tiflis.


Typical is the helmet with wings. The two snakes facing each other usually sling around a baton.
Hermes the protector of travellers, merchants and herdsmen, but also of thieves, art-sellers, of rhetoric, gymnastics and magic.
Quite possible, that this house was erected by a merchant or art-seller.

Typisch für Hermes der Helm mit Flügeln. Zwei Schlangen, die sich anschauen, findet man sonst eher um seinen Stab gewunden.
Hermes ist der Schutzgott der Reisenden, Kaufleute, Hirten, aber auch der Diebe und Kunsthändler, der Rhetoric, Gymnastik und sogar der Magie.
Gut möglich, dass das Haus von einem Kaufmann oder Kunst-Händler errichtet wurde.



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Onnik Krikorian: "Nationalists agitate for Samtskhe-Javakheti"

"Following the arrest of two ethnic Armenians in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region of the Republic of Georgia, nationalist groups in Armenia plan to hold a demonstration outside the Georgian Embassy in Yerevan on Wednesday. While it is unlikely to be well attended, the activity of such nationalist groups has sharply increased since the short war between Georgia and Russia last August. Chances are that this is no coincidence.
Having openly considered the possibility to use the short conflict over South Ossetia to push for separation from Georgia, nationalist think tanks and analytical centers make no secret of their desire to frustrate good relations with Armenia's neighbor and are more noticeable than ever before. "


Onnik Krikorian is a freelance photojournalist and writer from the United Kingdom based in Yerevan, Armenia.

Read the full article on Frontline.


Poster on the way to Garni temple, national monument and important tourist attraction. The map is titled: Colchide, Iberie et albanie. Kolchis refers to the ancient name of West Georgia, known to the Greeks (Golden Vleece, Prometheus), Albania roughly to present Dagestan and Azerbaijan, Iberie to Armenia and most eastern parts of Georgia.

English Wikipedia explains the term "Iberia":
The theme of Iberia (Greek: θέμα 'Ιβηρίας) was an administrative and military unit – theme – within the Byzantine Empire carved by the Byzantine Emperors out of several Armenian and Georgian lands in the eleventh century. It was formed as a result of Emperor Basil II’s annexation of a portion of the Georgian Bagratid domains (1000-1021) and later aggrandized at the expense of several Armenian kingdoms acquired by the Byzantines in a piecemeal fashion in the course of the eleventh century. The population of the theme was multiethnic with the Armenian majority, including a sizable Armenian community of Chalcedonic rite to which the contemporary Byzantines expanded, as a denominational name, the ethnonym "Iberian", a Graeco-Roman designation of Georgians. The theme ceased to exist in 1074 AD as a result of the Seljuk invasions." (Link to Wikipedia)


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Pavel Felgenhauer: Russia plans to occupy Georgia

Plan of Georgian occupation is worked out in the Kremlin, according to which Russian military forces will enter Tbilisi from Tskhinvali and Akhalgori and occupy North part of the city. Russian military expert Pavel Felgenhauer stated about it in interview to the paper ‘Kviris Palitra’. According to his information, the second military campaign will start with minor incident, while Russian soldier dies and it will be used as reason by Moscow to start war against Georgia.

Pavel Felgenhauer is a regular correspondent and columnist to "Novaya Gazeta". (The same newspaper, that Anna Politkovskaya worked for.) Read the full article about the Kremlin's plan on InterpressNews.


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We Don`t Wanna Put In - STEPHANE & 3G: Eurovision 2009

- neither do I :-)




“We don’t wanna put in / Cuz negative move / It’s killin’ the groove,
I’m gonna try to shoot in / Some disco tonight / Boogie with you.”


"Put in" rhymes nicely with "shoot in". Vladimir, this song is for you!

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Schota Rustaweli / Shota Rustaveli / შოთა რუსთაველი

Schota Rustaweli wurde um das Jahr 1170 in Rustawi, Georgien, geboren. Gestorben ist er nach 1200 in Jerusalem. Sein Epos "Der Recke im Tigerfell" oder auch "Der Mann im Tigerfell", geschrieben um die Wende vom 12. zum 13. Jahrhundert, gilt als der Beginn der georgischen Literatur.
Über Rustawelis Leben ist kaum etwas bekannt. Er war offenbar Fürst und stand zeitweilig in Diensten der Königin Tamara. Aus dem Epos, das am persischen Königshofe spielt, könnte aber auch hervorgehen, dass er in persischen Diensten stand. Platon und Mohammed werden in seinem von philosophischen Idealen der Ritterlichkeit geprägten Epos namentlich genannt.
Nach Rustaweli ist die Hauptstraße von Tiflis / Tbilissi benannt. Meines Wissens gibt es zwei Denkmäler, die ihn in idealisierter Darstellung zeigen: Eines am Beginn des Rustaweli-Prospekts, das andere (siehe Foto) vor dem Eingang der Nationalbibliothek, nicht weit vom Freiheitsplatz.

Wikipedia-Artikel über Schota Rustaweli (auf Deutsch)

Shota Rustaveli was born around 1170 in Rustavi, Georgia. He died after 1200 in Jerusalem. His epos "The Wearer of the Panther's Skin" or "The Knight in the Tiger's Skin", written on the turn of the 12th to the 13th century, marks the beginning of Georgian literature.
Little is known about his life. He might have been a minister a queen Tamar's court. From the epos, which plays at the Persian court, one could also imagine that he had been in living at the Persian court for a while. He mentioned Platon and Mohammed in his work, which reflects knightly ideas of courtesy.
The main street of Tbilissi is named after him. To my knowledge, there a two monuments showing him in idealized pose: One at the beginning of the Rustaveli-prospect, the other (see foto above) before the entrance to the National Library, not far from Freedom square.

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Pavel Felgenhauer: "Russia's Coming War with Georgia" and my own thoughts...

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"South Ossetia, isolated and with its "independence" unrecognized by the international community, is in crisis. This may explain the constant bellicose statements coming from Tskhinvali: renewed military confrontation may seem the only way to end the unacceptable status quo, established by the August 12 ceasefire.

The belligerence of the separatists is actively supported by Moscow, which has its own reasons to detest the status quo. The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced, "Russia is concerned about Georgian troop concentrations near the borders of South Ossetia and Abkhazia" (RIA-Novosti, January 16). EU assurances that there is no "troop concentration" are not accepted. This week the Russian permanent representative in the OSCE, Anvar Azimov, announced, "The Georgians are concentrating troops and heavy weapons, building new bases and checkpoints." Azimov accused the EU observers of impotence and illegally trying to move their operations into Abkhazia and South Ossetia (RIA-Novosti, February 11).

The ceasefire last August has left the strategically important Russian base in Armenia cut off with no overland military transit connections. The number of Russian soldiers in Armenia is limited to some 4000, but during 2006 and 2007 large amounts of heavy weapons and supplies were moved in under an agreement with Tbilisi from bases in Batumi and Akhalkalaki (Georgia). At present there are some 200 Russian tanks, over 300 combat armored vehicles, 250 heavy guns and lots of other military equipment in Armenia - enough to fully arm a battle force of over 20,000 (Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozrenie, August 20, 2004). Forces in Armenia can be swiftly expanded by bringing in manpower by air transport from Russia. Spares to maintain the armaments may also be shipped in by air, but if a credible overland military transit link is not established within a year or two, there will be no possibility to either replace or modernize equipment. The forces will consequently degrade, undermining Russia's commitment to defend its ally Armenia and Moscow's ambition to reestablish its dominance in the South Caucasus.

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While snow covers the Caucasian mountain passes until May, a renewed war with Georgia is impossible. There is hope in Moscow that the Georgian opposition may still overthrow Mikheil Saakashvili's regime or that the Obama administration will somehow remove him. However, if by May, Saakashvili remains in power, a military push by Russia to oust him may be seriously contemplated. The constant ceasefire violations could escalate to involve Russian servicemen - constituting a public casus belli. The desire by the West to "reset" relations with Moscow, putting the Georgia issue aside, may be interpreted as a tacit recognition of Russia's right to use military force."

Read the full article at Jamestown Foundation.

Also read: Russia plans joint air-defense with Armenia (in German on RIA Novosti)

It's interesting to think further ahead. What if Georgia fell under the Kremlin's supremacy again? At least Abkhazia might very well try to gain true independence. (Remember the last elections, when Moscow's candidate was defeated?) For this case, they just established an air base in Abkhazia. The aim is not only to defend the Kremlin's interest in the South Caucasus region (mainly against Georgia), but also their stronghold in Abkhazia itself. This, too, explains why the Russian military has no interest in a peaceful settlement of the present conflicts around the two separatist regions of Georgia. Without the Abkhaz-Georgian antagonism, Sukhumi might rethink it's relationship with Moscow. (Among the population of Abkhazia, Russians are not as beloved as the official press tries to show us. Just think of the Olympic games at near-by Sotchi and astronomically rising real-estate prices in the northern cities of Abkhazia including Sukhumi and you get the picture.)

See also here and here.

South-Ossetia, although poor, is still the biggest trump card in the hands of Putin and Medvedev. Firstly, because Russian tanks are stationed now only about 45 kilometers from Georgia's capital. Secondly, because South-Ossetia looks south to Georgia's weakest strategic point, that is the rather narrow East-West-connection (the "highway" running from Tbilisi to Batumi). Thirdly, continuing violations of the ceasefire-agreement create pressure on Saakashvili's government and an athmosphere of instability and unsureness, deterring investors and thwarting Georgia's ambitions on NATO-membership. And eventually, there is another option: By "proving" that an independent South-Ossetia could not defend itself against "aggressive" Georgia, it can graciously be admitted into the Russian Federation in a year or two.

The reference to Armenia and Russian troops stationed in Armenia might also give a clou to the (indirect) support of the Javakheti-movement of Armenians in Georgia, pressing for autonomy. Recent history has shown what "autonomy" for Georgia really means - the destruction of a multi-ethnic state, while on the other hand side the war against "bandits" and separatism in Chechnyia and elsewhere in the North Caucasus continues, accepted by the West as a "fight against terrorism" after 9/11.

What next will be accepted by the West, falsely assuming "common interests" with Putin and his camarilla?

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