Georgia’s unification plans, Russia’s role in Caucasus viewed – TV

Georgia’s unification plans, Russia’s role in Caucasus viewed – TV

Centre TV, Moscow
15 Jul 04

With the new Georgian leadership working hard on the country’s
unification, is it possible that South Ossetia and Abkhazia will
follow Ajaria’s example, asks a Russian analytical TV programme. Many
experts agree that everything depends on Russia here, but at the same
time Russia is lacking a consistent policy on its southern borders,
they say. Politicians and analysts from Russia, South Ossetia and
Abkhazia share their opinions on what should be done in the area to
avoid a war. The following is an excerpt from the programme, broadcast
by Russian Centre TV on 15 July; subheadings inserted editorially:

[Presenter] Hello. This is “Our Version”. I am Mikhail Markelov.

Georgia’s roses wither in Tbilisi. South Ossetia has said no to
elderly [former Georgian President] Eduard Shevardnadze. Now, it does
not want young [incumbent president] Mikheil Saakashvili. The new
Georgian president’s pleas “Come back, I will forgive you anything”
are being ignored. It means that the reunification is postponed, so
far. It is postponed for an indefinite time.

[The self-declared republic of] Abkhazia watches the love intrigues
with anxiety, perfectly understanding that the importunate admirer
Saakashvili will sooner or later lay his hands upon it. Abkhazia, like
South Ossetia, wishes to opt out. It wants to be with Russia, but
Georgia does not grant a divorce. The intrigue has amplified after an
old political procurer appeared on the scene – the United States of
America. It goes to show that an endless military and political soap
opera will go on at the scene of the international geopolitics. This
soap opera differs from a drama, as blood in drama is always real. Our
correspondent Anatoliy Suleymanov has just returned from Georgia,
South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Stalin’s legacy

[Correspondent] [This is] an ancient town of Gori, central
Georgia. Iosif Stalin, the man with whom the main phase of the Soviet
epoch’s formation is associated, was born here at the end of the 19th
century. Since then, everything in Gori is a reminder of him. All
people’s great leader’s house, turned into museum, plays host to
visitors. There is a monument to Stalin in the central square, the
only one in the post-Soviet space.

However, a calming effect that the leader’s smile produces, is a false
one. There is a fresh hotbed of tension as close as 20 km from here –
South Ossetia. The fruit of Stalin’s political principle – divide and
rule – is a serious test of Saakashvili. The young leader is
suppressing rebellious provinces carrying new flags, which symbolize
half roses, half a new crusade.

Price of independence

The central market in Gori is the first in the whole of the republic
to react to a regular flare-up of recriminations between South
Ossetian and Georgian authorities. The exchange rate of the lari, the
Georgian currency, as well as prices of many goods, are set in this
market depending on how events unfold in Georgia. The market in Gori
was the first to suffer after Georgians established a customs check
point on the South Ossetian border and imposed an economic blockade
against the self-declared republic. The market has been reduced to
half its previous size.

[Local unidentified woman] All people are starving now. It should not
have happened. Everyone is unemployed. Our state must think and find a
way out.

[Correspondent] The price of everything exported from Russia, has
risen: cigarettes, vodka, clothes, petrol. Grain exported from the USA
was delivered to Gori instead of cheap and high-quality Russian
flour. Third-rate grain is not defective goods. It is ground at local
mills and sold at three times the actual cost. When locals learned
that we are from Russia, they asked: will a war really begin? A bit
later, we understood why they had asked us this question.

Georgian peacekeepers wearing NATO uniform

[Over footage shot by hidden camera] Georgian servicemen were packed
into our hotel, which we were not allowed to film. They wore NATO
uniforms with insignia of peacekeeping force. We found out that almost
all hotels in Gori resemble temporary barracks. Servicemen started
coming here in mid-June. All of them have been trained by US
instructors under the programme for fighting against terrorism. In
early June they were enlisted in the peacekeeping force and
re-deployed closer to the South Ossetian border. According to the
information we have, there are some 1,000 peacekeepers like these in
Gori, and they keep coming. It should be borne in mind that under the
tripartite agreement between Russia, Georgia and South Ossetia, their
number must not exceed 500 troops.

Georgian troops never left during three days that we stayed at the
hotel. When they went to the town, they put on civilian clothes for
some reason. What terrorists are Georgian peacekeepers in NATO
uniforms going to combat?

The governor of Gori Region [as received] declined to answer that
question. He pleaded poor ignorance of the Russian language. Asked if
we could speak through an interpreter, he said a decisive no again,
this time pleading lack of time.

Incidentally, poor command of Russian is a particularity of this
region. Despite the fact that South Ossetia, where everyone is fluent
in Russian, is only 20 km away, in Gori the Russian language has
already been forgotten, at least by the young. The older generation
has not forgotten anything. They remember the Soviet Union, a
prosperous Georgia, and they remember the first war with South Ossetia
just as well.

[Panteleimon Giorgadze, leader of the United Communist Party of
Georgia] What did they spill blood for? What did they kill children
and women in Ossetia for – I saw that with my own eyes. They killed a
young boy and dumped the body on a river bank. His mother came up to
me and she gripped me. She wanted to gnaw me with her teeth. Why?

Echo of the past in South Ossetia

[Correspondent over archive video] On 6 January 1991, Georgian police
and National Guard units entered the South Ossetian capital
Tskhinvali. Searches, arrests, killings of people, predominantly
Ossetians, ensued. The Ossetian side took measures in
self-defence. Self-defence militias were able to drive Georgian
fighters out of Tskhinvali. The Georgian fighters soon launched
reprisals against rural areas in South Ossetia, shelling Tskhinvali
with heavy artillery from time to time. After the Georgian militants
were driven out, Ossetian self-defence militias set out to slaughter
the population of Georgian villages. In two years of fighting in South
Ossetia, 6,000 people perished. Seven hundred people went missing.

[Passage omitted: archive reportage from South Ossetia, dated 1991]

The alarmed tones of Soviet television newsreaders can be heard on the
TV screen again today. It seem history is repeating itself. A period
of Georgia’s wooing of South Ossetia is at an end. The time has come
for ultimatums.

New broom sweeps clean

[Correspondent] Mikheil Saakashvili is acting like a true Georgian: If
you don’t want to do it by consent, I’m going to take you by force. In
the past 12 years, Georgia’s relationship with South Ossetia has not
sunk this low yet.

First, South Ossetia rejected Georgia’s proposal to build a railway,
which never was particularly popular even in Soviet times. Today it is
not needed either, South Ossetia believes. The journey to Tbilisi
takes less time and money by minibus.

Then South Ossetia turned down Saakashvili’s wife, Sandra Roelofs; she
is widely admired in Georgia. South Ossetia also refused to pay
Georgian pensions. It would not even accept fertilizer from Tbilisi
on the pretext that there is plenty of that stuff in South Ossetia.

Incidentally, that fertilizer was nicknamed Sasukishvili here. Sasuki
translates as manure from Georgian.

[Eduard Kokoiti, president of South Ossetia] Both the Ossetian people
and the Georgian people expect concrete action, concrete steps from
us, not tug-of-war, not for one to prevail over the other purely
politically. You don’t need to play here games here, you need to do
politics and the PR exercises Saakashvili is putting on are simply
unseemly. As far as his appearance here is concerned, he has only the
personnel of the Special Rapid-Reaction Detachment of the Republic of
South Ossetia to thank for that. They were the ones who handled the
act of provocation he carried out on 3 January with restraint and
sang-froid. If not for that, Georgia would have been left without a

Information war in progress

[Correspondent] Every nation has a Khatyn [village in central Belarus
which was burnt down alive by Nazis and their collaborationists] of
its own. This is a children’s cemetery in the backyard of School No 5
in Tskhinvali. Those who died in the capital city of South Ossetia 12
years ago are buried here. Every Russian journalist is brought
here. Large billboards showing Russian President Vladimir Putin are
favourite shots. They are especially loved by Georgian cameramen. They
film one and the same thing, but its implication differs. There is a
war going on between Georgia and South Ossetia, an information war.

Irina Yuryevna is head of the press centre which reminds one of a
propaganda department rather. It is difficult to check information
about Georgian prisoners, this is why they recommend that their word
is trusted. Irina Yuryevna is dictating a news report for the news
wire on the Internet. Any links with Georgia are denied – this is why
the Georgian Tskhinvali becomes the Ossetian Tskhinval, Sukhumi turns
into Sukhum. It is hard for South Ossetia to carry out an information
war, this is why they sometimes have to make things up.

[Irina] The republic’ citizens have held a meeting on the by-pass road
demanding that a tri-partite checkpoint be installed here.

[Correspondent] The news of the day – Georgia is completing the
construction of a by-pass road on the territory of a republic they do
not recognize. The road goes through Georgian villages. Several buses
containing students and teachers accompanied by the military are
heading for the scene of the meeting. They demand that a checkpoint be
organized next to one of the Georgian villages. After the passionate
speeches made by teachers – the students are passive – the
demonstrators are heading for the village, for some reason. However,
it turns out that the village was abandoned a long time ago.

This failure is a disappointment for journalists from central TV
channels. This is a half-made report. On the way back our TV crew
passes Georgian villages. National flag are flying on quite a few
houses. The South Ossetian authorities are concerned about this –
Saakashvili has won a victory once, in Ajaria. Who will guarantee
that the Ajarian scenario will not be repeated here?

[Gennadiy Gudkov, captioned as chairman of State Duma security
committee] Part of the villages in South Ossetia are inhabited by
Georgians. With ethnic Georgians in mind, Saakashvili and his team may
try and rock the situation in South Ossetia. This is why they have
gone there.

“Our boys are best”

[Kokoiti] It is easy to wage a war, but it is difficult to end it,
especially in the Caucasus. There will be no winners in this war. I
have no doubt we shall put an end to all evil and its nest will be
done away with once and for all. I have not the slightest doubt about
it. However, the nations will suffer. We must understand that
somebody is trying to re-divide the Caucasus all over again.

[Correspondent] Nobody here doubts that the unrecognized republic will
be able to offer resistance to Georgia. To strengthen the spirit of
civilians, local TV is running military adverts.

[Unidentified female voice over archive video] A US coach claims that
it will take 100 days to train these Georgian soldiers, taking into
account their desire to overcome all obstacles. The expenses will be
completely justified, he adds.

This battalion is ready for combat, while this commander of Georgian
commandos identifies his tasks more precisely, saying, we are ready
for any situation, we want to contribute to the unification of
Georgia. A commentary follows, to the effect that US coaches intend to
start training another battalion in September. One need not be a
clairvoyant to say that these battalions are trained to resolve issues
acute for Georgia and not in order to preserve peace across the
world. Despite the fact that South Ossetian soldiers are not being
trained by US coaches, they do look just as good during military

[Kosta Kochiyev, captioned as deputy chairman of the South Ossetian
state TV and radio company] When our experts compared the training of
Georgian special-purpose troops [spetsnaz], conducted by foreign
coaches, and South Ossetian troops, they said that the latter look
much better. This is why we show to our people that South Ossetians
are well-trained, and the people do not need anything else.

Want peace ? Get ready for war.

[Correspondent] Both Georgia and South Ossetia claim that they do not
want a war, but they are preparing for it. Maybe because they want
peace so much. However, one does not need to be a military expert to
understand that their forces are not equal.

[Over a table showing figures] Georgia has five strike aircraft, while
South Ossetia has none; Georgia has 10 military helicopters, while
South Ossetia has none, finally, Georgia has 130 tanks while South
Ossetia has only 130

[Correspondent] Both Georgia and South Ossetia possess antiaircraft
complexes, armoured reconnaissance vehicles, infantry fighting
vehicles and APCs. South Ossetian special-purpose troops [spetsnaz] as
well as volunteers are being trained by Russian military coaches,
while Georgian commandos with the Ministry of Defence have been
trained by Americans within the programme combating
terrorism. Undoubtedly, the Georgian Defence Ministry has worked out
an emergency plan of military activities. Georgians are likely to
enter Tskhinvali first, as the South Ossetian capital is located right
on the border with Georgia. The main blow will come from the
neighbouring Gori District and from villages in Georgia. It is
unlikely that somebody may deny a possibility of such a
blitzkrieg. Nevertheless, both Georgian and US analysts are concerned
about another thing. Should a military conflict or a war start, God
forbid, Ossetians will find a refuge the mountains and long guerrilla
war will start. Volunteers from Russia’ southern regions and Abkhazia
will come to the rescue of South Ossetians. At the same time,
[Chechen rebel leader Aslan] Maskhadov has already promised help to
Georgia. In this case, one can forget about the unification of Georgia
for a long time.

[Aleksandr Khramchikhin, head of the analytical department at the
Institute of Military and Strategic Analysis] A war could start if
provoked by the authorities of Abkhazia or South Ossetia. Georgia will
avoiding a war at all costs. It would prefer to repeat the Ajarian
scenario, although it would be much slower, due to a difference in
circumstances. Nevertheless, the Ajarian scenario could be repeated,
although it could take between 18 months and two years, but not three
months. The elite in either republic are losing ground, this is why
they may provoke a conflict.

“Everything depends on Russia”

[Correspondent] A lot depends on Russia in the current situation. It
is clear that the unification of Russia and South Ossetia is out of
the question, not least because South Ossetia or Abkhazia, for that
matter, mean to Georgia exactly what Chechnya means to
Russia. Moreover, Russia has officially recognized these unrecognized
republics as part of Georgia. This is why it makes no sense irritating
Tbilisi by flirting with South Ossetia.

Russia should determine its position. Should a military conflict
start, Russia will have to put up to dozens of thousands of refugees
from South Ossetia, as well as new violence we shall be facing on our
southern borders. If we do not need a conflict or war, we should do
our best to prevent the political elites of unrecognized republics
from waging a war.

So far Russia is lacking a clear-cut policy, but there are a lot of
opinions, there is a struggle over zones of influence among several
Russian groupings. There is no result.

[Khramchikhin] Georgia does not apply force because there is Russia
around. Practically everything depends on Russia. Russia, in its
turn, is lacking a clear-cut policy, this is why it will give up
everything. Saakashvili has a policy of his own, while we do not have
one. No doubt, everything depends on Russia, because South Ossetia and
Abkhazia are tied up with Russia for good.

Russian official’s surprise visit

[Correspondent] Who is responsible for Russia’s policy in Georgia
these days? There is not a clear-cut answer to the question, not
because Russia has no ideas, but due to the fact that Russia’s policy
in Georgia has too many authors.

A famous Russian official has visited Tskhinvali recently.

[Voice of security officer] Take your camera away.

[Voice of Russian prime ministerial aide Aleksandr Pochinok over black
background showing tarmac] We shall be helping in every possible
way. Officially, we are helping Russian citizens who are living in
South Ossetia. That is the end of it. This will involve pensions,
investment – Russian entrepreneurs will be arriving here with serious
investment. This will involve reconstruction of roads, invitations to
study in Russian higher educational institutions, this will also
involve recreation for children and so on.

[Unidentified male voice] There won’t be a war, will there?

[Pochinok] It does not depend on you and me. We shall do our best for
a war not to take place. By all means.

Russia should determine its policy in Caucasus

[Gudkov] We should determine our positions. A presidential envoy in
the Transcaucasus should be appointed. It could be one of foreign
minister deputies, [Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister] Valeriy
Loshchinin, for example. This centre alone should plan and determine
the continuity of Russia’s policy in the Transcaucasus. The situation
whereby the military have one policy, the Security Council has another
one, Pochinok has a third one, while the Foreign Ministry has a fourth
policy. As a result, Russia is lacking a policy whatsoever.

[Correspondent] The next day after the famous official left the town,
the passport departments of Tskhinvali were issuing Russian foreign
passports en masse – they had brought them directly from the Russian
Foreign Ministry. Approximately 80 per cent of South Ossetian
residents are Russian citizens, according to our information. This is
the unofficial policy of official Moscow.

[Khramchikhin] Issuing passports was an interesting operation. It
gives Russia a trump card. Now it is obliged to protect its
citizens. However, citizens and territory are two different
things. The territory remains Georgian and Georgia can always tell
Russia to take its citizens [from the Georgian territory] after
all. Besides, we all know how Russia treats its citizens.

Out with the old one and in with the new

[Correspondent] Georgia has recently become a regular supplier of
international news and almost caught up with Iraq in this respect. One
can trace a clear resemblance between them. In both cases it was the
USA that initiated the breach of the peace. It unashamedly proclaims
its course in the Transcaucasus where Russia alone can confront it.

It is in the light of this confrontation that various geopolitical
combinations are being played through. Two years ago the hopes that
the White House had pinned on Eduard Shevardnadze vanished
irrevocably. The USA got tired of his “swing” policy where
Shevardnadze would swing towards the interests of the country that
promised to ensure his personal safety.

Washington bet on young politicians, Mikheil Saakashvili in
particular. When Shevardnadze the cunning fox had realized that the
USA had become disappointed in him, he swung back to Russia. The
Russian capital faced a wide open door to the vital strategic sector
of Georgian economy, namely its energy system. This was expected to
be followed by strengthening Russian interests in Georgian
economy. However, Shevardnadze did not have the time to accomplish it.

Unexpectedly for Moscow Mikheil Saakashvili came to power. Russia had
no choice but to accept him and to curse the Yankees for their
intrigue. However, this should not be seen as a failure of Russian
diplomacy. After all, you never know who Saakashvili will choose to be
his ally.

[Khramchikhin] As to whether he [Saakashvili] is a US puppet, I doubt
it. He obviously has the idea to restore Georgia. If the USA has
helped him to come to power, he will surely thank them. I can name
[Vladimir] Lenin as an example. He arrived in Russia in a German
sealed railway carriage and was actually a German spy. However, he
never felt that he owed anything to the Germans, it was just that
their interests coincided and he took advantage of that. It is
entirely possible that Saakashvili will treat America in the same way.

Kremlin hand in Georgia?

[Correspondent] Just in time, Russia realized it was losing ground on
the Georgian political playing field. It is now trying to recoup its
losses on the economic playing field. In early June, a plane with a
Russian ex-oligarch Kakhi Bendukidze on board touched down at the
Tbilisi airport. The Georgian leadership could not conceal its
joy. Bendukidze had been persuaded to become economics minister. The
mogul’s unexpected acceptance of the post provoked a flurry of
speculation. One theory says Bendukidze quit Russia because he was
worried about the fate of his assets. Another theory says Bendukidze
was installed by Russia’s big business. The truth, as ever, is
somewhere in between.

[Bendukidze] It was a rather unexpected kind of proposal, from my
perspective. But it is not linked [changes tack] it is associated,
first, with the end of some stage in my personal development, just as
butterflies goes through the larval stage, pupal stage, butterfly
stage. It’s not exactly like this here, but I did business for more
than 16 years. I had to stop somewhere.

[Khramchikhin] He’s certainly not the Kremlin hand, although he could
be helpful in letting our oligarchs buy up Georgia, in a sense. But he
will not be doing this for the Kremlin, but rather against it.

[Correspondent] Another theory is that Bendukidze will help Russian
oligarchs buy Georgia up. That would make the Russian capital
interested in keeping this region quiet and it will bloodlessly bring
Abkhazia and South Ossetia back into Georgia in return for some
political and economic profit. The backers of this course of events
are big-time Russian businessmen and politicians who lobbied for
Bendukidze’s ascent to his ministerial role. It would appear they were
unhappy Georgian premier Zurab Zhvania was much too pliant to the

Economic and strategic interests in Georgia

[Bendukidze] Take the reconstruction of that railway. It doesn’t only
link Russia and Georgia, it is an Armenian and Azeri issue as well. So
it is a very important political issue. That is to say, we have got a
few political investment projects, the result of which will of course
be economic growth, eventually, but it will not be immediately
generated by what we build there, but mainly by the fact that it helps
create a different political scene.

[Correspondent] In other words, Georgia has some trump cards up its
sleeve for its conversation with Russia. One is rebuilding the railway
on Georgian territory to provide Russia with a safe and reliable link
to its strategic partner in the South Caucasus, Armenia.

[Khramchikhin] There is nothing exceptional about Georgia except for
its strategic location. That is to say, it is a transit country from
north to south, that is, from Russia to Armenia and to Turkey, and
from west to east, which in the first instance means the oil pipelines
from Azerbaijan and across the Caspian Sea from Central Asia,
bypassing Russia and going to Turkey and straight to Georgian
ports. That is the second thing. That is, the first is for Russia, the
second for the Americans. And that is basically it. Nobody has any
other interest in Georgia.

Repeating Ajarian scenario

[Correspondent] Come to that, since we are on the subject of political
investment projects, Georgia has already implemented one in
Ajaria. Russia acted as an intermediary in the dispute between
Abashidze and Saakashvili and accepted Abashidze on its territory
after negotiations with the Georgian president. [Passage omitted]. In
return, Saakashvili agreed to leave the Russian naval base in Batumi
alone and to accept Russian businesses coming into Ajaria. [Passage
omitted: Gudkov says Russia could not do anything about Ajaria,
correspondent’s remarks on personal tension between Saakashvili and
Abashidze, profile of Georgian businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili]

It is said that Patarkatsishvili was one of those people who provided
money to buy off the president of South Ossetia and several
politicians in Abkhazia on the understanding that his interests will
be taken into consideration in Abkhazia and in South Ossetia in

[Kokoiti] As for bribing the president of South Ossetia, the attempts
to do so have been made, by people who presented themselves as close
friends of Mr Zhvania, among others. Twenty million dollars were
offered, as well as other tranches and grants to develop South
Ossetia’s economy. I suggested that money – they offered 20m dollars
just to me – be handed out to the impoverished Georgian people who
live in poverty.

[Gudkov] It is perfectly obvious that the provenance and pedigree of
that money is not Georgian. Georgia just doesn’t have that much money
to buy off politicians. I think that money had come via international
channels and it could indeed be used for these purposes. However, it
has to be understood that any politician who agrees to this can pretty
much consider themselves dead in the water politically.

Elite infighting in Abkhazia

[Correspondent] Not for nothing did we mention that Patarkatsishvili’s
interests will be taken into consideration when Abkhazia’s interests
are divvied up. Georgian political circles have no doubt that
Abkhazia’s turn will be coming very soon, in October-November this
year, the time of the presidential election in the unrecognized

[Khramchikhin] The conflict in Abkhazia has already started and it is
very brutal indeed. For an unrecognized state like Abkhazia, which is
being pressured by Georgia to boot, this is absolutely ruinous. That
is, a collapse can happen there not because some sort of revolution
takes place, but because of elite infighting.

[Correspondent] Georgia has already started playing along with that
infighting. Saakashvili has said that politicians linked with Georgia
will this year come to power in Abkhazia. That certainly has the
potential to fracture Abkhazia and make people suspicious of all
candidates for the presidency.

The political crisis in the republic intensified after one of the
leaders of the Amtsakhara (Ancestral Flames) party Garri Ayba was
killed. He was the third leader of that party to be killed. Ayba was
not a businessman. This was exactly why Amtsakhara think the murder
was political.

[Roman Gvinzhba, executive secretary of Amtsakhara party, captioned]
There can be different theories. It could have been a contract hit by
Georgia to destabilize the situation; it could have been that someone
in Abkhazia does not like the fact that patriotic veterans have come
together. There can be all sorts of different theories, I don’t really
know [which is true], if anything, it is a very bad trend and we keep
saying that the whole time.

[Correspondent] The Abkhazian Amtsakhara party brings together
veterans of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict. Georgian security forces are
well aware that Amtsakhara members are critical of the present-day
government in Abkhazia. The confrontation between the opposition and
the government of the unrecognized republic has got to the point where
they have accused each other of having killed Garri Ayba. We are told
that Georgian security forces may take advantage of this in October,
to divide the Abkhazians. Only Russia can prevent divisions and a
possible civil war in Abkhazia this October. Abkhazia’s government in
exile is already preparing a scenario to remove the republic’s

Special operations planned

[Tamaz Nadareishvili, captioned as head of the Abkhazian government in
exile, interviewed] This should be a special operation to get rid of
the forces that are separatist today, that are taking the situation to
the point where there is no return to Georgia for Abkhazia. What you
are doing in Chechnya – you do mount special operations in Chechnya to
kill [separatist leader Dzhokhar] Dudayev, [field commanders Ruslan]
Gelayev, Khattab, [Shamil] Basayev, hunting down [separatist president
Aslan] Maskhadov now. Those are special operations, right? Operations
to eliminate people who don’t want to live as part of Russia.

[Correspondent’s question] But who can be equated with Russia’s
Basayev there? Who can be compared to Maskhadov? Is that, say,
President [Vladislav] Ardzinba?

[Nadareishvili] But of course.

[Correspondent] That is, he would have to be taken captive or
alternatively eliminated, removed and so on?

[Nadareishvili] That’s right. There’s no other way.

Who will win in the Caucasus?

[Khramchikhin] You have to make some kind of a deal with elites. That
is to say, of course you can pressure them so hard from above there
won’t be any conflict, but this would complicate the situation for
Georgia. At the moment, though, there is no impression that Russia is
exerting a serious influence because clearly there is just internecine
fighting going on. Then again, perhaps several Russian factions are
acting on different Abkhaz factions, which actually exacerbates the
situation, if that is the case.

[Correspondent] Instability in Georgia, instability in Armenia,
Russia’s bid to keep its military bases, excessive US activity in the
South Caucasus, Saakashvili’s drive to consolidate Georgia and his
opponents’ striving to break it up altogether. Add to this a lack of
consistent Russian policy in the region. And just to make things more
difficult, the peoples of Abkhazia and South Ossetia remember the
devastating war with Georgia perfectly well, deaths of their loved
ones. Georgia, too, remembers that terrible war.

[Presenter] All this has today tangled together into one Caucasus
political and military knot, which is tightening with each passing
year on the noose on the neck of those entangled in it. One small
conflict and this knot is going to strangle everyone involved. The
only one to stay uninvolved and profit on other people’s woes will be
America, as always. We will definitely be watching the developments in
this region.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress