Russia Overreaches Itself in Struggle to Control the Caucasus – Transitions Online

Russia Overreaches Itself in Struggle to Control the Caucasus – Transitions Online.

Moscow’s inability to rein in its South Caucasian satellites may affect Russia’s posture across the volatile Caucasus region.
by Valery Dzutsev
16 September 2011


A Crack in the Caucasus Wall – Transitions Online

A Crack in the Caucasus Wall – Transitions Online.

Georgia taps its soft power in the North Caucasus to the detriment of Moscow and muted optimism of the locals.
by Valery Dzutsev
17 November 2010

Some coherent approach emerging in the U.S. about the situation in Georgia

I especially liked this simple idea:

Recommendations for the United States:  Commit to developing a strategy towards
Abkhazia and South Ossetia that is based on U.S. interests and capacity, and is not driven exclusively by Tbilisi.

The sorrowful charm of things

I have recently read through one of my op-ed articles on Georgia/South Ossetia, that never made it to the media and was struck by the vain attempts of mine to attracts people’s attention to important trends in the Caucasus.

Prague Watchdog was kind enough to publish this piece now, even though it was written in the period between November 2007 and April 2008.

The West’s approach to the Caucasus

By Valery Dzutsev, special to Prague Watchdog

(Note: this article was written in 2008, before the August War in Georgia)

In yet another attempt to get rid of the Russian peacekeepers, Georgian parliamentary speaker Nino Burdzhanadze stated on 31 October that the country would demand the withdrawal of Russian peacekeeping forces from Abkhazia and South Ossetia and their replacement with international peacekeepers. Georgians like to point to Russia as the main obstructer of the reintegration of its breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The Russians respond with criticism of the Georgians’ conduct in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, arguing that only Russia can sustain peace in the region.


Circassians Look to Georgia for International Support

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 58March 25, 2010 03:54 PM Age: 24 hrs
By: Valery Dzutsev

On March 21, participants in a landmark conference “Hidden Nations, Enduring Crimes: The Circassians and the Peoples of the North Caucasus Between Past and Future” was held in Tbilisi. Participants at the conference appealed to the Georgian parliament to recognize Russian actions in the northwestern Caucasus in the nineteenth century as genocide. The conference evoked a multitude of responses from the public in the North Caucasus and in Russia proper. The Jamestown Foundation and the International School of Caucasus Studies at Ilia State University organized the event (, March 22).

Prior to its start, the conference already caused a nervous reaction in Russia as the Russian website War and Peace published a lengthy article, analyzing the conference. The article credited the conference with the possible impact that could potentially “lead to significant changes in the Caucasus,” calling it “not an ordinary event.” According to the author, Georgia, unlike Russia, did its homework after losing the five-day war in 2008, having dramatically changed its tactics. Namely, Georgia significantly improved its informational policy, launched a Russian language TV channel, which the author referred to as “anti Russian” and reached out to the North Caucasian peoples. The author also alleged that Georgian government efforts were aimed at promoting conflict between the various peoples of the North Caucasus and between the North Caucasus and Russia. The writer warned in the form of prognosis, that if Georgia proceeded with Circassians’ genocide recognition, the Circassians would be pressurized in Russia, while the positions of their rivals, the Karachays, Balkars and ethnic Russians would be enhanced (, March 19).

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Georgia is reinventing its regional policy in the North Caucasus

Georgia is trying to reach out to the neighboring small peoples of the North Caucasus to acquire greater influence in its immediate neighborhood. Following the loss of South Ossetia and Abkhazia during the war with Russia in August 2008, Georgia has indeed little to lose, if it starts its own set of policies in the region.

So now Georgia pays attention to the harsh suppression of dissenters in the North Caucasus, the issue of possible genocide, that some Circassians, Chechens and others raise. The conference on Circassians’ genocide in the XIX century that was held in Tbilisi on March 19-21 evoked anger and exasperation on Russians’ side, so that probably shows, that the step was made in the right direction. The next step for Georgia would be to recognize the genocide. I think, it is quite obvious that Russia deliberately killed civilians and acted to change the ethnic balance of the northwestern Caucasus, so that about 90% of the Circassians currently live outside of their homeland.

It would be worth to return to the issue of Chechnya too. I think, Georgia would do the right thing, if it developed the capabilities for research and monitoring of human rights abuses in the North Caucasus.

All in all, more active Georgia will mean breaking up North Caucasian isolation, better relations with its neighbors, constructive competition with Russian imperialism and more predictability of the processes in the region.

Rose Revolution examined


via Transitions Online.

Different motivations may have been behind the Rose Revolution. I’m inclined to believe that the Rose Revolution had one meaning for the outside world and very different for the Georgian people. I.e. for the West it was democracy’s victory in Georgia, for the Georgians it meant shiny economic prospects and return of Abkhazia, Adjara and South Ossetia.

I equate this situation to a story with St Paul. When St Paul arrived at one of the Greek-speaking cities he encountered a magician, I think his name was Bar Jesus, somewhere in the Acts. The magician was amazed by the miracles, that St Paul and his believer companions were able to perform. So he tried to imitate them, but couldn’t and then he approached St Paul and asked to sell him the gift of performing miracles.

Georgians must have thought: “we will get democracy and get rich, defeat our foes, etc.” Democracy must have been regarded as an overly instrumental thing, rather than a “thing-in-itself”. This part of debate is often overlooked, perhaps because it is a hard thing to do – to distinguish the two aspects: liberal democracy’s ideas and the fruits, it brings.

Germany grants political asylum to a former South Ossetian top official

Russian news agency Regnum informs, that a former top official of South Ossetia, Alan Chochiev has recently been granted political asylum in Germany. According to Mr Chochiev he was attacked especially violently on the brink of the war in South Ossetia in August 2008. This is a very significant development as Germany is known for its reluctance to grant political asylum to anyone.

The stalling effect of Georgian revanchism

I have recently visited yet another event in Washington, DC where the August 2008 war in Georgia was compared to the Soviets aggression against Hungary in 1956, against Czechoslovakia in 1968 and some participants even ventured to compare Georgia losing South Ossetia and Abkhazia to Germany being divided into Western Germany and Eastern Germany (DDR) after the WWII.

I especially liked the last concept, that some people really want to believe in, but the comparison is so utterly misplaced, that I can’t help commenting on it.

The authors of this concept apparently indulge in wishful thinking, when they suppose, that the populations of South Ossetia and Abkhazia would like to be part of Georgia, but the evil Russians do not allow them. That was the case with the divided Germany, of course. Here, however, the Ossetians and the Abkhaz are ethnically different from Georgians, but close or identical to some peoples, living in the Russian Northern Caucasus. So it is not very likely they will strive to reunite with Georgia anytime soon, no matter what Russia does.

Those who endorse this concept apparently draw their inspiration from what happened in 1989, when the Iron Curtain fell and all of a sudden the whole Eastern Europe became free and rushed to embrace western values, institutions and so on and so forth. However, if the West instead of a set of policies, it had pursued prior to the Iron Curtain fall, pursued kind of imperialist rhetorics, the results may have been very different. Imagine, if Germany demanded not simply unification, but also the territories it lost to the USSR, Poland and Czechoslovakia after WWII? Or if Austria demanded it entitled to rule its lost territories once again? Would the Eastern Europeans so willingly brought down their governments and undo the dividing lines in Europe? No way, they would have stuck to their existing governments and hope for the USSR to deliver them from their western foes.

The same is true about South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Few people in these territories will be willing to bring down the dividing lines, unless and when Georgia renounces its revanchist aspirations.

Civil.Ge | Saakashvili Tells Europeans to Remember Russian-Built Dividing Lines in Georgia

He compared Russian troops stationed in Georgia’s breakaway regions to “dinosaurs”.

via Civil.Ge | Saakashvili Tells Europeans to Remember Russian-Built Dividing Lines in Georgia .

Other sources say, that actually, president Saakashvili referred to the Russians as pitecantrops (prehistoric humanoids). This statement has probably evoked a lot of applause among Mr Saakashvili’s audience, but it hardly contained any positive knowledge in it, that would lead anywhere.

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