Month: August 2008

Patriotic acts

President Mikheil Saakashvili is proposing a Georgian version of the USA Patriot Act in order to deter possible attempts by Russia to overthrow him and his government, Civil Georgia reports:

“It obvious that their goal was not taking over Tskhinvali, which is Georgia’s provincial town – only few people in Russia may know where it is located,” Saakashvili said at the meeting, which was televised live by the Rustavi 2 TV. “Their [Russia’s] goal was to take over Tbilisi and to overthrow the government.”

He said that Russians made it clear even publicly few days ago – apparently referring to the Russian Foreign Ministry’s August 26 statement in which it said “the Saakashvili regime does not at all meet the high standards set by the world community” and added it was sure that “sooner or later” the Georgian people would have “worthy leaders.”

Saakashvili said that he planned to propose the parliament to develop “the patriotic act” and added that this new legislature – details of which he did not elaborate – would no way infringe the civil liberties.

“This will be carried out under the condition of maintaining democracy, freedom and liberties,” he added and repeated it for couple of more times. 

Meanwhile in Russia, influential voices are being raised with calls for government measures that certainly will infringe civil liberties:

The fallout may be felt most inside Russia itself. Hopes for liberalisation and modernisation under Mr Medvedev have evaporated. In the past few days the Kremlin has rejected Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s parole application, refused to grant Russian citizenship to an investigative Moldovan journalist from Russia and briefly detained protesters in Red Square who held a banner “For Your Freedom and Ours” in a repeat of a protest against the invasion of Czechoslovakia staged by dissidents 40 years ago. Views once considered extreme are creeping into the mainstream. For example, Alexander Dugin, a nationalist ideologue, greeted events in Georgia by celebrating the removal of the previous “masks”. “We are at war,” he proclaimed. “Now the country should fight not only against its external enemies but also with the fifth column. Pro-Western liberals …should be interned. War is war. The time of patriots is coming: the time for revenge for all the humiliation from these people that we have been suffering for years.”

Putin and the bad advice

That there is at present something seriously wrong with the Kremlin’s propaganda machine is demonstrated in no uncertain manner by prime minister Putin’s latest outburst suggesting that the United States helped Georgia for domestic political reasons – as White House Press Secretary Dana Perino pointed out.

“To suggest that the United States orchestrated this on behalf of a political candidate – it sounds not rational,” she said.

“Those claims first and foremost are patently false, but it also sounds like his defence officials who said they believed this to be true are giving him really bad advice.”

Moscow and its siloviki had better get their act together – or they risk finally losing the information war in the same way as they have already lost the diplomatic war. There’s a limit to how far a disinformation campaign can rely on word of mouth, gullible journalists and pass the parcel to distribute its messages – if their content is simply too outlandish, the messages become at best self-defeating satire and fantasy, and at worst, dissolve into mere gibberish.

Enigma

“The oddity of this convention is that its central figure is the ultimate self-made man, a dazzling mysterious Gatsby. The palpable apprehension is that the anointed is a stranger — a deeply engaging, elegant, brilliant stranger with whom the Democrats had a torrid affair. Having slowly woken up, they see the ring and wonder who exactly they married last night.”

Charles Krauthammer, on the enigmatic Barack Obama.

Anti-semitism linked to anti-Georgian campaign

Window on Eurasia writes of how

Russian anti-Semites are using their media outlets to play up the links between Georgia and Israel and what they claim is the central role of the Jewish state in helping Georgia to become a military threat to Russia, reportage that cannot fail in the current environment to rekindle anti-Semitic attitudes among some radical Russian nationalists.

Putin: Georgia war was all about McCain

Russia’s prime minister Vladimir Putin has advanced the novel thesis that what he called “the attack by Georgia on South Ossetia” was facilitated by the United States Republican Party in order to boost Senator John McCain’s poll ratings, which had been falling behind those of his rival, Barack Obama, Lenta.ru reports.

This is clearly intended to play well with the crowds at the Democratic convention in Denver, Colorodo, this evening, when Senator Obama takes the platform. For Mr. Putin is an Obama supporter.

Finnish Islamists back Russia

The possibility that Islamist movements in Europe and probably also further afield to some extent work in harmony with the Putin/Medvedev schemes in the field of military and foreign policy is evidenced by an interesting statement by the Finnish Islamic Party (Suomenislamilainenpuolue), which aims to represent the interests of Finland’s small Muslim minority. The statement condemns the “aggressive acts of the Georgian leadership” and gives the party’s full support to Russia. It also makes a savage attack on the president and government of Estonia, and demands that President Saakashvili be put on trial for war crimes. Although Finland’s Muslims are mostly Tatars, and have little time for fundamentalist ideology, the document is a curious and revealing indicator of the sort of sources where the Kremlin may really be deriving support in today’s world. The fact that the Hamas organization was the first to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia may not be a coincidence.

That some voices in Finland may be helping to foment a movement which they call a “Russian Intifada” among Estonia’s Russian-speaking minority is shown by this blog, which is dedicated to the subject.

There has long been a noted connection between the Kremlin and Islamist groupings, and it is no secret that, as Alexander Litvinenko pointed out before he was brutally murdered in London, Al-Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri trained at a Federal Security Service (the former Russian KGB) base in Dagestan in 1998.