Voices from Russia

Saturday, 16 June 2018

16 June 2018. Kot Mosta Goes Out on the Town in Sochi

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В Сочи хорошо! Отъедаюсь по-кавказски… хинкали на ужин! Скажу Михалычу, чтобы по субботам всегда меня так кормил. 😉

It’s great in Sochi! I’m gorging on Caucasian food tonight… Georgian khinkali (recipe) for dinner! Therefore, tell Mikhalych I ate my fill this Saturday. 😉

16 June 2018

Kot Mosta

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Editor:

The workers’ cat is on holiday for a well-deserved break after the road-bridge is done. Khinkali are like dumplings… you hold them by the knob and bite into them. Georgians can do it without getting a drop on their shirt… can you? Don’t eat the “knob”… you line ’em up on your plate to show how many you’ve eaten.

BMD

Here’s a little something on xiaolongbao (recipe), a similar Chinese edible…

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Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Five Years After the Five-Day War, Everyone’s Learned Their Lessons

01g South Ossetia 2010

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Russia and Georgia’s clash over South Ossetia happened five years ago, but today it feels like an age away. Much has changed since then in Georgia and Russia, as well in all the countries that were indirectly involved in the conflict. Georgia was the first post-Soviet republic to engage in a direct military clash with Russia, certainly an extraordinary event. Georgia changed politically since then, with a new government coming to power last fall. The five-day war didn’t topple Mikhail Saakashvili, as many in Moscow hoped it would, but it did seriously mar his moral and political image. Little by little, Saakashvili’s government abandoned its pro-reform policy and turned into a repressive régime that wanted only one thing… to remain in power at all costs. When a strong political rival appeared three years later, it turned out that Saakashvili’s chair was much shakier than many thought.

Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream, which won the parliamentary elections last fall, promised to examine the causes of the military conflict and the role of Tbilisi in it. Some members of the current Georgian government said that the government made gross mistakes, but Georgia is unlikely to do a U-turn on its attitude toward the war. The war did major damage, and if a leading politician tried too abruptly to change the idea that Georgia was a victim in the events, the political consequences might be unpredictable. It’s unclear whether anyone should do this at all, although such a positive change would be of truly revolutionary importance for relations with Russia and a breakthrough in relations.

The new Georgian authorities are grappling with many problems. However, most predictions agree that the Georgian Dream will easily win the presidential election in October and that Saakashvili’s United National Movement is losing weight. Firstly, Georgia still heavily depends on the West, which sees Georgian Dream’s attempts to restore political order as a persecution campaign, even if there may be very serious reasons behind it. Therefore, the government should move slowly and act prudently. Secondly, people heaved a sigh of relief when the previous government’s pressure eased, but they soon became aware of drawbacks in the new democratic rule. Georgians are heatedly discussing their problems, and political life is in full swing, but there are few practical results so far. Furthermore, with the United National Movement discredited and no other serious political forces in the country, the government is in a dangerous position, with no opposition to keep it in check. Life without opposition corrupts, as we know from history. Nonetheless, it looks like Georgia learned its lesson and is unlikely to act opportunistically again.

The West took a warning from the Georgian example. The August 2008 war put an end to the idea of NATO’s eastward expansion, which the West hasn’t discussed since, at least not in practical terms. Only a major change in American policy would bring this issue back in focus. However, so far, events have gone in the opposite direction. NATO’s extensive development, which masked the lack of a strategy in the 2000s, gave way to attempts to adapt the bloc to the more practical tasks at hand. These tasks have very little connection with the Caucasus, and the bloc is no longer enthusiastic about the post-Soviet space as a whole.

The five years after the South Ossetian war were a time of quest for Russia. Many saw the defeat of Georgia as a major landmark and a psychological resurgence after more than 20 years of geopolitical retreat. At the same time, it became clear that Russia wouldn’t pursue an expansionist policy to regain the losses it sustained after the dissolution of the USSR, which the West and some neighbouring countries feared would be the case. Moscow is gradually abandoning the post-imperial mentality rooted in the Soviet collapse and related feelings in favour of a new vision of itself and its interests in the neighbouring countries. The Customs Union idea proposed several months after the war was a major improvement on all previous plans. It focuses on economic expediency and the logic of mutually beneficial integration rather than reunion for the sake of reunion.

Russia’s most controversial postwar move was the recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In the five years since, Russia hasn’t convinced any major country to do the same, and it’s unlikely to succeed any time soon. Moscow had to make the decision because the situation was rocky and they needed to stabilise the state of affairs. Nevertheless, it hasn’t resolved the problem. It only put the political and diplomatic conflict on ice, and it’s a fact that what’s frozen sometimes melts. A final settlement will come only when we find a solution that suits all sides, which means that aggravation is still possible, even though the status quo is stable and no one wants an escalation.

One can describe the South Ossetian war, which is deeply rooted in the dissolution of the USSR, as the closing page in a long chapter. The global financial crisis, which broke out a month later, put into question the results of an era that began in the 1990s and was a time of triumph for the West and its market ideology. It also engendered processes that have made things even more problematic. The Arab Spring, which began two-and-a-half years after the South Ossetian war, further complicated matters. There’ll be many more such events before a new world order emerges from the chaos. Russia paid a high price for being a lead actor in 20th-century history. It had its share of shocks and would rather be a spectator from now on, unless a new play develops in direct proximity to its borders.

01 Fyodor Lukyanov RIA-Novosti8 August 2013

Fyodor Lukyanov

RIA-Novosti

http://en.ria.ru/columnists/20130808/182661056/Uncertain-World-5-Years-After-the-5-Day-War-Everyones-Learned.html

Editor’s Note:

The above is far different from the narrative that’s still bruited in neocon and interventionist circles. They claim that Georgia was the totally-innocent victim of Russian neo-imperial aggression. Such wasn’t so… indeed, they’re the most disgusting apologists for AMERICAN neo-imperialism. Since 1991, American neocons and interventionists have been drunk on their ”victory” in the Cold War. Factually, the Cold War ended in 1987, after the Reykjavik Summit, not the 1991 implosion of the USSR, which was something else altogether (and had nothing to do with Socialist vs Market ideologies, in any case). America has run riot… showing all concerned that the leading elements of the USA are greedy, self-centred, and violent; they’re incompetent, uncivilised, uncultured, and indecent, not fit for the role of a “world leader”. That’s true of both the Right and Centre in American politics (there’s no Left in the USA… the last Leftists were FDR and Henry Wallace).

We see the moral bankruptcy of the trend in the USA (and the West, in general) that’s been regnant since the time of Slobberin’ Ronnie. “Might makes right” has run rampant in the USA… “Greed is Good”, “The race goes to the swiftest”, and “You earned it” sum up its evil credo. It’s Social Darwinism (actually, a misnomer, as it owes everything to Spencer, not Darwin) writ large. America’s become a McMansion… glitzy on the outside, cheap softwood plyboard inside (with the termites busy at work). It’s time to put things right… but shall we? That’s up to YOU…

If we don’t, the consequences will be dire… I’m not advocating chaos and bloodshed, I’m predicting that it could happen if we don’t scrap our present neoliberal Rightwing arrangements… that’s two very different things…

BMD   

Friday, 17 May 2013

Patriarch Ilia Called for Calm After Orthodox Groups Thwarted Gay Rights Rally

00 Patriarch Ilie of Georgia. 20.01.13

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Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia Ghudushauri-Shiolashvili, the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, called for calm after violence erupted after aggressive anti-gay protesters, led by Orthodox clergy, thwarted a rally by a small group of gay rights activists to mark International Day Against Homophobia on 17 May. Patriarch Ilia said in televised remarks on Friday evening, “We distance ourselves from violence”. However, in reference to the gay rights rally, he said, “It’s something that shouldn’t be propagandised. We should know that this is a sin before God. We can express our sorrow without interfering in anyone’s private life. I hope that everything will calm down. I call on our people on all sides to go from the streets and return back home and to pray for each other”.

On 16 May, the Patriarch released a written statement calling on the authorities to ban the gay rights rally in downtown Tbilisi. Speaking to Orthodox believers gathered in Holy Trinity Cathedral, after the 17 May developments in Tbilisi, a senior cleric, Bishop Jakob Iakobishvili of Gardabani and Martqopi, said, “What happened today was an order coming from the nation. You know very well that the United National Movement required two-and-a-half months to gather 5,000 people [for its 19 April rally], then, they boasted, ‘See how many people we gathered’. Today, people came into [the streets] on their own initiative… Several millions would’ve come [into the streets] if needed”.

17 May 2013

Civil Georgia

http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=26071

Editor’s Note:

What the Church opposes absolutely is “gay propaganda”… that is, the suborning of minors and gay rights marches are beyond the pale. On the other hand, the Church takes a nuanced view of individual homosexuals… unlike the crazed konvertsy in the USA and their hysterical leaders such as Paffhausen and Moriak (Paffhausen shouldn’t have thrown stones given his mentor and hierarchical sponsor… the roads in his case DO lead to Platina and Dallas). The Church does NOT agree with sectarian Evangelical nonsense.

In short… some people overreacted and the Patriarch made it clear that the Church doesn’t condone violence… even violence supposedly in the service of “morality”. We don’t resort to the iron boot to impose “moral behaviour” (such is a contradiction in terms, no?). That’s the way of it in Christ’s Church…

BMD

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Patriarch Ilya of Georgia to Meet Putin in Moscow

patriarch-ilya

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According to sources in the Georgian Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church, the First Hierarch of the Church of Georgia, Catholicos Patriarch Ilya Ghudushauri-Shiolashvili, will meet President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on 23 January. Patriarch Ilya, who left for Moscow on Sunday, is visiting Russia to receive an award from International Foundation for the Unity of Orthodox Christian Nations (IFUOCN) {editor: a paper “rotten borough” organisation with no real existence). IFUOCN grants awards annually to political and religious leaders, as well as public figures, for contribution to “strengthening the unity of the Orthodox Christian nations”. The award ceremony will be at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow on 22 January.

Archpriest Giorgi Zviadadze, a Church of Georgia spokesman, told journalists in Tbilisi on Sunday before the Georgian Church delegation left for Moscow, “A meeting of the Georgian Patriarch and the Russian Patriarch [Kirill] with President Vladimir Putin is scheduled for 23 January”. President Putin sent greetings to Patriarch Ilya, who marked his 80th birthday this month and the 35th anniversary of his enthronement in December, and said in his message that Patriarch Ilya’s leadership of the Church of Georgia was “exemplary” and his contribution to strengthening of Orthodoxy in Georgia “invaluable”. Putin went on to say, “We highly appreciate your warm relations with Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church (sic). Your personal efforts, your calls for peace, love, creativity, accord, and unity have largely contributed to maintaining multi-century ties of friendship and mutual understanding between our peoples during a difficult stage of history. I’m sure that fruitful spiritual, cultural, and humanitarian dialogue will become a reliable foundation for further development of relations between Russia and Georgia”. Mikhail Shvydkoy, Putin’s special envoy for international cultural relations, conveyed Putin’s greetings during his visit to Tbilisi on 11 January, when he attended events in the Georgian capital marking Patriarch Ilya’s birthday and enthronement anniversaries.

21 January 2013 (MSK)

Civil Georgia

http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=25662

Editor’s Note:

Here’s the 64,000 Dollar Question… is Ilya going to meet Nino Burdzhanadze in Moscow? If he meets with her, shall it be open or covert? Now, that’s something worth knowing. The so-called Georgian Dream coalition only agrees on one thing… the toppling of Saakashvili. Ivanishvili has no political experience… he’s a rich “empty suit”. Georgian Dream includes factions that range from former communists to pro-Western Free Market lickspittles such as Ivanishvili. It simply is too amorphous to last… that’s why I believe that Ilya’s going to meet with Burdzhanadze in Moscow. She’s the only Georgian leader with any real ability and cred. This trip is proof that Langley’s efforts to make Georgia a reliable American lapdog have failed. Remember, Fathausen went to Georgia a while back… it appears that his mission was in vain (after all, he’s in thrall to the worst Russophobic elements in the US Republican Party).

We’ll see… Georgia’s in flux… and the USA is about to lose its only reliable ally in the former Soviet space. Shall Saakashvili survive? On the other hand, shall he end as an embittered second-rate émigré professor at a third-rate American college (with a “fellowship” at one of the K Street stink-tanks)? Time will tell us… I’d bet on the latter outcome…

BMD 

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