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Earlier this winter, Real News Senior Editor Paul Jay was in the Republic of Georgia to find out more about the roots of that country’s August 2008 war with Russia. Here is the second part of his interview with renowned Georgian newspaper publisher, Malkhaz Gulashvili. One outcome of the war was Russia’s recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, something Russia was previously unwilling to do. Gulashvili believes that this was an objective of the United States, as it will inspire existing independence movements in other Russian territories, leading to the inevitable disintegration of Southern Russia. In support of this view, violence between independence fighters and Russian forces in the Northern Caucasus has grown significantly since the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The important thing for Gulashvili, is that Georgia never again be the location where the US and Russia work out their energy conflicts through war.

Story Transcript

The Georgian trap Pt. 2

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Protests in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi entered their seventh day on Wednesday, as thousands of Georgians continued to demand the resignation of President Mikheil Saakashvili. The protests denounce Saakashvili’s war with Russia in August 2008, a decision which brought about a crushing military defeat in the face of a larger and better-equipped Russian army. The regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia have for long been areas of contention between Russia and Georgia. Both regions have strong independence movement supported by Russia. Georgia claims both territories as its own. When Saakashvili moved against South Ossetia that fateful summer, it set in motion not only the defeat of the Georgian army; it also pushed the two regions even further from Georgian control. I was in Georgia earlier this winter to investigate the roots of the conflict and to find out what motives the United States may have in supporting Georgia. Here’s part two of my interview with Georgian newspaper publisher Malkhaz Gulashvili.

MALKHAZ GULASHVILI, PUBLISHER, THE GEORGIAN TIMES (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): You know that when Kosovo’s independence was recognized by the US and Europe, Russia not only refused to recognize Kosovo, but refused to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as well.

Courtesy: The Guardian
February 14, 2008

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRIME MINISTER (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): We consider the one-sided support for Kosovo’s declaration of independence to be immoral and unlawful. Are you not ashamed in Europe of the double standards you are applying to settle problems in different regions of the world? We have Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transnistria, which are like independent states. We are always told that Kosovo is a special case. It’s a lie. It’s not a special case at all. Everyone understands this perfectly well. It’s all the same, an ethnic conflict, guidance from both sides, de facto total independence. We should work out a unified principle.

GULASHVILI: In the hysteria of the war—which Russia created for itself—the Russian president could no longer refuse to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The recognition of Abkhazian and South Ossetian independence arouses the threat of Russia’s disintegration. We have already seen serious bombings and attacks in Ingushetia, followed closely by Dagestan. The Russian military was attacked by Chechnya. There were pro-independence demonstrations in Karachay-Cherkessia. They even printed a map in Turkey that shows what a disintegrated Russia will look like. The map was printed by Abkhaz people living in Turkey. Here is depicted how Russia and Georgia will break into pieces. The US wants to disintegrate and demoralized Russia. Accordingly, when Russia recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the US achieved the precedent of Russian disintegration. Americans only want Russia to fall apart, but Georgia will too. Low oil prices have Russia in a bad position. Russia may not be able to provide these regions with the resources they need. If Russia cannot provide, the situation in the region will become very tense and very unstable.

JAY: If Georgia did initiate the fighting in South Ossetia last August, Gulashvili believes that such a decision could not have been made without Washington’s approval.

GULASHVILI: Georgia has a dictator, Matthew Bryza. Georgia cannot do anything without his permission. I am certain he would have known about the matter. The US seems to be the winner in the conflict, in the sense that the disintegration process in Russia has begun. It will be very difficult for Russia to resist the process. If they want to stop it, it will require a lot of bloodshed.

JAY: Russia’s fight against these Independence movements has already made headlines in Dagestan and Ingushetia. Clashes between independence fighters and Russian security forces have intensified. The Bush administration had been pushing hard to get the Georgia into NATO, and it’s a move that’s been strongly opposed by the Russian leadership. Gulashvili himself has worries about such a move.

GULASHVILI: In general, you shouldn’t go where you’re not welcome. As far as I know, neither Germany nor France wants Georgia in NATO. Moreover, after this conflict they are rather scared. We are keeping track of the international press, where they are saying that, had Georgia been in NATO, there would have been a world war for Georgia’s benefit. Entering NATO would cement the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, because Russian troops would deploy there, while NATO troops would be deployed in Georgia, splitting our country like South and North Korea. This is not in Georgia’s interests. It might serve someone’s geopolitical interests to have bases in the region, but it opposes the interests of the Georgian people, which are not being taken into account. I am Georgian, so I do not express the interests of the US or Russia. For me, as a Georgian, it is essential that Georgian interests are protected, meaning that Georgia not be the place where the military and geopolitical goals of people like Brzezinski or Putin and Medvedev come into contradiction. We already saw in August that Georgia was the venue for US-Russia conflict, and Georgians suffered as a result. We must do everything in our power to ensure that never happens again.


Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

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Malkhaz Gulashvili is the Owner and Publisher of the Georgian Times, a newspaper from Tbilisi, Georgia that is published in Georgian, Russian and English.