Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Prosecution of human rights activists in Ulan-Ude (Buryatia), by Stephen Shenfield

On April 23, 2009, the procuracy of the Republic of Buryatia in Ulan-Udecharged two local human rights activists and members of the Democratic Union, journalist Nadezhda Nizovkina and lawyer Tatyana Stetsura, with the offence of ³inciting social hatred² under Article 282 of the Criminal Codeof the Russian Federation, on the grounds that three texts written and disseminated by them ³incite hatred on social grounds toward officers of thepolice, procuracy, Federal Security Service, army, and prison service.²

Article 282, which carries penalties of up to five years of imprisonment,was originally directed solely against the incitement of hatred on ethnic,racial, or religious grounds. Anti-fascist activists often complained that the authorities were too reluctant to press charges under the Article against hate propagandists.

In 2003, however, the scope of Article 282 was expanded to cover incitementof hatred on grounds of sex, language, origin, or ³membership in any socialgroup.² It is now common practice to charge activists of various politicalorientations with "inciting social hatred." As critics have pointed out, protesting against anyone and anything can be construed as inciting socialhatred. For instance, protesting against or simply publishing information about murders can be construed as inciting hatred against members of the"social group" of murderers.

Nizovkina and Stetsura are graduates of the law faculty of Buryatia State University. They have engaged in protests against abuses committed by various state agencies, including the cruel treatment of minors held inclosed institutions, and in defense of ethnic minorities and Buryat autonomy. They have also spoken on local television.

The three texts on which the charges are based were written, posted on websites, distributed as leaflets, and published in the journal "Svobodnoeslovo" (Free Word) between November 2008 and March 2009.

The first text was in defense of Imam Bakhtiar Umarov, who initiated the construction of a mosque in Ulan-Ude and was arrested on charges of "terrorism." The authors argued that the charges against him were fabricated.

The second text marked the 65th anniversary of Stalin's deportation of Chechens, Ingush, Crimean Tatars, Volga Germans, and nine other ethnic groups in 1944. The authors stated that the force structures still commit atrocities against members of ethnic minorities today and that the perpetrators are rewarded with medals and bonuses.

The third text was in defense of Volgograd journalist Elena Maglevannaya, who was being sued for defamation by the managers of Penal Colony No. 15 after publishing a series of articles alleging that Chechen political prisoners were being tortured in the colony. She had focused especially on the case of Zubair Zubairayev, who had been sentenced on (as she argued)fabricated charges of possessing weapons and making an attempt on the lifeof a law enforcement officer.

On September 4, 2009, Nizovkina and Stetsura were examined at the Transbaikal Laboratory of Judicial Expertise (under the Ministry of Justice) by psychologist Yuliya Malinina and linguist Galina Sudoplatova, who chairs the Russian Language Department at Buryatia State University. Based on the examination and linguistic analysis of the three texts, Malinina and Sudoplatova issued an All-Sided Judicial Psychological-Linguistic Expert Appraisal. Nizovkina and Stetsura were found to be immature personalities exhibiting "chronic malice and unhappiness" and "sociopathic tendencies." Since then two further appraisals have been conducted.

On February 18, 2010 Nizovkina and Stetsura went to Moscow to take part in a law seminar. As they went without permission from the investigator, they are afraid of being arrested if they return to Ulan-Ude. They have therefo reremained in Moscow (though of course they may be arrested there too). They plan to appeal to the Constitutional Court on the grounds that Article 282 is unconstitutional.

Source: documents and e-mail communications from Nadezhda Nizovkina

Stephen D. Shenfield

Friday, 19 March 2010

Asker Soht: “Dialogue is the only formula for a solution of accumulated problems”

16.03.2010 – 12:20 – NatPress.Net
Source: Caucasus Knot – 04 March 2010
(translated by Asker Soht)

Asker Soht (Chief of the Press Service of the Ex-President of Adygea Khazret Sovmen): “Dialogue is the only acceptable formula for a civilized solution of accumulated problems”.

Last years’ events actualized problems in the West of the Caucasus, which can be collectively specified as a “Circassian issue”. Exclusively for “The Caucasian Knot”, Senior Research Associate of the Civilizational and Regional Studies Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences Naima Neflyasheva discussed them with Asker Soht, one of the most active members of the International Circassian Association, Chief of the Press Service of the Ex-President of Adygea Khazret Sovmen.

Q. Let’s return to the main for the North Caucasus event of January 2010, when the North Caucasus Federal District was established by the Edict of the President of the Russian Federation D. Medvedev. In the context of the new Caucasian policy of Dmitry Medvedev, the establishment of the North Caucasus Federal District is a natural phenomenon. Features of traditional social organization and, as a consequence, of political culture of the North Caucasian peoples, are quite specific. They require a governance model different from other Russian Federation regions. However, Adygea, the only of North Caucasian republics, was not included into the new district, though all problems of this small republic are similar to overall Caucasian problems, and its development trends have the same vector. Besides, new districting is artificially breaking relationship between Adygea and two other republics – Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia, where the Adyghes are titular peoples. What do you think about this? Does it seem probable that a new impulse will be given to the project of merger between Adygea and Krasnodar Territory?

A. I disagree with the thesis that all problems of the Republic of Adygea are similar to overall Caucasian problems. In my opinion, Adygea is the only North Caucasian republic, where all preconditions for effective modernization and development are present. I just feel inspired by the fact that the Republic of Adygea has not entered the “disaster circle” outlined by the Edict. It should be remembered that division of the state into federal districts has nothing to do with its territorial system. The administration of the federal district as such is only a coordinator of federal structures. And nothing more. I don’t find threats to the unity of our people and especially to its nationhood in this decision.

Q. It is known that geographical and administrative separation of the Adyghes in the Russian Federation is one of problems of the present-day Adyghe ethnos. On the other hand, there is an idea of merger of the Adyghes into one subject of the Russian Federation – it is supported by some Adyghe social movements, for example, the Circassian Congress. This idea is very popular among the young people and is actively debated at the Circassian portals forums. Don’t you think that most likely this project will hardly be implemented after the establishment of the North-Caucasus Federal District?

A. The idea of merger of Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia and the Republic of Adygea into one federal subject is not at all on the agenda of Adygea social life. At the moment, it is a virtual problem, which is practically not debated in our republic at any level. Moreover, it is by no means interrelated with the establishment of the new federal district.

The President of the Russian Federation clearly formulated objectives of the establishment of the North Caucasus Federal District: counter-terrorism, economical and social modernization, stabilization of socio-political life in the region.

With respect to plans on the merger of the Kabardino-Balkar Republic, the Karachay-Cherkess Republic and the Republic of Adygea into one federal subject, I expressed my viewpoint on the matter many times: I do not see political preconditions for this. In my view, the idea has a right to exist, but, at this historical stage, it can’t be implemented for a variety of reasons, and will remain same over the next decades. Setting up and solving problems of such level should rely not only on the public consensus in republics (as a matter of fact, there is lack of it in the Kabardino-Balkar Republic, the Karachay-Cherkess Republic and the Republic of Adygea), but be actively supported, on the whole, in the Russian society – by leading political parties and leaders of the country. Failing all this, the idea as such will become a factor of political manipulations, acute ideological struggle and have extremely unfavourable political repercussions. That is why, it is counterproductive to put continued emphasis on it.

Q. What is productive then?

A. Today, we have to concentrate our efforts, first of all, on the development of horizontal relations, active interaction with the Circassian Diaspora. Population Census coming in 2010, which induces a launch and widening of the campaign for registering all Adyghes of the Russian Federation under a single ethnicon – the Circassians; intensification of the Circassian youth’s contacts; creation of a common available information space; assistance in learning the mother language, studying culture and history in countries of the Diaspora; protection of rights and interests of the Adyghes, assistance to returnees and their adaptation at historical homeland – here are problems, which, in my view, our generation is destined to solve.

Q. The development of horizontal relations was also mentioned at the Public Forum “The Caucasus: Tradition and Modernization”, which was held in Nalchik on November 30th, 2009, on the initiative of the member of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation Maxim Shevchenko. What is the benefit of horizontal relations’ formation for stabilization of the present-day North Caucasus, and actually, what is that?

I do not support active involvement of the Circassians in overall Caucasian processes. Interaction is a two-way street. From this perspective, the Eastern Caucasus is unable to give us anything positive. We don’t have leverages over the socio-political situation in this Caucasian region. Our area of responsibility is Krasnodar Territory, Adygea, the Karachay-Cherkess Republic and the Kabardino-Balkar Republic. On the basis of this thesis, it is more advantageous for us, at the present stage, to focus on developing horizontal relations within our people, to “reopen” the Diaspora in its whole variety to ourselves, and historical homeland with its successes and problems – to the Diaspora. It is impossible to restore the unity of the people in the absence of available information space and active human contacts. 99% of the Diaspora Circassians have never visited historical homeland, 99% of the Russian Federation Circassians have never been to the Diaspora – that is the area of focus.

Q. It seems to me that such an approach, when those horizontal relations, mentioned by you, are severely restricted only by the limits of their region, will lead to isolation. It is a throwback to medieval clanship, which is simply destined to fail in the present-day world. And I cannot agree with you that the Eastern Caucasus is unable to give us anything. In Dagestan, for example, four opposition periodicals are being published, traditions of political culture are more advanced there than in the Western Caucasus, and the culture of political polemics is higher.

- The isolationism is needed by today’s realities. An inextricable tangle of unresolvable contradictions is being formed in the Eastern Caucasus. In fact, there is a war on there. In spite of our apparent historical and cultural unity, today it is a different world, and we have to distance ourselves from it in all senses. Our goals and objectives are different. We must preserve stability, predictability and clear understanding of our apparent desires by the country we live in. Otherwise, we shall be unable to solve any problem our people are facing.

Q. There is no doubt that Population Census of 2010 will play a certain part in creation of common Adyghe cultural space. Being one nation united by history and system of values, the Adyghes are variously named in different subjects of the Russian Federation. Such name as the Adygeis, actually, was created by the Soviet time and, on the whole, was always rejected by the Adyghes living in the West.

A. The coming Population Census will become a peculiar kind of barometer reflecting development trends of our people. Undoubtedly, I do support the return of a single name – the Circassians, to the “Adyghe” ethnos. I am looking forward to the Census as such and its results.

Read more... Nat Press

March 1st, 2010 Caucasian Knot.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Corruption and lawlessness or who lives happily ever after in Karachaevo-Cherkessia? Part 1., by Alexei Karaev

'There are no ethnic elites in KChR; local government is the only policy elite'

Boris Ebzeev

Backgrounds for ethnic conflicts.

Small in the sense of territory, but huge in the matter of instability, the republic of Karachaevo-Cherkessia attracts more attention lately. The reports about adversarial atmosphere accelerated, and in the end of the February 2010 the republic was visited be the President-Dmitry Medvedev with his Plenipotentiary Representative in the North Caucasus –Alexandr Khloponin. The short visit to republic disclosed to the federal administration small parts of all “beauties” of life for an ordinary person in the republic; although the vast part of all goers are thoroughly being hidden from an outer power in corrupted offices f local governors.

The main reason for the escalation of instability is the violation of the parity treaty of 1999 by the current local government. According to the treaty formula, the president of the republic should be of karachai nationality, the head of the local Cabinet of ministers- a Circassian, the head of the Parliament – a Russian.

The blocking of the candidate of Vyacheslav Derev, a Circassian by nationality, to the Federation Council by the majority of the karachai parliamentarians even worsened the situation. It triggered mass protests from the behalf of the Circassian population. Disregard of absolutely legitimate claims of Circassian public organizations led to the decadence of already strained political and public situation in the republic. Youth movements “Adighe Khasa” of neighbor republics – Kabardino-Balkarian Republic and Adygea, got involved into action as well. More than once leaders of public organizations from the three mentioned regions declared that the lawlessness of local government towards its citizens is not acceptable and that it should be stopped.

Most of the political experts and politicians themselves, going deeply into the problem of KChR, agreed upon a statement that despite his work experience in the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Boris Ebzeev- the current president of KChR, turned out to be extremely not ready to manage the region. For the short time period of his administration, he showed the lack of ethnical delicacy and did not take into consideration all the specificity and subtlety of the stability in KChR. Boris Ebzeev was also noticed to overindulge in alcoholic beverages, which of course reflects on his actions and decisions. Apparently the growing problems stress out the head of the region, and the desire to “relax” becomes stronger every day.

For the better understanding all the reforms of the republic administration were divided into next subcategories:

1. Staffing Policy

Here are the most “outstanding” examples of Ebzeev’s staff policy:

1. Everest Gochiyaev (the cousin of the President) - was assigned as a head of municipal settlement “Poselok Dombai”. Used to be a person involved in the case of concealing of the leader of terrorist bands- A. Gochiyaev, who is responsible for terrorist actions in Moscow. E. Gochiyaev is also known by his connections to the criminal community of the republic.

2. Arashukov Rauf (son of the head of “Stavropolreioggaz” and “Stavropolkraigaz”) – assigned as a head of Khabez area of the republic. Was born in 1987, at the age of 17 he became the deputy of Stavropol City Duma, later he became the minister of labor and social development of KChR, then an adviser-assistant of Ebzeev, and the latest position- the head of the Khabez area. The list of his criminal misdeeds is rather impressive and it can take some time to enumerate them.

3. Aliev Ismail- assigned as the first vice-Prime minister of KChR, supervises the economic part. Karachai nationalist- one of the main ideologists and propagandist of the idea that karachai people are the superior than other nations. He has no managing experience at all. A very notorious person, with a very aggressive intolerance to everything that cannot be claimed as “Karachai”.

4. Aibazov Ratmir- Senator from the republic in the Federation Council. “Selected” by the Parliament of the republic, after his candidacy was offered by the president Ebzeev. In 1979 he was sentenced to 6 years for forceful rape. In 2003 his case and his file “accidentally” disappeared from the archives. He built up his wealth by criminal activity. In 1999 a criminal case was initiated against him –large scale fraud. After extensive investigation his case was “closed”. Estimated capital- 100 million euro. It is know fact that Aibazov “assigns” his relatives as judges with the help of the head of the Supreme Court of KChR Andrei Davydkov. Aibazov gives to Ebzeev expensive apartments and cars as gifts.

5. Uzdenov Umar- “selected” as the head of Malokarachaevskiy area. Notoriously famous by his connections to the criminal and terroristic bands. His candidacy was offered by Ebzeev and supported by citizens, nonofficial “agitated” by criminals.

Thus, at the amount of 38% from the population of the republic, the Karachais take the positions of:

• Investigating Committee – 70%
• Executive branch – 44%
• Officers of justice – more than 80%
• Courts (including the Supreme Court) – more than 50%
• Audit Chamber – 42%
• Selection Committee – 52%
• Parliament deputy – 51%
• Prosecutor General Office – more than 50%

It seems clear that B. Ebzeev shows absolute ethnocracy in staffiing policy. It need to mention that in all his decisions Ebzeev is supported by all means by his own son.

2. Economics

In the list of prosperity of regions in the RF every month Karachaevo-Circassia decays lower and lower. The next data are dated back the middle of 2009(current situation is even worse):

- Agriculture and cattle stock decreased enormously, as well decreased crop acres. Manufacturing products became more expensive, more than on 10%.

- Manufacturing decreased more than on 11%.

- The building sector: the amount of work decreased more than on 57%. The building of social apartments is frozen. Correspondingly, all construction sector ministers- arte the people of Ebzeev and Aibazov.

- Disposable real income decreased on 7%.

- Wage arrears grew up to 70%.

Experts noticed that the economic situation in the republic is critical. And the authorities of KChR don’t do anything to improve it and to get out of the crisis. All they do is just talk.

3. Criminal situation.

Despite of all attempts of KchR authorities to hide the data, we managed to get the statistics of criminal actions in the region. The increase of crimes grew up to 17% with the comparison to the same period of time for the last year. The increase of especially grave crimes is 32,6%. In 1,8 times increased the number of murders and assassinations, in 3,5 times increased the number of street crimes, in 1,6 times increased the number of economic fraud, in 2 times- bribery. As they say, the pressure of bureaucracy on business grew in times. The tax payments in business area decreased on 30%- many businessmen and investors left their business.

The situation that has been described can be called nothing other than “administrative racket” towards to businessmen. That in turn helps in reorganizing of the financial streams and in elimination of contenders.

The head of the economic –crime campaign department in KChR A. Khapaev is the main executor of such type of orders. He has constant connections with criminal world of the republic. His assignment for the position of vice minister’s position is being actively lobbying by the President Ebzeev and the Senator Aitbazov.

4. Conclusions:

1. The authorities of the republic and Boris Ebzeev himself are not capable of handling their duties;

2. There are system problems in the region management;

3. Living standard is much lower than in Russia in general;

4. The corruption level is extremely high the unity of criminal world and of the local government is beyond the pale;

5. Social and Economic data are very upsetting in general;

6. There’s no adequate activity to protect the citizens from the terrorist organizations;

7. The political situation is extremely tensed. The authorities are not capable of constructive dialogue with representatives of civil society – that can lead to social explosion.

Dmitriy Medvedev’s visit to KChR indicates that the Federal center sees danger for the North Caucasus stability and for the Russian Federation, in general, in actions of Boris Ebzeev and his associates.

Alexei Karaev
Independent journalist, freelancer
Cherkessk, KChR
March 14, 2010

Monday, 15 March 2010

Let Our Fame Be Great, Review by Justin Marozzi

March 15 - Financial Times

Let Our Fame Be Great: Struggle and Survival in the Caucasus
By Oliver Bullough Allen Lane £25, 478 pages
FT Bookshop price: £20

When Oliver Bullough sets out his store in the opening pages of this wonderful travel history, preparing the reader for a journey through the little-known Caucasus, I couldn’t help recalling the words of Winston Churchill to the Royal Commission on Palestine in 1937: “I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia.

“I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly-wise race, has come in and taken their place.”

For the native Americans, the Aborigines and subsequently the Palestinians, substitute the peoples of the Caucasus, giving way before the expansionist power of the Russians.

Bullough, who reported from Russia and the former Soviet Union for seven years before making this impressive debut as an author, begins his heartfelt and compelling history with a brief survey of the momentous events of July 1783. This was when the Russians first opened their way to the south, defeating the nomadic horsemen of the Nogai horde along the marshy eastern shores of the Sea of Azov, in southwest Russia, paving the way for the subjugation of an entire region. Within a century, what the author calls “the first modern genocide on European soil” had been perpetrated by Russian hands. In 1864, the Circassians were finally defeated, with 300,000 dead.

Today, the nomads have gone. Their descendants live in Turkey, Jordan, Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East, leaving land rebranded with villages such as Bright Path of Lenin and the Revolutionary Wave that eke out an existence beneath the foothills of the towering Caucasus range.

The Crimean war provided a tantalising glimpse of a Free Circassia on the eastern lands of the Black Sea, south of the Sea of Azov, but the chance was lost through the bickering and indecision of the great powers. Henceforth, Circassians tended to enter western consciousness – and the Ottoman sultan’s blue-tiled harem in Constantinople – only in the form of blue-eyed, light-skinned concubines. Such indolent imprisonment was no doubt undesirable, but in an age in which supposedly free western women were no models of 21st-century emancipation, their lives were certainly less wretched than Bullough suggests. Harem life tended to be more nuanced than western writers often allow.

While sensitive as a historian, Bullough is also deft as a reporter. In Moscow he almost slips on a fatty piece of flesh from a female suicide bomber’s attack. He writes vividly from Beslan during the aftermath of the hostage tragedy in 2004.

Though he does not mention it, the judge, Tamerlan Aguzarov, presiding over the trial of a Chechen called Nurpashi Kulayev, is named after the great Turkic warlord who spent decades putting the Caucasus to the sword with his ferocious army of mounted archers. Kulayev, who can barely speak Russian (“I am not agree. I without translator, I cannot completely. I badly understand in Russia”), is denied an interpreter in a show trial that boils over with the fury of the Beslan mothers. The investigative reporting here suggests that Kulayev, sentenced to life imprisonment, may have been innocent.

Bloodshed and cruelty run through these pages with terrible regularity. Bullough goes back to 1721, the first encounter between the Russians and the peoples of Chechnya and Dagestan, when one of Tsar Peter I’s cavalry detachments, seeking to grab the south-eastern shore of the Caspian Sea from enfeebled Persia, was wiped out by the mountain folk.

By 1817, the Russian general Alexei Yermolov, hero of the Napoleonic wars, was starting construction of a fort that would become the city of Grozny – whose name literally means “threatening”.

Yermolov’s policy towards the Caucasus was perhaps not so different from that of Moscow today: “I desire that the terror of my name shall guard our frontiers more potently than chains or fortresses,” he said.

The campaigner in Bullough occasionally gets the better of him. It is not the case, as he argues, that the world has branded the entire Chechen nation as terrorists. The feeble west may have stepped swiftly by, as it so often does, but many commentators, including Bullough’s fellow reporters, have detailed Moscow’s shameful cleansing in Grozny and beyond.

The ethnic and linguistic mix of the Caucasus both fascinates and confuses. As an example, the 2m people of Dagestan speak 40 languages. Across the entire European Union, by comparison, there are 65 languages. Caucasus folklore tells of the people’s mythic ancestors, the Narts, being offered by their god the choice of a short and famous life or a long life without glory. Without blinking, they choose a life of freedom and fame. “Their fame is not great, and their stories have not been told, but truly they deserve to be,” Bullough writes. With this impassioned volume he has struck a blow for the glory of the Caucasus and helped to give voice to the voiceless.

Justin Marozzi is the author of ‘Tamerlane: Sword of Islam, Conqueror of the World’ (HarperPerennial)

Monday, 8 March 2010

Vladislav Ardzinba's obit in AP and double standarts of AP on partly recognized states

''The Associated Press (“AP”) is the essential global news network, delivering fast, unbiased news from every corner of the world to all media platforms and formats.''

This excerpt comes from AP’s ‘About Us’ section.

Goethe said once: ''I can promise to be frank, but not to be impartial''. Usually people are expects neutrality, unbiased news from the media organizations but usually it’s not happens and actually that is not all wrong - IF its including honesty… Yes, media organizations also can be partial but the most important thing is to become partial with honesty and CONSISTENCY.

Please see below a letter sent to AP editors FIVE times but unfortunately without any reply. Draw your own conclusions...

In this letter you will see a very good example of AP’s bias in their news-reporting.

If you also would like to show your reaction, you can send a letter to: apfeedback@ap.org; info@ap.org


Dear Editor,

I am writing to express concern with regard to the newly published news ''Vladislav Ardzinba, Once Led Abkhazia, Dies at 64'' (March 5, 2010) (AP)

I should note that the North Caucasians who came to the defence of Abkhazia when Georgia attacked in August 1992 were volunteers, organised by the Confederation of the (Mountain) Peoples of the Caucasus under its president Yuri (Musa) Shanibov. Ardzinba did NOT call in Chechen mercenaries. It is true that some of the volunteers (notably the Chechens) earned a fearsome reputation, but, after all, war is war...

As for the organising of ethnic cleansing, quite the opposite is true. See the condolence-message written by George Hewitt on 4 March. And HERE you can see the copy of the leaflet distributed just before the end of the war urging civilised treatment of soldiers laying down their arms or the non-combatant population; It’s included Prof. George Hewitt’s article in 'Transcaucasian Boundaries'.

The 2nd UNPO report from the end of 1993 said that the majority of Georgians who left did so BEFORE the arrival of the Abkhazians, (See: 'THE MAJORITY OF GEORGIANS, HOWEVER, FLED BEFORE ABKHAZIAN AND NORTHERN CAUCASUS TROOPS ARRIVED.' [Report of a UNPO Coordinated Human Rights Mission to Abkhazia and Georgia, p.13] AND a UN Security Council report (17 November 1993, S/26795 ) on the basis of its own investigation of ethnic cleansing charges from November 1993 stated that there was no evidence to support the charge.

It also occurs to me that, if one wants to talk about the role of Chechen mercenaries in Abkhazia, one should be talking about the recruitment by the GEORGIAN authorities in October 2001 (i.e. in the time of Shevardnadze, still supported by the West, including the USA) of Ruslan Gelaev and his band. They were transported across Georgia in Kamaz trucks from the Pankisi Gorge and infiltrated into the Upper Kodor Valley. From there they mounted an attack, notably on the Armenian-populated village of Naa. Overall some 40 people were killed, and a UNOMIG helicopter was shot down, with the loss of 9 lives. Now that's real mercenary activity!

And the second point is about the partly recognised states.

There is no surprise that 'Sukhum' (Abkhazia) was represented as part of Georgia in your news: ''Vladislav Ardzinba, Once Led Abkhazia, Dies at 64''

SUKHUMI, Georgia (AP) —

I think it is still necessary to note that Abkhazia has been recognized by four members the United Nations, namely Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru.

I would like to ask, what about Kosovo? Is ASSOCIATED PRESS using this title ''PRISTINA, SERBIA''? Or prefer to use ''PRISTINA, KOSOVO'' ? Or only PRISTINA?

See: ''EU Police in Kosovo Arrest Alleged Hit Man'' PRISTINA, Kosovo November 30, 2009 (AP)

More examples can be found.

What about TAIPEI?

See: ''Poll Setback Tests Taiwan's China-Friendly Leader'' TAIPEI, Taiwan February 28, 2010 (AP)

I personally have NO objection to the independence of Kosovo or Taiwan, but the question that troubles me is the different treatment of partly recognised states.

Kosovo is recognized by 65 members of the International Community, Taiwan is recognized by 22 countries, Abkhazia is recognized by 4. Given this, and I am sure you have some scheme to corroborate these figures, might I ask what the criteria are for the ASSOCIATED PRESS to present a state as a state?

What precise number of recognitions will be necessary before Abkhazia has earned the right to be represented as an independent country not related to Georgia?

Let me note that Georgianisation of Abkhazia's toponymy was introduced at the time of Stalin (who, as I'm sure you know, was Georgian). This was the time of immense discrimination against the Abkhazian population, including the reduction of the status of Abkhazia to that of an autonomous republic within Georgia. If the ASSOCIATED PRESS still recognizes Stalin's toponymy within Abkhazia, consistency would demand that it use the same Stalin-imposed names for the rest of the former Soviet countries with, for example, Stalingrad instead of Volgograd or Gorky instead of Nizhny Novgorod in Russia, or Zhdanov instead of Mariupol in the Ukraine, or Tskhakaya instead of Senaki in Abkhazia's neighbouring Mingrelian in western Georgia, or other names of numerous Soviet leaders and dictators of that time.

Kind regards,
Metin Sönmez

CircassianWorld.com & AbkhazWorld.com

PS. >> Historical Maps: Abkhazia at various times in history

The maps included here give an idea of the frontiers of Abkhazia at various times in history. The Abkhazians call their capital /Aqw'a/, but it is more usually known in other languages as Sukhum (Sukhum-Kalé or Sukhum-Kaleh in the period of Turkish influence along the Black Sea's eastern coast; /soxumi/ in Georgian). The ending -i in the form /Sukhumi/ represents the Georgian Nominative case-suffix, and it became attached to /Sukhum/ from the late 1930s when Stalin (Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili) and his Mingrelian lieutenant in Transcaucasia, Lavrent'i Beria, began to implement a series of anti-Abkhazian policies. Abkhazians today, for obvious reasons, resent the attachment of this element from the language of a people they see as oppressors.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Vladislav Ardzinba: A politician from the category of “inconvenient”, by Alexander Krylov

Stoletie, March 4 - This morning it was announced that VG Ardzinba died in Moscow on 65 th year of life in the Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow.

V. Ardzinba worked at the Institute of Oriental Studies,USSR Academy of Sciences, for many years. He was an excellent scholar, a specialist in the Hatti (the oldest population in Minor Asia), whose language he argued to be common with the Abkhaz-Adyghe language-family. He wrote an excellent monograph, “The rituals and myths of ancient Anatolia”, which later was defended as his doctoral dissertation.

V. Ardzinba was never a careerist. In Soviet times, he was occupied with cuneiform and proto-Hittite — hardly the choice of a careerist. Vladislav Grigoryevich was man of science, but fate literally pushed him into politics. And that he turned out to be worthy of his historical role was a hugely fortunate for the Abkhazians. V. Ardzinba was a politician from God, the leader of the nation at its most tragic of times.

He was not a typical politician – too soft and intelligent, but in a critical situation for the sake of national interests capable of the most decisive measures.

He was also a politician from the “inconvenient” category. In 1994 he did not conceal his negative attitude towards Russia’s policy in Chechnya, considering the beginning of the first Chechen war a monumental mistake, and he offered the Kremlin to mediate in deciding the problem by entirely different means. But in those years of Yeltsin’s leadership such disagreement was not deemed to be acceptable. The Kremlin was so angry that Yeltsin gave the order to block the border of Abkhazia, and the blockade lasted for several years. Today, the correctness of V. G. Ardzinba’s stance is obvious to all.

The circumstances of his illness are still not clear. In 1997, he flew to Tbilisi for negotiations; I saw him in Pitsunda immediately thereafter and, remembering how in 1936 at the home of Beria the Abkhaz leader, Nestor Lakoba, was poisoned, made the wholly bad joke : “Vladislav, I hope you didn’t eat anything there, did you?” In response, Ardzinba could only shrug it off with a joyless sigh.

Shortly after his visit to Tbilisi, he started having problems with his health. It is this that gives grounds for the suspicion that he was poisoned. By the way, the head of his body-guard, who also travelled to Tbilisi, suddenly died soon after this trip.

The fact that physicians of different countries were unable to reach a clear diagnosis of Vladislav Grigoryevich’s illness, gives ground for suggesting that his disease was the result of the action of some substances which are available for use by intelligence agencies but unknown to modern medicine.

The last time I saw Vladislav Grigoryevich was in October 2008. We had not met for several years, and his progressive disease was striking. His eyes sparkled as of old, his mind remained perfectly clear, but he moved and spoke with the greatest of difficulty. We had a long conversation about the problems of Abkhazia, its future, the prospects for the survival of the Abkhaz ethnic group, Russia’s recognition of the republic, and to what this recognition might lead, because there are not only positive but also negative aspects. In the context of globalization we are witnessing the disappearance of tens if not hundreds of small nationalities, so that, even after Russia’s recognition of the independence of Abkhazia, the problem of the ethnic revival of the Abkhazians remains serious. And he understood that problem very clearly.

During our last meeting I had the impression that what he most wanted was that the split which occurred a few years ago in Abkhazian society be finally repaired. I hope that his political heirs will succeed in solving this problem.

- Политик из разряда «неудобных», Александр Крылов - Stoletie)

Translated by Disa Wurdem

Source: Abkhaz World

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