Russia just can’t catch a break when it comes to global indexes. Whether its corruption, living standards, media freedom, and or just plain freedom, Russia always lands on the wrong side of fence. Russia’s new failed grade is in “peace.” According to Global Peace Index, a survey conducted by Vision of Humanity, Russia ranks 131st out of 140 countries in peace. That places it right between Colombia and Lebanon. As for some other countries? The most peaceful nation is Iceland, which is followed by mostly European nations plus Japan and New Zealand. China comes in at 67th, Britain at 49th, and France at 36th. The United States comes in at 97th. Israel is squeezed between Chad and Afghanistan at 136th. Iraq is dead last at 140.
As for what “peace” is, the Global Peace index is hesitant to give a concrete definition. Instead GPI offers an approach which combines something called “negative peace,” i.e. “an absence of violence,” with “positive peace” which is the result of the “structures and institutions which create and maintain peace.” When combined, a “culture of peace” is said to develop based on the rejection of violence, addressing the root cause of conflicts, and a commitment to solving problems though dialog and negotiation. Ultimately, however, once you get past the mealy-mouthed concept of peace, a country’s “peacefulness” is boiled down to some fairly standard criteria: “a nation’s relations with its neighbors, arms sales and foreign troop deployments” as wells as “a nation’s crime rate, its prison population and the potential for terrorism within its borders.”
The reason for Russia’s dismal peace rating? The Financial Times explains,
Russia remains in the bottom 10 despite a lower score in the measure of domestic conflict, which partly reflects increased stability in Chechnya. Relations with neighboring countries are moderately tense and Russians have low levels of trust in other citizens, probably a reflection of the country’s high rates of violent crime.
Raw ranking doesn’t really say much. For example, what does it mean to be ranked 97th, like the United States, and 131st, like Russia? How far apart are they when your compare individual criteria? Luckily, GPI has a country comparison page. Here is how Russia and the US stack up against one another. In some ways they are closer than you might think.
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By Sean — 5 years ago
The passage of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 last December sent US-Russia relations into a dramatic tailspin. To many, the law and its subsequent list would finally demonstrate that the world’s preeminent democracy had enough of Putin and his gang. Forget all about the “reset.” Enough with the US divorcing its “interests from values” in dealing with Russia. Putin, of course, wasn’t going to take the Magnitsky Law in silence. In addition to its usual charges of hypocrisy, Moscow responded by banning US adoptions of Russian orphans, a callous and misdirected act that left many wondering who exactly Putin intended to punish. Nevertheless, thanks to William Browder’s crusade and whatever he did to cajole Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) to get them to “listen,” US-Russia relations are at a nadir. (I hope that one day an enterprising journalist will uncover exactly how Mr. Browder got so much pull with McCain and McGovern.) For years, pundits have proclaimed that US and Russia were steeped in a “new Cold War.” The Magnitsky Law is now a pivotal symptom in this diagnosis. Yes, four years after former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented her plastic “peregruzka” (sic) button to Sergei Lavrov, the reset now looks in rewind.
Maybe the reset is dead, maybe it’s not. Either way, we’ve witnessed this shuckin’ and jivin’ before. Rather than choreographing a new routine, the US and Russia seem satisfied with rerunning the same old minstrel. The US points its crooked finger at declares “Villain!” at Russia for its poor human rights record. Affronted, Russia cries “Pecksniffery!” followed by a laundry list of equitably egregious offenses. But really, it’s all a game. This is how the big geopolitical boys play in the sandbox. It’s what David Kramer and Lilia Shevtsova call the “Let’s Pretend” game. This is where the West feigns caring about human rights to bolster its own sanctimonious image, but could really care less. For the West, and for the US in particular, human rights are a weapon, like a rhetorical Sword of Damocles, and when economic interests dictate, a casus beli against the baneful. Russia, thanks to the orientialist discourse, is forever cast as devil, a dark mirror against the occidential mirror of light. It plays its part well, even when it’s sincerely revolting against its subaltern status. Given this dance, is anyone surprised that the Magnitsky Law entered with a diplomatic bang, but the Magnitsky List resounded with a pitiful whimper? Every drama needs its rising action, climax, and falling action. When it comes to the US and Russia, however, the denouement is eternally postponed.
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By Sean — 10 years ago
As I noted the other day, Teimuraz Khugaev, head prosecutor for the Ossetian government, announced that 1692 Ossetians were killed in the Georgian assault last month. Now the Public Commission on the Investigation of War Crimes in South Ossetia has published a list of the names, birth date, cause of death, place of burial of 311 victims. So far this is far below initial claims. However, the press release states that the list is still incomplete. One can assume that more names will added to the list in the coming days, if not weeks. Here is a translation of some of the entries (kindly provided by frequent SRB commenter Chrisius Courtappointedrussiafriendlius, formally known as Chrisius Maximus)
1. Ataev Alan Muratovich. b. 1971. Died in the course of military action. Buried in the yard of his home.
2. Kelekhsaev Murzaba V. b. 1944. Shot by Georgian sniper. Buried in Tbet village.
3. Petoev Albert S. b. 1943. Killed by explosion of BM 21 Grad shell. Buried in Vladikavkaz.
9. Tadtaev Sergei Lvovich. b. 1972. Burned to death in automobile hit by Georgian tank. Buried in school no. 5.
10. Kozaev Sukiko A. b. 1940. Died from wounds obtained during bombardment of city. Buried in Itrapis village.
30. Kharaszishvili Angelina Dmitrievna. b. 1974. Died during bombardment of city. Buried in Tbet village.
31. Chekhoev Abesalom V. b. 1967. Died during bombardment of city. Place of burial unknown.
32. Elbakieva Dina. b. 2005. Died during bombardment of city. Buried in Tbet village.
49. Maldzigov Sevastii Stepanovich. b. 1965. Killed by exploding BM 21 Grad shell. Buried in Vladikavkaz.
57. Bitarov Uruszmag. b. 1950. Died during bombardment. Buried in Zguderskii cemetary.
59. Dzhussoev Mair Zaurovich. b. 1971. Burned to death in automobile that had been covered in gasoline and ignited. Buried in Nagutin cemetery.
60. Dzhussoev Aslan Mairovich. 15 years old. Burned to death in automobile that had been covered in gasoline and ignited. Buried in Nagutin cemetery.
61. Dzhussoeva Dina. 14 years old. Burned to death in automobile that had been covered in gasoline and ignited. Buried in Nagutin cemetery.
85. Shanazarova Albina Chorshanbievna. 14 years old. Killed by Georgian sniper. Buried in Zguderskii cemetery.
98. Kisiev Ibragim Feliksovich. Killed during bombardment of Khetagurova village.
99. Doguzov Leonid Nikolaevich. Killed during bombardment of Satikar village.
122. Maldzigova Evgenia Nikolaevna. b. 1927. Killed by explosion of BM 21 Grad shell. Buried in Vladikavkaz.
128. Tedeev Vladimir Romanovich. b. 1948. Died from wounds obtained during bombardment of city. Buried in Kornis village.
129. Dzhioev Radion Zurabovich. b. 1984. Died from wounds obtained during bombardment of city. Buried in yard of his home.
152. Dzhabieva Zemfira Chermenovna. b. 1952. Died in course of military action. Place of burial unknown.
177. Ikaev Valerii Vladimirovich. b. 1958. Killed by sniper during the evacuation of Zarskoi Road.
182. Lalievna Valentina Sergeevna. b. 1940. Killed by sniper during the evacuation of Zarskoi Road.
209. Kadzhaeva Elina Kazbekovna. b. 1986. Wounded during shelling of her home. Burned to death. Buried in Vladikavkaz.
214. Galoeva Larisa Valikoevna. b. 1974. Killed by explosion of BM 21 Grad shell. Buried in Vladikazkaz.
238. Ikoeva Roza Viktorovna. b. 1936. Killed during bombardment of city. Buried in Tbet village.
257. Bekoev Alan Tuzarovich. b. 1974. Killed by explosion of BM 21 Grad shell. Buried in yard of his home.
270. Bagaeva Svetlana Georgievna. b. 1975. Killed when her automobile was fired upon. Buried in yard of her home.
290. Tskhovrebov Sebastian B. b. 1937. Killed during bombardment of Tbet village.
311. Dzakhov Valerii Borisovich. b. 1987. Killed by Georgian sniper during military action. Buried in Tbet village.
The Commission is also collecting evidence on the destruction of Ossetian historical monuments and culture that was destroyed by the Georgian attack. “The annihilation of a people’s culture,” says Commission member Zalina Medoeva, “means to go further that the physical annihilation of a people. After destroying Ossetian culture, the Georgian leadership aspired to destroy the memory of the people, to wipe them off the face of the land is proof of the Ossetian historical right in taking the territory for themselves.”
Sounds as if the Ossetian government is really going to run with this genocide claim.
The Georgians aren’t going to sit idle and not make their own charges of genocidal acts. In his joint press conference with US Vise President Dick Cheney, Mikheil Saakashvili called on the world to not accept the ethnic cleansing of Georgians from South Ossetia. He claimed that more than over the years 80% of Abkhazia and in the last few weeks two-thirds of Ossetia have been cleansed of Georgians. He added:
“If anybody would try to legalize it, or would accept what has happened, basically, it will be accepting of human tragedies of hundreds of thousands of people. Ethnic cleansing in South Ossetia took place not only against ethnic Georgians, but also against ethnic Ossetians, who were considered to be disloyal.”
“So I call on all the responsible nations of the world not only to [not] accept this, but to continue condemn[ing] it and to continue uphold[ing] international law and justice. On our part, we are [a] peace-loving nation; we’ll do our best to avoid violence and we are committed to [a] peaceful resolution of all the issues, as we are committee to dialogue with everybody internally and with all the nations in [the] neighborhood and worldwide.”
As for his commitment to a peaceful resolution of all the issues, isn’t it just a bit too late for that?Post Views: 447
By Sean — 12 years ago
I haven’t had time to write anything about OMON’s and ultranationalists’ bipartite attack on Moscow’s gay pride parade on May 27. Moscow Mayor Iurii Luzhkov banned the parade, a decision that was upheld by a Moscow district court on May 26. Luzhkov’s justification, like many politicians throughout the world, was an appeal to democracy as a mean to discriminate: the “majority” doesn’t support such parades. Here is what he said in an interview on Russkoe radio: “If any one has any deviations from normal principles in organizing one’s sexual life, those deviations should not be exhibited for all to see and those who may turn out unsteady should not be invited to do so. …. I thank the citizens of Moscow as 99.9% of them in recent days also believe it is unacceptable to hold such parades.”
However, the parade, which activists organized to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality, went on anyway. Marchers around Red Square were met by anti-gay protesters numbering about 200-300 people and comprised of Russian Orthodox worshipers and nationalist youth. According to eyewitnesses many in the crowd chanted “down with the pederasts” and “death to sodomites.” Religious leaders in Russia have made homosexuality an issue to rally their flock. According to a RFE/RL article, The Orthodox Patriarch in Moscow called homosexuality a “glorification of sin”, the chief rabbi, Berel Lazar warned of “homosexual propaganda” and the head Muslim cleric, Talgat Tadzhuddin, called on worshipers to “bash” gay marchers. It is nice to see three of the world’s largest religions are able to unite around something. Not to mention their condemnations coming in congruence with violent ultranationalist youths. It didn’t take much for violence to erupt with this mix of “tolerance” present. A Human Rights Watch briefing paper gave this account of events:
At [2:30] on May 27, in heavy rain, the first cluster of participants—including festival leaders Nikolai Alexeyev and Nikolai Baev, Eduard Murzin (a member of the regional Duma of Bashkortostan in central Russia and a supporter of LGBT rights), and several other Russians, along with Merlin Holland and the British activist Peter Tatchell, all holding flowers—approached the gate to the tomb in Alexander Gardens. They were met by a crowd of 200-300 protesters—including both younger and older Orthodox and nationalist counter-protestors, and contingents of elderly women carrying crosses and icons. Police made no attempt to intervene until the two groups met.
Alexeyev told Human Rights Watch:
“I saw a huge group of people gathered there, shouting “death to sodomites,” “out of Russia,” “we will not allow you to put things here, our grandfathers died fighting against people like you.” I said, “My grandfather died fighting against your kind.” I said to myself, I will not stop—I will go on. But the gate was closed. Then the police suddenly appeared out of nowhere. They began pushing all of us back from the gate. Then someone, several officers, seized me from behind and started to shove me from the square and through the crowd. They pushed me very violently through the square and put me in the [police] bus.”
While Alexeyev was detained, Holland was kicked by the protesters, and others were punched. Many protesters threw rocks, bottles, and eggs.
The few lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender participants and their supporters withdrew from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in confusion. The anti-gay demonstrators moved back to the northern end of nearby Manezh Square, beside the gardens. From there, however, some of the men from the anti-gay protest kept charging back in groups toward the tomb, pelting bystanders with bottles and eggs. Regular police and riot police, or OMON (Otriad Militsii Osobogo Naznacheniy), countered, driving the anti-gay protesters across the broad boulevard, Mokhovaia Street, to its intersection with Tverskaia Street. From there, the violent anti-gay demonstrators began throwing flares at the police. Police responded by arresting between 25-50 of them, lining them against a wall, and then hauling them aggressively to police buses parked nearby.
However, the vast majority of the anti-gay demonstrators who had been engaged in violence remained at large. They continued to throw eggs and stones at passers-by whom they suspected of being gay or supporters of the cancelled parade. With little or no interference from police, they moved in groups up Tverskaya Street toward City Hall, the site of the second part of the planned activities.
When the LGBT activists and their supporters arrived at the City Hall, they were greeted by another crowd of anti-gay protesters. Standing on top of the steps of the Iurii Dolgurukii statute, located across the street from City Hall, Liberal Democratic Party member and Duma representative Nikolai Kurianovich spoke to the crowd. According to the HRW report, “He warned that Russia would become like “putrid America and dying Europe” if it permitted the “gay mafia” to triumph, and led the crowd in chanting “Gays and lesbians to Kolyma”—the Stalin-era prison camp.”
The violence then continued with OMON arresting gay activists and anti-gay protesters and small roaming bands of skinheads harassing and beating suspected gays as the crowd dispersed. Russia has since received international condemnation for its ambivalence to the homophobic attacks and well as outcry from gay groups from around the world.
The events in Moscow are hardly anything particular to Russia but part of a global trend against homosexuals. Russia belongs to a list of states that include the United States, Iran, Kazakhstan, Eastern Europe etc, etc in anti-gay violence, policies and law. There is no irony in the fact that at a time when there is violence in Moscow and suspicion of an anti-gay campaign in Iran, that President Bush is urging the Senate to pass a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in the United States. Yes, freedom is indeed on the march.
Those who want consistent coverage of gay politics on a global perspective, I highly recommend Doug Ireland’s blog, Direland.Post Views: 442