Gerard Toal is a Professor in the School of Public and International Affairs at Virginia Tech. He writes about US foreign policy, geopolitics, and territorial conflicts. He’s co-author with Carl Dahlman of Bosnia Remade: Ethnic Cleansing and Its Reversal and editor of several books on critical geopolitics. Gerard’s newest book is Near Abroad: Putin, the West and the Contest Over Ukraine and the Caucasus published by Oxford University Press.
Tommy Makem, “Four Green Fields.”
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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?
By Sean — 11 years ago
Michael Idov’s “The Hibernation” has received cheers and jeers from SRB readers. One of the issues Idov’s article raises is the difficultly in reporting on Russia. In Idov’s view the real challenge is to talk about Russia without using the “heap of memes” handed down by decades of Cold War. I couldn’t agree more. Here is Idov’s take on the matter (You can also follow his Live Journal):
By Sean — 10 years ago
As regular readers can see, my blogging has been sparse over the last few weeks. I just finished a three week teaching blitz of a Western Civilization course at Santa Monica High School. The class was part of Santa Monica Community College’s dual enrollment program which allows high school students to take classes for college credit. The class was everyday, 8-11 a.m. I haven’t woken up so early since I worked in a stove factory over fifteen years ago.
Rushing through 500 years of history has never been so daunting. The class was enjoyable and the students remarkably bright. One thing that struck me about the high school is how it resembled a prison. I guess Gilles Deleuze was on to something when he wrote that modernity initiates,
The organization of vast spaces of enclosure. The individual never ceases passing from one closed environment to another, each having its own laws: first the family; then the school (“you are no longer in your family”); then the barracks (“you are no longer at school”); then the factory; from time to time the hospital; possibly the prison, the preeminent instance of the enclosed environment. It’s the prison that serves as the analogical model: at the sight of some laborers, the heroine of Rossellini’s Europa ’51 could exclaim, “I thought I was seeing convicts.”******
So teaching was the main reason why blogging has been sparse. It will continue to be so. On Thursday, I leave for Israel for two weeks. I’m hoping to do so research for a few articles on the Russian diaspora there. My big hope is to meet up with some Israeli neo-Nazis for an article for the newly relaunched eXile Online. (Yes, if you haven’t already heard, the eXile is back in virtual form. Mark has left Russia and word is the eXile is going to be less Russia focused. Look for its verbal assassins to set their sites on more victims.) If the Israeli Nazi thing doesn’t pan out, I’m sure my travels will present a number of other topics. So stay tuned.
Though I haven’t been keeping up with the Russian news as well as I normally do, there have been a number of interesting stories that have appeared. Some of them are directly Russia related, others are bit tangential.
First article to catch my notice was a report on the exhumation of a mass grave containing around 300 bodies in an asphalt plant in Chechnya. The grave was discovered in 2000 but wasn’t uncovered until now. The site dates to the Second Chechen War and according to the report “likely contains civilian victims of an attack by Russian forces.” The report of this mass grave follows the announcement a week earlier of another one found in Grozny containing an estimated 800 corpses.
Open Democracy has published several articles on Russia as part of their collaboration with Polit.ru. Football fans should check out Lyubov Borusyak’s “Russia, Football and Patriotism.” Granted connecting football to patriotism, or what I’d rather call nationalism, is not new. Sport is a uniting force and it is no surprise that in Russia’s so-called “age of stability” sport is making a national comeback. Russia now appears as a winning nation to many of its citizens, and this is only reinforced by the fact that its teams have some victories under their belts. But as Borusyak points out, its not just that Russian teams are winning. In fact, the ultimate crown often alludes them. This however doesn’t dampen the link between national enthusiasm and sport. Just the opposite actually. As she notes, “There are two kinds of patriotic rhetoric. On the one hand, our people are winning because Russia is ‘rising’. On the other, our people are losing because the whole world is against us. Until 2008,the second discourse predominated, as there were not many successes. But this year the situation changed.”*****
With much of the world reeling from capital’s cyclical curse of overproduction, speculation bubbles, or to put it more kindly, “market corrections,” it begs the question of Russia’s economic prognosis. Unlike the American economy, the Russian economy has not experienced shocks of similar magnitude. It’s banks aren’t collapsing, being bailed out or raided by the state. Corporate profits aren’t taking a hit. Announcements of layoffs, buyouts, and wage slashing aren’t ubiquitous. Like so often, American capitalists who love to spit on the state are the first to run to it for a handout. It all proves once again that its socialism for the rich and capitalism for everyone else. As Robert Borosage reminds us, Wall Street’s “losses are socialized; their profits are pocketed.”
This is not to say that Russia’s economy is all bread and circuses for the average Russian. Inflation is a particular bugaboo that is not just being fueled by high oil prices and general global inflation in commodities. Russian inflation more comes from the fact that, as Dmitri Travin notes, “millions of people, from oligarchs to cleaners really are benefiting from oil revenues.” Of course, the spread of petrodollars contains the seeds of its own destruction. Especially when you consider its effects on manufacturing. Travin writes,
From the point of view of manufacturing,this wealth is a terrible curse. An expensive ruble makes the goods we manufacture more expensive by comparison with imported goods. If the Central Bank does not stop the ruble from rising, many Russian producers will lose their competitive advantage and cease to exist. And along with them, many jobs will disappear. GDP will stop growing, and parts of the country will be plunged into crisis. In the long term, the Russian people’s unexpected wealth will turn into poverty.
What God giveth, God (might) taketh away. Again, the inevitability of overproduction is a real bitch to tame.
The losses of global economic crisis are not equal. There are winners and losers. Take General Motors, for example. GM executives plan to make some “difficult decisions” in regard to its American workforce. This includes, according to the New York Times, “a 20 percent reduction in payroll for salaried workers, elimination of health care for older white-collar retirees, and suspension of G.M.’s annual stock dividend of $1 a share.” GM, like most car companies, are reeling from the slide in the American market. No one wants their big gas guzzling SUVs and two-ton trucks anymore. As a result, GM plans to make $10 billion in cost cuts. And where will these cuts come from? Why labor and benefits of course.
At the same time GM is slashing labor costs in the United States, it’s looking to expand in Russia. GM is currently in negotiations to up its production in Russia, where its market share has increased by 2 percent over the last year. Given that Russia has a skilled, cheap workforce it’s ripe for exploitation. The average wage for a Russian autoworker is about $1000 a month with few, if any, benefits. An American autoworker makes an average of $5000 a month and that’s if you don’t include benefits. With GM sales rising coupled with the benefit of slashing labor costs, its no surprise that they and many other automakers can’t get to Russia fast enough.
Russian and American autoworkers know the score. Class war is heating up in both countries. In the States, auto union are fighting against the “two-tier wage system” which looks to slash staring wages by half. In Russia, autoworkers are increasingly understanding their labor power and are putting collective pressure on automakers. This pressure is expected to grow. As Aleksey Etmanov, the leader of a Ford auto union in St. Petersburg, said in a recent interview,
The creation of trade unions will increase. Even now there is simply a wave of new trade unions appearing. Today in our trade union there are approximately 1000 people, this is half of the workers of plant. In Taganrog the works manager hides in order not to obtain information about the creation of the trade union. Certainly, the pressure everywhere is being stepped up, and repression from the side of employers is increasing, they are sacking activists. Nowhere do the employers want to live according to the law (including Russia) but we are fighting back. In Toyota in the Petersburg area the manager, who, by the way, went there from “Ford”, is himself putting the workers in such conditions that we are confident, that very soon there will a trade union there too.
We are actively participating in the setting up of new trade unions in other factories of our industry, and we are developing inter-district unions of the Russian automobile industry, which, according to our plans, will be linked up as members of an organization covering all the car factories of the country, and we think we can do this towards the middle of next year. The Ford trade unionists are the most experienced elements in this association, and without us, probably the association would not have appeared. But all over the world the car workers trade unions are the strongest. The joint-combine committee draws nearer…
It is clear that the strength of the union is not only in the individual enterprise but is also in all the surrounding workplaces. Therefore we want to be combined with other trade unions, both with the Russian and in other countries. In particular, we closely collaborate with the international association of metalworkers. Now our interests can also be represented abroad. For example, when we struck, our American friends came to examine the headquarters of company “Ford” in Detroit…
Finally, its not just Russian autoworkers who are organizing. So are Russian prisoners. ON July 6 over 100 former Russian political prisoners gathered for the First Congress of Political Prisoners in Moscow. The result was the formation of the Union of Prisoners, which in the words of Edward Limonov, “will gather, not only political prisoners, but will defend the rights of all prisoners and ex-prisoners.” Limonov also proposes the creation of A Day of Prisoners for September 14. He also plans on turning his National Bolshevik Party toward organizing prisoners. Limonov clearly knows his history. Prison is indeed a transformative revolutionary experience. Any bonafide Old Bolshevik did a stint in prison or exile. Prison hardened the Bolshevik soul and spirit. Apparently many of Limonov’s young charges are undergoing the same process. As Limonov says of Aleksei Makarov, who was recently released from prison. “Aleksei wasn’t yet 18 when he was arrested two years ago. He grew greatly in prison.”
If the Natsbol’s slogan is indeed “Yes, to death!” then nothing will harden that political will more than prison.
Russian prisons are of course nightmares. They always have been and continue to be so. For a run down on the conditions in prisons and the treatment of prisoners in Russia, I recommend checking out Robert Amsterdam’s excellent coverage of the issue. In particular, check out Grigory Pasko’s three part series “Life Behind Bars.”