October 7, 2006

Russia and Georgia

Russia's Putin régime, miffed by the reckless uppitiness of the Georgians (Georgia-Tbilisi, not Georgia-Atlanta), is cracking down on the Georgians who live in Moscow and other places in Russia. This includes deporting some in summary fashion and asking schools for lists of pupils with Georgian surnames so their immigration status may be investigated.

Aside from its injustice, and the lack of respect for another Orthodox people, this policy seems risky to me. The Russian Federation is no longer a federation, and is far from wholly Russian, as this ethnic map of the Caucasus and nearby Russia shows (much larger original here). A too-hostile attitude toward ethnic minorities could create more Chechnya-like problems among the various minorities.

The Georgians, too, are playing with fire by arresting Russian officers as spies. Russia could crush them if it chose, at some cost to its international reputation, and if it did so, it would be with the usual mixture of brutality and incompetence, as displayed in Afghanistan and Chechnya.

Optimism is not warranted. Homo homini lupus.

See Larison's more erudite and impassioned take on these events.

UPDATE: More from the prolific Larison in this post. He's the only guy I know who would back up a statement about the affinity of Armenia and Georgia with a reference to an Armenian bard who was once court poet in Tbilisi. It could have been a thousand years ago, but to L. it's as if it were yesterday.

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