NEWSWATCH: “NATO finalizes military build-up to counter Russia” – AFP

NATO Meeting file photo

NATO foreign ministers were … finalising the alliance’s biggest military build-up since the end of the Cold War to counter what they see as a more aggressive and unpredictable Russia. … [At] a “landmark” summit … in July … NATO leaders will formally endorse the revamp which puts more troops into eastern European member states as part of a “deter […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Long Arm of Russian ‘Soft’ Power” – Atlantic Council/Orysia Lutsevych

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Anxious about losing ground to Western influence in the post-Soviet space and the ousting of pro-Russia elites by popular electoral uprisings in the early 2000s, the Kremlin has developed a range of proxy groups in support of its foreign policy. This network of pro-Kremlin groups promotes the Russian World (Russkiy Mir), a flexible tool that justifies increasing Russian actions in […]

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RBTH: Can Russia stomach Ukraine and Georgia becoming NATO ‘associates’?

NATO Meeting file photo

The upcoming NATO summit in Warsaw (8-9 July 2016) will be hallmarked by Ukraine and Georgia’s elevation to a still-elusive status of “associate partners.” While the move could be interpreted as one step closer to full membership, Moscow military experts view it as lip service to keep the two countries, going through a turbulent transitional period, in the Western alliance’s […]

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TRANSCRIPT: House Hearing on Understanding and Deterring Russia: U.S. Policies and Strategies – Oral remarks of Dr. Fiona Hill

U.S. Capitol in Bright Sunlight

House Armed Services Committee February 10, 2016 Hearing on Understanding and Deterring Russia: U.S. Policies and Strategies Oral remarks of Dr. Fiona Hill Fiona Hill is director of the Center on the United States and Europe and a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution. She is also co-author of the second edition of “Mr. Putin: […]

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Post-Soviet parliamentarian drama: a view from ‘the gods’ in Kiev

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The political history of Russia’s neighbours can be described in terms of one long conflict between a presidential authoritarian tendency and democratic parliamentarianism. Parliaments are the key. (opendemocracy.net – Mikhail Minakov – February 22, 2016) Mikhail Minakov is Associate Professor at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy and President of the Foundation for Good Politics, Kyiv. He is also director of the Krytyka Institute, […]

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Russian Investigative Committee gives ICC data on S. Ossetia conflict crimes

Georgia Map

(Interfax – January 28, 2016) The Russian Investigative Committee has provided the International Criminal Court (ICC) with the files of a criminal case opened into the crimes committed during the 2008 armed conflict in South Ossetia, Investigative Committee director Alexander Bastrykin has said. “The Investigative Committee of Russia conducted a thorough investigation into the crimes committed by the Georgian military,” […]

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The Beginning of the End of Russia’s Estrangement from the West

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Maxim Trudolyubov – November 17, 2015) Maxim Trudolyubov is a Senior Fellow at the Kennan Institute and the Editor-at-Large of Vedomosti, an independent Russian daily. Mr. Trudolyubov was the editorial page editor of Vedomosti between 2003 and 2015. He has been a contributing opinion writer for The International New York Times since the fall of […]

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Another Georgian native gets Ukrainian citizenship, high post in Ukraine’s national police

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

KYIV. Nov 15 (Interfax) – Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has signed a decree giving Ukrainian citizenship to Giorgi Grigalashvili, who previously headed the Georgian patrol police. “You have demonstrated a result in the reform of the Georgian law enforcement system, you have to demonstrate it in Ukraine, too. I hope for your professionalism and decency,” Poroshenko said while signing the […]

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Putin’s Bipolar Disorder

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(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – October 21, 2015) Separatist leaders in Georgia’s breakaway South Ossetia region announce they plan to hold a referendum on joining Russia. Kremlin-backed parties lead the polls in Moldova with the pro-Western government in Chisinau mired in corruption allegations. And Moscow appears to be getting its way on the implementation of the Minsk cease-fire […]

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Interfax: Half of Russians back independence of South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Transdniestria

Georgia Beach in Abkhazia Region

(Interfax – September 21, 2015) Half of Russians deem Abkhazia and South Ossetia to be independent states and think that these republics and Transdniestria should have formal independent status, the Levada Center has told Interfax. According to the poll of 800 respondents held in 134 populated localities in 46 regions on August 21-24, practically half (47 percent) of respondents see […]

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The Logic and Risks Behind Russia’s Statelet Sponsorship

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(Stratfor.com – Reva Bhalla – September 15, 2015) Mother Russia can be quite generous when it comes to her collection of statelets. In the early 1990s, when a broken Russia had no choice but to suck in her borders, a severely distracted Kremlin still found the time and money to promote and sponsor the fledgling breakaway territories of South Ossetia […]

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Tbilisi says Russia promises not to hinder Georgia-EU Association Agreement

Georgia Map

TBILISI. Sept 14 (Interfax) – Georgia did not coordinate with Moscow its association agreement with the European Union, Special Envoy of the Georgian Prime Minister for Relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze has said. “What is more, representatives of the Russian administration said they would not hinder Georgia’s signing of that document,” he told the Georgian newspaper Kviris Palitra in an […]

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Kirk Bennett: “On Treating Ukraine Like Georgia – A Reply to Paul Saunders”

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Subject: ON TREATING UKRAINE LIKE GEORGIA – A REPLY TO PAUL SAUNDERS Date: Sun, 30 Aug 201 From: Kirk Bennett <kirkbennett7@yahoo.com> ON TREATING UKRAINE LIKE GEORGIA – A REPLY TO PAUL SAUNDERS By Kirk Bennett Kirk Bennett was the Senior Georgia Desk Officer at the State Department from 2007-09. Kudos to Paul Saunders for his spot-on exposition of U.S. policy […]

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NEWSWATCH Wall Street Journal: Georgia Dials Down Conflict With Russia. Shift comes as fighting in Ukraine draws the West and Moscow into a contest for spheres of influence.

Georgia Map

The Wall Street Journal covers Georgia’s shifting policies towards Russia Georgia has toned down its confrontational stance toward Moscow, even as Russia has supported separatists in Georgia and Ukraine. The two countries severed diplomatic relations after the 2008 war and still don’t have embassies. Joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is still Georgia’s declared ambition, [Zurab] Abashidze[, Georgia’s special representative […]

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Georgians look east as western doors stay shut

Georgia Map

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Michael Cecire – June 12, 2015) Michael Cecire is an associate scholar at the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Project on Democratic Transition The occasion of Victory Day, the Soviet commemoration of victory over Nazi Germany, has always held certain propaganda value for Russia. But the ongoing war in Ukraine and the ensuing East-West standoff […]

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The Riga summit of disappointment

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(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris in Moscow – May 21, 2015) Several plucky countries of Emerging Europe have put their necks on the block by defying Russian bullying to join its Customs Union, turning instead to the EU and its promise of a better life. But most of these countries are likely to be disappointed, or could […]

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EU Says No Visa Liberalization For Ukraine And Georgia

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(RFE/RL – rferl.org – May 8, 2015) The EU Commission has said neither Georgia nor Ukraine would obtain visa-free travel to the EU’s Schengen zone at the Riga Eastern Partnership Summit later this month. Speaking in Brussels on May 8 after the EU Commission published its annual visa report on both countries, the spokeswoman for home affairs, Natasha Bertaud, said […]

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NEWSLINK Foreign Affairs: Paper Tiger Putin; The Failure of Russia’s Anachronistic Antagonism

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

Russian President Vladimir Putin is not as strong as he might seem, or, more important, as he might hope. Although Russia supports fighters in Ukraine, invaded Georgia in 2008, sold missile systems to Iran, and recently threatened Denmark and Lithuania with nuclear war, it is, in reality, a muted and restrained power operating in a system that no longer supports […]

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NEWSWATCH GordonHahn.com: Rusology’s Georgian War Fail and its Implications for Ukraine Today

Kremlin and River

Such falsification of data is the direct result of Western, but especially Amercian rusology’s transformation from a scholarly field into one dominated by activists. … http://gordonhahn.com/2015/02/20/another-rusological-fail-u-s-experts-continue-to-lie-about-russia-and-ukraine/

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Where will Putin Strike Next?

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, March 5, 2015) The purpose of terrorism is to terrorize, to suggest that old rules and old expectations no longer apply and thereby increase uncertainty and fear. That explains why someone like Kseniya Sochak has suggested that she is next on Putin’s list now that the Kremlin has killed Boris Nemtsov and […]

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Saakashvili Says Ukraine Could ‘Conquer Russia,’ Provoking Official Outcry

Mikheil Saakashvili file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 9, 2015) Georgia’s former President Mikheil Saakashvili told a Ukrainian television channel over the weekend that Ukraine’s military could “conquer all of Russia,” a remark that incited the ire of Russian officials. Saakashvili was “born an idiot and will die one,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees the country’s defense industry, said […]

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Securing peace instead of rewarding expansion: An appeal, by over 100 German-speaking experts on Eastern Europe, for a reality-based and not illusions-guided Russia policy

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(opendemocracy.net – Andreas Umland – January 9, 2015) Andreas Umland is a DAAD Associate Professor of European Studies at the Political Science Department of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy [“Some of the most influential German correspondents on Russia and Ukraine sympathise with the appeal, but, for specifically professional reasons, did not add their signatures.”] On December 5, 2014, 60 prominent German personalities […]

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Russia and Breakaway Georgian Region to Create Joint Military

Georgia Beach in Abkhazia Region

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexey Eremenko – November 22, 2014) Russia will form a joint army with Georgia’s breakaway province of Abkhazia under a new cooperation pact that one expert said is part of the continuing fallout from the Ukraine crisis. The treaty was inked Monday in Sochi by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Abkhaz counterpart Raul Khadzhimba. […]

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Russians say people have right to self-determination but breakup of states undesirable – poll

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MOSCOW. Nov 18 (Interfax) – Russians have mixed feelings about the wish of some territories to separate from their mother states: 42% support this trend, 30% have a negative opinion and 28% are undecided, the Russian Public Opinion Study Center (VTsIOM) said. Muscovites and St. Petersburg residents exhibit the highest degree of understanding towards the wish to break away (53% […]

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What does Russia really want with Abkhazia?

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(opendemocracy.net – Sergei Markedonov – October 30, 2014) Sergei Markedonov heads the Department of International Relations at the Institute of Political and Military Analysis, Moscow. He is now is a visiting fellow of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC, USA Will the new treaty being discussed between Abkhazia and Russia provide a blueprint for cooperation or […]

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Interfax: Georgian president hopes to restore relations with Russia

Tblisi, Georgia, File Photo with Building with Tower on Hillside and City Buildings in Valley in Distance

TBILISI. Oct 8 (Interfax) – Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili thinks the relations between Tbilisi and Moscow will improve and does not fear aggression from Russia. “Vladimir Putin seems to me an interesting person who is capable of really solving issues of utmost complexity for Georgia,” Margvelashvili said in an interview with Forbes Georgia. “I have not met him in person […]

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Elected By A Hair, New Abkhaz Leader Faces Herculean Tasks

Georgia Beach in Abkhazia Region

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Liz Fuller – August 26, 2014) Veteran opposition politician Raul Khajimba has been elected de facto president of the largely unrecognized Republic of Abkhazia by the slenderest of margins — just 559 votes. He received 50.57 percent (50,494 votes) of the total 99, 869 ballots cast, defeating three rival candidates. Voter turnout in the early election, which was necessitated by […]

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Opposition claims victory in Abkhazia’s presidential poll

Georgia Beach in Abkhazia Region

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – August 25, 2014) Opposition candidate Raul Khadzhimba has claimed victory in the August 24 presidential poll in the breakaway Georgian republic of Abkhazia. Khadzhimba’s campaign staff said he had taken around 60% of the vote in the first round of voting in the unrecognized state. The head of Khadzhimba’s campaign, Artur Mikvabiya, told Russia’s […]

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Former Georgian President Shevardnadze Leaves Mixed Legacy

Georgia Map

(Moscow Times – moscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – July 8, 2014) Eduard Shevardnadze, the Soviet Union’s last foreign minister who later served as Georgian president, died Monday at the age of 86, sparking a collective assessment of the mixed legacy that he left to both Russia and his native Georgia. Shevardnadze’s death following a long illness was confirmed by his […]

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Moscow To Kyiv, Tbilisi, And Chisinau: EU Deals Will Cost You

Map of Western CIS/FSU and European Environs

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Daisy Sindelar – July 6, 2014) Russia has never hidden how it feels about neighbors forging closer ties with the European Union. So it was no surprise when Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said there would be “grave consequences” for Ukraine when it signed a landmark deal on closer economic ties with Brussels on June 27. Georgia and Moldova signed […]

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EU Association Agreements Not Seen as Threat to Russian Economy

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – June 27, 2014) With Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova set to sign the economic sections of association agreements with the European Union on Friday, analysts say the deals will have minimal impact on the Russian economy but will further broaden the political schism between Russia and its neighbors. Russia should not lose more […]

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South Ossetia’s unwanted independence

Georgia Map

(opendemocracy.net – Stephen F Jones – June 10, 2014) Stephen Jones is a Professor of Russian and Eurasian Studies at Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts.He writes frequently on current events in the Caucasus. South Ossetians may yearn for union with Russia, but the complicated political realities of the South Caucasus make this an unlikely prospect. The crisis in Crimea and Eastern […]

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RIA Novosti: No Plans for Anti-Missile Defense in Georgia, Ukraine – Nuland

Victoria Nuland file photo

KIEV, June 10 (RIA Novosti) – The United States does not plan to establish an anti-missile defense system in Georgia or Ukraine, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland said Tuesday. “There are no plans to place missile defense systems in Georgia or in Ukraine, either now or in the future,” she said at a briefing […]

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RIA Novosti: Russia Says Ready to Cooperate With New Abkhaz Leadership

Georgia Beach in Abkhazia Region

MOSCOW, June 2 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow is ready to work with the future president and government of Abkhazia to develop and strengthen bilateral ties, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Monday. “The people of Abkhazia will have their say during the early presidential election in August. Russia will respect this expression of will. We will be ready […]

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Maidan comes to Abkhazia

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(opendemocracy.net – Islam Tekushev – May 28, 2014) Islam Tekushev is the editor-in-chief of the Caucasus Times. Events in Ukraine have both highlighted and influenced Abkhazia’s political divisions, as yesterday’s protests clearly demonstrate. The Crimean precedent has breathed a new divisive life into politics inside Abkhazia. Against the background of the Ukrainian crisis and the growing role of Russia in […]

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RIA Novosti: Abkhaz Leader Ready for Dialogue with Opposition, Rules Out Ultimatums

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MOSCOW, May 30 (RIA Novosti) – Abkhazia’s President Alexander Ankvab is ready to negotiate with the opposition to achieve “a concrete result”, but says that he will not accept any ultimatums. “The situation is difficult, but not critical We propose to engage in a dialogue [with the opposition] in a manner that would bring us a concrete result,” Ankvab said […]

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RIA Novosti: Opinion: Ukrainian Crisis ‘Emboldened Opposition’ in Abkhazia

Maidan Square file photo

WASHINGTON, May 29 (RIA Novosti), Lyudmila Chernova – The Ukrainian crisis has had an immense effect on the opposition in Abkhazia, Thomas de Waal, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told RIA Novosti. “It’s a very complex situation in Abkhazia, maybe the ‘Maidan Effect’ has emboldened the opposition and they have the impression that President Aleksandr Ankvab […]

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Moscow Steps In as Arbiter in Abkhaz Conflict

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – May 29, 2014) In the direct aftermath of a political uprising that threatened to destabilize Abkhazia, Russia demonstrated its role as the ultimate arbiter of political life in the small breakaway province of Georgia. Presidential aide Vladislav Surkov met on Wednesday with both sides of a conflict that saw between 1,000 and […]

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RIA Novosti: NATO Grooms Georgia As Its New Member in South Caucasus

NATO meeting file photo

MOSCOW, May 27 (RIA Novosti), Rick Rozoff – This past week the North Atlantic Treaty Organization continued its ongoing efforts to prepare the nation of Georgia for full membership in the military bloc. A meeting of the NATO Military Committee, consisting of military representatives and the chiefs of defense of the 28 full members of the alliance, and the chief […]

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Interfax: Georgia can have free trade regime with EU and Russia – Abashidze

Tblisi, Georgia, File Photo with Building with Tower on Hillside and City Buildings in Valley in Distance

TBILISI. May 14 (Interfax) – Zurab Abashidze, the Georgian prime minister’s special representative on relations with Russia, said he sees no obstacles to Georgia’s having a free trade zone both with the European Union and Russia. “There is no contradiction in Georgia’s having a free trade regime with the European Union and the same privileged trade regime with Russia,” Abashidze […]

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South Caucasus states shun Moscow’s influence

Tblisi, Georgia, file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Yuri Simonyan, special to RBTH – May 3, 2014) When it comes to its relations with former Soviet republics in the Caucasus, Moscow has a delicate balancing act to play. It’s virtually impossible for Russia to play the role of a mediator in the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over Karabakh, but at the same time, […]

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Saakashvili: Let Georgia be a lesson for what will happen to Ukraine; My country’s ordeal in 2008 suggests Crimea’s referendum is a trick for Russia to cement its territorial and military grip

Russian Naval Vessel in Ukrainian Port

(“Let Georgia be a lesson for what will happen to Ukraine; My country’s ordeal in 2008 suggests Crimea’s referendum is a trick for Russia to cement its territorial and military grip” – Mikheil Saakashvili, former President of Georgia – The Guardian – March 15, 2014) Mikheil Saakashvili, former President of Georgia, writes in The Guardian about the crisis in Ukraine, […]

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NEWSLINK: Former Prime Minister of Georgia Convicted of Corruption

Tblisi, Georgia, File Photo with Building with Tower on Hillside and City Buildings in Valley in Distance

(“Former Prime Minister of Georgia Convicted of Corruption” – New York Times – Olesya Vartanyan, David M. Herszenhorn – February 18, 2014 – nytimes.com/2014/02/18/world/europe/former-georgian-prime-minister-convicted-of-corruption.html) The New York Times reports that former Georgian prime minister Ivane Merabishvili has been convicted of public corruption and sentenced to five years of prison.  Although the conviction is part of a series of cases that […]

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Russia Mends Georgian Ties as Sochi Heals Beijing Wounds

File Photo of Sochi Olympics Banner Near Highway in Warm Weather with Vehicle and Cyclicsts Nearby

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Helena Bedwell – Februay 17, 2014) On the first day of the Beijing Olympics six years ago, war broke out between Georgia and Russia. The Sochi Winter games finds the neighbors on much friendlier terms. Georgia’s government is seeking to use the $45 billion Winter Olympics to revive ties, with Premier Irakli Garibashvili saying four days […]

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Interfax: Diplomatic relations can’t be restored as long as Moscow recognizes Abkhazia, South Ossetia – minister

Tblisi, Georgia, File Photo with Building with Tower on Hillside and City Buildings in Valley in Distance

TBILISI. Jan 21 (Interfax) – Diplomatic relations with Russia cannot be restored as long as 20% of the Georgian territory is occupied and Moscow recognizes the independence of two Georgian regions, Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze told reporters on Tuesday. She made her comment on the opinion of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who said Georgia’s refusal to recognize the […]

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