Georgia Under Saakashvili – A Throbbing, Turbocharged Success?

Uncle Volodya says, "Hey, Mikheil; how's that hopey-changey thing working out for you?"

The Russian Flag, flying over Russia and select locations near Georgia

According to La Russophobe, Russia “has failed” in Georgia, and Georgia is coming back “stronger and better after Russia’s wanton invasion”. That’s the sort of claim I view with a good deal of eye-rolling, considering its source. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Leaving aside for a moment the question of who was the invader, although Saakashvili’s own Defense Minister said the attack on South Ossetia was planned in advance rather than being a reaction to provocations, let’s focus on Georgia’s leader – U.S.-educated and American-backed Mikheil Saakashvili. When we left him last, he was slurping champagne with Hillary Clinton, although there didn’t seem to be much to celebrate. More on that later; for now, let’s look at Saakashvili’s climb to power. Back to about 2000 should be far enough, when he was Justice Minister in Shevardnadze’s government. The USA was Eduard Shevardnadze’s biggest international backer, pouring over $1 Billion in aid into his ten-year reign. At that time, Saakashvili was a vocal critic of the United States, for its support of the Shevardnadze regime.

In U.S. foreign policy, though, loyalty is often fleeting and transitory: new leaders can often count on U.S. support if it keeps governments America doesn’t care for destabilized, and promises to further American aims for their country. Mikheil Saakashvili quickly marshaled U.S. support. American agencies such as the congressionally-funded National Democratic Institute backed and trained Kmara, the Georgian youth movement which supported Saakasvili’s leadership bid – ironically enough, one of the big-money backers was billionaire George Soros. I say ironically, because La Russophobe adores Saakashvili but would normally not walk across the street to spit on Soros, as he typically supports Democratic candidates in U.S. elections.

Once the uprising known as the Rose Revolution swept Saakashvili to power, American support solidified. America pressed for reforms that had the effect of increasing social inequality, poured millions into building up Georgia’s military, and successfully encouraged Israel to send advisers and trainers. You have to wonder at this point how throwing so much money at the Georgian military was supposed to help the average Georgian, but the facts are what they are.

Putting the “Heil” in Mikheil

Things didn’t improve significantly for that average Georgian over the next couple of years. Poverty and corruption remained endemic. According to the Human Rights Watch 2008 Report, the Georgian government “instituted a violent crackdown on opposition protesters and instituted a nine-day state of emergency, saying this was in response to a coup attempt”. Over 550 protesters and 34 police were hospitalized with injuries. Riot police raided the private Imedi television station, held the staff at gunpoint, destroyed archives and smashed equipment; both Imedi and another private station, Kavkasia, were taken off the air. All news broadcasts were banned with the exception of state-funded Georgia Public Broadcasting. The prison population increased by 50% in 2007, rising by an average of 400 per month. The minimum age of criminal responsibility was lowered from 14 to 12. The significant events of this period caused Newsweek Magazine to speculate if this was the end of Saakashvili’s stint as the darling of the west.

As you well know, it wasn’t anything of the kind.

The west continued to support Saakasvili, and perhaps he began to think he was bulletproof, untouchable. Whatever he might have thought, he kicked over the apple-cart for real with a military attack against the breakaway province of South Ossetia, indiscriminately shelling its capital, Tskhinvali. Said college lecturer Taya Sitnik of the attack, which killed her 21-year-old son as he sheltered with her in the basement of their apartment block, “How can you trust those people now? What possible friendship can there be? Let them all be cursed, cursed for the deaths of our children”. Saakashvili’s media-management campaign seems to have consisted of phrases like, “Oh, yeah? Well, you’re/he’s/they’re just lying”, as reports began to suggest Georgia was responsible. The U.S. briefly considered military action to assist Georgia. A situation which might under other circumstances have been funny occurred on the American Fox News network, when 12-year-old Amanda Kokoeva was being interviewed as an eyewitness to the opening of the brief war – an American, she and her aunt had been visiting family in South Ossetia when the war started. When she said, on live television, that she wanted to thank the Russian troops that had saved their lives from the invading Georgians, the presenter began to cough and mumble, and went to an unscheduled commercial break. When the program resumed, the girl’s aunt said President Saakasvili was to blame, at which point the presenter ended the segment early.

Ah, well; water under the bridge, right? Just as long as Saakasvili learned a lesson, and has since improved the quality of life of his citizens….what? He didn’t, and he hasn’t? Of Internally Displaced Families (IDP’s), almost all live below the poverty line and more than 90% are dependent on external food aid? Well, the government says they have some income from the state, which they can “invest in food or personal development”. How much? 28 lari per month; that’s, what…let me see… $15.16 USD! Well, what’s the problem? Who couldn’t feed their family on that, and not still have money left over for personal development? The Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation’s budget has been cut by better than 50% against last year – that’s a positive sign of economic growth, surely? Smokin’ job, President Saakashvili! Well, hasn’t something improved? Not artistic freedom of expression, evidently, as only 3 days ago a publicist and 2 poets protesting the naming of President George W. Bush Street were arrested, charged with resisting police, detained and released upon payment of a 400-lari fine: hey, you could feed 26 poverty-stricken internally-displaced people for a whole month on that. Well, how about law? Nope; sorry. A new amendment to Georgia’s freedom of information law is introducing strict limits to third-party access to information about cases involving the Georgian government in international courts.

President Saakashvili isn’t some thug – he’s an extremely intelligent man who speaks 5 languages fluently and can get around in 2 more. He has the benefit of an American education, via Columbia and George Washington Law schools. He should know better than to toss around derogatory language like, “Are we the niggers?” Considering he hauls down pretty good money in the form of foreign aid, mostly from the U.S., on which he depends to offset steadily falling Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), he shouldn’t be tolerating the “humor” of Liberty Institute leader Levan Ramishvili, who posts insulting caricatures of the American president on his blog.

Grow up, President Saakashvili. The international supporters that keep throwing money at you expect it, and the people who depend on you for the most basic human necessities deserve it.

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45 Responses to Georgia Under Saakashvili – A Throbbing, Turbocharged Success?

  1. kovane says:

    Excellent article! But you’re being too hard on poor Misha, economically speaking he’s doing pretty good. Quote: “As of 2001 54% of the population lived below the national poverty line but by 2006 poverty decreased to 34%.” Of course, all this is done, as often with US-backed East European “young democracies”, by cranking up debt and heavily using FDI, which can be quite detrimental in the future. But it won’t be Misha’s problem then, right? The US is very interested in creating a successful model democracy in the region, who are we to stop them?

    I have to say you’re the most prolific Russia watcher now, posting a new article in two days on average. your Kremlin masters should be very proud.🙂

    Mark, I want to ask a question about Canada. I’ve heard that French Canada is very different from the other regions and they are very discriminatory about French language. For example, I’ve heard that it’s very difficult to find a good job there if you can speak only English. Can you clarify this?

    • Georgia certainly grew fast during Saakashvili’s rule, but one has to bear in mind that at the start of his Presidency its GDP was something like 50% of its peak Soviet level – and as of this year, it’s still at less than 80%. This is much worse, than, say, Armenia.
      (I’ve compiled the stats in graphs here.)

      • marknesop says:

        Anatoly: thanks for stopping by (I’m honoured), and thanks for drawing my attention to this excellent reference! The Georgia Media Center typically has a much more jaundiced view of economic progress under Saakashvili – not surprising, I suppose, given it’s an opposition resource.

  2. marknesop says:

    Hey, Kovane!! Perhaps I do come down a bit heavily on Misha, but all these articles respond in tone to their LR counterpart, and she’s just as guilty of slanting the data to make it look like the sun shines out of his ass. Yes, he was reelected, but he also outspent his next-closest rival twenty-to-one:

    http://georgiamediacentre.com/content/obscene_cost_unms_victory_binge_country_endemic_poverty

    note the link at the bottom which points out that nearly one in three Georgians live on less than $2.00 per day. Saakashvili-friendly Georgians like to point out that the Georgian International Media Centre is an opposition site – but so what? If the numbers are wrong, they should sue. I imagine they are accurate. FDI has steadily decreased under Saakashvili, although Forbes rates Georgia fairly high in terms of investment climate.

    Ha!! I am not as prolific as LR, obviously, since I cue off of her “articles”. I don’t respond to every one, because some are just too stupid and many are just copy/paste jobs from the Moscow Times. But I try to get in one from each series.Hopefully I can pick up a little now; I was on vacation 3 weeks out of the last 4, and traveling a little, so it was hard to stay caught up.

    Officially, yes, the French are very touchy about their language. Even though a series of referendums on separation and nationhood have failed, there are signs on the main approaches to Quebec City that read, “Welcome to the Nation’s Capital”. The province is always trying to get greater control over the language laws, so they can force all incoming immigrants – or at the very least, their children – to learn French first. This infuriates a lot of Anglophones, as it was meant to do, but it doesn’t bother me. The French are a proud people, quick to anger, but just as quick to laugh. They don’t like being pushed around by the English, and are quick to perceive insult, and they feel their language and culture are in danger of gradually fading away. This fear is not completely unfounded – many more French can speak English than the other way around. Again officially, the country is bilingual and has two official languages, but outside Quebec and New Brunswick few Anglos can speak French.

    Unofficially and when you’re not talking about fractious governments any longer, the French respond positively and with amazing generosity to any attempt to speak their language. They’ll always know you weren’t born French no matter how good you get, but they will more than match any honest effort you make to be understood. Like most people, they are instantly turned off by any insistence that they speak English simply because you can’t speak anything else. I am fluent in French (although, as I suggested, nobody who is French will mistake me for a fellow Frenchman) and a strong believer in being able to communicate in more than one language. It’s something you should do for yourself, not something the evil French are forcing on you. I’m sure you understand this, with your enviable grasp of English.

    It probably would be difficult to get a job in Quebec with no French at all. You might get a job as a token English speaker, because Quebec is supposed to be fully bilingual as well (and mostly is), but you’d find you had little to do if you weren’t called upon to assist with an English customer. Quebec City and Montreal are big tourist destinations, and many of the French there speak such perfect, accentless English you’d never know they weren’t. The small towns are often bastions of French-only feeling, and you’ll have a hard time there with a bad I’m-English-speak-my-language attitude.

    Both Quebec City and Montreal are worth learning French, and the entire province is a national treasure for its beauty. In the fall when the leaves change colour, there are few sights that can match it.

    • kovane says:

      Mark,

      thank you very much for your detailed and interesting answer. I’ve always wondered why such enclaves don’t get assimilated. Let’s be honest, speaking two languages is a difficult task, one language is always rather inferior. Quote: “In Quebec, about 40.6% (3,017,860) of the population are bilingual; on the island of Montreal, this proportion grows to 60.0% (1,020,760).” And according to a census, 80% of the Quebec population consider French as their native language. With the proximity of the US and knowing that English is the main language of the other Canada, it’s remarkable that such a big part of Quebec’s citizens is mainly francophone. (By the way, I remember a splash of anti-French sentiments among some Republicans, it was featured prominently on Fox.

      • marknesop says:

        Good Morning, Kovane, and thanks for the thought-provoking comment. The French probably wonder, too, what else they can do to keep from being assimilated, and fight it tooth and nail. It was Montreal of which I spoke, and specifically the West Island, that produces bilinguals whose English is embarrassingly good, so much so that there’s no trace of an accent, yet French is their mother tongue. It’s difficult to maintain proficiency in a second language if you almost never use it, but many environments in Canada afford ample opportunity to use both languages. The Anglos who stubbornly refuse to speak French are doing their French counterparts a favour, because it forces them to become comfortable in their second language, and fluent bilingualism offers excellent promotion opportunities. The guy you mock as a “dumb Frog” might be your boss next week.

        Republicans, or a substantial proportion of them, are suspicious of anyone who is not white, male and Republican. I don’t think any sentiment they might express against French-Canadians is worth worrying about; the dislike of Republicans is a ringing endorsement of one’s better qualities.

        It’s worth remembering that, at one time, it could have gone either way as to which would be the dominant language of the world; English and French were spoken about equally. French was still spoken in Russia (as the language of diplomacy) up to the end of Tsarist times, and French still appears as an alternative on many official forms, such as Customs. Many common Russian words are either identical in French (such as “trottoir”, which means “sidewalk” in both) or so close that their meaning can be easily discerned, (such as “bibliotheque” for library versus the Russian “biblioteka”, or “meubles” for furniture against “mobles”).

        • kovane says:

          Mark,

          It’s maybe morning in Canada, but it’s evening in Russia🙂 But, anyway, good day to you too!

          You’re right, French was de facto lingua franca in Europe in 19th century and it was widely spoken by Russian aristocracy. The extent of this was more than ridiculous: French was often a native tongue, while Russian was learned afterwards. This created a noticeable chasm between common Russians and the Russian nobility. But the situation today is vastly different from that of 19th century. It was possible to be a peasant then and not to give a damn about what language some blue-blooded nobles speak. Today, globalization is a reality, and there is distinct pressure to learn English, for it often means a better job and a higher pay grade. For example, I wonder, what language do most of the Canadian bilingual pairs choose to speak at home?

          The GOP is a constant source of amusement not only to Americans, but even to the whole world. Unfortunately, amusement is far from everything they bring.

          • Allister says:

            Mark, kovane is not from Russia, he just want to provoke you.

            • marknesop says:

              He says he is; that’s good enough for me. So far there’s been nothing provocative between us – we agree on far more than we disagree. In the matter of Julia Ioffe, he seems to have taken more offense to her article on the Russian effort to reform the justice system than I did. We agree she’s a talented writer, but seems to reflexively condemn every effort Russia makes as just another cynical ploy to make it look like the Russian apes are trying to catch up with civilization. Kovane and I are absolutely in accord that you will never get people to change for the better by insulting them. However, the same philosophy applies to Ioffe’s writing – there’ll be no change as long as the response is rude and gratuitously insulting.

            • kovane says:

              Provoke into what? And how have you exactly divined that I’m not from Russia? By gazing into a crystal sphere?

    • Dmitry says:

      Hey Mark, DYK that 119 out of 150 MPs in the Georgian Parliament belong to the party of the President (down from 135, so that’s a progress)? And that all the local councils in the country are controlled by the same party? I think these are good facts to know about the turbocharged democracy…

  3. Misha says:

    When the Quebec Nordiques (who played in Quebec City) were in the NHL, they violated NHL regs by having the PA announcer speak French only. Likewise when the Canadian national anthem was sung.

    In comparison, the Montreal Canadiens’ policy has been bilingual. If I’m not mistaken, at the UN, the Canadian representative speaks half his/her time in French and half in English. Ths policy hasn’t always been well received by some elements in Canada.

    I recall a few years ago, there being boos when there were bilingual French and English PA announcements at professional sports events in Canada that were outside of Quebec. If I’m not mistaken, this policy at Canadian sporting events outside Quebec has been (at least in a number of instances) dropped.

    Mark

    Tonight’s ABC News Nightline had a feature on Maria Sharapova doing charity work in Chernobyl , where her family lived before moving to Siberia.

    I quickly perused to see if I could get a link of that segment. Sorry to come up with nothing. I suspect it’ll be available shortly online, if not already.

    I thought you might be interested, given the antics of a certain anonymous **** who gets propped by (among others) JRL and RFE/RL.

    • marknesop says:

      I would indeed be interested, Mike; I’m a fan of Sharapova, and I wasn’t aware she had ever lived in Chernobyl. Chernobyl, Siberia….she’s toured the high spots, hasn’t she? She’s an astonishing athlete as well as a great beauty, and I can see why LR (who is likely neither) hates her. What woman wouldn’t be consumed with jealousy at another who is casually gorgeous and makes $30 million a year just for playing a game and doing some advertising?

      I didn’t know that sports nugget about the Nordiques – you’re obviously way deeper into sports than I – that’s interesting. My own experience lies well outside pro sports, and sports teams as well as other public figures are likely to be under government pressure to promote French in Quebec. The government is smart enough to know Quebec couldn’t compete without English; its businesses would be locked in an incestuous loop that operated independently of national and most international trade. They were looking, once upon a time, for support from France, but that’d never work. But keeping the issue provocative is a way to keep the people stirred up. French politicians in general are flamboyant assrockets who substitute rhetoric for political savvy. My favourite Quebec politician was Lucien Bouchard – although he was a committed sovereigntist, he projected the sense that he was truly doing what he thought was best for Quebec and its people, not for himself. He had a fiery temper, but he had a great and very quick sense of humor, too. Upon being asked by an exasperated Prime Minister, “What does Quebec want?”, he is said to have replied, “What would you like us to want?” But I must agree it is silly to recognize the federal nature of a political party that fields candidates only in its own province. We’re quirky that way, I guess.

      Professional sports events are typically narrated in only one language, or at least that’s been my experience. I imagine Les Quebecois are resentful that they’ve obeyed the letter of the law in having a substantially bilingual population, while the Anglos have mostly shrugged it off. It’s hard to grasp people’s pride in their culture and language when you don’t understand either.

      • Misha says:

        Come to think of it, here’s the link of that ESPN feature for your viewing pleasure:

        http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=5471940&categoryid=null

        Her parents lived in Chernobyl before and shortly after the accident there. They moved to Siberia thereafter.

        From what I’ve sensed and been told, Quebec City is noticeably more French influenced than Montreal, which would explain some of my prior comments. I’m of the impression, that a few years back, a greater bilingual attempt was made at Canadian sports events outside Quebec.

        On your post concerning the former Georgian SSR, note how the South Ossetians and Abkhaz appear to prefer evil Russia over virtuous Georgia.

        It’s all in the spin.

        • Mark says:

          Thanks, Mike! That’s a great clip; I couldn’t watch it until I got home, but it was worth the wait. Sharapova is a lovely woman. But in the end, we were just in different places in the relationship, and we had to break up. Oh, wait – that was a dream.

          I read Frederik Pohl’s “Chernobyl”, and it was terrifying. Although fictionalized, the timeline was based on real events and the actual story was adhered to pretty closely – only the characters were fictitious. What a stupid accident; it’s not as if the Soviet Union didn’t understand how quickly a chain reaction can get away from you. The pile was amply equipped with computer-monitored electronic safeties to prevent just such an accident. At the time the runaway occurred, an experiment was underway to test the feasibility of recovering waste heat from a reactor shut down for maintenance, to generate even more energy – the safeties were all bypassed, and the watch was running the pile in hand control. The human brain just isn’t fast enough to cope with a nuclear malfunction. That’s what the safeties are for. When the sensor temperatures started to run away, it was already too late; when they tried to reinsert the control rods, they were already so deformed they wouldn’t go in.

          Quebec city is the national heart of French culture, but because it is a showcase of it to the world, nearly everyone can speak English as well as French; the place is full of tourists, and because of the popularity of Carnaval de Quebec (winter), there isn’t even really an off-season. Old Quebec is the last walled city in North America, home to the brooding, gothic Chateau Frontenac and a world UNESCO heritage site. It’s gorgeous, very European. It reminds me of Prague, which is odd because I’ve never been there. I highly recommend it for a visit.

          • Misha says:

            Gotcha Mark.

            A number of folks appreciated that Sharapova feature.

            The US Open in Flushing, New York (home of the troubled Mets) is coming up.

  4. carpenter117 says:

    New Happy and Super-Duper Successful Georgian Order:

    • marknesop says:

      Ha! That’s great. In recent years it’s become fashionable to compare any politician – or influential public figure, if it comes to that – to Hitler when he or she displeases. To a lot of those people, Hitler is just a symbol; they don’t really know anything about him. I wouldn’t say Saakashvili could reasonably be compared to Hitler, but I would say his American experiences taught him the wrong lessons. Or maybe his character is just fundamentally flawed.

  5. Igor, AU says:

    Interesting post, Mark (and a good “link quality” in that they point to where they should : )

    Did LR article mention Saak’s police reform? I was sure that the proud & usually unreasonably touchy Geogrians would never re-elect Misha after that war and several embarrassing accidents which happened to him. But the Georgians did elect him – which, most likely means, that he was not as bad to them as it was presented in the media I have read. Besides, the money and “expert advice” alone, probably, cannot win an election.

    All this is despite the fact that I still think Saak is an embarrassment to Georgians and too unstable to lead a country in this region

    > all these articles respond in tone

    Should they? LR is styled for an auditorium, which won’t read your blog🙂

    Cheers

    • kovane says:

      Ha! I see that you used one of my humorous comments as a basis of your article:

      http://unpublished-notes.blogspot.com/2010/07/where-russian-government-sits.html#more

      Where can I get my royalties?🙂

      • Igor, Au/Alex says:

        @kovanne This is outrageous – I was sure that they have already paid you. I shall immediatelly send Justas a Morse-coded steganograhic complaint in invisible ink🙂

        Although, I have to mention that at the place I work, they don’t think twice about NOT acknowledging the actual author or even those who did the work. In this your case you at least will get an increase in your citation index.🙂

        Cheers

    • marknesop says:

      Good Morning, Alex/Igor!
      Well, I don’t know from firsthand experience, of course – I’ve never been to Georgia. But I’d tend to agree – public sentiment toward Saakashvili before the election suggested he couldn’t get elected to traffic policeman. I also did not closely follow his election campaign, and only learned of the enormous sums he spent after the fact. The content of his message must have convinced Georgians that he was the lesser of several evils.

      I also agree he’s an embarrassment as leader; he’ll probably never live down that bizarre tie-chewing moment. Russians either hate him or consider him an irrtitating fool, when he could have used his western education and obvious intelligence to cultivate Russia as an economic partner. Naturally, it’s in the western interest to make him a thorn in Russia’s side and to use him as a tool to destabilize the region, while exploring alternative pipeline arrangements that attenuate the advantages fior Russia and Iran . I imagine they keep dangling NATO membership under his nose, but I can’t see that reasonably happening while he’s president. He tipped his hand too soon, and the west now knows he would not hesitate to drag them into a war with Russia if it served his own ends. They’re used to playing that game from the standpoint of user, not the used.

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  7. Viktor says:

    I still think Phobie is actually Catherine Fitzpatrick of MindingRussia.

    Same New York location. Sam self-righteous humorlessness. Same ties to murky anti-Russia lobby funders like Soros and opportunities to meet Goble (though Soros does fund a lot of causes, some having little or nothing to do with Russia, like MoveOn.org).

    Of course, this cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt until Phobie cuts her anonymous shtick. Has there ever been a lawsuit for Google bombing in the Internet age?

    • marknesop says:

      I think there’s a better-than-even chance you’re correct. I imagine you read the piece in the “About” section, and you’re right that it has much the same tone and inflection – writing style is a lot like a fingerprint. Anyway, it’s a matter of only idle curiosity for me; Catherine Fitzpatrick could be an alias, too. Lots of bloggers are anonymous, for their own reasons, such as Poemless and A Good Treaty. I might have done the same, but thought if Mark Adomanis and Julia Ioffe have no problem using their real names – even knowing what they say is going to be controversial – why should I? If La Russophobe wishes to keep her identity to herself, I don’t have a problem with it. I’m sure nobody believes it’s a “team blog”, though – the replies and the editorials are clearly written by the same person. And you’re absolutely correct that it sounds very much like Fitzpatrick’s tunnel-vision ranting. Fitzpatrick comes across as slightly more intellectual than La Russophobe, but that could be a result of conscious effort. Thanks very much for the interesting and well-reasoned observation!

    • Misha says:

      Someone privately said the same to me awhile back.

      I initially thought differently until I came across some comments from CF at another thread at this blog. Way too much time is spent on such folks. I’ve contradicted this thought along with some others.

      Assuming they’re different people, both get approved in a way that Stas Mishin and Matthew Raphael Johnson aren’t. IMO, this point relates to the kind of bias that’s out there.

  8. AntiPUKin says:

    The Kremlin “Stooge” – Hahahaha!

    MORE LIKE A PUTIN’S WHORE!😉

    P.S.

    Grow up Russian KGB Bitchez and sluts and mind your own business in your Shithole Russian Pederation!

    Love,

    Marcus

  9. А каким вы ещё хотели видеть это бббббббббезобразное грызунское животное?

  10. Allister says:

    Thanks for the truth, marknesop. But this is just a crumb in the sea of lie.

    • marknesop says:

      I’m not sure everything I say is the truth – like the stuff I write about, it’s based on researched references, and those might not always be accurate. I generally feel safe if what I’m writing about is obviously nonsense (like Putin’s agricultural policies being responsible for the spike in bread prices, what a crock) and I can find a reference that’s usually reliable, such as the New York Times or a professional standard like the Financial Times. And really the Russophobes aren’t that much of a problem – they’re disproportionately loud and mouthy, and I imagine they might hurt some Russian feelings (especially those Russians who are interested in making friends, and can’t imagine why someone would deliberately be so ignorant), but I’d bet most of them use the logic that an insult from an idiot is actually a compliment.

      • Dmitry says:

        Oh, one more thing abt the researched references:

        Nearly a half of Georgia’s population lives in rural areas, where low-intensity self-sufficient farming provides the principal source of livelihood.[25] Georgian statistics service puts individual peasants into the category of self-employed workers. As of 2007 416,900 peasants were listed as self-employed in agriculture.[26] For large families, heads of households are typically described as “individual entrepreneurs”, members of the family that help to cultivate land are classified as “unpaid family business workers”. The use of this methodology produces relatively low unemployment rates for rural areas (4,8% as 2006 [23]).

        You kinow where to find the original source.

  11. I can only wonder how much more prosperous Georgia would have been had Misha poured all that money into the national infrastructure, the economy and social services.

    • marknesop says:

      Which, along with job creation and foreign-investment incentives – such as greasing the skids for factories and assembly plants in Georgia using Georgian labour, is exactly where he should have spent it. Pouring millions upon millions into the military when there was no clear and present danger (sporadic shelling from South Ossetia being somewhat less than a threat on a national scale) was pretty transparent for anyone who was paying attention. The media can speculate all it likes about Russia baiting a trap and just waiting for Saakasvili to walk into it – no sovereign nation would allow a rapid and sustained buildup of foreign-financed military forces on its border. What would happen if Egypt started spending millions of dollars supplying the Palestinians with tanks and crew-served artillery? You know.

  12. Andor says:

    Turbocharged Success?!!!!
    The biggest joke that only La Russophobe would believe )))
    The Georgia foreign debt as of July 31st, 2010 is $ 3, 583, 455, 000
    which is the increase by $118, 660,000 in just one month.
    GDP per capita: Georgia $4,400 (2009 est.) , close to Honduras and Bolivia –CIA Factbook.
    To be compared to Honduras doesn’t seem to be a high honor for Saakashvili )))
    And building the Potyomkin’s villages is not turbocharging the economy, it’s just slapping a new coat of cheap paint on the crumbling facade of failing economy.
    And the new beauty in the Ministry of Sustained Development etcetera, etcetera is raring to start new phase of privatization. The worst time to look for investors unless it is a fire sale.

    http://bizzone.info/government/2010/1281643160.php

    Uncontrollable spending has never been a measure of success .
    Just look at the US economy after the credit bubble burst )))

    • marknesop says:

      Sing it loud, brother! I’m sure La Russophobe doesn’t believe Georgia is a great success, either – nobody who can read a balance sheet would believe it. It just suits certain functions of the government to support Saakashvili because he keeps Russia busy keeping a wary eye on Saakashvili.

      That’s not to say Georgia never will be a success,or even that Saakashvili is not the man to lead it. If he stopped being so full of himself, quit seeing himself as the sharp point of the western spear and actually worked toward improving quality of life for his people, he’s quite capable of being a good leader. As I said in the post, he’s not a dumb thug; he’s an extremely smart and well-educated man, and when he decides he wants something he’s perfectly ready to sacrifice to get it – even a man with a talent for languages must have to work a bit to speak 5 of them.

      He just has to want something for Georgia and not for Saakashvili.

  13. Yalensis says:

    Re: Quebec. I did have the pleasure of visiting Montreal once, as a tourist. It is a gorgeous city, very clean. I was astounded by the fact that every single person I saw walking down the street (especially the women) was physically beautiful and well dressed. I’m not kidding! I thought I had stumbled onto some movie set that only allowed beautiful people. I do not speak French, unfortunately. (I can read it pretty well, but not speak it.) As a tourist, this was not an obstacle for me. Any tourist who walks into a store or cafe only has to say either “good morning” or “bonjour” to signal which language they need to communicate; and the person behind the counter responds in kind. I attended a baseball game in which everything at the stadium was announced twice, first in English, then in French. My friends joked that the game takes twice as long, because everything has to be said twice. One minor drawback of a bilingual society! But it didn’t seem to affect the beauty and robustness of this wonderful francophone culture. To me this is proof that a completely bilingual society can be a viable option. Viva La Quebec!

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, Montreal is kind of the Paris of Canada, and the young of both genders are extremely fashion-conscious. I’ve noticed that about the women, too – their clothes appear not only current, but tailored so as to fit them perfectly: if they gain two pounds, into the closet it goes, there’s no room for error. French men, especially the younger men, are slightly flamboyant and much more fashion-conscious than their habitually plain T-Shirts-and-jeans English counterparts, generally speaking. Your observations are accurate and perceptive; I love Quebec, and I’m looking forward to showing it off to my wife.

  14. Andor says:

    In support of my previous post:

    http://www.economist.com/node/16847798/comments#comments

    “Batumi is nothing more than Potemkin’s village designed to impress western journalists (paid and independent alike). How it is built is another matter. Businesses were and are forced to invest under fear of raids from tax police, removal of licences and wide-spread high profile arrests (albeit short term, as most of the people are released as soon as they pay ransom). Undisclosed amounts of state funds were also invested in Batumi at the whim of one person – Saakashvili.”

    http://www.economist.com/node/16847798/comments?page=1

    “Georgians are not being allowed to move on with their lives and are being subjected to NEWSPEAK and manipulation at every opportunity, and it is clear that the Economist is part of that 1984 scenario. I would like to know who wrote this article and who provided the research, and how much money traded hands – it is clear not only from living in Georgia that this article has tainted the reputation of the Economist and the western media as a whole, and clearly comes off a 4-hire and reckless article that seeks to support a corrupt regime and an outside agenda.”

    I especially liked the newly coined word for the Saakashvili supporters , “the Mishists” )))

    • marknesop says:

      I used to be fond of quoting The Economist, believing it was a solid source, but a lot of people mocked it, and especially its coverage of Russia. On looking closer, I came to believe they were right, and that The Economist has prostituted itself in exchange for circulation. If I want economic data now, I get it from Sublime Oblivion.

      I’m not familiar with Batumi, aned I guess I need to look it up. I think Saakashvili is much more popular in Russia than he knows, because he has single-handedly managed to kill the issue of NATO membership for Georgia. What’s unfortunate is that Georgians who didn’t do anything wrong are suffering straitened circumstances and reduced prosperity because of him. I’m sure they won’t be the last electorate misled to believe the leader would bring big positive changes. If the west is smart it will start easing him out in favour of another western-friendly successor, because he’s only making the Russian sphere of influence look more attractive.

  15. Pingback: An Uneasy Peace, a Foundation of Sand | The Kremlin Stooge

  16. Pingback: Potemkin Georgia: Exposing The Lies Of The Saakashvili PR Machine

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