Vladimir Putin’s defeat in Ukraine may have been much more significant, but there can be little more humiliating for Russia than its failure to win the vote in Abkhazia, tiny, weak, and already in effect a protectorate. The debacle in Abkhazia was a chronic failure of Russian intelligence, probably in both senses, and a colossal error of judgment that can only have heartened the Ukrainian opposition. It was, of course, also a defeat for a foreign policy that seems to view Russia’s “near-abroad”--places like Ukraine and Abkhazia--as something akin to Russian republics such as Tatarstan and Sakha: ethnically different maybe, but irrevocably tied to Russia historically, geographically, politically, and economically.
Putin has just tripped up in Ukraine and lost face in Abkhazia. He could soon suffer a further reverse in Moldova, which goes to the polls in February. Though the political landscape in Moldova is changing fast and unpredictably (with the once pro-Moscow president leaning to the West and the formerly pro-Western opposition looking to Moscow), Moldova’s elections and Yushchenko’s victory could also have some impact on the frozen conflict in Transdniester, a sliver of land sandwiched between Moldova and Ukraine. In short, the tide has been running against Putin and it could continue to run against him. In the meantime, Saakashvili and his team will use their unusually good access to decision makers in Washington to try and lift the issue of the unresolved conflicts in Russia’s back yard up the geopolitical agenda.
Based in London, we are an informal group dedicated to supporting democracy and human rights throughout
the former Soviet Union. Our aims are:
Informing the public about issues in this area that receive little coverage in the Western media.
Staging peaceful demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns in support of specific causes.
Supporting and publicising nonviolent pro-democracy groups throughout the region.
Encouraging European and American involvement.
Support the Belarusian cartoonists
Third Way, the Belarusian organisation whose members are being prosecuted for producing satirical cartoons about Lukashenka,
have set up a web page where you can make a donation via PayPal. The group urgently
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We are continuing to focus our efforts on the Belarusian prisoner of conscience Mikhail Marinich.
We are campaigning for him to receive proper medical treatment, to be permitted to see his family,
and ultimately to be released from prison pending a review of his case. You can help by distributing
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