Today a lot is written about Russian-Georgian relations. There are numerous opinions. Given that neither the Club of Experts can be indifferent towards this very painful issue. And time to time we are trying to publish our thoughts for Georgian society regarding the above issue based on analysis of gathered information, existing events and historical lessons.
By recognizing Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region that actually means a full control over these territories, Russia showed the US and Europe who has a right to be a master on the post-Soviet space. Given that Russia will not change its decision about recognition of independence of the occupied territories voluntarily. First of all it is convinced that such step will be considered retreat in the eyes of not only the international community but also of the Russian population as well. And second of all, a strategic goal of Russia is to restore its influence over Georgia and establishing control over it. Today this program is partially fulfilled. Now establishing control over the rest of Georgia is on the agenda and they are not sparing energy to achieve this. It continues carrying out attacks in every direction that is confirmed by aggressive policy of the Russian Federation, development of events and analysis of materials for Georgian society showing activities of security services.
It is notable that Russian security services usually do not choose one certain way to achieve a set goal. Mostly they act in several directions simultaneously and it cannot be said that less attention is paid to any of the chosen directions.
One of the urgent matters with regards to Georgia has always been to choose a leader - a person acceptable to them – to put on the political arena against exiting at the time authorities. A person who would be actively involved in Russian campaign aimed at change of leadership and would unite pro-Russian units into one unified force. At various times these persons were Igor Giorgadze, Aslan Abashidze. And now as we know a name of Zurab Nogaideli has been added to this list. Only difference is that if at the preliminary stage the Kremlin brought Giorgadze and Abashidze to the political stage secretly, under "guise", so to speak, with regards to Nogaideli it is acting openly and sometimes even provocatively. But maybe Nogaideli's "close" relations with the Kremlin may not be that recent either.
Below we present a short historical digression into the recent past in order to clearly show a role of Russian security services in connection with events developed in Georgia.
From the day of declaring independence of Georgia direction of Georgian development towards western values became apparent which itself did not rule out establishment of warm, good-neighbourly relations with Russia. As opposed to giving a helping hand to a young Georgian government Russia (if it itself was trying to build a democratic country) started from the first day after declaring its independence put in full motion the entire arsenal of leverage in its possession in order not to allow Georgia not to be a part of an empire a new form of which was beginning to take shape and which was later presented, though not completely, but in the form of the CIS.
National, but inexperienced, overtly self-confident and ambitious authorities failed to accordingly assess and analyze extremely grave situation, its causes and what is no less important, extremely dangerous abilities of a successor of the Soviet KGB Russian security services. The latter with its agents (see "Abkhazian separatism was born in labyrinths of KGB" part 2) were actively influencing on processes that were taking place in Georgia. Moreover, there were many unrectifiable mistakes as a result of which Russian security services easily managed to overthrow Gamsakhurdia's government.
As it emerged later the Kremlin was not very keen on Shevardnadze either but at that time it was hard to make a bet on anybody as an alternative to Zviad Gamsakhurdia. Therefore based on "accustomed evil" principle a choice was made in favour of the old comrade of Yeltsin.
"National" forces that overthrew Zviad Gamsakhurdia did not allow Eduard Shevardnadze who came with a wave of state coup to enter the CIS. Offended Russia provoked an Abkhazian war and defeated Georgia in an unequal war that had been going on over a year. To stay in power Shevardnadze was compelled to become a member of the CIS but did not manage to completely please the Kremlin and Russian security services arranged a terrorist act with the hands of Igor Giorgadze.
By that time Giorgadze's positions were so strong that in case of elimination of Eduard Shavardnadze nobody could have prevented him from coming to power. After Giorgadze moved to Moscow Shevardnadze started with his usual energy to remove those "disobedient" and consolidation of his authority.
Despite great efforts Russia could not manage to become a master of no alternatives in the post Soviet space. As time passed it was ceding its positions more and more for certain reasons. And Georgian foreign relations vector was leaning more and more towards the west. Russia irritated by this was trying in every way to not allow leverage of influence to slip through his hands. And the most important instruments for influence were conflict regions. Given that, at any given period of time Russian actions that were connected to Georgian-Abkhazian and Georgian-Ossetian conflicts served one purpose – not to allow resolution of the conflict, to transfer them to a " sleeping" mode in order to retain full control and influence over sides of the conflict. Russia that was armed with UN and OSCE mandates combined peacekeepers' function with a role of a mediator and for all 15 years purposefully had been blocking all initiatives directed at resolution of the conflict. There were periods when the sides of the conflict reached consensus regarding certain issues but as soon as Russia felt "danger" a relevant reaction followed. With help of its security services it used to easily manage to provoke one or the other side as a result of which achieved agreements were broken and negotiations used to reach a dead-end for a significant period of time. At that time Russia continued to annex conflict territories.
Since replacement of Shevardnadze with Giorgadze failed miserably the Kremlin decided to set Aslan Abashidze as a leader through Yevgeny Primakov. In new circumstances only a factor of Ajara would not be enough for Abashidze to become an alternative to Shevardnadze. Therefore with Russian dictate again and with a purpose of raising his ratings among population who were refugees from Abkhazia he assumed a role of a mediator in the resolution of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict. Apart from that using Abashidze would make it easier for Russia to manage a process of the conflict resolution taking into account its interests. And what is more important it would make it easier for Russia to remove Chairman of the Abkhazian legitimate Supreme Council Tamaz Nadareishvili from the processes. The latter as it is known always considered Russia as one of sides of the conflict and was openly spoke against Russia.
The first thing that Abashidze did was to put a question of restoration of railway on the section of Abkhazia and resumption of railway transit with Armenia on the agenda. At that time information that was received by Ministry of Security of Abkhazia clearly indicated that restoration of the railway was only planned for the section of Leselidze-Ochamchire in order to enable Russians to transport military goods through railway into deep of Abkhazian territory and it was in no way connected with restoration of railway transit with Armenia. They were not connected for the very simple reason that there were no restoration works on those mechanisms which should have provided safe transportation of people and goods on the Abkhazian-Georgian section of the railway. It is known that Tamaz Nadareishvili managed to not only block this issue but also to remove Aslan Abashidze from the above mentioned process.
We will not bore a reader with recounting as to how events developed afterwards as everything is well known. We will just mention that Moscow could not manage to implement its plan then either.
As we mentioned above some time ago Zurab Nogaideli joined Igor Giorgadze and Aslan Abashidze. Interesting thing is that Yevgeny Primakov is again involved. He with a calculated move presented a person of Zurab Nogaideli behind the scenes in the Kremlin as a figure acceptable for them. His trips to Moscow, artificially created noise around abduction of Tirdznisian teenagers and agreement that he signed with party Edynaya Rossia clearly showed us how ratings of Nogaideli are laboriously being worked on.
The fact is that Georgian society does not perceive (and never have) Nogaideli as a serious politician. More, during the period of his being the Prime Minister, or before that Nogaideli was not active when it came to restoration of territorial integrity of the country, return of refugees or resolving their social or other problems, restoration of relationships with Abkhazians and Ossetians. After moving over to the opposition Zurab Nogaideli never had support from opposition parties and even an insignificant part of the population.
Given that Nogaideli is trying to add something to his ratings and is not sparing promises to refugees from Abkhazia as it was done by Abashidze's party Agordzineba in the past. At one of his meetings Nogaideli stated that in 2005 Georgia allegedly almost practically completed negotiations with Russia on two issues. One of them was restoration of Abkhazian section of the railway and that Georgian boarder guards would stand on the Psou section of the Russian-Georgian border. According to Nogaideli, apart from railway restoration by the end of 2005 issues with regards to resolution of the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia had been practically agreed with Russia. But Putin's phone call to Saakashvili "your Prime Minister should come to sign the agreement" allegedly irritated Georgian President "why Putin called me about you" and foiled an almost completed agreement. And after that he has not touched this issue.
It is understandable that such statements are meant for electorate that does not know mush about such issues but it's still hard to restrain oneself and not to say anything in Nogaideli's address. Mister Nogaideli, the entire international community has been trying and have not been able to find solutions to the Georgian-Abkhazian and the Georgian-Ossetian conflicts for 15 years and if this was indeed so why did not you raise an alarm. Finally if Georgia's fate was being decided then and you were not permitted to do this why have not you left your post and moved into opposition at that time. But you are lying and we will try to neutralize your absurdities with a small episode concerning the restoration of the railway.
After the Rose Revolution in Georgia Russia once again activated Armenian lobby both in Moscow and the west and negotiations regarding restoration of railway in Abkhazia was under control of the UN observer' mission in Georgia. Bilateral working groups of various directions consisting of railway, power and security specialists were formed. A head of the Georgian side became Giorgi Khaindrava who then was the State Minister. Security group was headed by president of the Club of Experts and then the Minister of Security of Abkhazia Levan Kiknadze who participated in every meeting that was connected with restoration of the railway.
Restoration works were determined and financing of the restoration was undertaken by the Russian railway and that fact was officially registered with an act. Russian railway troops entered Abkhazia to carry out restoration works and actively started restoration of the railway. By that time Russia as usual led negotiations into dead-end and excluded the Georgian side from the process of the restoration and they themselves completed restoration of Leselidze-Ochamchire section of the railway in Abkhazia. And nobody bothered the Georgian side (they do not bother us today either) with regards to restoration of the remaining and the most damaged Ochamchire-Ingiri section of the railway connecting Armenia with Russia. Without this section transit with Armenia would have been impossible. Pressure of Armenian lobby was suspiciously seized with regards to restoration of railway transit in the direction of Armenia through Abkhazia. As the following events showed restoration of Leselidze-Ochamchire section of the railway was an integral part of the plan of the final occupation of Abkhazia by Russia.
As to presence of our border guards and customs officers on the Psou section of the Russian-Georgian border Zurab Nogaideli forgets or he does not know that full functioning of departments that determine the statehood on the Psou border practically meant restoration of state control over Abkhazia that at that time was an unattainable dream. Such ungrounded statements of the former Prime Minister are directed, of course, towards gaining a cheap authority. We will leave this issue for Prime Minister of the Separatist Abkhazia Sergei Shamba to comment who said with regards to Zurab Nogaideli's meetings with Abkhazian diaspora in Moscow: "Georgian politicians both in the government and in the opposition are often bluffing. Nogaideli announced earlier that he had meetings with Abkhazian diaspora in Moscow when in reality no such meetings have taken place".
Then what has happened to leaders of other political parties and what they are hoping for. From their statements, interviews and public speeches it seems as though they have been living in another galaxy for the past 20 years and know nothing about events that have taken place in Georgia. And they were not familiar with Russian actions directed against Georgia all this time. From the above small historical excursus it is also clear that the history is repeating. It is repeating and that unfortunately we are not making correct conclusions. As to Russia, it has not changed its traditional imperialistic attitude towards Georgia and it had no need to rack its brains to preserve it at any period of time. It followed the same tested scheme, the same scenario.
It's true that we were defeated in an uneven fight but it might be possible that we are dealing with a situation when little Georgia taught "super-power" Russia a lesson in fighting for independence. Therefore, let's not repeat mistakes made in the 20s of the last century and once and for all show Russia that we are a freedom-loving nation and we will fight till the end to protect our territorial integrity and independence.