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Analysis, book reviews and photography from Abkhazia and the wider Caucasus — updates when time permits

Why is the call to boycott the Sochi Olympics led by TI Georgia and ISFED?

Transparency International Georgia (TI Georgia) and the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) are spearheading a petition that calls on the Georgian government to boycott the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games. This not on account of the corruption and rights violations during their preparation, but because TI Georgia and ISFED consider that the Russian government is breaking the cease fire agreement that ended the August 2008 war. (A particular source of ire is the fact that one of the Russian pilots of that war who has received the title of National Hero has been chosen to carry the Olympic torch. While he is only one among thousands to be bestowed that honour, his run was prominently shown on Russian state TV.)

Regardless of whether one agrees with the cause, neither should be involved, let alone organise this campaign. Organisations like TI Georgia and ISFED hold the moral high ground because they focus on single ideals (fair elections, no more corruption) that are above debate, so that even governments generally have to pay lip service to them. By branching out into political issues, these organisations become themselves politicised. Instead, they should try to avoid giving the government any sticks to beat them with.

In this particular case, TI Georgia and ISFED also risk distracting from the Georgian Presidential election due in less than two weeks, which deserves all their attention.

Filed under: Elections, Georgia, Human Rights, Russia, , ,

Photography: Georgian cemetary on Texel

During the final days of World War II, a few hundred Georgian soldiers, who had been coerced to fight with the German army after having been taken prisoner, rose up on the Dutch island of Texel. After initial success, however, the uprising was suppressed with the aid of German reinforcements from Den Helder on the mainland. Around 600 Georgians, 100 Dutch civilians and 800 Germans (of which 450 in the initial uprising) were killed, many of whom in mass executions, and the German troops weren’t defeated until 20 May 1945, much later than in the rest of Europe.

After the war, a special cemetary was created in the center of the island for the Georgian soldiers, named after their commander, Shalva Loladze. Throughout the years, it has been visited repeatedly by Georgian delegations, notably in 2005 by Mikhail Saakashvili, his wife Sandra Roelofs (who is Dutch) and Patriarch Ilia II.

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Filed under: Georgia, Netherlands, Photography

For twenty years now the West has shirked its responsibility in Abkhazia

I have written a commentary for AbkhazWorld.com on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the end of the 1992–1993 war between Georgia and Abkhazia.

It can be read here.

Filed under: Abkhazia, Chechnya, European Union, Georgia, Human Rights, Kosovo, United States of America, , , ,

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