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saakashvili-mikhail-bbc-screenshot.si

Today is the ten year anniversary of the South Ossetian War of 2008, in which the Georgian hothead President Mikheil Saakashvili – acting on muddled signals from the US Embassy – attacked the breakaway province, killing a dozen Russian peacekeepers in the process.

Here in turn are some of my muddled recollections about that distant time.

1. At the time, Russia’s soft power instruments were still in their infancy. Many of them seemed to take a break in the decisive first hours and even days of the conflict, even as the BBC churned out propaganda showing “Russians” (actually Georgians) attacking the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali with Grad missiles.

Interesting enough, this meant that much of the pro-Russian response in the English-language came from marginal blogs such as Patrick Armstrong (see his excellent analysis on its timing), Sharon Tennyson and Co’s Russia: Other Points of View, Charles Ganske’s and Yury Mamchur’s Russia Blog, and for that matter, me at “Da Russophile” (I had started blogging in January 2008).

Incidentally, as Egor Kholmogorov points out, there was a delayed reaction even the Russian domestic information front. The Georgians having attacked on Friday night, the journalists were all going off work – leaving the field to the Moscow opposition “intelligentsia” larping as Georgians.

For instance, Russia’s Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin’s performance was brilliant:

But it was Kholmogorov, who at the time ran a minor website, who provided its first transcript – not any of the Russian media giants.

The internal Russian propaganda machine is a lot more streamlined for this to happen today. And Russia’s English-language info ecosystem is now too well developed to allow a repeat of that travesty.

2. I had been increasingly aware that the Western media was run by dissimulating drones, at least on Russia but probably on many other topics too, since becoming politically aware in the mid-2000s.

Still, its behavior during that period marked new lows of deception and disassembly. It was “fake news” before there was fake news.

But I documented many other examples less than a couple of days after the conflict broke out. The Western media also made no effort to fact check Saakashvili’s bizarre counterfactual assertions.

Putin himself put it very succinctly: “The very scale of this cynicism is astonishing — the attempt to turn white into black, black into white and to adeptly portray victims of aggression as aggressors and place the responsibility for the consequences of the aggression on the victims.

3. Although the Russian military performed adequately, they did reveal many problems in the Russian Armed Forces (see CAST’s Tanks of August) and provoked a major round of reforms and funding upgrades.

For his part, Saakashvili seems to have taken the “rusting tanks” rhetoric about Russia’s atrophied military capabilities a bit too literally, thinking that his lavish funding of the Army and US training could make up for the fact that Georgia remained a military pygmy relative to Russia whatever he did.

He also seemed to genuinely believe that the US would come to his aid, having contributed the third largest contingent of troops to Iraq after the US and Britain (Georgia’s population as of their last Census: 3.7 million).

To be fair, it seems to have been a more common view in the US as well.

There were serious speculations about Americans blowing up the Roki Tunnel into South Ossetia, or even intervening in the conflict outright. But six years later, despite continued deterioration in West-Russia relations, there were no serious discussions about physically helping out the Ukraine. My impression is that despite Russia’s mediocre military performance, it was still vastly better than what many of the American neocon types had deluded themselves into thinking, and consequently restored Russian military credibility after Chechnya had shattered it in 1994-96.

The Russian Army that took Crimea, helped destroy the Ukrainian formations at the Battle of Ilovaysk, and intervened in Syria was a qualitatively different force.

Moreover, Russia’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia demonstrated that Putin’s Munich speech was not just talk, and that it would not be forever tied down by the questionable Belavezha Accords.

The post-Soviet taboo about the inviolability of Stalin’s and Khrushchev’s borders was at least in this minor way now broken.

4. That downturn in relations, unlike in 2014, was only temporary. Unfortunately, the Russian elites do not seem to have drawn the correct lessons back then.

Consequently, the events of 2013-14 still came as a rude shock to many of them, despite a further minor warning in the form of the Libyan attack. They did not prepare as they should have.

Western cargo cultism dies hard.

5. Realistically speaking, I have to commend Georgia for its performance in the consequent decade.

* It has dropped the goal of recovering territories drawn up under Stalin whose inhabitants do not want them for a more opportune day, should it come (e.g. another Russian collapse).

* In the meantime, it has re-established okay relations with Russia, and Georgia is now a favored tourist destination of Moscow hipsters. Overpriced saperavi wine is sold in every Russian supermarket. Russians have had a net positive view of Georgia since 2012.

* It might have dropped loud pretensions to NATO membership as unrealistic and needlessly provocative. However, it has acquired what Bershidsky calls a “NATO of the mind.” Its firm public and political bipartisan stance in support of NATO limits Russian influence within Georgia proper as well as the real thing.

* The Georgian Paradox: Although it is poor and subject to massive brain drain, and its human capital is nothing to write home about, it managed to develop well-functioning institutions for its region. It has also offloaded most of its organized criminals onto Russia.

* It also seems to be one of the few White Christian countries to have recovered above replacement level fertility rates.

EDIT: Couple of corrections based on the comments.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Georgia, Russia-Georgia War, Western Media 
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  1. Highlight is probably FOX cutting off the Ossetian girl who didn’t toe the party line

    This is her now:

    • Replies: @Mikhail
    , @22pp22
  2. * It also seems to be one of the few Christian countries to have recovered above replacement level fertility rates.

    This simply isn’t true. You need to get this strange idea (“lower population must mean bigger TFR!”) out of your head.

    Georgia is just a small and shrinking country. Now with a negative natural population growth as well.

    https://www.ekhokavkaza.com/a/28855977.html

  3. Dmitry says:

    Georgia’s economy is growing well this year and last year.

    Tourism is higher than ever there (they received over 1 million tourists just in July alone).

    With falling population and a large part of their own population not living in the actual country (number of Georgians living in Russia, is believed to be a lot larger than official statistics), their per capita income might finally achieve a reasonable level in the next 5-10 years.

    At the moment, economic growth at a rate of over 5,7% year-on-year.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/georgia-economy/georgias-economy-grows-57-pct-yr-yr-in-h1-idUSL5N1UR30J

    The economy growth combined with their falling population, implies individual living standards might be finally increase significantly- and long term that less will emigrate to Russia.

    They are also more ethnically homogeneous than in the past, with 86,8% of the population being Georgian now. .

  4. The “Fox News censored the Georgian girl” fake victimhood story is a confirmed hoax. From Wikipedia:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_war_during_the_Russo-Georgian_War

    On 13 August 2008, Fox News interviewed 12-year-old Ossetian-American girl Amanda Kokoeva and her aunt Laura Tedeeva-Korewicki, who had returned from South Ossetia. Fox began the interview by emphasizing the experiences of a 12-year-old girl. Invited to tell about Georgian bombings, the 12-year-old girl and her aunt said they were saved by Russians. As the aunt started to mention the conflict was started by Saakashvili, Fox News cut the interview for commercials. When the break ended and they were back on the air, Fox granted the aunt additional time to finish her thoughts during the last minute of the program at which time she started to blame the Georgian government. Thereafter before the end of the program the anchorman said that there were grey areas in war. CBS also had an interview with this girl before.

    This incident was highlightened in particular on NTV (Russia) and Russia 1. However, the Russian channels allowed many inaccuracies and even editing themselves. First both channels created the impression that the anchor stopped the conversation as soon as Amanda’s aunt said that Georgia was to blame for the conflict. However, they failed to show that Amanda has been saying the same for almost a minute before, and the anchor never interrupted her then. Secondly, Russia 1 edited the sound, superimposing what is supposed to be the anchors arrogant cough over Amanda’s aunt talking, creating the impression that he was trying to prevent the audience from hearing her. However, this exaggerated coughing is absent in the original footage. Both channels failed to translate the words of a FOX anchor, in which he said that the commercial break would interrupt the broadcast whether they liked it or not, expressing regret.

    How ironic. This is how the Kremlin garners sympathy for itself from gullible Westerners: by always narcissistically playing the victim.

  5. Dmitry says:

    There is an improvement of relations in the public opinion level.

    In Levada Centre’s annual friends and enemies rankings.

    The proportion of public who view Georgia as a top enemy country-

    In 2008, it was 62% of people.

    By 2011, this has fallen a little to 50% of people.

    By 2018, only 8% .

    https://www.levada.ru/2018/06/14/druzya-i-vragi-rossii-3/

    The measurement is actually hilariously changeable and disloyally fast moving based on news cycle and what people hear last on television. See the numbers up and down for Turkey (in 2016) in the enemy rating.

  6. @DownWithAssad

    Yes and it’s terribly shocking how many stupid westerners fell for this trick. They all forgot the free, wide-ranging and open journalistic style Fox News had practised in the years leading up to this. Fox’s coverage of the Iraq War (sorry Operation Freedom Eagle) was Aristotelian in its balance.

    • LOL: reiner Tor
    • Replies: @Sam Haysom
  7. Dmitry says:

    * It has dropped the goal of recovering territories drawn up under Stalin whose inhabitants do not want them for a more opportune day, should it come (e.g. another Russian collapse).

    They would be idiots to try. Georgia is more ethnically homogeneous than ever before, with 86,8% of the population being Georgian nationality. For them (in imaginary scenario) to take on South Ossetia and Abkhazia would reverse that – the latter by some significant percentage points.

  8. dmitriev says:
    @DownWithAssad

    Yeah, really, “fake victimhood story”. Meanwhile, back in reality, the core Western narrative on the war was and continues to be bullshit – i.e. that Russia planned the war in advance and “provoked” poor little Georgia into it, that it was done to stop NATO expansion, and all this other garbage. The very Wikipedia page you cite contains examples of it, such as Tsarnayev’s idiotic statements about 50 Russian journalists being in South Ossetia in advance “as if they knew that something was going to happen.” This is so obviously ridiculous. It’s been 10 years, how come none of these journalists who supposedly “knew that something was going to happen” have confessed? Maybe because there is nothing to confess to?

    Furthermore, the Western media as a whole never adequately covered the fact that the Georgians announced their assault on South Ossetia as an operation to “restore constitutional order” and then later switched to claiming that the attack was in response to a Russian invasion.

  9. Give blood guys.

    • Agree: Talha
    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  10. Mikhail says: • Website
    @Cagey Beast

    She wasn’t cutoff as inaccurately claimed. I’m at the forefront in detailing US mass media bias against Russia. At issue, is constructive criticism over false innuendo. That segment had a certain time limit with commercials. All in all, she got her views in.

    • Replies: @Cagey Beast
  11. Twinkie says:

    He also seemed to genuinely believe that the US would come to his aid, having contributed the third largest contingent of troops to Iraq after the US and Britain (Georgia’s population as of their last Census: 3.7 million).

    This is inaccurate: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi-National_Force_%E2%80%93_Iraq

    After the U.S. and the UK, Australia (2,000 troops) provided the largest force during the initial invasion of Iraq. In terms of peak numbers, South Korea provided the third largest with 3,600 (they deployed to the relatively safe Kurdistan for “reconstruction”). Italy was fourth with 3,200. Georgia was fifth with 2,000 along with Australia. Ukraine was sixth (or seventh if you skip the sixth for the tie at fifth) with 1,650.

    But I understand your point about the Georgian contribution per capita.

    • Replies: @Johann Ricke
  12. El Dato says:

    * Was the modern concept of ‘fake news’ born in Georgia a decade ago?
    * No mention how this played out during the Olympic Games? That was no coincidence.
    * Pretty sure Russia knew something was coming down the pipe though, milling around doing manoeuvers on the other side like that. What’s the Russian translation of “Le couillon est tombé dans le piège.”
    * US demanding that Russia hand back its Humvee-mounted communication gear that got spoils-of-wared because “that’s not how it is done between nations”.
    * Can anyone dig out the cover of The Economist of August 16 2008 Economist for illustration purposes as I can’t into images at Runz.

    • Replies: @Mikhail
  13. @Thorfinnsson

    Donating blood is health for the donor as well.

  14. melanf says:

    For his part, Saakashvili seems to have taken the “rusting tanks” rhetoric about Russia’s atrophied military capabilities a bit too literally, thinking that his lavish funding of the Army and US training could make up for the fact that Georgia remained a military pygmy relative to Russia whatever he did.

    Georgia of course pygmy in comparison with Russia, but the number of Russian troops involved in the conflict was small. The reason for the lightning defeat were very low combat qualities of Georgian troops. In fact, this war ( in a purely military aspect) is a complete analogue of the Arab-Israeli wars (with Georgians in the role of Arabs)

  15. melanf says:

    Pretty sure Russia knew something was coming down

    I’m a day (or two days – don’t remember exactly) before the events happened to turn on the TV: on television showed a column of Georgian tanks moving to South Ossetia, and said that the likelihood that Georgia in the nearest future attacks Ossetia is very high.

  16. @melanf

    That’s funny. As I recall, Yulia Latynina (a famous democratic journalist) used to make the same analogy, except to her Georgians were Israelis, and Russians were filthy Arabs.

    https://emelind.livejournal.com/93129.html

    Those were totally mainstream views within the Russian liberal intelligencia before the war, one can imagine what the Georgians were thinking.

    • Agree: utu
    • Replies: @Dmitry
  17. Jon0815 says:

    My impression is that despite Russia’s mediocre military performance, it was still vastly better than what many of the American neocon types had deluded themselves into thinking, and consequently restored Russian military credibility after Chechnya had shattered it in 1994-96.

    I don’t think Russia’s military credibility was really restored until it vastly exceeded expectations in Syria. There was lots of denigration of Russian military capabilities by neocon types in the 2014-2015 period, based on the US establishment’s widespread acceptance of the absurd premise that the Donbass conflict was Ukraine holding back a Russian invasion.

    Prior to Syria, Obama was dismissing Russia as a “regional power,” a label that is difficult to defend now that Russia has frustrated the USA in a major proxy war well outside its near abroad.

    Although an argument could be made that the post-1991 unipolar era ended in 2008 with the Georgia conflict, or even in 2014 with the Crimean reunification, I think 2015 and Russia’s Syria intervention is a better marker.

    • Agree: reiner Tor
    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  18. @melanf

    the number of Russian troops involved in the conflict was small

    From what I read, still double or triple the number of Georgian troops.

    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
    , @melanf
  19. I remember reading the news on the Financial Times website, and it was mostly accurate, with Georgia attacking South Ossetia and the Russian peacekeepers.

    However, within a couple of days the story somehow morphed into a Russian aggression.

  20. @reiner Tor

    That’s because you’re counting the entire size of Russia’s 58th army, when in fact only some elements of it were moved into South Ossetia. In reality Georgians probably had numerical advantage on the first day or two.

    • Agree: melanf
  21. Mitleser says:

    https://forums.spacebattles.com/threads/08-08-08-remember.307647/
    OP did participate in this war (135th Motorized Rifle Regiment).

  22. 22pp22 says:
    @Cagey Beast

    You cannot expect me to listen to twenty minutes of this.

    • Replies: @Cagey Beast
  23. There was a good 30 min radio program by Jim Rodgers of the BBC in Nov 2008 which uncovered the reasons for the false reporting (and the PR work on behalf of Georgia)
    The PR battle for the Caucasus: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/documentaries/2008/10/081029_caucases_doc.shtml

    The audio no longer works but can be found here

    https://podtail.com/podcast/the-documentary-archive-2008/the-pr-battle-for-the-caucasus/

    (I don’t think the US exercise in Georgia is mentioned though)

  24. neutral says:

    It also seems to be one of the few Christian countries to have recovered above replacement level fertility rates.

    I assume this is implying white Christian country, but there are a whole bunch of non white Christian countries with booming populations. On this topic I never really know if Georgians should be considered white or not, looking at that Ossetian girl mentioned here, she looks more Arab than white.

  25. @neutral

    On this topic I never really know if Georgians should be considered white or not, looking at that Ossetian girl mentioned here, she looks more Arab than white.

    It depends, some Caucasians come off as European, while others are very swarthy.

    Which partly is why I find it amusing that in America whites are classified as ‘Caucasians’.

  26. Incidentally yesterday’s string of eights was a very lucky day.

  27. melanf says:
    @reiner Tor

    From what I read, still double or triple the number of Georgian troops.

    In addition to Felix’s answer – this is the Georgian “fleet” burning in the port of Poti.

    How did that happen? The Reconnaissance group (!) of the Russian army came to the port of Poti on an armored personnel carrier, burned the Georgian “fleet” and left back. Such things can not be explained by “numerical superiority”, the reason is the very low quality of Georgian troops.

  28. @Mikhail

    As a native speaker of English, and someone familiar with the normal rhythms and mood of American cable news, I say she was cut off. Spare me.

    • Replies: @Hyperborean
    , @Mikhail
  29. @Cagey Beast

    This is her now

    I can’t see the video. What happened to her, did she get fat?

    • Replies: @Cagey Beast
  30. @22pp22

    Yes but you’re allowed to turn the sound off.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  31. @neutral

    They are about as white as Armenians, and no, Georgia doesn’t actually have a growing population or high birthrates. Karlin is badly confused about this.

    • Replies: @Dmitry
  32. Mikhail says: • Website
    @Cagey Beast

    Bullshit.

    The host explained the need to go to a commercial, after which she had ample time to say what she wanted to.

    Watch the full unedited segment.

    • Replies: @Cagey Beast
  33. @Hyperborean

    No, she just became a very pretty woman who wears far more make-up than necessary.

  34. melanf says:
    @neutral

    On this topic I never really know if Georgians should be considered white or not, looking at that Ossetian girl mentioned here, she looks more Arab than white.

    Georgians and Ossetians have approximately the same appearance as Spaniards and Italians.

    Spaniards and Italians are white?

  35. @Mikhail

    I did and I’m reporting back the impression I and other native English speakers got from it.

    • Replies: @Mikhail
  36. Mikhail says: • Website
    @El Dato

    The latest coincidence is the announcement of increased US government sanctions on Russia in response to the poisoning of the Skripals.

    MSNBC and BBC belittle this by suggesting that it should’ve happened sooner. This latest round of factually suspect Russia bashing sanctions comes right after Rand Paul’s visit to Russia, presented as an attempt to improve US-Russian relations.

  37. Mikhail says: • Website
    @Cagey Beast

    Once again, the full unedited tape clearly shows the host of that particular segment emphasize his need to go to a commercial, followed by him stressing that the guests would get to see their piece after that commercial. This is what clearly happened. Anything to the contrary is mis-informative bullshit.

    If anything, it an be reasonably said that the the older woman (of the two guests) was jumpy in her suggestion of being censored. That segment was slated for roughly around five minutes – typical for Fox News – as has been true with the Tucker Carlson-Stephen Cohen exchanges.

    • Replies: @Cagey Beast
  38. @melanf

    Some of the girls in the picture have somewhat Middle Eastern features, though.

    • Replies: @melanf
  39. melanf says:
    @Hyperborean

    Some of the girls in the picture have somewhat Middle Eastern features, though.

    Sure, but the same can be said about the Italians and Spaniards

    • Replies: @Hyperborean
  40. @Mikhail

    Anything to the contrary is mis-informative bullshit.

    No, anything to the contrary is my reading of the same piece of video we can all see in front of us. You can keep typing “bullshit” and I will still insist Sheppard Smith wrapped up the interview early because he found out they didn’t help the Narrative.

    • Replies: @Mikhail
  41. @melanf

    Sure, but the same can be said about the Italians and Spaniards

    Fair point.

    It is interesting how phenotypically diverse some Western Eurasian people are, yet it is not an obstacle for nationalism.

    Lol, in Northern Europe I often get mistaken for a Muslim, but some of these girls are even darker than I am.

    It reminds of Luca di Maio.

  42. Marcus says:
    @melanf

    Aren’t Caucasians viewed as stereotypically swarthy and referred to as “blackasses” or something like that in Russia? I agree they’d be considered “white” in the US though. Funnily enough, in Trotsky’s diatribe against Stalin, he accused the latter’s coethnics as being “Asiatics” of “Mongolian blood.”

    • Replies: @Dmitry
    , @melanf
  43. Mikhail says: • Website
    @Cagey Beast

    Say what you want to the contrary.

    He clearly said that he had to go to a commercial and that he’d give the guests ample time to follow-up afterwards. That’s exactly what happened. Once again noting that segment was slated to go roughly five minutes – as is typical with Fox News – Tucker-Carlson-Stephen Cohen exchanges included.

    • Replies: @Cagey Beast
  44. @Mikhail

    This is what I saw at the time and what I’m referring to. I’m not referring to any version edited by Russian TV because I don’t understand Russian and never watch it:

    Russian TV likely gilded the lily because that’s what people do in video editing suites: they dumb things down. Mass media is garbage worldwide.

    • Replies: @Mikhail
    , @Marcus
  45. Dmitry says:
    @Felix Keverich

    Those were totally mainstream views within the Russian liberal intelligencia before the war, one can imagine what the Georgians were thinking.

    It is a third-world country of 3 million people, majority of them still in poverty. I think everyone who lives there (apart Saakashvili circle – who are delusional from the cocaine) knows they are going to get their asses kicked.

    If you ever talk to them they’ll tell you the country is a total mess of extreme poverty.

  46. Dmitry says:
    @Marcus

    Most of the nationality are dark (looking like Spanish/Portuguese). A minority even darker (look like Armenians/Azerbaijanis/Southern Spanish) But I guess about 1/3 of population of Georgia are lighter. Some blonde, etc. So white people there as well.

  47. Bush’s lack of response to Russia’s months of provocations prior to the Georgian attempt to reclaim its territory and subsequent lack of response to the Russian invasion sowed the seeds of Russia’s political and economic misery today. A strong response from the US or EU (less institutionally capable, of course) would have stopped Putin’s policy of clinging to Empire (see De Gaulle) in its tracks. Lives and livelihoods would have been saved. Russia would have better than 1.9% growth rate and goods in the shops would be cheaper. Patriotic nationalism brings death and destruction. Long live the EU!

  48. Dmitry says:
    @Felix Keverich

    They are lighter than Armenians (Armenians almost all dark, but Georgian population is majority dark – but a minority of about 1/3 or 1/4 of population are whiter).

    Karlin could be right fertility rate being higher, because the number who are not living in Georgia, but living in Russia – according to some sources, is multiple times higher than the official statistics. Population of Georgia is constantly decreasing from emigration.

    If Georgia’s economy can finally develop, a lot of them would start returning home.

    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
  49. @Philip Owen

    Patriotic nationalism brings death and destruction. Long live the EU!

    EU collaborators and the lack of patriotic nationalism are destroying Western Europe.

    I don’t understand how you can see this as a good example to follow.

    • Replies: @Mitleser
    , @Parbes
  50. Dmitry says:
    @Philip Owen

    Why is South Ossetia Georgian territory? Majority of the population, even before this conflict, are Ossetians, living in their historic homeland.

    • Replies: @Sean
    , @Philip Owen
  51. Mikhail says: • Website
    @Cagey Beast

    The video clearly shows the two guests giving the mainstream Russian and Ossetian narrative. That view wasn’t muted out.

  52. Marcus says:
    @Cagey Beast

    Tbh I don’t really see anything out of the ordinary here except for Shepard interjecting “that’s what the Russians want.” She was fumbling for words and starting to drone on

    • Replies: @Cagey Beast
  53. Marcus says:
    @Philip Owen

    The EU itself determined Saakashvili started the conflict you sanctimonious buffoon. And since when does Russia have a high cost of living?

    https://t.co/Rhr0bJZKmR

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  54. Mitleser says:
    @Hyperborean

    He is one of them. What do you expect?

  55. @Marcus

    Sheppard Smith comes across as someone trying to wrap up an interview with people he wishes his assistants had done a better job screening. It’s not a new Pearl Harbour, it’s not the collapse of the Twin Towers, it’s just an amusing gaffe at the spin factory. It has to be seen in context to be appreciated. I’m telling you how it looked at the time to me and the people I know.

    • Replies: @Marcus
    , @Mikhail
  56. Marcus says:
    @Cagey Beast

    He was obviously very partisan, as was all Western media at the time, they wanted to portray it as big, bad USSR.. I mean Russia!, bullying little Saakashvili

    • Agree: Cagey Beast
  57. melanf says:
    @Marcus

    Aren’t Caucasians viewed as stereotypically swarthy and referred to as “blackasses” or something like that in Russia?

    In most cases, just” blacks” (черные). But it is not so much a racial term as a cultural term for Caucasians and Central Asians.

  58. @Dmitry

    Fortunately, we know the exact number of people living in Georgia because of the recent census that took place in 2014. It’s 3.7 million people. Reportedly this number only includes people actually living in Georgia, but not those, who are registered but living abroad. So this number should be legit. It is 17% smaller, than authorities estimated at the time.

    Now Karlin is convinced that Georgian TFR must be 17% bigger, than previously estimated, which would put Georgia in (barely) above-replacement category. But it’s pretty daft, because this is not how you’re supposed to calculate TFR.

    Fun fact: Saakashvili claimed that results of Georgian census were falsified by his political enemies.

    • Replies: @Dmitry
  59. Mikhail says: • Website
    @Cagey Beast

    In turn the older woman was jumpy, as is true with the inaccurate suggestion that the two guests were blatantly muted.

    Not close to the more blatant anti-Russian mass media biases out there. Best to be accurate when criticizing. Not doing so, gives that anti-Russian leaning side a talking point.

    • Agree: Matra
  60. @DownWithAssad

    This is how the Kremlin garners sympathy for itself from gullible Westerners: by always narcissistically playing the victim.

    It’s almost as if modern Westerners have displayed a characteristic vulnerability to precisely this sort of appeal, and the Kremlin is simply taking advantage of that (incredibly obvious) fact.

    • Replies: @Matra
  61. Sean says:
    @Dmitry

    Georgians say Stalin was an Ossetian.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  62. @Twinkie

    But I understand your point about the Georgian contribution per capita.

    More to the point, Georgia provided the largest force of any non-treaty ally.

  63. @Jon0815

    Maybe the restoration of Russian military credibility was a process, a result of all these events, and cannot be truly pinpointed to any one event. It’s probably still ongoing (provided that the Russians keep performing well in future conflicts).

  64. Matra says:
    @Kevin O'Keeffe

    This may be true, but “the Kremlin” are awful at it. They are usually too heavy-handed – lying by omission works much better! – and have a history of choosing the stupidest, most easily refuted cases to highlight their victimhood. That means when they have a genuine case no one in the West, other than those who are already committed to their side, believes them. They should probably hire Russians raised in the West to do their propaganda.

  65. @Sean

    It’s well known that he was Georgian. I mean, it’s documented.

    • Replies: @Mikhail
  66. @Matra

    That’s true. I could do a better propaganda for them, and I’m not an expert.

    • Replies: @Mikhail
  67. Matra says:
    @Matra

    Whoever runs the Twitter account of the Russian Embassy in London does a really good job representing the Russian side.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  68. @Matra

    Can you give some examples of the Kremlin heavy-handedly playing the victim? I can’t think of any myself. If anything, the Russians’ tone is consistently “we don’t care, we’re going to do what we want, no matter what you throw at us”.

    • Replies: @Mikhail
    , @Philip Owen
  69. Mikhail says: • Website
    @reiner Tor

    It has been said that he was a mix (if you may) of Russian and Georgian.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    , @Mikhail
  70. Mikhail says: • Website
    @Cagey Beast

    To go along with some crony selections.

    • Replies: @Cagey Beast
  71. @Mikhail

    Sorry, I’m not sure what you mean here.

    • Replies: @Mikhail
  72. Mikhail says: • Website
    @reiner Tor

    The again, a number of the so-called experts haven’t (at times) been so expert.

  73. @Mikhail

    I don’t think there’s any evidence for any Russian ancestors of his.

  74. Mikhail says: • Website
    @Cagey Beast

    The it’s not what you know, but who you know syndrome, along with being influenced by what gets propped in the Western establishment.

    Alex Jones appears like he’s more well known than folks at these threads. Is he a better panelist for a serious discussion on US-Russia related matters than some of the commenters here?

  75. @Matra

    Yes, I used to follow it while I was still on Twitter.

  76. Mikhail says: • Website
    @Mikhail

    You’re correct. I mis-wrote. It has been said that he was of a mixed Georgian and Ossetian background.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  77. @Mikhail

    I think one of his grandparents could have been Ossetian, but even that is not proven.

  78. Anonymous[297] • Disclaimer says:
    @Cagey Beast

    Lol, she is mega hot. Too bad her voice isn’t soft and feminine like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbsp4AH97Jc

  79. @melanf

    Are those maid outfits?

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  80. Parbes says:
    @Hyperborean

    “I don’t understand how you can see this as a good example to follow.”

    This guy is a neocon and Anglo-Zionist, Russophobic scumbag – one of the worst characters on this website. What do you expect? For him, the only acceptable patriotic nationalisms in the world are those of the Anglo countries and Israel. Nobody else in the world has a right to be patriotic or nationalistic.

    The filthy hypocrite jackass.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    , @Philip Owen
  81. @Parbes

    I disagree with his worldview, but Philip Owen occasionally gives us great insights, and probably he’ll be okay at the meetup as well. (Though even utu and AaronB will be okay in person, I’m sure. So that’s not saying much.)

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
    , @Dmitry
  82. @Dmitry

    The Russian and Soviet Empires were content to rule all the Georgian nations as one.

    • Replies: @Dmitry
  83. @Marcus

    I am well aware of the EU report which was about which formal army started shooting first.

    Russian food prices are not that low and my point was that they are higher than they need to be, 25% in many cases, because of self imposed sanctions (and greater than necessary devaluation of the double). The Russian pork supply problem was solved by a large drop in consumption following price rises. Russia actually ended up with an exportable surplus be wise of a drop in consumption. RT won’t tell you this.

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
    , @Marcus
  84. @Philip Owen

    The EU itself is an empire. It foolishly clings to the Eurozone, rapefugees, gypsies, Balkanoid swine, etc.

    You might be right about a hypothetical alternate Russian trajectory, but the Russians themselves believed that the plan for Russia was disintegration. Not hard to believe in light of the US response to the Chechen Wars and various color revolutions in the Near Abroad.

    And it’s not like Russia is doing that badly. GDP PPP per capita of $28,000 and 5.1% unemployment. Politically it’s one of very few countries in the world which is genuinely sovereign and independent.

    • Replies: @Marcus
  85. @Cagey Beast

    NATO moving East. 1) It didn’t while any of the 6 people (identified in the House of Lords report on the subject) who said it wouldn’t were in office. 2) It was Easterners demand not a NATO sales pitch that dro e the expansion. 3) NATO East was a total paper tiger without core NATO troops or bases, no new equipment, no new training of note until Russia decided to beat up Ukraine. Even then it didn’t happen in 2004 but post 2014.

    Russia surrounded by new US bases in Central Asia when the targets are China and Iran not to mention Afghanistan.

    Russian claims of superior morality opening them to betrayal by duplicitous foreigners. This is a deep cultural thing. It comes up in every negotiation.

    Just a few examples.

    • Replies: @Cagey Beast
    , @Pavlo
    , @Gerard2
  86. @Daniel Chieh

    School girls wear them at the begining of the school year especially their first day of school and also when they leave (as a parody of themselves when young and innocent).

    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh
  87. @Parbes

    When have I promoted Anglo nationalisms, let alone Israel? Your straw man, not me. My Latin Master was the Senior British Sargent in the Palestine Police in Ramallah until the end of the mandate. The terrorists he locked up were overwhelmingly Jewish. He was of the opinion the Palestinians did nothing but defend themselves. That said, he was pro Israeli in 1967.

  88. @reiner Tor

    Is there a meetup? I am in Russia late September, early October.

  89. @Philip Owen

    Oh. One fact I have never seen satisfactorily explained is why the South Ossetians shot the commanding officer of the Russian “Peacekeepers” as soon as the Georgians launched their attack.

  90. @Philip Owen

    These are not examples of playing the victim, these are examples of another country seeing things from their perspective. A a people, Americans seem totally incapable of understanding other countries see things from their own position and that that is perfectly legitimate and inevitable. If Russia (or France, or Canada) doesn’t want for itself what America wants for it then then it is “playing the victim” or “not accepting reality”. America is like this with every other country.

    • Replies: @Cagey Beast
  91. @Cagey Beast

    *As a people, Americans … etc

  92. Dmitry says:
    @reiner Tor

    Well ignoring his Georgian nationalism – Philip Owen’s comments last month were exclusive information about the Boers’ story, which media (in Russian at least) was really confused about and didn’t know anything about their culture.

    I read this week in Kommersant, a still optimistic article and interview with that family, but which was repeating most points he was writing here last month, about what they want and the history of their culture (everything he said – they were disappointed people lease agricultural land instead of buying it etc).

    The group are also interested in living in Hungary by the way.

  93. Dmitry says:
    @Philip Owen

    And why does this, mean the Ossetians and the Abkhazy, should be ruled under Georgia – if they don’t want to, or have not voted in a referendum for it. In Soviet times, they still had an autonomous republic status.

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  94. Gerard2 says:
    @Philip Owen

    [MORE]

    Bush’s lack of response to Russia’s months of provocations prior to the Georgian attempt to reclaim its territory and subsequent lack of response to the Russian invasion sowed the seeds of Russia’s political and economic misery today. A strong response from the US or EU (less institutionally capable, of course) would have stopped Putin’s policy of clinging to Empire (see De Gaulle) in its tracks. Lives and livelihoods would have been saved. Russia would have better than 1.9% growth rate and goods in the shops would be cheaper. Patriotic nationalism brings death and destruction. Long live the EU!

    I can think you are only living in Russia because there is some underground rent-boy culture in Lipetsk or somewhere else that you like to indulge in…..what a clown. It’s certainly not for business acumen “Phil”.
    I have have to ask what kind of dickhead leads the type of cretinous, incorrect and stupid anti-Russian bilge path that you do………you’re probably just some failure who lost out when the government went after the criminal organisation called Yukos.

    Georgian attempt to reclaim its territory

    …this type of moron comment has no basis in reality when talking about a failing state like Georgia ( or the 100 times more failed state of Ukraine) ………because that territory was given to them for free , without debt and other obligations by the Russian Federation……the post-soviet space was very chaotic ……….the inhabitants of the said areas in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Priednistroviye and now Donbass wanted, in fact, demanded Russian help…and the post-soviet breakup has so similar example to which to compare it to in order to call it “illegal” or whatever nonsense.

    The same thing with the naval base in Sevastopol………..having given ukrops one of the biggest land masses in Europe, one of the key preconditions of it should have been understood that there was no room for extortion to raise the price of the naval lease or to threaten to take it away.

    Russia would have better than 1.9% growth rate

    ….1,9% is better than many important EU countries you idiot………and most of those with higher growth rates would have evaporated if faced with the sanctions that Russia has on itself….then you need to factor in that most of those economies are still comparing their numbers to 2008, pre-crash ….but Russia doesn’t need to look that far back because the oil prices in 2009-12 allowed them to recover quite well

  95. Marcus says:
    @Philip Owen

    I am well aware of the EU report which was about which formal army started shooting first.

    So you support preemptive war?

  96. Marcus says:
    @Thorfinnsson

    The EU itself is an empire. It foolishly clings to the Eurozone, rapefugees, gypsies, Balkanoid swine, etc.

    Russia has the second or third largest immigrant population in the world, making the claims of Philip et al even more lol

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  97. Pavlo says:
    @Philip Owen

    It was Easterners

    Most of them former members of the Hitler coalition who should be grateful they weren’t culled en masse at the end of the last war (as they fulled deserved). They had no legitimate concerns and no motive but aggression.

    decided to beat up Ukraine

    Yes. Just out of the blue for no reason at all.

    Your observations are so reliably idiotic one could be forgiven for thinking you were an Economist writer.

  98. peterAUS says:

    Re Russian performance, a video I’ve found informative:

    Now, it would help if a person viewing has some military experience. Combat even. The best would be an ex-military with a combat experience in mechanized infantry.

    A picture is worth thousands words. Plenty of pictures there.

    My impression: yes, there is a certain lack of finesse there.

    But, and BIG but, there is hardness and grit there, and a lots of it.
    And, more importantly, I can just feel (just me) the underlying expertise of highest standards. Not fancy, not smooth…..but hard and ruthlessly efficient.
    A serious outfit.

    Just a feeling.

  99. @Philip Owen

    …. would have stopped Putin’s policy of clinging to Empire (see De Gaulle) in its tracks.

    I think you might be doing a character here. Are you aiming to be the WASP version of Tiny Duck?

  100. Gerard2 says:
    @Philip Owen

    [MORE]

    NATO moving East. 1) It didn’t while any of the 6 people (identified in the House of Lords report on the subject) who said it wouldn’t were in office. 2) It was Easterners demand not a NATO sales pitch that dro e the expansion. 3) NATO East was a total paper tiger without core NATO troops or bases, no new equipment, no new training of note until Russia decided to beat up Ukraine. Even then it didn’t happen in 2004 but post 2014.

    NATO is interchangeable with the EU you twerp.
    These countries primarily want to join the EU, to do that, unreasonably and ridiculously must join NATO to get into that position……to deceive the population who may want to join the EU, they pay and force into power some American educated, American funded, 5th column scumbag like Saakashvilli, Ilves, Yushchenko and so on to con the population into joining the EU via NATO ( and under referendum it’s highly unlikely Latvia or Estonia would have been able to join NATO you idiot)

    In that capacity as a member of NATO east theyhave a great capacity to harm Russia’s gas supply policy, energy policy, Black Sea trade and military operations and numerous other economic, labour and security issues of Russia.

    The Bulgarian decision to throw away billions and not consent to the South Stream project……should have made this obvious about the malign implications of joining NATO…..even to a dipshit like you.

    And with Georgia/Gruziya’s less then positive, downright hostile acts against Russia and favourable to Chechnya during the Shevardnadze AND Sakaashvili days….them joining NATO is simply unfeasible and immoral you flop of a businessman maggot paedophile.

    • Replies: @Hyperborean
  101. Dmitry says:
    @Felix Keverich

    Birthrate falling last year

    http://www.apsny.ge/2018/soc/1522436149.php

    -

    we know the exact number of people living in Georgia because of the recent census that

    I wonder if their census is accurate – considering the numbers living in Russia are said to be multiple times higher than official data.

  102. Gerard2 says:

    I wonder if their census is accurate – considering the numbers living in Russia are said to be multiple times higher than official data.

    the same……maybe even worse, with Moldova

  103. @Gerard2

    One can state one’s views without resorting to vulgarities, perhaps if you did that then your posts wouldn’t be getting collapsed all the time.

    • Replies: @Sam Haysom
  104. @Cagey Beast

    This is such a cunty response. Can’t even concede the slightest in the face of complete narrative repudiation.

    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
  105. @Hyperborean

    Alternatively he knows how embarassing his posts are to “the cause” but he can’t help himself so the abuse is intentional in order to hide his posts from view.

    I bet Putin sits in his bed at night and thinks what happened we went from a fifth column of Rosenbergs to a bunch of whiny alienated boomers.

  106. Twinkie says:

    I don’t know much about Georgians, but along with Mongolians they punch way above their population size in Judo competitions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plB_LQV40S8

    My sons and I have working on improving our Obi Tori Gaeshi in Judo (also known as the Kharbareli throw after Georgian Judoka Shota Kharbareli and called Gadauli, I think, in Georgian): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttdWTHj3aiw&t

  107. @Sam Haysom

    What narrative repudiation?

    The fact that the Western media lied blatantly and systemically about the South Ossetian War, portraying it as a Russian invasion of Georgia, is a well-documented fact.

    What does me (a blogger without access to professional fact checkers) getting one particular case wrong matter?

    • Replies: @Cagey Beast
    , @Sam Haysom
  108. @Anatoly Karlin

    I don’t think you did get it wrong. As I mentioned above, I saw the interview at the time and thought Sheppard Smith was rushing to get the girl and her aunt off screen once he discovered they weren’t helping the Narrative. I have no clue how that clip was later edited and tweaked for a Russian audience, all I know is how it looked to me and other people who saw it.

    • Replies: @Mikhail
  109. Dante says:
    @melanf

    Europeans are genetically homogeneous and share the same characteristics, light/pale pigment variable hair and eye colour and European facial features. Georgian’s and Ossetian’s ( like all Europeans ) are well within the European range. I travelled to that region and found it a fascinating destination, Terrific People.

  110. Mikhail says: • Website
    @Cagey Beast

    I don’t think you did get it wrong. As I mentioned above, I saw the interview at the time and thought Sheppard Smith was rushing to get the girl and her aunt off screen once he discovered they weren’t helping the Narrative. I have no clue how that clip was later edited and tweaked for a Russian audience, all I know is how it looked to me and other people who saw it.

    No he didn’t. It was a limited time period slot regardless. Going back to the video, you’ll see that the host didn’t immediately interrupt and/or rush to a commercial, after the younger woman lauded the Russian military. The older woman was jumpy. They both had ample time to get their views in – which is what clearly happened.

    Hence, bringing this matter up in the way that some have is faulty overview.

    • Replies: @Cagey Beast
    , @Gerard2
  111. @Mikhail

    I’m going to ignore you now.

    • Replies: @Mikhail
  112. Gerard2 says:
    @Mikhail

    No he didn’t. It was a limited time period slot regardless. Going back to the video, you’ll see that the host didn’t immediately interrupt and/or rush to a commercial, after the younger woman lauded the Russian military. The older woman was jumpy. They both had ample time to get their views in – which is what clearly happened.

    Hence, bringing this matter up in the way that some have is faulty overview.

    Ok then….I’ll asssume you’re correct…..but the issue still remains that they weren’t invited back by the television channel or any other American media to speak…….or any other Ossetians who could share the same experience………and the same American media morons, (maybe even the same one) blindly repeat year after year that “Putin invaded Georgia”

    Does Margarita Simonyan refuse interviews with American media outlets………or is she just not invited?

    • Replies: @Mikhail
  113. Mikhail says: • Website
    @Gerard2

    I’m correct as the unedited video shows.

    You’re bringing up other related matters, which (I agree) have merit.

    As a case in point (with numerous others to boot), CNN give plenty of airtime to Saakashvili with little critical follow-up.

    • Replies: @Mikhail
  114. Mikhail says: • Website
    @Cagey Beast

    Do as you please.

    You seem to be good at ignoring reality, which conflicts with an inaccurately fixated belief.

  115. Mikhail says: • Website
    @Mikhail

    That’s: CNN gave….

  116. @Anatoly Karlin

    The narrative that the lady and young girl were cut off by Fox. This should be complete clear if you follow the thread of the conversation. And moreover I wasn’t even responding to you I’m kind of baffled by this comment.

    Cagey Beast the person to whom I was responding couldn’t even manfully accept that propaganda he had greedily consumed was completely false.

    And I’ll worry about western media when Russian media itself becomes more open to differing voices. I personally don’t get particularity exorcised by the Putinist domination of Russian media- but I’m certainly not going to care about a pro-regime (and despite your critiques you are very much pro-Russian state when push comes to shove) Russian complaining aboit western media physician heal thyself and all that.

    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
  117. @Sam Haysom

    Russian talk shows on state-run TV channels often have a token American guest representing the American view. He is typically outnumbered and frankly bullied, but at least the Western viewpoint is represented. In the Western “free” media, it is usually completely missing, with a range of Gessens and Kasparovs substituting for the voice of the Russian people.

    As regards paper publications, there is a wide range of ideological diversity – more so on many topics than in the West. These include strongly anti-regime publications such as Novaya Gazeta (print) and Echo of Moscow (radio and web).

    Indeed, one can peruse some translations from my The Russian Spectrum project from mid-2013 to translate articles from the Russian media to get a flavor of its diversity: http://akarlin.com/project/spectrum/

    Moreover, there is the Inosmi project (which is run by RIA) which translates articles from the Free Western Media to the benighted and information-starved Russian masses. So it is simply false to claim that Russians don’t have access to what Western journalists write about them. They have had access to that for more than a decade… even if their reactions to their Russophobia have generally been the opposite of what deluded Westerners would expect.

    • Agree: Spisarevski
    • Replies: @Sam Haysom
    , @Spisarevski
  118. @Anatoly Karlin

    In that case Russia should make a better effort at cultivating a Russia-sympathetic cadre of journalists in the US. That existed forty years ago and Russia’s POV was extremely well represented in American media then. That no longer exists- there aren’t really any telegenic, fluent journalists that could be found to go on and hawk the Russian line in this country. If you want to get your POV on tv it helps to have native sympathizers. Russia has a coterie of pro-American nationals (who aren’t nice people and don’t have Russia’s best interest at heart). Those are almost non-existent in native circles. Who would even go on tv and defend the Russian line here? The anti-American line actually gets pretty forceful representation on air in the US when it aligns with American left wing points of view. Russia was probably the biggest beneficiary in the world of this for decades.

    This is also putting aside Russia Today whose analogue in Russia is non-existent. So a lot of these disparities come to resemble differing levels of brand equity. The American brand (i am not happy about what that brand currently constitutes nor how influential it’s reach is) simply sells better abroad. There is nothing stopping Russia Today from being the most popular news network in the US except for well a lack of interest. Meanwhile how long would a Voice of America like channel last on Russian TV?

    As for your claim about publications well it’s almost farcical. Firstly because of the site this debate is occurring on. Secondly you can find a publication representing basically any point of view in the US. Yes the major publications are anti-Russia but that certainly hasn’t always been the case (the Russian brand used to be very popualar here). You are trying to spin what is simply a differing level of elite support for the pro-Russian view in America and the pro-America view in Russia into a metric for press freedom.

    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
  119. @Anatoly Karlin

    Yes, this is something that I always tell liberals/russophobes to blow their mind.
    I started watching Россия24 occasionally on youtube maybe a couple of years ago and the talk shows like 60 minutes really made an impression – I can never imagine an actual Russian with mainstream Russian opinions invited to talk shows on Fox News or CNN or any other major western media.

    By the way there is some new kremlinologist on the block, Julia Davis, who translates segments, most often from 60 minutes, and the comparison between her and something like Inosmi is also pitiful – without following her, I’ve already randomly caught her several times translating obvious sarcasm as proof of collision or whatever.
    And the troglodytes lap it up.

    • Replies: @Sam Haysom
  120. @Spisarevski

    Are you an Karlin pretending to not get the distinction. The pro-American point of view in Russia commands between 7-15 percent of Russian voters. The pro-Kremlin line in the US commands the support of less than a percent of Americans. Again Russia Today broadcasts uninterrupted uncensored 24 hours a day. People just don’t like what it is selling because the Russian brand is pretty unappealing to non-Russians.

    • Replies: @Jon0815
  121. Jon0815 says:
    @Sam Haysom

    The pro-American point of view in Russia commands between 7-15 percent of Russian voters. The pro-Kremlin line in the US commands the support of less than a percent of Americans.

    I’m not aware of any polls re: the “pro-Kremlin line”, but Putin had a 16% favorable rating among Americans in the most recent Pew poll earlier this year.

  122. @Sam Haysom

    That existed forty years ago and Russia’s POV was extremely well represented in American media then… Russia was probably the biggest beneficiary in the world of this for decades.

    That wasn’t Russia, that was the Soviet Union.

    And that is precisely why it had many sympathizers.

    Meanwhile how long would a Voice of America like channel last on Russian TV?

    Well I don’t have a TV myself, but I know that Euronews (an EU funded news network) comes in many (perhaps most) cable packages.

    You are trying to spin what is simply a differing level of elite support for the pro-Russian view in America and the pro-America view in Russia into a metric for press freedom.

    Russian approval of the US = ~25% (http://www.unz.com/akarlin/when-russians-were-americanophiles/)

    US approval of Russia = likewise (https://news.gallup.com/poll/1642/russia.aspx)

    • Replies: @Sam Haysom
  123. @melanf

    The terrain was very favourable to the Geogians had they been actually as competent as they thought they were. Roki and Didi Gupta were two chokepoints where a serious blocking force could have held up the Russian forces for a long time. Altogether a good example of how completely worthless a little US training is. Not that a lot is worth much either.

  124. @Anatoly Karlin

    1. So what? If today’s Russia where a secular socially leftist country it would likewise enjoy support from the left wing American media. But of course complaining that the media has it out for right wing nations (instead of your narrative of the media has it out for poor russia) isnt compelling to Russian nationalists. If Russia gets to escape the responsibility of the soviet unions historical burden then why does the US as a whole bare the responsibility of its left wing press. Which hates me (conservative Christian southerner) a lot more than it hates you (Russian). If you recall back to the dust up over the stationing of missile interceptors in Poland the media was absolutely in support of the Russian POV because Poland as an even more explicitly religious and socially conservative nation than Russia engenders more hate than Russia in the media.

    2. Euronews is now a private company joint partnership between NBC and some Egyptian dude. You should read their take on the South Osstesian Conflict btw it’s pretty close to your narrative of the events.

    3. Anatoly in the excerpted part of my comment you quote it clearly stated elite opinion. I never argued that the US was more popular in Russia than vice versa just that pro-American views are popular with elite Russians. Additionally, pro-American views among Russia include a large segment of people that want Russia to become more like the US and the West. The reverse sentiment is almost non-existent in the West. I’m broadly positive in my view of Russia. I just think it would be a disaster to try and make this nation more like Russia. Russia is a foreign place full of people far different than me and mine. May God bless and keep the Russians you know how the joke ends.

  125. @Dmitry

    For the same reasons that Chechnia must be Russian. To suggest otherwise is hypocrisy. I am actually in favour of self determination for small countries. I am Welsh but Russia is not consistent on this point. Tatarstan and Chechnia are not allowed to leave Russia although their relative position was the same as Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

    • Replies: @Mikhail
  126. @Marcus

    What claim is void? When I dispute immigration with Brexiteers, I often point out that Russia has more legals and illegals than the UK. It demonstrates that job availability not social security benefits motivate immigration. Russian benefits are miserable. 950 Roubles a month pension in Saratov. Unemployment is about 600 (from memory). In Russia, benefits are related to the calculation of minimum subsistence level for each province.

    • Replies: @melanf
  127. Mikhail says: • Website
    @Philip Owen

    Overall, Tatarstan doesn’t want to leave Russia. The same is now true of Chechnya. The appeal of Chechen separatism has dwindled on large account of what happened on two different occasions in the `1990s when that republic was pretty much independent.

  128. melanf says:
    @Philip Owen

    Russian benefits are miserable. 950 Roubles a month pension in Saratov.

    The amount of pension in Saratov 2017:

    minimum pension – 7 700 rubles;
    the average — 11 758 rubles.

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