Thursday, August 14, 2008

Is There Truth in Правда?

It has been a little while since my last post, and quite some time since the last time I touched on the problem of Russia. With the recent invasion of Georgia, I decided to delve into that complicated subject. First, I want to know what Russian news is saying about it. Правда, the state run news service, has a number of stories on the matter. What I find most interesting about the writings in Pravda is the heavy handed style of reporting. For example, the article on overt US support of Georgian aggression seems less concerned with facts and more with stating the approved opinion, editorial style.

I also find some of the justification for Russia's actions, in their own words, a bit alarming.
"A[s] for history, the question of separatism – Georgia or Ossetia – is disputable. It was Georgia which decided to pull out from the USSR, whereas the Ossetians protested against such a decision. "
Where have we seen this sort of reasoning in recent history? It seems to me that the last time the world dissolved into conflict, one country had been touting the right and duty of all people of a certain national heritage to flock back to their "homeland" or the Fatherland... A country which stated after mediation that "We want no Czechs." Then proceeded to invade the whole of eastern Europe.

Russia's advance into Georgia has been mediated. They cry peace, pending the resolution of South Ossetia and Abkhazia's desires to secede. Desires which I am sure will be influenced by their rescuers and occupiers, the military of their neighbor to the north.

It seems to me that Russia's initial advance was a little too quick to be purely motivated by the idea of sparing Georgian citizens from the ravages of a civil war. Although there is international precedent for stepping in to halt civil war, it has generally only been done after human rights atrocities in the conflict, such as in the case of Bosnia. However, there is also a good case for allowing internal conflict to remain internal, especially when dealing with Russia stepping into a conflict outside its borders, e.g. Austria-Hungary. I hesitate to say that this conflict could ever escalate the way either of the history lessons earlier did, but that would also require knowing what the southern neighbors in the region will do in reaction to and/or in support of Russia.

In the interest of comparison, BBC and CNN have slightly different takes on what is happening in the region.

Side note: I just noticed this article from the BBC. A little something to further annoy the former Soviet Union when they are trying to consolidate the old lines of influence.


  1. I didn't know you could get Pravda online in English, but it looks like it hasn't changed much since the Soviet era. Too bad there hasn't been somebody like a Russian Ted Turner managing to start a competing news service. (I can't believe I just wished for another Ted Turner.)

    I wonder if the Russians had counted on China soaking up so much of the world's capacity for outrage with their recent Olympic stunts, or if that was just an unplanned bonus?

  2. I'm sure Russia was hoping to get the whole thing either over and done with while the world was looking the other way, or counting on everyone wanting to focus elsewhere and be in a hurry to just get the ordeal over with.