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Zugdidi: Will I ever go back?

Zugdidi Fountain

Zugdidi fountain, with streams of water spouting up into the air from paving stones painted in the colours of the Georgian flag.

Last year openDemocracy Russia editor Zygmunt Dzieciolowski travelled in Georgia and Abkhazia. In Zugdidi he met Georgian refugees from Abkhazia with one question uppermost in their minds - would they ever be able to go back?

Sukhumi: Café Lika on the brink of war

 Sukhumi, Black Sea Panorama

On a visit to the separatist republic of Abkhazia a week before the Russia-Georgia war in August 2008, openDemocracy/Russia editor Zygmunt Dzieciolowski was aware of growing tension. If war did break out, the locals knew that they would be the ones who paid the price.

Russia-Georgia rapprochement? Get real

It is wishful to dream of rapprochement between Russia and Georgia following last year's war, argues Ivan Sukhov. Any lasting solution depends on all parties accepting the concept of multi-ethnic nationhood. Arguably, no post-Soviet republic does, including Russia.

Corporal Glukhov's deserts to Georgia: the propaganda war begins

The latest round in the conflict between Georgia and Russia/South Ossetia in August 2008 is the propaganda war being fought over Corporal Glukhov, who deserted to Georgia. Neglected, underfed and bullied, the soldiers of Russia's army do not feel like victors, reports Varvara Pakhomenko.

Georgia war: auditing the damage

The armed conflict in Georgia may have lasted only one week in August 2008, but the resulting chaos will take much longer to sort out.  Tanya Lokshina draws on Human Rights Watch's recent report to audit the damage and suggest a way forward.

South Ossetia: News from a Nowhere Zone


In defiance of the Medvedev-Sarkozy plan, Russian troops are not allowing international observers into the mountainous region of Akhalgori/ Leningori, east of Tskhinvali. But Varvara Pakhomenko of the human rights organisation Demos managed to reach this place which, though 80% Georgian, technically belongs in South Ossetia.


The Ingush dilemma

Following the Georgia war, Russia is proposing itself as powerbroker in the South Caucasus, while ignoring security problems in the Russian North Caucasus. Russian journalist Ivan Sukhov reports on the situation in Ingushetia, where people are celebrating the dismissal of their president Murat Zyazikov.

McCain & Obama Are Both Wrong on Georgia

The next American president, together with the efforts from European allies, must address failed strategies of the past in order to prevent the West (and Georgia for that matter) from stumbling into an expanded war in the Caucasus. 

A month after the war

The houses of Georgian villagers in South Ossetia are still burning, their aged inhabitants suffering. The Russian army and emergency services should mobilise to protect them, says Tanya Lokshina in a vivid report. 

Putin: mentality of a street fighter

Putin's character was a significant factor in Russia's behaviour to Georgia, argues Dmitri Travin. Childhood on the mean streets of St Petersburg taught him to fight his way out of a corner

Georgia's forgotten legacy

Georgia's recovery from losses of war and territory will be through a return to the strategy and values that underpinned its democratic revolution, says Vicken Cheterian

South Ossetia: Tskhinvali’s Apocalypse

With the fighting over, this researcher for Human Rights Watch hitches lifts between checkpoints around South Ossetia's wrecked capital Tskhinvali chronicling the grieving and burying, looting and burning, the unexploded bombs, disenchanted militias and Russian troops struggling to protect what remains of abandoned Georgian villages.

Russia and the Georgia war: the great-power trap

Russia's flawed understanding of 21st-century international politics means that its military success in the war with Georgia could be followed by its strategic defeat, says Ivan Krastev.

(This article was first published on 19 August 2008)

Russia: how the new ‘cold war’ plays at home

Russia's war in Georgia has killed Medvedev's hopes of reform. But recognition of independence for Abkhazia and South Ossetia could foster trouble across the ethnic patchwork of North Caucasus, particularly among the Muslims

Lesson to the West: Abkhazian independence is a fact

The editor of an Abkhaz newspaper, Chegemskaya Pravda, argues the West's mistaken adherence to Georgia's claim of ‘territorial integrity' has achieved what it feared. It is time for Washington and Brussels to accept the reality of Abkhazian independence.

Abkhazia Pawns its Independence

openDemocracy's Russia editor reflects that Abkhazia has realised its dream of independence, but at the price of becoming Russia's pawn

Russia: what peace looks like

Now the fighting is over what matters is not surrendering to conspiracy theorists or isolationism, but arriving at sensible compromises,'s editor writes from Moscow

Abkhazia: wedded to independence

openDemocracy's editor met the Abkhaz President just before Georgia's war with Russia and found him resolute on the issue of independence

The Georgia-Russia conflict: lost territory, found nation

The two regions at the heart of the Georgia-Russia war of August 2008 must be understood in their own terms if the problem of Georgia - and western illusions about the country - are to be seriously addressed, says Donald Rayfield.

(This article was first published on 13 August 2008)

Georgia: Poti blog 13-15 August

As Russian troops move into the Georgian port of Poti and destroy military installations Pepsikolka's blog chronicles life hovering between fear and an illusion of normality.

The war for Georgia: Russia, the west, the future

The intentions behind the Russian assault on Georgia constitute a political challenge to the west and an existential one to its southern neighbour, writes the minister of education and science in the Republic of Georgia, Ghia Nodia.

(This article was first published on 12 August 2008)

Georgia: Poti blog. Part Two

Russian troops are today, 14 August, alleged to have entered the Black Sea port of Poti. In this second, vivid instalment of pepsiKolka's blog captures the fear of living in war, of not knowing what's happening, whose those tanks are, and whether or not to be afraid. To be continued...

Propaganda war: Russia- 0, Georgia-1

Having isolated itself from the world, Russia has played the propaganda war badly, argues's editor. Georgia has won it, but that does not make it an aspiring democracy

Russia/Georgia: War of the Web

In its war with Georgia, the first truly global user-generated conflict, Russia's digital guerillas have been drafted into a state-waged propaganda war

South Ossetia: war and politics

Georgia's blitzkrieg against one of its two breakaway territories, South Ossetia, is provoking a ferocious Russian response. This is a political as well as a military disaster, says Thomas de Waal - and the primary responsibility lies with Georgia's president, Mikheil Saakashvili.

Georgia’s search for itself

The political tensions inside the febrile south Caucasian republic are overshadowed by its fraught relationship with its Russian former "big brother", says Alexander Rondeli of the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies.

(This article was first published on 8 July 2008)

South Ossetia: Russian, Georgian...independent?

A decisive referendum result has done nothing to resolve the small Caucasian statelet's future, reports Shaun Walker.

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