I wrote the other day about Russian use of psychiatry as a weapon, harkening back to the days when living under the Russian, or Soviet, banner meant that you had no political, and very little personal, freedom. It seems that they have come out of that stifling period, struggled to adjust to capitalism and democracy, only to slip dangerously back into tyranny. Only this time it’s outright tyranny of the autocracy instead of a disguised oppressive autocracy (not that many people were fooled in the end).
Publius has a long post on the conflict brewing in Georgia.
After discovering a spy ring seeking to subvert the current pro-West presidential administration on Russia’s behalf, just as Georgia entered the final round of talks on NATO membership, the Georgian government took action to arrest the conspirators, who included several Russian military officers. In response, Russia has recalled its ambassador and imposed a trade and travel blockade on tiny Georgia, seeking to destabilize its economy. More recently, it has loosed a pogrom-like assault on Georgian-owned businesses and assets in Russia, as well as a series of crude attacks on the Georgian embassy in Moscow, and Vladimir Putin has accused Georgia of blackmail and provocation.
Sometimes it’s hard to see who the good guys are over in post-communist world of eastern Europe and central Asia. However, in case you were wondering, Publius spends time comparing the ratings of both countries by Freedom House, which is one of the best sources of data on the state of freedom in the world. According to them Georgia is two or three times as free and democratic as Russia, and Russia is declining in the ratings fast.
Basically, what I’m seeing is Russia trying to influence a political sphere they had firm control over until the mid 90s. Georgia is trying really hard not to head that direction, and is one of the best examples of post-communist democracy taking root. Russia responded to the capture of the spies by clamping down on trade and travel between the two countries.