29 janv. 2010

HRW’s Georgia Report 2010

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued its World Report 2010 on Jan. 20. The nongovernmental organization overviews major trends concerning Human Rights over the world.

As far as Georgia is concerned, the report focused on police violence, violations of law during the 2008 Russian-Georgian conflict in South Ossetia, the criminal justice system and media freedom.

Last spring, from April to June, opposition supporters were permitted by Saakashvili’s government to march through Tbilisi’s main streets. However, police used excessive force against demonstrators and journalists. The police department undertook different internal investigations and members of the government apologized for these acts, but no complete inquiry was conducted.

“What we are saying is that there’s a lack of comprehensive investigation, and none of them has been completed,” said Giorgi Gogia, Caucasus researcher for HRW. “In fact, there was no prosecuted, no punished, no banished, it means no conclusive investigation. Apologies from different officials are not enough, it should be the result of a justice process of investigation which leads to conclusions.”

The report also criticized a new law that increases administrative detention from 30 to 90 days by stating “the measure appears excessive given that pretrial detention for criminal charges is only 60 days.”

Concerning the Georgian-Russian conflict, HRW denounced the use of indiscriminate force by both armies and the absence of any inquiry about that the conflict. However, since HRW published “up in flames” in 2009, there has been no investigation by the organization about the post-war aspects, Gogia said.

The report focused on the lack of transparency of media ownership in Georgia.
“In Georgia, pressure is coming from the owner,” Gogia said. “About influences, pressures, there’s a lack of understanding because ownership is hidden. Lots of media companies are offshore firms, and nobody knows who stands behind or who decides the policy of the media outlet.”

Gogia said he is also concerned about the amount of speech time that is devoted to the opposition on TV channels.

“Freedom of media is not only freedom of expression; it’s not enough to have opposition on media,” he said.

HRW also reported about the possible removal of newsstands from Tbilisi’s streets, a proposition that some elected municipals suggested last September. Such a move would almost certainly “threaten many print outlet’s existence.”

HRW’s World Report 2010 pointed out the human rights violations occurring in Georgia, but as Gogia said, “The report is a summary of the year, we are not making a comparison with the year before. In fact, in Georgia, violations of human rights have been increasing in the past and are still increasing nowadays.”

Nagorno-Karabakh discussed in Sochi

On Jan. 25, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev invited the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Serzh Sargsian and Ilham Aliyev, to his residence in Krasnaya Polyana, next to the seaside resort of Sochi where the 2014 Olympic Games will take place.

The aim of the meeting was to continue the talks that were initiated under the aegis of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group about the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue.

The conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia started in Feb. 1988 when Nagorno-Karabakh, mostly populated by Armenians, sought independence. In Sept. 1991 it was declared the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh and it seceded from mainland Azerbaijan, with Stepanakert for its capital.

The conflict broke out between the Azeri army and the military troops of the new republic, supported by Yerevan and the Armenian Diaspora.

The conflict lasted three years until a negotiated truce in May 1994 was reached. Azerbaijan lost Nagorno-Karabakh and seven close districts that formed the new separatist region. The pacific settlement of the conflict has been conducted since 1992 by Russia, the U.S. and France, co-presidents of Minsk Group.

In March 2008, U.N.’s General Assembly voted a resolution for the immediate withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan and reasserted the right of Baku on these territories. But France, the U.S. and Russia vetoed the resolution.

Although Azerbaijan claims the integrity of its territory, Armenia is said to be defending the right of Nagorno-Karabakh, which was not involved in the negotiations.

This formal meeting is the fourth in the past two years. The last one took place in Kishinev on Oct. 9 during the CIS summit.

The three presidents met on Jan. 25 in Sochi, joined Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and assistant to the Russian president, Sergey Prykhodko. Armenia was represented by Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and Presidential Administration Head Vigen Sarkisian. Joining them from Azerbaijan was Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov.

The week before, OSCE mediators met both Azeri and Armenian presidents in their capitals and handed over an updated version of the 2007 Madrid document.

Also, two days before, Sergey Narishkin, a representative of the Russian presidential administration, led a delegation to Baku to assess the situation.

In fact, during the meeting in Sochi, discussions were led about the future of negotiations, next steps and the way to settle the conflict between the two countries. It appeared to be a kind of mutual declaration.

Some days ago, Edward Nalbandian reported that both Armenian and Azeri presidents met nine times in 2009, and the most important task at hand is to keep up this momentum because it was the best way to settle the conflict. He also expressed his wish to see the Azeri position become more constructive in the next year.

Whatever the case may be in Nagorno-Karabakh, the army is estimated to count 25 to 30 thousand soldiers, and half of them come from the Armenian regular army, wrote Armenian newspaper Novo Vremya. They also have more than 200 T-72 tanks, 150 other kinds of tanks, big artillery and many weapons for air defense.

Meanwhile, the Azeri army quadrupled its defense spending in 2009 thanks to Turkish and Israeli support, wrote Golos Armenyi. It appears that, despite general and diplomatic declarations, Baku is opting for a warlike position.

After the meeting, no information was really published by the presidential press services. Sergey Lavrov said, “Today, the main result was a common agreement that some parts of the document are not subject to the consent of the parties, but they will write these parts with their own words and ideas, and that will be reported in the final document.”

27 janv. 2010

Le ministre de la Culture de la République Soviétique Socialiste de Géorgie - Années 1960

"Un expert - L'accoustique du nouveau Philarmonique de Tbilissi est très mauvaise...
Le ministre - Mais il nous a coûté très très cher ce Philarmonique !
L'expert - Oui, mais l'accoustique n'est pas là...
Le ministre - Mais pourquoi ne l'ont-ils pas acheté en même temps ?? "

Après un voyage en France -
" - Alors c'était comment ?
(le ministre) - Ah mais quel pays, vous savez là-bas, même les enfants de 5 ans parlent français, imaginez-vous donc !"

Ouverture d'un discours en anglais
"Ladies and Hamilton, ..."

21 janv. 2010

Yanukovytch vs. Tymoshenko : the choice of Maydan

On Jan. 17, Viktor Yanukovych, as expected, dominated the first round of the Ukrainian presidential election. He won 35, 32 percent of the votes in an election with a 66 percent turnout.

In the second round he will face current Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko who surprisingly collected 25, 05 percent of the votes. Yanukovych won in nine regions among which are the Eastern and Southern parts of the country populated by mostly pro-Russian supporters. Tymoshenko won in Kiev and in 15 other regions.

The presidential election comes at a hard time for Ukraine. The country is gripped between Russia’s economic and political pressures and a struggle to join the West and the EU.
Five years after the Orange Revolution, the civil society still seems to be concerned with the country’s destiny.

Also, 2009 hasn’t been good for Ukrainian politicians who had to face a tattering economy. Unemployment rates exceeded 20 percent, the local currency, grivna, devaluated by 50 percent last year and GDP decreased by 15 percent. In addition, the Ukrainian economy is largely dependent on the International Monetary Fund, which supported the local economy and national currency with 16, 4 billion dollars. As a consequence President Viktor Yushchenko took fifth place with 5, 45 percent of the votes.

In the blogosphere and media, many are writing about the end of the “orange plague” that has paralyzed the country for more than five years. The president’s opponents are already claiming victory, because the first round can be read as a “no” to Yushchenko’s mandate.

What about the second round? The two candidates have started already campaigning around the country, but with Yanukovych in the lead many doubts still remain.

On Jan. 18, Yanukovych said: “I would like everybody to hear me, the ones who voted for me and the ones who voted for other candidates. I will lead Ukraine to Europe. But we will do it, not as a weak country but as a powerful and independent one, which has European standards of living.”
Timoshenko tried to lure in the liberal, former Central Bank president Sergei Tigipko who won 13, 06 percent of the votes by offering him the prime minister seat in exchange for his support, but after a two-day deliberation he said he will not endorse any candidate.

“I didn’t hear any concrete and serious change for the country, but only promises,” Tigipko said.
Yanukovych also offered Tigipko to join him: “I think that the people who voted for Tigipko are our associates, and for the second tour they will join us,” adding, “he is young, pragmatic and capable politician.”

The fourth candidate, Arseniy Yatsenyuk (6, 96 percent), former chairman of the parliament, also declared that he won’t support any candidate.

Tymoshenko’s strategy of recovering the votes of the other liberal candidates seems to be in limbo. Analysts agreed about the possibility for her to enlarge her electoral base, whereas Yanukovych might have reached his maximum. Surely, their tours around the country need to be convincing.

If we look at the speeches of the two candidates, they appear quite similar. Both of them promise cooperation with Russia, especially in the energy field but also in the heavy industry. Also, they both promise furthering relations with the EU and a deeper cooperation with the main export market that it represents, with the idea that Ukraine is on its way to reach a European standard of living.

Tymoshenko went further on Jan. 14 and promised that “in the next five years, Ukraine will become a full member of the EU.” Yanukovych, who is favored by the Kremlin, is arguing for a sovereign Ukraine open to the West and the East, but united inside his borders.

The two candidates differ on the language issue. If Tymoshenko wants to make Ukrainian the official language “without problems for people speaking other languages,” Yanukovych wants to make Russian the second official language.

For the moment, as other candidates have said, both Tymoshenko and Yanukovitch make general statements and no concrete propositions for the future of the country. Before the second round on Feb. 7, both candidates will have to rally an uncertain number of voters and their political programs need to become more mature.

18 janv. 2010


16/01/2010 "You know, during the Soviet Union, everybody was stealing, it was normal" - Datchi

15 janv. 2010

A l'ombre des briques

Alors que mon installation se précise, un rapprochement avec les géorgiens s'opère...
D'agents immobiliers en propriétaires, je découvre des lieux de vie...

Mode soviétique : mêmes ascenseurs, mêmes lampes et même odeur de peinture plombée que les Brejnevka moscovites ou peterbourgeoise...
Mode arty locale d'un artiste égaré, naviguant entre le pop new-yorkais, les lamas de la cordillère des Andes et une Western gay attitude plutôt pêchue...
Mode Tbilissi, maisons bringuebalantes, planchers en devers, raccords électriques XIXème...
L'embarras du choix...Le choix s'impose rapidement au grand dam des agents immobiliers...

Hier soir. Tard. Un jeune et son vieux arrachent subrepticement les câblages d'une enseigne lumineuse en fonctionnement. Sans doute s'agit il de raccorder le téléviseur familial au satellite...

14 janv. 2010

Sur les hauteurs de Tbilissi...

10 degres, dans les nuages, le palais presidentiel domine la ville...
Appele par les locaux ou detracteurs "les couilles de Mischa", le luxurieux palais contraste avec l habitat local ...
Reves de grandeur, volonte d autocratie, reve d occident ?
Les hommes en particulier deambulent dans les arteres de la capitale, "Men in black", tradition du caucase. L inactivite et le farniente semblent de rigueur. Chomage moderne ou mode de vie ancestral ?
Les sourires s affichent sur les visages, pourtant durs, de ce peuple montagnard.
Les drapeaux de la forteresse Europe cohabitent avec la croix de Saint-Georges, volonte de rapprochement ou defiance au geant russe ?
Au carrefour des civilisations, au coeur d un massif naturel protecteur qui a forge cette identite, un peuple reve d avenir au regard de ses traditions millenaires...