Officials in Georgia are seeking to use the alleged downing of a Georgian reconnaissance drone by a Russian warplane to build international support for reducing the Kremlin's "peacekeeping" role in the separatist enclaves of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Georgia's Foreign Ministry asserts that a Russian MIG-29 shot down the Georgian Interior Ministry drone off the Black Sea coastline of Abkhazia April 20. Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili says the drone's final video footage provides "clear proof" of a Russian violation of Georgian airspace.
Eight people are reported killed in overnight clashes between police and opposition protesters in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, March 2. The protesters, who have rallied in the capital for 12 days, accuse the government of rigging last month’s presidential election. Troops and armored vehicles are now patrolling the main streets of Yerevan, and President Robert Kocharian has declared a 20-day state of emergency. Police and Interior Ministry troops used truncheons, tear gas, and electric stun guns to disperse opposition supporters from a central Yerevan square March 1, but thousands who regrouped later. Riot police fired tracer bullets into the air and again used tear gas to disperse the crowd of 15,000. Some protesters hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails at police. Several vehicles were set fire. Human Rights Watch charges Armenian authorities with using "excessive force and violence" against the protesters.
In contrast to their Cold War counterparts of yesterdecade, who openly embraced any dictator who was "our son of a bitch," today's neocons often seem to really believe their own rhetoric about how their global project is expanding democracy. This is why the auto-golpe in Pakistan puts them in such a pickle. Compounding their discomfort is the similar power-grab that US-backed President Mikhail Saakashvili is now attempting in Georgia—just two weeks short of the fourth anniversary of the "Rose Revolution" that put him in office. At the time of the Rose Revolution, the kneejerk anti-America crowd squawked about how it was all the work of the CIA and George Soros. Now Saakashvili is squawking about how the current wave of protest is all the work of Russian secret agents. Funny how those in power never seem to think anyone would have any legitimate reason to be pissed off at them.
A glimmer of hope that the ADL capitulated, but what a profound disgrace that they had to. And note that they are still taking a reactionary position on the Congressional resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide. Does Elie Wiesel, whose name they invoke in their defense, share this shameful stance? From JTA, Aug. 21:
First-time author Margaret Ajemian Ahnert's May 1 appearance at a Barnes & Noble store on New York's Upper East Side to promote her new memoir on survivng the Armenian genocide, The Knock at the Door, was disrupted by hecklers who shouted and passed out leaflets denying the genocide occurred. One was arrested.
A Russian Mi-8 transport helicopter has been shot down by Chechen fighters during an army operation near the town of Shatoi, southern Chechnya. Its four crew members and 13 passengers are all suspected killed. Violence is said to have erupted at the site of the crash between Russian forces and insurgents. [AlJazeera, April 27]
April 24 marks the 92nd anniversary of the start of the Armenian genocide, and Armenians worldwide commemorated the "First Genocide of the 20th Century" with solemn religious and civil ceremonies. However, little more than a week before the anniversary, the United Nations dismantled an exhibit on the Rwandan genocide and postponed its scheduled opening by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon—in response to objections from the Turkish mission to the exhibit's references to the Armenian genocide, which Turkey denies happened.
A new Iran-Armenia gas pipeline, officially opened on March 19 by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Armenian President Robert Kocharian, is emerging as a source of speculation about regional energy alliances. A trip to Armenia by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili two days after the pipeline's opening has provided fuel for conjecture despite the official line that it was a ski vacation. Saakashvili's spokesmen admit he met with Kocharian and that talks touched on the pipeline.