A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘ossetia

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • blogTO notes that TTC tunnels will get WiFi in 2018.
  • Border Thinking’s Laura Augustín shares some of Edvard Munch’s brothel paintings.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at the latest science on fast radio bursts.
  • Dangerous Minds shares some of the sexy covers of Yugoslavian computer magazine Računari.
  • Dead Things looks at the latest research into dinosaur eggs.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper suggesting that a high surface magnetic field in a red giant star indicates a recent swallowing of a planet.
  • Language Log shares an ad for a portable smog mask from China.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money takes issue with the idea of NAFTA being of general benefit to Mexico.
  • Torontoist looks at the history of Toronto General Hospital.
  • Window on Eurasia is skeptical about an American proposal for Ukraine, and suggests Ossetian reunification within Russia is the next annexation likely to be made by Russia.

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

  • The Dragon’s Gaze reports on speculation that the Fermi paradox can be answered by assuming extraterrestrial civilizations have died already.
  • The Dragon’s Tales looks at the climate of early Mars.
  • Far Outliers takes a look at ethnic divisions among Austro-Hungarian prisoners of war in Russia.
  • Joe. My. God. reposts his essay on gay pride parades, in all of their diverse and showy glory.
  • Marginal Revolution notes a study suggesting that, in Sweden, lottery winners do not experience improvements in their health.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at the dynamics behind Putin’s neo-Soviet nostalgia, and looks at a sketchy prison in North Ossetia.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • The Boston Globe‘s Big Picture reports on the scene from Palmyra after the expulsion of ISIS.
  • James Bow links to a documentary on the search for Planet Nine.
  • The Dragon’s Tales speculates that the ability to enter torpor might have saved mammals from the en of the Cretaceous extinction.
  • Honourary Canadian Philip Turner discovers the Chiac dialect of the Acadians of the Maritimes.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that Afrika Bambaataa has been accused of molesting young boys.
  • Language Hat reports on the renaming of the Czech Republic “Czechia.”
  • Marginal Revolution notes Singapore has a graciousness index.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw reflects on Australia’s upcoming elections.
  • pollotenchegg maps the 2012 elections in Ukraine.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer explains how American investment in the Philippines was made impossible, so as to avoid welding that country to the US.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog links to a paper examining contraception and abortion among the Czechs and Slovaks in recent decades.
  • Towleroad notes Ted Cruz’ disinterest in protecting gay people.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the scale of Russia’s demographic problems, report the debate on whether Russia will or will not annex South Ossetia, and suggest Russia is losing influence in Central Asia.
  • The Financial Times‘ The World predicts the end for Dilma Rousseff.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • James Bow reflects on Mulcair’s decision to ignore the debates boycotted by Harper, and examines the decline of the Bloc Québécois.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly reflects on the social forces pressuring people, especially women, to smile.
  • Centauri Dreams reflects n the pessimism over the potential of interstellar expansion in Kim Stanley Robinson’s new Aurora.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a study examining the links between concentrations of elements in stars and their exoplanets, shares art of HD 219134b, wonders about distributions of brown dwarfs in nearby interstellar space, wonders if a lithium-rich giant star known as HD 107028 swallowed its planets, and imagines compact exoplanets made of dark matter.
  • The Dragon’s Tales shares a study of the growth of the state of Tiahuanaco, and imagines what a durable Russian-American relationship could have been.
  • A Fistful of Euros looks at dodgy Greek statistics.
  • Joe. My. God. shares the new New Order single, “Restless.”
  • Language Hat celebrated its thirteen anniversary and looked at the ephemeral St. Petersburg English Review of the 19th century.
  • Language Log examines the origins of modern China’s standard language, and looks at the reasons why French texts are longer than English ones.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money examines settler violence in Israel.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at how charity, in an age of global income disparities, is inexpensive, and notes the economic issues of Cambodia.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw reflects on Cilla Black.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog looks at Ossetian demographics and examines the growth of Kazakhs in Kazakhstan after 1991.
  • Speed River Journal’s Van Waffle likes the Cosmonaut Volkov heirloom tomatoes.
  • Towleroad reports on a push for marriage equality on the Navajo reservation.
  • Understanding Society examines the concept of microfoundations.
  • Window on Eurasia notes how Russia’s war in Ukraine has been underachieving, argues Ukrainians should not count on change in Russia, reports on a Russian writer who wants the Donbas to be separated from Ukraine as a buffer, looks at ethnic Russian identity and propensity to emigrate in Kazakhstan, and looks at the identity of Belarusians in Siberia.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • blogTO notes that ferry tickets for the Toronto Islands can now be bought online.
  • Discover‘s Crux considers SETI.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper considering habitable exoplanets around nearby red dwarf stars, defends the potential existence of exoplanets at Kapteyn’s Star, and looks at the Epsilon Eridani system.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that a second Scottish referendum on independence is possible, according to Alex Salmond.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that Mormons are unhappy with the Scouts’ gay-friendly shift.
  • Language Hat considers the history of family name usage in Russia.
  • Languages of the World examines in two posts the argument that primitive peoples have simple languages.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money considers the strategies of Spanish populist group Podemos.
  • Peter Watts considers the peculiar thing of people lacking large chunks of the brain who nonetheless seem normal.
  • Diane Duane, at Out of Ambit, is quite unhappy with an impending forced upgrade to Windows 10.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw notes how labour-saving technologies improved the lives of women.
  • The Planetary Society Blog considers proposals to explore small solar system bodies.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer considers what would happen if Bernie Sanders won the nomination of the Democratic Party.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog links to statistics on the population of Abu Dhabi.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the depopulation of South Ossetia and looks at the Russian Orthodox Church’s hostility to Ukraine’s Uniate Catholics.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell notes that although Labour apparently did a good job of convincing potential voters it was right, it did a worse job of getting them to vote.

[NEWS] Some Monday links

  • Al Jazeera warns about the militarization of the Ukrainian state, notes the alienation of Turkish Kurds from their goverment and wonders if northern Syria will become a Turkish protectorate, wishes Arab authors could travel to the United States more readily, wonders about the impact of immigrants on Catalonian separatism, and notes Wheaton College’s issue with new federal healthcare regulations.
  • Bloomberg observes the shrinkage of the American labour force, the success of the coffee crop in Vietnam, the emigration from ethnic Czechs from Ukraine to the Czech Republic, the successful retention of industry in Singapore, observes the debilitating toll of illegal fisheries off of the West African coast, and notes the call for an investigation into the treatment of the United States’ first Ebola victim.
  • Bloomberg View notes that Uber can succeed only in the context of a struggling labour market, looks at the economic issues of European petrostates, notes how political concerns override fears for the Russian economy, argues British cities also need autonomy, and via Faroese fish exports notes that sanctions may not have that much effort.
  • CBC notes Tanya Tagaq’s stalking by a sexually aggressive man in Winnipeg, and notes that Windsor is using cayenne peppers to deter squirrels from attacking the city’s tulips. (That last should work.)
  • The Inter Press Service notes the scale of Samoan emigration, observes the negative consequences of climate change for livestock farmers in the Caribbean, looks at the drought besetting Sao Paulo, looks at an economically questionable train line in Sri Lanka, considers how the Karabakh issue makes Armenian entry into the Eurasian Union problematic, and u>observes anti-Palestinian discrimination in housing in the Jerusalem area.
  • IWPR reports on growing Ukraine-related ethnic tensions in Kazakhstan and observes Georgia’s clampdown on immigration.
  • Open Democracy recommends a consistent policy of European Union opening to the western Balkans, notes the plight of Copts in Egypt, looks at ethnic tensions in North Ossetia between Ossetians and Ingush, examines Basque and Corsican separatisms, fears for the future of secularism in Mali and Senegal, and considers the dire demographics of Ukraine.

[LINK] “South Ossetia’s unwanted independence”

Open Democracy’s Stephen Jones takes a look at South Ossetia. Nominally independent since the 2008 Russo-Georgian war like Abkhazia, South Ossetians seem inclined to favour unification with their co-ethnics in North Ossetia, in the Russian Federation. There’s little prospect of that, though.

‘[I]ndependence’ will bring little to most South Ossetians – they will be condemned to isolation, marginality, and dependence. The prospects for cooperation with Georgia, its natural economic partner, and contacts with the rest of the South Caucasus through traditional seasonal work and cross border trade, are closed. In the 2012 South Ossetian presidential elections, all four candidates declared they would not engage with the Georgian government. Local migration to North Ossetia and Russia has accelerated, particularly among youth, adding to the SOAO’s demographic decline (villages are disproportionately made up of older women).

the 2012 elections, Alla Dzhioyeva, an anti-corruption crusader against Eduard Kokoity, the outgoing president (unrecognised by Georgia and the rest of the international community), had victory snatched from her by the South Ossetian Supreme Court. Dzhioyeva’s challenge had been unexpected, and she was not Russia’s preferred candidate. Although Dzhioyeva was later given a cabinet post, it illustrated the region’s limited political autonomy, underlined by the intimidating and unchallengeable presence of the Russian military. That court decision supported the Georgian contention that South Ossetia is a not a real state, but a Russian vassal, subject to Russia’s strategic goals. South Ossetia’s borders remain under Russian control, and South Ossetian foreign policy simply does not exist.

South Ossetia does not have the autonomous functions of a state able to provide for its citizens, 80% of whom hold Russian passports. There is constant talk (which goes back to irredentist demands made in the early 1990s) by Putin and local South Ossetian parties for a simple solution – union with North Ossetia. This means annexation by Russia because North Ossetia is part of the Russian Federation. United Ossetia, one of the nine parties running in the June 2014 South Ossetian parliamentary elections, has made union with North Ossetia central to its platform. It would be a popular decision. In a rare independent survey of South Ossetians in 2010 by Gerard Toal and John O’Loughlin, over 80% expressed the desire for union with the Russian Federation, and 82% wanted Russian troops to remain in South Ossetia permanently. Unlike Abkhazia, there is, paradoxically, little support for independence.

[. . .]

There are, in addition, potential repercussions in the North Caucasus if annexation takes place. The North Caucasus, which consists of six non-Russian autonomous republics (which contain significant ethnic Russian populations) and over 40 national groups, is crisscrossed with conflict between clans, regions, religions and republics; there are multiple border disputes – between Ingushetia and Chechnya, North Ossetia and Ingushetia, between Kabardins and Balkars, and between Kumyks and Chechens in Daghestan, to mention just a few. Changing borders in the Caucasus is rarely accomplished peacefully, and right now Russia does not want to endanger its precarious control over the North Caucasian Federal District.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 11, 2014 at 6:57 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • blogTO notes the construction of another tall condo on Wellesley between Yonge and Church.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper observing that the Titius-Bode law apparently doesn’t work for exoplanets.
  • The Dragon’s Tales observes that Western sanctions against the Russian space industry could harm its long-term prospects vis-a-vis China and the United States.
  • Eastern Approaches covers Ukrainian industrialist Rinat Akhmetov’s turn towards supporting a united Ukraine.
  • The Financial Times‘ The World blog notes that Russia is pivoting towards Asia, especially China, to compensate for its broken Western ties.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money tries to explain the concept of privilege.
  • Marginal Revolution quotes Neal Stephenson’s argument that dystopian science fiction is popular because it’s cheaper to film.
  • Torontoist examines ongoing efforts to revitalize the downtown neighbourhood of Alexandra Park.
  • Towleroad reports on the jailing of six men in Morocco for their homosexuality.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy examines ethical issues with being a corporation in the United States.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that a prominent North Ossetian has called for the annexation of ex-Georgian South Ossetia into the Russian republic.

[BLOG] Some Monday Crimea links

  • Eastern Approaches follows the story of Crimean Tatars who are now refugees in western Ukraine.
  • At the Financial Times‘ The World blog, John Reed examines the unlikely media star who is Crimean attorney-general Natalia Poklonskaya.
  • A Fistful of Euros’ David Weman notes the United Nations vote against the annexation of Crimea by Russia.
  • Geocurrents has a series of posts on Ukraine and its area: one on the Moldovan region of Transnistria, a possible western anchor for Russia; one on Transcarpathia, a Ruthene-populated enclave in western Ukraine not quite Ukrainian; one on Ukraine’s energy reserves.
  • At Lawyers, Guns and Money, Robert Farley notes the Russian takeover of the Ukrainian Black Sea fleet ships based in Crimea.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy’s Eugene Volokh points out the many, many ways in which Kosovo does not compare to Crimea.
  • Window on Eurasia has a veritable brace of posts. Crimeans aren’t taking up Russian passports with much enthusiasm, it seems, while the financial costs of annexation will be significant indeed. A Russian war in southeastern Ukraine would be a difficult war to fight, while post-Soviet space has already been destabilized (1, 2). Will South Ossetia be next to be annexed? (Northern California is not so likely.) Meanwhile, Turkish support for Turkic peoples can be destabilizing.
  • Understanding Society’s Daniel Little takes a social science approach to the Russian annexation. What does it mean for the international system’s future? Will there be more annexations?

[LINK] “Georgian-Ossetian discord rumbles painfully on”

Writing for Open Democracy, Vakhtang Komakhidze writes at length about how the official policies of the Georgian government towards secessionist South Ossetia–basically, doing the best to cut off all contact with South Ossetia in the hopes that the South Ossetians will give in and unify with Georgia on Georgian turns–is counterproductive.

Over the 20 years of political and military confrontation between Georgia and its two separatist regions, it is South Ossetia that has had relatively better chance for settling its problems. The most difficult time has undoubtedly been the last few years since the 2008 war. Relations are virtually frozen: on the one hand, the Georgian government is refusing to accept recommendations which could have allowed greater cooperation; on the other hand, it offers no alternative to the EU’s recommendations and says nothing about any prospects for settling the Georgian-Ossetian question.

The shadow of the August war still looms large in Georgian-Ossetian relations and the bombing of Tskhinvali, the region’s capital, by Georgian artillery in August 2008 dominates the Ossetian media to this day. Unofficially, however, the Ossetian side has already expressed a hope that economic relations will be restored, most particularly in the Georgian-Ossetian border zone, where they were cut off unilaterally by the Georgians before the war.

The Ergneti open-air market extends over several hectares right on the administrative border. It came into being spontaneously in the second half of the 1990s, thanks to improved relations between the then presidents, Eduard Shevardnadze and Lyudvig Chibirov. The Ergneti market was an unofficial free trade zone of sorts and the business operations that took place there led to a rapid improvement in Georgian-Ossetian relations. Georgian currency began to circulate in the South Ossetian financial sector and people were able to move around on both sides of the conflict zone almost without restriction. The level of trust in trade relations improved to such a degree that trading partners on both sides distributed goods without prepayment. Georgian and Ossetian NGOs ran joint projects; the subject of the 1991 war almost disappeared from the media on both sides.

By 2003 Georgia and Ossetia were ready to start negotiating a political settlement, but relations began to deteriorate with the arrival in power of President Mikheil Saakashvili. His most important pre-election pledge had been the restoration of the country’s territorial integrity, but he tried to force events: under the banner of fighting corruption and improving the economy, the Georgian government closed down the Ergneti market, which accounted for a substantial part of South Ossetian revenue. The South Ossetian administration took this as a manifestation of political pressure. Georgian and Ossetian experts believed that economic regulation of the Ergneti market would have been possible, and its arbitrary closure led to a cooling in relations between the two sides and the eventual evaporation of any hope of a political settlement. The Georgian government responded with greater political pressure and militant rhetoric, which, in the end, escalated into the Russian-Georgian war of August 2008.

Is it cynical to suggest that Saakashvili doesn’t want to settle the South Ossetian conflict, since keeping the conflict going suits his interests and those of his government? Actually, if the treatment of refugees is indicative, it’s only honest to say that.

The town of Akhalgori remained under Georgian jurisdiction after 1992, but was occupied by South Ossetia in 2008. During the August war, refugees from this town and from other parts of the conflict zone headed for the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. The Georgian government quickly created camps, with basic housing painted in bright colours, to accommodate many of the displaced. These camps are however located away from population centres, and the refugees have little hope of finding work. They live in extreme poverty and their brightly-painted houses are a constant reminder of the war.

After the end of the hostilities, the South Ossetian administration offered the Akhalgori refugees a chance of returning to their homes. A crossing was set up on the administrative border, enabling people to move in either direction. Given the difficult social conditions in the refugee camps, many refugees decided to return to the occupied territory.

The Georgian government made unofficial attempts to stop refugees from Akhalgori District returning to their homes, and when a significant number of them did decide to head back, the government cut off the supply of natural gas to the district.
The Georgian government, however, made unofficial attempts to stop refugees from Akhalgori District returning to their homes. When a significant number of them did decide to head back, the government cut off the supply of natural gas to the district. In the winter, the lack of heating led many of the refugees to go back to the refugee camps and even those who had wanted to go home chose to stay in the camps.

Russian policies aren’t helping, clearly, but Georgia’s not exactly helpful, either.

Go, read.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 6, 2012 at 8:36 pm