I’ve been reading Gorbachev’s book The August Coup, The Truth And The Lessons and I can’t emphasize enough the goodness of Mikhail Gorbachev.
He was heaven-sent, the right man for Peristroika, the right man to extend long-overdue freedoms and self-determination–both political and economic–to the Russian peoples.
Yet as we pause to consider what took place less than a month ago in Georgia, where “foreign” troops of Russia invaded the sovereign nation, of Georgia, I can see how actions by Russian Prime Minister Vladimere Putin and President Dimetry Medvedev have set back the process 30 years.
The book retells a sad time in the times and life of Russia, a fledgling democracy, carved out of a desire by its people to be free. Its people embraced these freedoms, but soon some of its leaders almost took it away in a brazen act of cowardice, a putsch, a secretly plotted and suddenly executed attempt to overthrow a government.
The coup failed, thanks to the resoluteness of Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin, and others who valued the progress they had made toward carving out a democracy and a free market economy more than a reactionary desire to return to an all-powerful dictatorship known as the Soviet Union. They valued their relationship with the West, particularly with America and President George W. H. Bush, the French, the British, and other European nations. Lucky for Russia, and the world, the good Russians were able to put down the Coup, arrest its leaders and return to “normalcy.”
The coup execution was started while President Gorbachev was vacationing in the Crimea, one day before a crucial meeting called the Novo-Ogarevo process where important agreements would be signed, ensuring the democratization of the nation. At Novo-Ogarevo, the country had arrived at the formula–“a Union of Sovereign States,” as President Gorbachev stated in his memoirs that made up part of the book, “but that too is now in need of reinterpretation.”
The Russian leaders had high hopes for the nation. On page 66 he stated: “… I am quite convinced that the international community will be dealing with a union of sovereign states, with a country in which free democratic states and republics and dozens of nations and national and ethnic groups cohabit voluntarily and with equal rights–acountry in which the most varied cultures and practically all known religions exist side by side and interact, creating a unique cultural and spiritual entity.
“the great Eurasian democracy will become one of the bulwarks of the new world, of its security and of the rapprochement of two continents of building a just world order. The combined foreign policy potential of the new Union will increase thanks to the liberated and original contribution that will be made by the sovereign republics that compose it.”
Gorbachev made special mention that the moral and legal foundation of the Union was the declaration of rights and freedoms of the indivdual, “which was approved by the Congress, and the documents defining the guidelines for the transition period and the principles underlying the new Union . This required that each individual state in this confederacy would respect the territorial integrity of other states.
Then on August 8, 2008, for trumped up reasons, Russia invaded Georgia, a “free country” with well known boundaries and displaced 160,000 Georgians, killed thousands, occupying this country for ten to 14 days. Russia unilaterially declared South Osettia and Abkahzia. both sides were to return their forces to pre-war positions, but Russia has interpreted one of the agreement’s clauses as allowing it to set up 4-mile deep security zones, which are now marked by Russian checkpoints.
In addition, in stark contrast to the spirit of the talks leading up to Georgia becoming a free nation, not only have they been invaded, but Russia has missile sites primed and aimed at Tblisi, capitol of Georgia, presumably as some kind of punishment or deterent to keep Georgia out of the two provinces (which belong to Georgia). The rule of law has been fractured.
Russia is no longer looked at as a democratic, forward-looking country.
The invasion has cast grave doubts about the stability and intentions of the former Soviets who have acted more like Tzarist Russia than a freedom-loving republic which respects the laws and principle of free determination. In fact, they have cast a pall over future EU and US relations with this country that not so long ago held so much promise. Now the so-called republic looks more like a dictatorship than a democracy.
Refugees who were kicked out of South Ossetia fled into Georgia from those zones and said they had been terrorized, beaten and robbed by South Ossetians.
Georgia severed diplomatic ties with Moscow to protest the presence of Russian troops on its territory, saying as the West does that Russia is in violation of the EU agreement.