Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tavisuplebas dideba! (Liberty be praised!)

Friday last (8/8/08), when I first heard that Russian troops and tanks had swept into Georgian territory, I was struck (surprised, if you will) with just how not surprised I was by the move. Having lived in the region for three years, not a single thing Russia has done, does or will do surprises me in the least anymore.

Flashback to the end of 2003, when the Georgian people had just about all they could stand of Eduard Shevardnadze and his puppeteers in
Moscow, rose up against a Russian rigged election and revolted. This beautiful, bloodless Rose Revolution showed not only Vladimir Putin, but all the world that former Soviet satellites would no longer kowtow to their Kremlin overseers.

Either incapable or simply not ready to comprehend this tectonic shift towards democracy happening right under his feet, Putin again overplayed his hand, this time in Ukraine of 2004 by attempting to rig yet another election only to be told once more, Nyet!

Having been smiled upon by the gods of fate who saw so kindly to place me on the ground and amongst the crowds on Maidan Nezhalestnosti (Independence Square) in the heart of Kiev day and night for weeks in this glorious Orange Revolution, I sensed what the Russian president apparently could not...the time's they are a changin'.

The Ukrainians and the Georgians before them finally realized that one truth all tyrants fear...real power belongs to the people.

When then Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma ordered his military to the outskirts of the capital to contain the peaceful revolt, and possibly even end it with force if need be, he knew that Ukrainian soldiers would not fire on their countrymen, and that even if they did, the blood of those who simply stood up for freedom would be on his hands. To his credit (and on his way out anyway), Kuchma thought better of it. What did friendly neighbor to the north Russia offer? Spetsnaz troops. Russian special forces who would have no such qualms.

Putin didn't get it then as president and he still doesn't now as prime minister. While he may reign supreme in Mother Russia, the toothpaste is out of the tube and no amount of tanks or show of military might is going to set things right and Red again in your former republics, Vladimir. Perhaps a missile parade through Red Square with Lenin's corpse propped up on the main float is in order? This is not Czechoslovakia, this is not the Baltics and this is most certainly not the 1960s. The Soviet Union is long gone and no pompous parade, nor all your bluster and buffoonery, or
even Zombie Lenin is capable of bringing it back.

For every lie "President" Medvedev tells of cease fires and pulling Russian troops back, when Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov proclaims that the world should "Forget Georgian territorial integrity," the
people of Georgia will remember.

For every mother in Gori that weeps for her lost child, another is made stronger and more determined to ensure her children are not only safe, but that they are free. And for every Georgian father that falls under a hail of Russian gunfire...his story, his struggle, and his legend will grow as his children do.

Tavisupleba dghes chveni (Today our freedom)
Somavals umghers didebas
! (Sings to the glory of the future!)


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