I found this piece on the alleged Russian coup against Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to be pretty entertaining.
TBILISI, Georgia — Georgia said Tuesday that it had foiled a Russian-backed plot against the government as tensions rose a day before the scheduled start of NATO military exercises.
Georgian forces surrounded a tank unit that it accused of being involved in the plot and President Mikheil Saakashvili entered the base to negotiate the unit’s surrender. In a televised address, Mr. Saakashvili said the plot was an attempt by Russia to derail the planned exercises, which he called a “symbolic event.”
A symbolic event indeed. I won’t pretend to be a particularly well informed observer of politics in the Caucuses, but this reeks. For one, Russia already demonstrated its ability to impact events in Georgia when they directly invaded last summer to face little resistance and only verbal condemnation from the international community. It’s pretty clear who wears the pants in the Russo-Georgian relationship, and I frankly find it rather hard to believe that Russia would support a pathetic attempt of a coup that would a) be likely to fail, b) make Saakashvili look stronger after being summarily whipped during last summer’s engagements and, most importantly c) help Saakashvili make the argument that Georgia belongs in NATO.
Meanwhile, it’s far more plausible to envision a scenario where Saakashvili, who is not exactly known for being the beacon of liberty he would have the West believe, would help facilitate a risible coup where he could literally swoop in and negotiate surrender, bolster his “strong leader” bona fides, and demonstrate the danger Russia poses to fledgling democracies that seek NATO membership. And this “caught on video tape” business described below, I think, makes it more sketchy.
Details of the alleged plot were murky Tuesday afternoon. Georgia released a series of videos in which Gia Ghvaladze, a former major in the Georgian special forces, was shown trying to recruit assistance in overthrowing Mr. Saakashvili’s government on behalf of Russia. Mr. Ghvaladze was arrested Monday night on charges of organizing a military mutiny, according to police.
I mean, seriously? Am I to believe Russian espionage is on roughly the same competence level as R. Kelly? I know there have been rumblings about Medvedev’s growing power, but Putin is ex-KGB for Christ’s sake. This response is telling:
Russian officials denied any role in the unrest. Alexei Pavlov, a spokesman for President Dmitri A. Medvedev, called the accusations “too stupid for us to comment on.”
Yes, that sounds about right. I’m not sure how to conclude this post, so I’ll just make the quick point that this is one of the reasons why we shouldn’t be trying to rapidly expand NATO.