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2008 Caucasus Blog Review

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Last year ended with a state of emergency declared in the Republic of Georgia, but few could imagine that the events of 2008 would eclipse those of 2007. Three presidential elections, a war, and yet another state of emergency defined the South Caucasus this year, and bloggers were there to document events from the ground even when the local and international media wasn't.
True, the presidential election held at the beginning of the year in Georgia passed largely without incident, but trouble was already brewing in neighboring Armenia ahead of its vote to determine succession to the incumbent president the following month. Blogging on politics naturally intensified and mirrored the deep divisions in the country.
Signs that the 19 February presidential election in Armenia would end in bloodshed were already becoming evident.
That there would be mass demonstrations immediately after the presidential election held last week in Armenia was known long ago. Many observers also figured on yet another attempt by the radical opposition to stage a colored revolution of the type seen in Georgia and Ukraine. However, few expected it to succeed, but a week after the 19 February vote, the situation is now gearing up for what might be serious confrontation between opposition supporters and the authorities.
[...] bloggers such as The Armenian Observer still fear that it might all end in violence with a state of emergency being declared in the country.

Photo: Levon Ter-Petrossian Rally, Liberty Square, Yerevan, Republic of Armenia © Onnik Krikorian / Oneworld Multimedia

But if events in Armenia set shock waves through the international community regarding the state of democracy and stability in the South Caucasus, what happened towards the end of the summer put the region, and Georgia in particular, on the front pages of every newspaper in the world. Although bloggers had speculated in May that war with Russia might break out over the breakaway region of Abkhazia, few expected fighting to occur in another disputed territory at the beginning of August.

After a failed attempt by Georgia to retake South Ossetia by force, Russia invaded and the blogosphere soon provided the most diverse views and opinions on the conflict between Moscow and its former satellite. The New York Times reproduced posts from Global Voices Online on its own blog and, including voices from Georgia, South Ossetia and Russia as well as elsewhere, syndicated our extensive special coverage of the war.

On August 8, 2008 while the 2008 Beijing Olympics were officially being inaugurated, fighting intensified between the Georgian and Russian military on the outskirts of Tskhinvali, the capital of the breakaway region of South Ossetia. Earlier in the week, Georgia and the South Ossetian separatist government had concluded a truce after an outbreak of fighting for which each side blamed the other. The conflict has now escalated into war, with Russian forces bombing Georgia, and many dead.


The full post, complete with links to quoted coverage, is available on Global Voices Online.

1 Comment

Onnik Krikorian | December 27, 2008 6:17 PM | Reply

A Review of Global Voices in 2008


South Ossetia, Russia and Georgia - War

The international media were taken by surprise when violence erupted between Georgia and Russia in August over South Ossetia. On Global Voices, Onnik Krikorian reported quickly from blogs of the region before most journalists had even made their way there, earning links and praise from the New York Times, CNN, Reuters, and others, along with Veronica Khoklova, Elia Varela Serra, and others from Global Voices who helped cover the conflict through citizen media.



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