Russian Federation cannot and most likely will not forgive Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili for the August 2008 war, and Russian media take every opportunity to criticize his actions this past summer, blaming him for the Russo-Georgian war. This past week, news on Georgia and the aftermath of the August war were front and center in many Russian publications.
Since the United States continues to back territorial integrity of Georgia, President-elect Barack Obama is often cited in articles associated with the Georgian head of state. Daily Dni.ru cites Saakashvili's recent interview with an Italian newspaper, in which Saakashvili described his recent conversation with Obama, when American President-elect "pledged to support Georgia with all strength at his disposal." Dni quoted Saakshvili saying that while he now takes the blame for starting the conflict, his actions nonetheless were "inevitable ... and adequate in order to defend the integrity of his country."
The article further quotes Dmitry Rogozin, Russian representative at NATO, saying that "when he talks to leading politicians and diplomats - even those who supported Saakashvili initially - they are now starting to laugh at him. Georgia's friends are disappointed with everything having to do with Saakashvili. It seems that Washington "Center," as we kindly call it, has already made a different decision. We [Russians] think that the next President [of Georgia] will be Nino Burdzhanadze." According to Mr. Rogozin, Ms. Burzhdanadze already visited the White House, where she received a blessing from the American leadership to be the next Georgian President.
Dni reported further on the escalating rhetoric between Russia and Georgia. President Saakashvili , in the above-cited interview, made statement that his country had to take "adequate measures" against Russia in the August war because Moscow already begun moving heavy military equipment to the breakaway region of South Ossetia. His words were criticized by Assistant Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Russian Federation General Nogovitsin, who said that Saakashvili's words are "... paranoia. It's not curable. Saakashvili has no other choice but to say all that."
More interestingly, this article also cites former Georgian Ambassador to Russia Erosi Kitsmarishvili. According to Amb. Kitsmarishvili, Georgia was the first to start the August 2008 war, because "... Saakashvili took Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice's visit to his country in July 2008 as the blessing to start the operation in South Ossetia. Moreover, Tbilisi may have had military plans for Abkhazia because Georgian President wanted to move the capital of the country to Sukhumi [now the capital of Abkhazia]."
The same article reported that Saakashvili, his closest supporters and his government are preparing to flee Georgia, and have already started moving money to international banks. The article cites Georgian political opposition's statements that "tens of millions of dollars are being moved to Mexican and Swiss banks. ... We [Labor Party] have enough proof already."
Daily Izvestia.ru printed the interview with the above-mentioned Dmitry Rogozin, Russian Representative to NATO. Rogozin told Izvestia that the current American administration is trying to leave President-elect Barack Obama "with a difficult inheritance when it comes to relations with Russia, Eastern Europe and Western Europe. ...The faster Ukraine and Georgia become part of NATO, the easier will it be for the [NATO] allliance to hide the evidence of its preparation for attack on South Ossetia and its participation in the "Orange Revolution," [which in 2004 brought pro-Western Ukrainian government to power]. That is why Rice has been constantly on the phone with her European colleagues." Asked why Secretary Rice is trying to pressure Europeans to admit Georgia and Ukraine into NATO, Rogozin replied that "lately, something strange is happening with her. It is important to understand this woman who until recently had the whole world in her pocket. And now that Senator McCain lost, she again has to earn a living by reading lectures."
All attention to Georgia notwithstanding, Izvestia reported on the results of the Russian fleet's recent visit to South America. The paper reported that Russian fleet, headed by the rocket cruiser "Peter the Great," is ready for the first-ever joint Russian-Venezuelan naval exercises. Former Assistant to Naval Chief of Staff Admiral Igor Kasatonov was quoted saying that "We [Russia] are a great naval power, and should be able to cooperate with any country's fleet, especially in regions that are located far from Russia's shores."