Publications

Open Democracy

Elections Do Not Mean Democracy

Elections are not a bad thing. But for the sake of our own commitment to honesty, let us not deceive ourselves into believing that Jordan is democratizing.

Zugdidi: Will I Ever Go Back?

Last year openDemocracy Russia editor Zygmunt Dzieciolowski travelled in Georgia and Abkhazia. In Zugdidi he met Georgian refugees from Abkhazia with one question uppermost in their minds - would they ever be able to go back?

I crossed from Abkhazia into Georgia to reach the town of Zugdidi, and my thoughts inevitably turned to my mother. She had never visited Georgia, but I saw that the people there had faced exactly the same dilemmas that she faced back in 1939: should they flee and abandon everything, or should they risk staying?

Sukhumi: Café Lika on the Brink of War

I'm not sure I can recommend the Abkhazian house wine that gets served in the bars and restaurants of Sukhumi. The Abkhazians make some drinkable wine, like the 'Psou' brand that is served in Moscow's upscale Aromatniy Mir supermarket chain, but their rough and ready house wine is something to be avoided.

Tbilisi: Twenty Hours Before the War

In August 2008 Zygmunt Dzieciolowski was in Georgia. He interviewed Mikheil Saakashvili, as it happens just twenty hours before the war with Russia broke out. Zygmunt was assured by the President that there were no plans for military action, but later that night he felt very sure that the war could begin at any moment.

Yemen: the Weakest Link

The executive order signed by President Barack Obama on 22 January 2009 commits the United States to shutting the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay within a year. It is a clear victory for civil-rights advocates - but one that throws into sharp relief the persistent dangers posed by weak and failing states, and the inadequacy of United States policy towards them.

Abkhazia Pawns its Independence

They've been dreaming about independence for years. In 1999 Abkhazia's citizens voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence in a national referendum. When I met top Abkhaz politicians only few weeks ago, "independence" and "sovereign state" were terms they used frequently and longingly. For them, a return to Georgia was simply unacceptable. They called Russia their "window to the world". However, they also remembered periods during the Yeltsin years when their neighbour to the North did not always seem to be a reliable ally.

Georgia's President Saakashvili, on the Eve of War

TBILISI, Georgia -- For the Russians he is a scary figure. A cunning eastern despot whose main purpose is to humiliate and to outsmart them. They have disliked Mikheil Saakashvili, young president of Georgia, since he grabbed power following the famous Rose Revolution in November 2003.