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Project August 9, 2008

Georgia and Beyond: Russia's Response to Separatism and Ethnic Conflict

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The war between Russia and Georgia caught most of the world by surprise but it is a conflict that has long been brewing – and one that is part of a larger drama. The bigger context is Russia's attempt to regain the influence it enjoyed during the years of the Cold War, and the hurdles that stand in the way of projecting its identity as a unified, sovereign nation.

Jason Maloney, Zygmunt Dzieciolowski and Kira Kay report from Georgia, from its breakaway regions and from Russia itself.

Russia's approach to the Georgia crisis is a reprise of its wars in the north Caucasus region of Chechnya, with the twist that this time Russian tanks are rumbling across international borders to stake out positions in a supposedly sovereign neighbor. To most Russians the situations are parallel: This is a security situation; it will be fought through use of force, and separatist tendencies will be brutally crushed. The rebuilt Chechnyan capital of Grozny is showcased as proof that the iron fist works.

But elsewhere in this vast nation there are more nuanced, untold stories of both challenges and successes of Russia's management of separatism, demands for autonomy, or simply protection from discrimination and attack for its minority populations. The Pulitzer team of journalists will examine those challenges and successes, against the backdrop of war in Georgia.