Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Who ordered the invasion of Georgia, and how?

Writing in his blog, Marko Mihkelson, head of the Estonian parliament's EU affairs committee, asks (my tr.):

Do you know who decided to start the military invasion of sovereign Georgia, and how?

Paragraph d) of Part 1 of Article 102 of the Russian Constitution, which has been in force since December 1993, states specifically that permission to use the armed forces outside the territory of the Russian Federation is given by the upper chamber the Federation Council. Was such permission given? No, as you can see on the upper chamber’s home page. Thus it is no exaggeration to suppose that by sending troops into Georgia, Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev violated the constitution of his state.

In fact, this is sadly a clear demonstration of how undemocratic, secretive and unpredictable the decision-making mechanisms in modern Russia are. Prime minister Vladimir Putin was first to announce the start of military operations, and did so on the basis of public rhetoric He was followed, with a similar statement, by President Dmitry Medvedev.

If someone did make a decision authorizing an invasion, then we don’t know when this happened, or in which chamber (it might have been the Security Council, for example). When in 1994 President Boris Yeltsin sent troops to Chechnya, which lay within the borders of his State, he had to go at least through a meeting of the Security Council. But now we are talking about an independent state, and for this the Constitution stipulates that there must be a decision of parliament.

It's obvious, however, that the Russian armed forces were ready for a rapid incursion into Georgia’s territory. The invasion took place less than a day after the alleged emergence of a pretext.

Against the backdrop of the events in Georgia President Medvedev has become a manifest shadow of President Putin. One should remember that a few days later, Medvedev announced that the military operation had been completed, and yesterday that Russian troops were leaving Georgian territory. But in reality everything is different.

Immediately after being elected president, Medvedev pledged the rule of law in Russia. Unfortunately, since the head of state himself has ignored the provisions of the Constitution, this is not convincing, The constitutional court’s opinion on the legality of the attack sounds more made-to-order than independent.

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