Articles by Matthew Collin



A Bill to Remove Stalin And the Soviet Legacy

Is the malign spirit of Josef Stalin still stalking his home country of Georgia?
That is what some Georgian members of parliament appear to believe. A bill that could ban Soviet symbols from public display and prevent certain former Communist officials from holding high office is currently making its way through the legislative process.

Saakashvili Is Georgia's 'Architect-in-Chief'

Opponents of President Mikheil Saakashvili often mock him for the sheer glee with which he inaugurates new buildings and monuments. But they cant deny that his administration has left its mark on the landscape of his country.

Abkhaz Recall the 1990s War With Joy and Grief

Rapid-fire explosions lit up the evening sky over Abkhazias capital, Sukhumi, as the rattle of automatic weapons played counterpoint to a cacophonous firework display and the jubilant cries of intoxicated celebrants on the seafront promenade.

Saakashvili May Repeat Putins Gambit

I will enjoy art, life and new architecture. And I will not care if people dont remember President Saakashvili. Thats what the Georgian president said last week when speculation resurfaced about what he would do when his time in office ends.

Loyalty to West Prevails Over Afghan War Death

The family grieved. The politicians mouthed their somber condolences. But apart from that, there was little public reaction in Tbilisi to the death of the first Georgian soldier in Afghanistan this month.

Gay Parade Rumors and A Shameless Opposition

An event that was never even planned and would probably be impossible to stage has created a summertime scandal in Georgia that again highlights the dubious ideologies of some politicians who claim to be democratic. This time it had to do with gay rights.

Georgias Refugee Bane Needs More Attention

Georgias problem with displaced people remains colossal. Those displaced by the 2008 war with Russia were at least offered new places to live. The country's old refugees driven from their homes during civil wars in the early 1990s still live in desperate poverty.

Georgian Scandal Over Economics and Bimbos

A photograph of Georgias 28-year-old economic development minister dancing on a table with some friends in a nightclub first appeared on Facebook. But when it reached the Russian press, the venue had been transformed into a strip joint.

EU Flags and Fireworks Show Georgias Dreams

Few European Union countries appear to love the EU as much as Georgia does. But actual membership remains a distant dream. So when three high-ranking Europeans came to visit last week, they got one very enthusiastic welcome.

Unlike Bush, Obama Is More Sober on Georgia

Now that U.S. President George W. Bush is out of office, there are concerns that Georgias special relationship with Washington has cooled under Barack Obamas more pragmatic administration. Some Georgians fear that their country could become a casualty of Obamas desire to reset relations with Russia.

South Ossetia Looking Much Like a Failed State

Despite being recognized by Moscow as an independent state after the war, South Ossetia still has no autonomous means of survival.

In Post-Vote Georgia, Lots to Do (and Drink)

A week has passed since Georgia's elections kept Mikheil Saakashvili as president. Now there are questions about what lies ahead for the political opposition and for Saakashvili himself.

Elections to Gauge Trust In Georgias Democracy

Opposition politicians have claimed that the upcoming Tbilisi elections will be a referendum on President Mikheil Saakashvilis government. But thus far, the Tbilisi mayoral campaign is making for the calmest election in Georgia in years.

Holy Crap, Heresy and Fistfights in Tbilisi

Religion is an integral part of Georgias national identity, and for many the church has been the only solid rock to cling to during two decades of post-Soviet turmoil. But recent conflicts highlight the growing tension between tradition and free speech.

Cacophony of Elections And Music in Georgia

The contest for the position of Tbilisi's mayor is in progress, and it is accompanied by music.

A Georgian Carnival Of Brawls and Bruises

The traditional game of Lelo Burti is played only once a year and only in the village of Shukhuti in western Georgia.

Armenia Must Do More To Protect the Children

Volunteers have exposed the grim conditions in some of Armenias aging juvenile institutions, which child welfare experts believe should be transformed or shut down.

Exhibit A of a Terrible Propaganda Campaign

Many people in Georgia felt that they had been emotionally exploited by weekend spoof report of a Russian invasion, as it brought up painful memories and reignited fears of a genuine conflict.

It Will Not Be Easy to Turn Tbilisi Into Paris

Georgian authorities are trying to restore some of the decorative elegance of Tbilisi's Art Nouveau quarter as part of their continuing attempts to transform dilapidated districts of the capital.

Secularity in Azerbaijan Has Many Advantages

Unlike neighboring Iran, Azerbaijan is a secular Muslim state with an official policy of religious tolerance and a laid-back attitude to Islamic customs shaped by decades of atheist Soviet rule.

Georgia Is Preparing For Life After Misha

The mayor of Tbilisi may be the strongest candidate to succeed President Mikheil Saakashvili when he steps down in 2013, and the battle for political control of the country's capital is already underway.

Choosing a City Name Can Be a Major Offense

Sukhum or Sukhumi? Arguments about what places should be called are an indication of how hard it is to resolve the territorial conflicts in the Caucasus.

A Year of President for Life and Bird Poop

In the South Caucasus, another uncertain new year beckons. Although 2009 wasnt scarred by another senseless war, it wasnt a year to confound the pessimists either.

Nice Abkhaz Anthem But a Useless Passport

The composer of the national anthem of Abkhazia believes that the presidential election will not change much in his country.

The Komsomol Spirit Thrives in Azerbaijan

A new alliance of youth and student groups in the energy-rich Caspian Sea state aims to educate the younger generation with the patriotic spirit, according to one Azeri newspaper, and it may already have a cozy relationship with the state.

Risk of Mocking Azeri Bureaucrats as Donkeys

Friends of two young Azeri activists insist that they were prosecuted because they were using online media like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to build support for pro-democracy youth movements in Azerbaijan.

Saakashvili, Sin and The Georgian Church

In a country where the patriarch has become an increasingly potent and unquestionable figure, criticism of the religious establishment is a fast track to pariah status.

Armenians First Want Apology, Then Peace

There may be serious obstacles that have to be overcome in order for Turkey and Armenia to get beyond decades of anger, suspicion and mistrust.

Less Blame Game, More Help for Wars Victims

In the drab refugee settlements along Georgias main highway, it matters little which side European diplomats blame for starting the conflict, because the people living here will be suffering the war's consequences for years to come.

Bruce Willis More Like Putin Than Saakashvili

The latest attempt to offer the "truth" about the August 2008 war is a documentary called "Russian Lessons," and unlike previous Russian-made efforts, it has been receiving some positive notices in the Georgian media.