Russia, Georgia – and Twitter?

Today is the anniversary of the Russia-Georgia conflict over South Ossetia. In preparation, both sides have dialed their rhetoric up to 11. Georgia released a report saying that “Moscow interfered in Georgian politics, supplied separatist militias with arms, ignored its peacekeeping responsibilities, failed to prevent widespread ethnic cleansing of Georgians and, ultimately, sought to annex Georgian territories by means of military force.” And that is just the introduction.

Russia has been doing their part to keep the hostility flowing. The Russian State Secretary is quoted in the Christian Science Monitor as saying “”It is highly regrettable that the Americans are going to pump up Mikhael Saakashvili’s military machine. That’s a strange way to support democracy…” Russia Today features a heart-rending story that opens with “A year after the war with Georgia, South Ossetia is slowly rebuilding itself amid fears of new aggression from Tbilisi.”

If you ask me, Human Rights Watch has it right. “All parties in August/South Ossetia conflict violated laws of war…both governments should ensure accountability and voluntary returns of those displaced”

Aside from the question of right and wrong, however, there is something worrying going on here. Last year, this is how the war started. Escalating words, and a denial of service attack on Georgian websites. I doubt that today’s attacks on twitter and facebook are anything other than a coincidence, but it’s the kind of coincidence that makes me nervous.

UPDATE:  CNET reports, “A Georgian blogger with accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LiveJournal and Google’s Blogger and YouTube was targeted in a denial of service attack that led to the site-wide outage at Twitter and problems at the other sites on Thursday, according to a Facebook executive.”