Just about everything that could have gone wrong in Georgia has gone wrong. First the main pipeline supplying the country with Russian gas was mysteriously blown up by saboteurs and has yet to be repaired because of the cold weather. And then the fierce cold ruptured power lines leading from one of the country's most important hydroelectric power stations.
Mr Saakashvili was quick to blame foul play by the Russians, accusing them of trying to punish his country for adopting a pro-Western line in recent years. Moscow dismisses this as paranoid nonsense.
Whatever the truth, it was minus 7C in the capital Tbilisi yesterday. Schools were shut and power was restricted to hospitals, bakeries and water pumping stations. Much of the city was plunged into darkness, public transport ground to a halt and 40 per cent of residents were reported to be without heating gas. People were seen cutting down trees for firewood.
Terrible. Reminded me of what my Armenian friends used to tell me of the early 1990s in Armenia. Hopefully, the current Georgian crisis won't last that long.
Here's from one of the stories I did back in Iowa in 1997:
Miserable conditions of life caused by the blockade of Armenia forced Armenians to feel despair at times. Infant mortality rates increased due to the lack of heating in winter; electricity supply was limited to one and a half hours a day; factories shut and many people were unemployed; schools were closed from November through March.
Grigorian cannot forget the pain he felt when he used to come out with a candle to meer his younger brother at night, and how tense his brother looked after going up the stairs to the sixth floor in the dark, with rats hustling back and forth under his feet.