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At UN, Russia Wins Budget Seat Over Georgia, as Cuba Bangs on Missing Tables

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, November 7 -- The UN's budget committee, while always aiming to decide by consensus, had a contested election on Friday, in which candidates from Georgia and Russia vied by a seat on the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions. As it turned out, the Russian won, 116 to 57.

  Before the vote, Georgia's Fifth Committee representative told Inner City Press that "Russia thinks that seat belongs to it," but now Georgia would challenge. Longer-time observers note that earlier this decade, Russian candidate Vladimir Kuznetsov nosed out Georgia for the seat. Kuznetsov was subsequently changed with money laundering.

  As elections for other were taking uncontested by mere read-out or "acclamation" at 10:30 in the morning, three Georgia representatives paced by the entrance doors, working the room by cell phone. They introduced Inner City Press to their candidate, who like the Russian is said to speak fair Italian; they talked about Kuznetsov's political connections. U.S. representative Bruce Rashkow, in his trademark bow tie, sat near the Georgians, presumably preparing to cast a vote for them.

  Rashkow is known to be involved in his Mission's proposal to reportedly cut UN staff members' benefits. On Thursday Inner City Press asked if anything has been submitted to the Committee. No, the answer was, the action is "outside of this Building." Inner City Press is told that the European Union, which listened to the U.S. pitch, was decided unimpressed.

Kuznetsov, formerly of ACABQ, taken away in handcuffs

  The day previous in the Fifth Committee, Cuba's representative banged as if with a shoe to make his point of order, that the U.S. was speaking at the wrong time. Later in the meeting, Cuba complained of missing tables in a Spanish translation, which the Secretary promised to raise to the Department of General Assembly and Conference Management. Inner City Press has formally asked that DGACM chief Shaban Shaban come at last to give a  briefing and to take questions, which has yet to take place.

  At 10:35, after clapping for the uncontested winners, the balloting for the contested ACABQ seat began, Russia's Vladimir Alekseevitch Iosifov and Georgia's Alexander Petriashvili. The chair reminded all of Rule 93, about rounds of balloting. Since there were only two candidates, the Rule was hardly apposite. Under Rule 88, no one was to interrupt the voting except on a point of order. (For the record, Cuba made no such point, although it is surmised that they voted for Russia's candidate.)

After a 20 minute break to count the votes, the chairman announced that the Russian won, 116 to 57. The Georgians, now including Permanent Representative Alasania were suddenly not in the back of the room.  But the conflict will continue -- with a Georgia briefing, they say, in the week of November 17.

Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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