This post first appeared on Russia Insider
Another day, another astroturfed revolution funded indirectly by the US taxpayer.
This week, it's Georgia. Georgia has found itself at center stage more than once in the last few decades: the 'Rose Revolution' of 2003, the Russo-Georgian War of 2008, and countless protests and diplomatic incidents in between.
What are those wacky Tbilisians up to now?
The unsightly incident in Georgia is an illustration of the features of the political culture in the country.
First, look at this. Tbilisi, Georgia. On Thursday, an angry crowd stormed the parliament. There were special forces dispersing people using tear gas and rubber bullets. There were hundreds of injuries, including journalists. In total, one in three victims were police officers. Something like this happened in parliament. Radicals seized the presidium and disrupted the annual session of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy. They poured water on the chairman of the annual General Assembly. The chairman is Sergey Gavrilov, a deputy of the Russian State Duma. As a result, they drive foreign colleague deputies out of Georgia, throwing eggs at the hotel where they stayed.
Late at night, commenting on the unrest, Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili accused Russia of provoking a split in the country. In my opinion, these are irresponsible words, irresponsible with regard to Georgia itself. Look.
“Russia is our enemy and occupier. The "fifth column" controlled by it may perhaps be more dangerous today than open aggression. I'd like to reiterate that the split in the country and in society and all the internal opposition play into the hands of no one but Russia.”
Just to let you know, the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO) is an organization founded in 1993 on the initiative of the Greek parliament. Its headquarters are in Athens. It unites Orthodox deputies from 36 countries. In alphabetical order (in Cyrillic), they're Australia, Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Georgia, Egypt, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Canada, Cyprus, Congo, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Mozambique, Moldova, Palestine, Poland, Russia, Romania, Serbia, Syria, Sudan, the U.S.A., Uganda, Ukraine, Finland, Croatia, Montenegro, Chile, Estonia, and Ethiopia.
This year, Georgia was the host country of the annual General Assembly — the highest body of the IAO. The organization itself is a kind of club where deputies from different countries of the world share their experience in promoting Orthodox values in lawmaking. And why not? At the same time, the club performs a peacekeeping mission. It happened that this year, according to the principle of rotation, Russian Sergey Gavrilov became the elected chairman of the General Assembly.
The cause for the unrest in Georgia was fake news; a blatant lie was spread. It said that Gavrilov, in 2008, during the separation of Abkhazia from Georgia, just happened to be there. And when Georgians — the host country — themselves invited Chairman Gavrilov to sit in the chair of the chairperson of the parliament during the General Assembly, it created a dangerous combination as a result of this lie coming from Georgian radicals and the protocol decision adopted by the host country in the Georgian parliament.
After all, it wasn't Gavrilov that chose the seat of the chairperson. But it was Georgians as hosts that invited him to sit there to hold the General Assembly. So this combination became explosive. Although, it's unlikely that everything was so spontaneous. After all, the protesters appeared at a seemingly rapidly growing protest rally with posters already prepared in advance. As a result, Georgia, as a state, didn't manage to ensure the security of its distinguished guests, those whom Georgia, which has always been known for its hospitality, invited. Moreover, Russia was accused of everything by the head of state.
By the way, Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili is a cousin of the lifelong tenured secretary of the French Academy of Sciences, brilliant historian, and good friend of Russia Hélène Carrère d'Encausse, nee Zourabichvili. She is the niece of Salome's father. And in this sense, Salome shames her sister, who is in France.
However, let us return to her words "Russia is our enemy and occupier." Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev responded promptly and consistently.
Dmitry Medvedev, Russian Prime Minister: “I think that these statements are extremely unprofessional. Maybe she hasn’t become up to date on things yet or is deliberately distorting the situation. In Georgia, certain political events are taking place which are related to the internal political struggle between the radical opposition and the forces that are now in power. Attempts to accuse Russia of it look like a distortion of the real situation. It's regretful that the president of the country does it. But we'll hope that the Georgian people will figure everything out.”
The paradox with Georgia is that the Georgian people treat the Russians and Russia very well. But the government and an aggressive minority of thugs are openly hostile. Things are different in Russia. We're friendly towards George and are open to an overall improvement in relations on every level. Look, despite the war with Russia that former President Saakashvili, who, as is already clear, was probably off his meds, started.
And if anyone doesn't remember, on the night of August 8th, 2008, he gave the order to hit a base of Russian peacekeepers with an entire barrage, no less no more. It's clear that for Russia, it wasn't just a pretext for war but a de facto war. Even after this and the rupture of diplomatic relations, Russians retain their traditionally friendly feelings toward Georgia. Up to 1.5 million tourists from Russia alone visit Georgia per year.
Yes, but if at the same time, in Georgia, such an unfriendly reception is given to deputies from Russia, deputies who are part of an international organization, then I'd like to ask something like this: Why do we need Borjomi in Russia? And why do we need Georgian wine? Certainly, without all these bottles on our shelves, no one here will die of thirst. I think that the supplies of wine and Borjomi mineral water from Georgia to Russia are now under threat. These days, two-thirds of Georgian wine exports go to Russia.
It's hardly possible to redirect this amount to other markets. They're already saturated with Georgian wine. They have experience. The same is true for Borjomi. We have lots of our own mineral water. Our wine producers would only be grateful. They'll substitute those imports with pleasure.
It is rather uncivilized and barbaric to attack foreign MPs who arrived in the country at the invitation of the Georgian parliament. Even if we agree that someone in the Georgian parliament made a protocol error, what do the invited guests have to do with that? Should they take out their unbridled anger on their guests? And if some radicals started it, then why should the aggressive minority have so much influence and is there really no way to control them? Or does the government in Georgia have no control over the situation in the country?
I understand why, on the recommendation of the Security Council of Russia, our MFA doesn't recommend that Russians even visit Georgia right now. And I understand why President Putin, by the evening of Friday, signed a decree that prohibits Russian airlines from transporting goods to Georgia. The ban takes effect on July 8th.
Tour operators are prohibited from sending groups to Georgia. This is done for security reasons. The Kremlin has already explained that these bans will be in effect until the situation in Georgia normalizes and there'll be no threat to the security of Russians. Until now, Aeroflot, Pobeda, Ural Airlines, S7, Red Wings, and Nordavia have offered direct flights from Russia to Georgia. In two weeks, everything will grind to a halt. To be exact, they're turning down Tbilisi and Batumi in favor of other directions. They can be Crimea, Azerbaijan, Armenia, or even Turkey.
For the economy of Georgia, the consequences of such unfriendly actions toward Russia will be tangible because Russians lead in the number of tourists in the country. From January to May of this year alone, over half a million citizens flew from Russia to Georgia. This is higher than last year's tourist traffic from Russia to Georgia by almost a third. Now, it's disrupted. Georgia can write a complaint on itself. It'll manage. It's a loss of about $750 million per year. This is a huge amount for such a small country.
Although, if you take a closer look, you'll notice the American connection here. A few days before the Russophobic provocation, Joe Biden's adviser Michael Carpenter visited Tbilisi. He didn't like the fact that there were so many tourists from Russia and even the fact that they buy land there. It's like someone in Tbilisi heard Carpenter.
“Just spent three days in Georgia. I'm not sure that the government fully understands the implications of its open door policy with Russia. With so many "tourists" (Hey, FSB!) and so much land being bought up by Russian businessmen, they may wake up one day and find not 20% but 100% occupied.”
If you remember, not long ago, on Vesti Weekly, there was a large and very friendly report from Georgia. My colleague Maxim Kiselev made it with great love. After all, historically, Georgia and Georgians have always been liked in Russia. And in the USSR, Georgia had a privileged position: Increased investment along with a permissive policy towards Georgia allowed it to get away with things like underground sweatshops and even income from questionable activities. A kind image of Georgians was also formed in the Soviet cinema.
Thanks to the USSR, Georgian cinema itself had a huge audience and decent funding. The same is true for Georgian entertainment stars. Now, it's a hard time for Georgian cinema. The same is true for all the musical performers who lost Russian viewers. What for? What's the catch?
And when, nowadays, when the faintest prospect of normalization of interstate relations appears, some thugs immediately arrange a Russophobic provocation. By the way, there is a question for a fairly large Georgian diaspora in Russia. Many Georgians here, due to their talent and work ethic, occupy very high posts. So, the vote of the Russian Georgians who are in favor of normalizing relations between Georgia and Russia is probably going to make a difference. After all, our countries and people still have to inevitably live side-by-side. Why keep silent?
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
Anyone is free to republish, copy, and redistribute the text in this content (but not the images or videos) in any medium or format, with the right to remix, transform, and build upon it, even commercially, as long as they provide a backlink and credit to Russia Insider. It is not necessary to notify Russia Insider. Licensed Creative Commons