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Russian cynicism

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, February 5
There has been much discussion about the Congress of Georgians living in Russia held in Moscow on February 3. This was a project initiated by the Kremlin which failed. Moscow hoped to demonstrate that the Georgian people were ready to confront their own leadership. However regardless of the level of dislike the Georgian population has for its current administration Russia’s conduct has been so negatively received that no one wants to demonstrate any sympathy for it.

According to rough estimates several thousand Georgians reside in Russia at present, earning their living there and supporting their families in Georgia. Moscow thinks the figure is about a million. The true total is difficult to calculate as many of the Georgians in Russia are there illegally, some are formally married and so on. But whatever their number is it a substantial immigrant community from a small country like Georgia. A community, moreover, which is now a hostage in the hands of Russian politics, its existence dependent on how the Kremlin wishes to portray Georgia.

Two years ago Georgians were chased like witches, caught, put on transport planes like cattle and deported. During the August attack the Kremlin used different tactics – there were no anti-Georgian pogroms in Russia. This was because Moscow wants to demonstrate that it dislikes the Georgian administration but is happy to take care of the Georgian people. Putin stated that he pitied the Georgian people who had to live under such a leadership, although his implied alternative, Russian domination, has been rejected time and again by Georgians when they have been given the opportunity to do so.

The Moscow Congress was simply designed to show that Georgians are against their current leadership. The event was well advertised and initially called the Congress of All Georgians. The Kremlin organisers expected more than 1,200 delegates to attend, including politicians and public figures from Georgia. If the gathering had attained such status President Medvedev might have attended it as well. This option had been discussed before. But only three politicians from Georgia attended, and only around 300 people in total (Georgian sources mentioned 191), mostly residents of Moscow. The demands of such a random collection of people will not carry any weight in international discussion. If Russia tries to make capital out of the event, it will simply make a public ass of itself.

The abolition of the visa regime and reestablishment of air links, and certain other common issues, were discussed by the Congress. Medvedev did not appear, although a letter from him was read which cynically asserted that Russia remains close to its good neighbour and devoted to their centuries-long tradition of friendship. Medvedev revealed his “honest” desire to see a stable, independent, really democratic Georgia which would live in the peace and security. These were the words of the President whose country has occupied 22% of its neighbour’s territory, created puppet regimes there and later recognized their independence. Medvedev and his politicians want good-neighbourly relations with a Georgia they disabled and crippled. As the saying goes, with friends like these, who needs enemies?

No: Georgian citizens will not accept such a cynical approach. For everyone here in Georgia the number one task is, and will always be, the restoration of our territorial integrity, even if this takes generations.