Georgian Railway not being sold to Russia
By Messenger Staff
Monday, June 15The Press Service of Georgian Railway has refuted the allegations of Russian news agency Regnum that head of Russian railways Vladimer Iakunin is planning to come to Georgia to discuss customs tariffs.
Here in Georgia people are much concerned that Russian railways and Moscow generally are trying to get hold of Georgian Railway. When Russia took over the Armenian railway service it renamed it South Caucasus Railways, thus showing the ambition of Moscow. After a tender held on March 13, 2008 30 years’ management rights to the Armenian railways were given to a Russian daughter company of Russian railways and Moscow should invest more than USD 500 million in their development. But if railway connections are extended from Armenia to Turkey and possibly Azerbaijan the required investment will rise to USD 2 billion.
Before the Russian invasion of Georgia last August opening the Abkhazian segment of Georgian Railway track was also on the agenda provided Russia facilitated the return of Georgian refugees, but the aggression has made this politically impossible until the restoration of Georgia’s territorial integrity. However the Kremlin does not see things this way. If the Georgian authorities are ‘naive’ enough to announce an international tender for Georgian Railway Russia might get hold of the company in a disguised form.
Recently however the Georgian leadership has stopped discussing the possibility of selling the railways to anybody because the population reacts extremely negatively to this. Moreover, Georgian PM Nika Gilauri denies such an option exists. “This is absurd. Selling the railways to Russia is not part of the plans of the Government,” he said.