Saakashvili Presents Georgian Passport to Russian Conductor
By Messenger Staff
Monday, September 19
On Thursday, President Saakashvili attended a concert conducted by Mikhail Arkadiev in Tbilisi Conservatory before handing over a Georgian passport to the Russian conductor. Arkadiev is a Russian artist who has requested the Georgian government grant him citizenship of the country. Arkadiev claims that he has been oppressed due to his political views by the Russian authorities.
At the end of the concert, Arkadiev addressed the audience from the stage. He said that it was his gift to all those people who love Georgia. The conductor presented a book to the library of the Conservatory as well as a record of piano music once owned by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche to President Saakashvili. Reportedly, the Russian musician asked Saakashvili personally to give him Georgian citizenship.
'I greet you Mikhail! I am addressing you in such a way because the patronymic is not written in a Georgian passport. I was very touched by your letter requesting citizenship. Georgian citizenship is not a sign of ethnic identity, of belonging to a particular language or relationship to the nation. In my opinion it is an idea; an idea of freedom and free people. Therefore, every free person has the right to become a citizen of a free country, Georgia. So, I decided to reply to your letter with great pleasure,” Saakashvili told the conductor.
Saakashvili talked about relations between Russia and Georgia and stated that like never before the two nations needed to appreciate each other and not lose the connection between them.
“Of course our cultures are developing at the same pace - the distance will not grow if we do not lose this connection. The fact that we are glad to see you in Georgia means a lot in this regard. We are not only ready to accept a good citizen of the new Georgia but a talented person as well. Georgia is a country of talented people, especially talented musicians. In you, we are accepting an honorary citizen," the president told Arkadiev.
In his response Mikhail Arkadiev expressed his gratitude towards the president and the Georgian people and said that the passport had been unexpected for him.
“Those who have always loved Georgia - its culture, poetry, and music - share a special kind of diplomacy of intellectuality and intelligence that overcomes hatred. I am keeping citizenship of Russia - I am a Russian musician and this is diplomacy for me. They say that private diplomacy does not exist, but apparently it does,” Arkadiev said. “I am going back to Russia tomorrow and let's see what happens - I am ready for anything.”