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Russia: Treatment of Georgians

Blogger Sukhumi has been following the coverage of the persecution of Georgians in Russia (previous Global Voices posts are here and here). He writes (RUS):

On the TV channel “Imedi” I saw a demonstration in St. Petersburg against the persecution of Georgians. To my delight, I caught sight of my friend Valiko. I am very grateful that, unafraid of the consequences, she took to the streets and made her stand as a citizen. It's in times like this that you learn who is a real person, and who is just an empty shell.

But most of the news is bad. It seems even sport is becoming politicised. The ‘Kremlin Cup’ tennis tournament, Sukhumi writes, has just been won by ethnic Georgian Anna Chakvetadze – in the face of a crowd shouting taunts like “Georgians go to Georgia!” (Edit: Irina, in the comments below, says this wasn't the case). And another Georgian sports star has fled Russia:

Yesterday Elena Gedevanishvili returned to Tbilisi. She is a Georgian figure-skater, trained in Moscow, who has won sixth place at the Winter Olympics. Her parents were deported from Russia on the first plane; Elena herself went [first] to Vienna, where she won some big competition…

Sukhumi also recounts an interview on Russian television with Dmitry Rogozin, leader of the right-wing Rodina party and one of the many politicians who link the current Russian-Georgian dispute to an ongoing conflict over the Georgian region of Abkhazia; many residents of Abkhazia are ethnic Russians, and a majority of Russians would like to see Abkhazia either become an independent state, or become incorporated within Russia:

[Rogozin was] asked whether he was “prepared to send Russian soldiers to their deaths, since Georgia will never acquiesce to the loss of Abkhazia, and so war will certainly begin”. To this Rogozin replied that he was prepared not only to send Russian soldiers to their deaths, but to take up a gun and go to seize Abkhazia himself.

Sukhumi also recounts the story of a 13-year-old boy separated from his parents, who were on the first planeload of deported Georgian citizens:

I thought it was only the fascists of the German SS who separated parents and children, shoved them into different railway carriages…

In the comments, Sukhumi is taken to task for being too one-sided. He replies:

Things aren't perfect in Georgia. There is authoritarianism here, but not fascism like in Russia. They aren't evicting Russians from here, you don't hear slogans like “Georgia for the Georgians.”

One reader disputes the level of racism in Russia:

I have lived in St. Petersburg for 14 years now, with a Georgian surname,
and I have never encountered hostility because of my race.

Another reader responds:

I have lived in St. Petersburg for 16 years now, I have a Georgian surname, and I constantly encounter hostility on the grounds of race. You've obviously been lucky.

Yet another suggests:

It all depends on appearance. If you are not obviously from the Caucasus, you're OK.

8 comments

  • […] Global Voices has a digest of posts and comments about the treatment of ethnic Georgians in Russia following the recent spy scandal in Tbilisi and the blockade of Georgia — and indirectly Armenia — by Russia. Blogger Sukhumi has been following the coverage of the persecution of Georgians in Russia (previous Global Voices posts are here and here). He writes (RUS): […]

  • Dan,

    thank you for your post. It’s great to finally see Georgian blogs here!

  • Irina

    >Kremlin Cup has just been won by ethnic Georgian Anna Chakvetadze – in the face of a crowd shouting taunts like “Georgians go to Georgia!”.

    I WAS THERE PERSONALLY, THIS IS STUPID LIE!!!
    MOST OF THE PEOPLE WERE SUPPORTING ANYA DURING THE MATCH SHOUTING “ANYA, WELL DONE”
    SHE WAS VERY HAPPY AND THANKS A LOT OF WARM WORDS ABOUT THE PUBLIC.

    YOU CAN CONTACT HER PERSONALLY OR ADDRESS EUROSPORT FOR THE MATCH RECORD

  • Thanks so much for that comment, Irina. I’ve updated the post a little.

  • Lado

    I AM GEORGIAN I LIVE IN NEW YORK MOSTLY WHEN RUSSINS HEAR THAT I AM GEORGIAN THEY LOOK AT ME WITH ANGER BUT NOT ALL OF THEM I HAVE SOME RUSSIAN FRIENDS AND MY GIRL IS RUSSIAN ALSO MOST RUSSIANS THINK THAT ALL COUNTRIES WHICH WERE IN SOVIET UNION BELONGS TO THEM BUT THEY WILL NEVER RULE GEORGIA.I RESPECT RUSSIN NATION AND I DONT ANDERSTAND WHY THIS IS HAPENNING BETWEEN US

  • Soso

    I am a Georgian originally from Georgia… and I even have Russian family members, but what I cannot understand is why the Russian government feels that they have to step onto Georgian soil and try to cause even more problems than there already were. I understand Sukhumi is a nice beach resort but who has the right to kick out people that have been living there for so many centuries? How did Russia react to Chechnia? I mean, violence is the last thing I would like to resort to, but if it would accomplish getting our soil and people back to their homes then so be it. But noooo, we cannot even take back what was ours to begin with. Russia feels that they have a right to act the way they do because of their size and strength… but in my opinion this is completely unjust. Did we step in during the whole chechen independence incident? I think not. There have always been divides in georgian territory (other than brief periods of time) but hostility tended to vanish and the lines dissapeared, but now thanks to Russia we may see hostility and hostile borders for a very long time… anyway… just my 2 cents… long live a united Georgia, and long live a Russia that minds their own business.

  • Brian Follans

    I have been chat witha girl from Georgia who would like to come to the states to live and work. How easy is this to do? What does she have to do to leave Georgia and be welcome in the states? Will a secure job here give her a chance to come? Does she need to marry an American man?

  • Soso

    I am not sure of the specifics consering I was 3 when I left Brian, but I know that it is VERY difficult to leave Georgia on a permanent basis. If I remember correctly I came here through France by attaining a french passport I believe (how I do not know). Anyway, yeah, I know it’s not helpful, but there is bound to be a way. If she is planning on going to school out here, there is a def. possibility that she can leave, but I am not too sure.

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