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Georgia, Russia: Feeding Looters and Refugees

See Global Voices special coverage page on the South Ossetia crisis.

A number of Tbilisi residents gathered in front of the Russian embassy Saturday for a protest prank against looting. LJ user oleg-panfilov posted photos and wrote this (RUS) about the initiative:

[…] To the Russian embassy in Tbilisi they brought old refrigerators, toilets, rolls of toilet paper, irons, bottles of vodka, forks and spoons, clothes and other objects that [looters from the Russian army] took interest in during their visits to private houses of Georgians, state institutions, military bases and army barracks.

People are coming up to have a closer look, shake their heads, laugh. Cars that are passing by are honking…

[six photos]

Tbilisi-based LJ user tony-geo wrote critically (RUS) about the stunt:

“Let's Feed the Russian Army” Action

The action itself is, of course, a powerful PR weapon. But only as long as many Russians get to know about it. I suspect, however, that neither [Vremya news show on Channel 1], nor [Vesti news show on RTR] are going to cover this action.

Here's what I mean. A Russian woman, mother of a Georgian officer, horrified, says that her mother in [Kaliningrad] has no idea whatsoever of what's going on in Georgia and thinks that the Georgian army is still attacking Tskhinvali, which is being courageously defended by the Soviet army. Thank God, she hasn't put a curse on her grandson, who is killing Russian soldiers in that Tskhinvali.

I confirm this report. I talked to my sister in Russia yesterday. Formally, my sister is Georgian, but she was born and grew up in Russia, just like myself, and has only spent a total of a few weeks in Georgia in the 30 years of her life. But she kept her Georgian maiden name when she got married […]. Anyway, she's also clueless about what's going on. Most ordinary people do not use the internet and satellite TV to get reliable news – they are watching what the [Russian state-owned channels] are showing. So why should it be surprising that this majority firmly believes that the Russian troops have not stepped outside Tskhinvali […]?

But this isn't my point. In a kindergarten [in one of Tbilisi's neighborhoods], there are 110 refugee families with lots of children. Social aid hasn't made it there. They put them there and that's it, if there's time – we'll help you. At this kindergarten, unlike at the school in the same area, there are children's beds at least. Most people sleep on the floor. There are no blankets and mattresses. They eat what they can buy on the money they've got left. As you understand, they don't have much money left. Yesterday, food was delivered just once to this kindergarten. Stale bread. For 110 families – seven kilos of sugar.

Last night, I took a sack with children's clothes, which I had planned to take to the central donation point […], to this kindergarten. We (along with my neighbors) also took 20 kilos of sugar and one and a half kilo of butter there. Today I've brought them fruit, milk, [matsoni] and diapers.

Georgians, damn it, enough of the information war. Look out of the window, there are kindergartens and schools packed with refugees out there. First, take what you can to them, and then go to the Russian embassy. […]

9 comments

  • RBG

    Russia-vs-Georgia – new website.
    There is a voting and a lot of comments about war in South Osetia

    http://www.russia-vs-georgia.com/

    Please Share This Website With Everyone You Know

  • Beautiful post.

  • […] Voices Online’s Veronica Khokhlova, for example, translates a post by oleg-panfilov on a political action staged by one member of the Young Georgian Lawyer’s Association — an organization […]

  • Anonymous

    The Russia regime is really criminal regime

  • Current State of Russia

    Current Russia-Georgia conflict seems to put an end to a common myth about superiority of Russian military power. All military experts agree that invasion of Georgia clearly demonstrated the poor condition of the Russian army; absence of good communication and night vision gear, rusty tanks and armored carriers, old airplanes with poor precision of hitting military targets, dreadful intelligence, and the list goes on and on… But it seems to me that no one looked at the conditions of the Russian soldiers. Soldiers who once were shaking and threatening half of the world are now reduced to common thieves, robbers, looters, murderers and maradiors. They have arrested and beaten 60, 70, 80 year old man and women and killed scores of the innocent civilians with the mandate of ethnic cleansing. There is enough material on youtube to prove my point (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGfCkPU1-TA, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bSZmqCeiWU, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfP3X9PGg1g, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFr9iKNy-IY, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SB_f_Ew1wfY). These so-called soldiers were stealing anything they could put their hands on. It really pleased me to see how the Russian “soldiers” were loading their tanks and armored vehicles with used Georgian soldiers’ underwear, blankets, shoes, washing pans, silverware, glassware, and even toilets. Russians even put on Georgian soldiers’ uniforms claiming that “it was better than their own”. I do not think you can have army any more discouraged and demoralized than that! However, I think the problem is even bigger; these so-called solders were destroying everything they could not take with them. They burned Georgian forests, croplands, bulldozed down houses, put land mines and explosives (so-called afghan candy) targeting youngsters and kids. Only barbarians with the extreme anger can do things like this. These facts clearly show not only the state of Russian army, but the vision and the spirit of most common Russian citizens brainwashed by the Kremlin propaganda. One Russian “soldier” looting Georgian army base is saying “look, look they leave so much better than we do! They have everything and we leave like bums!” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bSZmqCeiWU) This sums up the concern and the anger of most Russians. They hate seeing world leaving democratic and prosperous life, while “they leave like bums”. But instead of blaming themselves and their government, what do they do? They blame the rest of the world. Of course, there are geopolitical reasons and the energy security (oil and natural gas) involved in the Russian invasion of Georgia, but one cannot dismiss the anger factor. That immense, colossal anger seeing Georgia, one of the neighbor’s who used to leave in darkness and misery like Russians and all former soviet republics, succeeding in building democratic, prosperous country. Oh, that exasperation of seeing happy people who want to leave peaceful and prosperous life. My only hope is that someday Russians will wake up and realize that they too have a chance to leave like humans. However, with the current Kremlin propaganda and the large mass of uneducated people, this hope seems too remote…

  • solo

    ha-ha-ha :) …yes, and bears keep on walking on Moscow streets.
    I am not sure if in 2008 there is audience left to listen to these urban legends. It might have worked in 70s. It is obvious how little you know about modern Russia. Do yourself a favour: get on the plane and visit it.
    Some are still stuck in the Epoch of Cold war propaganda…

    Democracy and prosperity in Georgia? There is no evidence both are present in Georgia. Talk to the real people that live there. I feel sorry for poor Georgians… Their stupid leader did nothing to help citizens lead decent lives. He is just an ambitious US puppet who plunged the entire country into the war conflict the outcome of which was 150% predictable. This is a disgrace.

    Looting and misconduct are present in any army. Thank your BBC for not showing you what US soldiers did in Iran or Yugoslavia… Forgot pictures of Iraqi prisoners being tortured by US service personnel? Short memory, eh? This is a grim reality of war… So, give it a rest…

  • ella

    Unfortunately oleg panfilov blog has been suspended. He has(had?) blog at russian popular site for blogging and it seems they started policy to suspend blogs which are against russian policy in Georgia.
    Pity.
    It was great blog.

    @ solo

    looting are present in any army? that’s funny, I though russians officials were saying that it was not looting.
    btw when were you last in gerogia – during CCCP era???

  • Oleg Panfilov’s blog was hacked, not suspended.

    His new blog is here: http://olegpanfilov2.livejournal.com/.

    His posts about the war in Georgia were saved by LJ user egil_belshevic and are now here – http://o-panfilov-old.livejournal.com/.

  • Veronica

    I am so glad I was able to find Oleg Panfilov’s new site through you. Thank you for the update!

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