Protests in Georgia: is Russia getting nervous?
A Russian MP who took the seat designated for the President of the General Assembly during the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy triggered anti-Russian protests in Georgia which have now turned into anti-government protests. Commentators ask above all why Russia has reacted so harshly to the developments by suspending all commercial flights to this popular holiday destination.
Moscow fears a new Maidan?
Blogger Ivan Kurilla wonders on newsru.com what is really behind the Kremlin's harsh reaction to the events in Georgia:
“How can a crisis without any apparent reason help the Kremlin? It has been pointed out quite rightly that an external threat can help a government overcome a domestic crisis - and by the looks of it the Russian state power is very much in crisis. Another possible explanation is the fear of a new Maidan. The fact that the demonstrators' demands are being fulfilled - and that they're being granted rights and powers - is the worst fear of those in power in Russia today. It's as if the country is being punished in advance for something that might (or might not) happen.”
Protest wave reaches Georgia
Putin isn't just nervous about the protests in Georgia, Dziennik Gazeta Prawna explains:
“Events in Georgia mesh with a movement which started a year ago in Armenia. ... Every change in this country bears the virus of democracy that the Kremlin fears like the plague. In Moldova politicians have grouped together in an alliance against the hitherto invulnerable leader. In Armenia demonstrators have forced the ruling elites to make concessions. The Ukrainians largely supported a new president by circumventing traditional election mechanisms. Every one of these scenarios is like a nightmare for Putin. Even if Russia manages to strengthen its position in some of these countries, the Russians themselves will increasingly be subject to a huge amount of pressure.”
Go on holiday, drink wine, buy mineral water
Everyone must do what they can to lend Georgia a hand, journalist Edward Lucas urges in Postimees:
“Just as we can boycott the goods and services of controversial sectors, companies and states, we can also help those we want to support with our buying power. For those with the time and money, going on holiday to Georgia would be the best answer to the Kremlin. And in view of the fact that Georgia is considered the Italy of the Caucasus, it most certainly won't be a big sacrifice. Needless to say, wine lovers have many options for showing their support. But even reserved consumers can purchase Georgian products - for example mineral water from Borjomi. Every cent will boost the morale of the Georgians and show the Kremlin that there's no point prolonging the dispute.”
Mass protests expose old wounds
Evenimentul Zilei is not at all surprised by the protests in Tbilisi:
“The wave of spontaneous protests has revealed the true extentt of the anger against the Russian occupier and aggressor - as the Georgian president called it, even if recently steps have been taken towards economic and commercial rapprochement in a bid to normalise the situation. The Georgians are still frustrated by the Russian-Georgian war of eleven years ago, when they lost the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which are now self-declared independent states only recognised by Russia and some of its closest allies. They are de facto Russian territory. Russian troops protect the 'border'.”
Tbilisi provoked Moscow's reaction
The pro-government website Ria Novosti sees the responsibility for the new crisis on the Georgian side:
“The Georgian leadership, which was the official host of the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy, had the opportunity to defuse tensions by apologising and pinning the blame on opponents carrying out a wild provocation for their own political motives. Instead came the explanation of [Georgian President Salome] Zourabichvili: 'Russia is our enemy and occupier.' ...The Georgian state has thus shown solidarity with the aggressively radical Russia-haters. As such, Georgia logically became the object of Moscovian retaliatory measures. ... The provocation has destroyed years of effort, meaning that the small and poor republic now faces very serious problems.”