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A Bout Of “Friendly banter” Between “Fraternal people”
29 June, 2015
In the morning of June 14, when the first photographs and videos of the devastation that took place in Tbilisi appeared on the internet, most of the world fell silent for a few minutes, taken aback by their gravity. Even the most distant and uncaring souls were moved by what they saw, judging by the immense amount of donations, aid, supplies and messages offering sympathy that streamed into Georgia soon after news of the disaster became widespread. People and governments
alike united in a shared desire to help our nation, all except for Russia.

Nobody expected the ghoulish glee that both the Russian media and people showed at the news of Tbilisi getting flooded. Journalists, commentators, analysts and ordinary citizens alike gloated and celebrated the disaster as if it was the best news they ever heard.


It would be perfectly understandable for the Russian authorities to simply ignore the disaster and pretend that nothing happened. The extremely tense relations between our countries are no secret. It would also be un­derstandable if Russia decided to extend a helping hand anyway – when disasters come into play, politics usually take a backseat. What nobody expected, however, was the ghoulish glee that both the Russian media and people showed at the news of Tbilisi getting flooded. Journalists, commentators, analysts and ordinary citizens alike gloated and celebrated the disaster as if it was the best news they ever heard.
“Why isn’t anyone from Tbilisi calling us? Did you guys all drown or are you too busy chasing the hippo around?” taunted Sergey Dorenko, a state-owned journalist, on an interactive radio show. “On one hand, there are twelve people dead and twenty missing, but in the other, it is so damn hilarious!” he continued. After mocking several callers, one of them from Tbilisi, he came to a conclusion that the escaped zoo animals were shot because there simply were no tranquilizer darts available. “Georgia is a desolate, degenerate country… It’s like Africa,” he stated.

“Excellent! The flood and the beasts are reducing their population, which means less work for our soldiers.”

Comments at Russian news websites were not any better:
“Why are there so few casualties? Did Georgians suddenly learn to swim?”
“I feel really sorry for the animals… Not for the Georgians, though.”
“That’s for Tskhinvali, bitches!”
“Fourteen people dead? Wow, I didn’t know any actual human beings lived there.”
“Divine punishment strikes enemies of Russia! The same will happen to USA!”
“Who cares if the tiger ate someone? There are way too few tigers out there and way too many Georgians.”
“Safari in Tbilisi! How much for a hunting permit?”
“Well, well, well, where’s your America now?”
“God has punished Georgia for breaking ties with Russia.”
“Just like Ukrainians, Georgians are completely helpless before the elements. Losers.”
“I bet Georgia hasn’t had so much fun since the Mongol invasions.”
“I am sure that the U.S. will throw a couple of burgers your way to help with the relief effort.”
“Not even animals want to live in Georgia, it seems.”
“Excellent! The flood and the beasts are reducing their population, which means less work for our soldiers.”
“Too bad they are cleaning everything up. Somewhere out there, a disaster movie director is losing perfect decorations and props.”

For some reason, I do not remember Georgians gloating at the deaths of hostages in the Dubrovka Theater Crisis. Or the Beslan Massacre. Or the Nevsky Express bombing, which took place in 2009, when passions were still heated after the August War. Or the bombing of Domodedovo Airport. Georgians do not have a habit of celebrating other people’s misery, be they Russians or anyone else. If I recall correctly, there even was a blood donation effort set up here to help victims of the Beslan hostage crisis and offers of help extended by Georgia when terrorist acts took place in Moscow.
But apparently, despite all the venom spat at us by Russians, we are supposed to just smile and nod in response. After all, it is just “friendly banter” shared between the “fraternal people” of Georgia and Russia.

Author: Zura Amiranashvili
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