New Source of Russian-Abkhazian Discord
04 November, 2010
New Source of Russian-Abkhazian Discord

‘Both Abkhazia and so called South Ossetia are economic  burdens for Russia’

According to a new decree, citizens who fail to pay even a single utility bill would be shut out of all utilities.

“My family has a tradition to pay all the bills. If you use a service then you are supposed to pay for it,” – said Mikheil Machavariani, Vice-Speaker of the Georgian Parliament.
We talked about the issue with political expert Ramaz  Sakvarelidze. But first we looked together

into the new Governmental initiative.


Q: Chair of the Parliament stated that the Authorities initiated elaboration of the new media transparency standard. How real do you think is elaboration and adoption of this new law?
A: This information is a result of recent reports about mediocre quality of media freedom in Georgia. With the above said initiative, the Government at least would be able to say Georgia is doing something in the field. Then again, it’s a long time we have been witnessing incessant talk in the press about press transparency.
I shall recollect multiple statements by the Press Association, as well as its draft law which dealt exactly with the owners of media outlets and transparency of funding. Thus, the new Governmental initiative may perhaps turn media more transparent, yet only in a relative term. Dependency and control will remain as such. Life will show.
The public was still reviewing surveys of American polling companies, when it witnessed the arrival of another survey. This time, it was the IRI-led poll which galvanized experts by sky-rocketed rating of Giorgi Targamadze, exceeding that of Irakli Alasania 14 times. There are no extraordinary elections in the offing, nor is Saakashvili’s rating held in doubt by any state or international organization.
Q: InterPressNews Agency reported about the arrest of 20 people – all of them Georgian citizens - for alleged espionage in favor of Russia. As the agency informs, all of them are incriminated with working for Russian foreign intelligence agency. Will this massive arrest campaign exacerbate already tensed relations of Georgia with Russia?
A: The spy “surge” is not a Georgian disease only. Other countries suffer from it too. So, it seems we were infected by the epidemics. It is noteworthy that lately we have heard Saakashvili’s initiative about his readiness for a dialogue with Russia without any preconditions. Hence, the arrest of alleged spies sends a dubious signal in the context of Russian-Georgian relations.
Naturally, everyone deserving to be arrested must be arrested. But there is always a question mark, hovering in the air: would you benefit from all the ensuing noise? Maybe you remember the first wave of spy arrests. Instead of reprimanding us why we had done it, Russia only said that there was no need in so much noise.
Q: It was exactly the need for revising relations with Russia and generally the course of Georgian foreign policy which ‘Georgian Party’ has been emphasizing. At the same time, Sozar Subari, one of the party leaders witnessed his brother and two of his party members arrested. As the party leaders point out, everything boils down to their future political activities. What kind of strength does this one-month old party have to impel the Authorities to resort to this direct and violent means?
A: We are accustomed to the pressure by the Authorities to such an extent that we are no more surprised by this sort of the news. These cases lead us to believe once more that this party is a real opposition. These days we often say that the Authorities learnt to use measured tactics against opponents. On the other hand, use of these repressive means is not the way to secure popular trust.
Q: According to the new legislative motion, citizens who fail to pay even a single utility bill would be shut out of all utilities. Besides, the Authorities shortened and shrunk routes of private micro-buses in the capital turning around one hundred drivers temporarily unemployed. Accordingly, for longer distances, ordinary citizens now will have to pay twice-thrice the original amount. In the current grave social situation, what made the Authorities to undertake these risky steps? I do not think they would love popular frustration.
A: It seems the Authorities go to all lengths to multiply sources and volumes of budget income. This is not a cardinal solution to their problem but they nevertheless go for it as a temporary shelter from ever so worsening situation they are finding themselves in.
Population is not requesting practically anything, even though prices are rising so conspicuously. It is inertness of population to blame for all those budget-refilling “innovations” which the Authorities have introduced with so much ease.
Q: Sohkumi regime stated property-related problem would be solved individually because there are also Georgian IDPs among Russian citizenship holders, who are claimed by the Abkhazian side to have fought against Abkhazians. This is the way Abkhazians are trying to find an excuse for their refusal to legalize properties of Russian citizen in Abkhazia. Russian press met this argument with aggression. How far this Russian-Abkhazian discord could go?
A: In Georgia both the Authorities and experts have always been saying that Abkhazian-Russian relations would not be so peaceful and smooth as it may have been at the initial stage. Let us recall that Baghapsh was in fact elected against the wish of Russia. This argument is already enough to characterize Abkhazians as not so obedient people; at least not obedient enough for Russians to do its murky business in Abkhazia comfortably and in an unhindered way. So, in essence, this confrontation may go too far but Russia will not let it get loose. Instead, it will try to find a solution because both Abkhazia and so called South Ossetia are economic burdens for Russia. After all, if the process still escalates, Russia will take all efforts to get rid of this burden. However, it remains to be seen how Russia will do it, should things go awry.

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