Georgia: Cuba of the Caucasus?

Posted August 12th, 2011 at 4:07 pm (UTC+0)

Let’s shake off August doldrums, and play a mind stretching game.
Let’s imagine democratic, free market Georgia as . . . the Cuba of the Caucasus.
For both countries, whether in the Caribbean or in the Caucasus, threat numero uno is the Colossus of the North.

Howdy, Welcome to Tbilisi! President George W. Bush Street leads from Tbilisi International Airport to Georgia's capital. Photo: Yuli Weeks

This Northern Empire has a long history of interfering in . . . take your pick: a) plucky Georgia b) Cuba heroico.
According to the official narratives, aided only by geography — the Caucasus mountain range or the Straits of Florida — nationalist leaders in both countries are struggling to maintain culture and sovereignty in face of an overbearing neighbor. Russia has 32 times the population of Georgia. The United States with 28 times the population of Cuba.
To defend the nation, a charismatic and canny leader glues his nation closely to a faraway superpower.
Arriving in Georgia, a traveler leaving Tbilisi’s international airport travels down George W. Bush highway, complete with a smiling billboard portrait of the 43rd President.
A nearby road is John Shalikashvili Avenue, named after the son of a Georgian prince who rose to become chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. Across town, the massive new U.S. Embassy spreads across a large lot on George Balanchine Street, named after the American ballet choreographer whose father was a Georgian composer.
For a small nation, this is a U.S. Embassy on steroids, employing about 400 people – undoubtedly far more than US missions in Croatia or New Zealand, countries with populations comparable to Georgia’s 4.4 million people. Russians might see the new building as a horizontal version of the former Soviet Embassy in Havana, a 20-story high-rise that once was the tallest building in town.

In Tbilisi, a main job of the American Embassy is to oversee the distribution of American aid to Georgia. On a per capita basis, Georgia is by far the largest recipient of aid of the 15 former Soviet republics. This largesse is partly to make amends for when Washington lost control of its young ally in Tbilisi and he attacked Russian peacekeeprers on Aug. 8, 2008.
Historians may find parallels between frantic U.S. diplomatic cable traffic between Tbilisi and Washington in the opening hours of the Georgia-Russia war and Moscow-Havana cable traffic during the tense October 1962 Cuban missile crisis. It is now known that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev struggled to restrain his bellicose Latin ally, Fidel Castro.

Generations of well-meaning Americans have tried to reach out to the Castro regime in Cuba. They seem to ignore that anti-Americanism is a key pillar supporting the Castro brothers’ rule. The day relations are ‘normal’ and McDonald’s plants its flag in Havana will likely be the beginning of the end of Castroism in Cuba.
Similarly, Russo-phobia is a pillar of President Mikheil Saakashvili’s government. In the last year, World War II monuments have been blown up or removed from Georgian cities. A new law calls for excising all Soviet symbols from public places, down to the five pointed stars on wrought iron bridges.
On Tbilisi’s showcase Rustaveli Avenue, there is a Museum of Soviet Occupation — an ideological mirror of Cuban museums devoted to imperialismo yanqui.
Georgia is closing Russian language schools “for lack of demand.” Russian language TV, Radio and public signage are severely restricted.
As a result, post-Soviet Georgians, those under 35, speak Russian poorly. When diplomatic relations are one day restored and Georgians can travel north again, they will have a hard time communicating with their estimated 500,000 ethnic cousins living in Russia.
Instead of learning the language of the neighborhood, Tbilisi has mandated that all school children learn English. A literacy corps sends young American and British English teachers to villages across this land, which is about the size of Ireland. While English is nice, Britain, the closest, major English speaking country, is 3,000 kilometers to the west.
Russian is still the lingua franca used by most of Georgia’s neighbors and tourists, with Turkey being the exception.
In a parallel linguistic anomaly, it is not hard to find people in Cuba, generally over 40, who speak good Russian and no English. Not very useful, given the neighborhood.
While Georgians (read Cubans) complain about the unfair trade embargo imposed by their heavy handed neighbor to the north, they do not seem in a hurry to do anything about it.
High atop a government office tower in Tbilisi, I asked Vera Kobalia, Georgia’s Canadian-trained Minister of Economy, about Georgia’s inability to sell its famous wines and mineral waters in Russia, historically Georgia’s primary market.
The Minister’s blue eyes glazed over. She repeated the party line that the Russian embargo has actually been good for Georgian wines, that they have improved labeling, and raised quality to European Union standards.
Actually, one big beneficiary was me. Pushing a cart through a Tbilisi supermarket, I stocked up on six bottles of excellent dry white wine for the trip back to Moscow, paying the Georgian lari equivalent $50.
Commercial quantities of Georgian wine would be very welcome in Moscow. There, supermarkets peddle bottles of third rate European wine for $20. Restaurants serve miserly glasses of the same product — for $12.

In both Cuba and Georgia, a charismatic president has used his charm and charisma to work political magic with visiting foreigners.
Where Fidel use to wow visiting Europeans and Canadians with boxes of Havana cigars, Georgia’s “Misha’ Saakashvili has been known to helicopter foreign visitors from skiing in the morning in the Caucasus to swimming in the afternoon in the Black Sea. In between, Georgia’s leader can offer some of the best food and wine east of Italy.
Speaking fluent American English honed in New York City, Misha makes visiting American congressmen or TV correspondents feel right at home. His heartfelt attacks on Russian expansionism are music to the ears of a generation of Americans who came of age during the Cold War.
In a similar note, Fidel Castro’s rants about the American-controlled enclave at Guantanamo or the failed American-supported invasion at the Bay of Pigs long struck a chord among Latin Americans who felt historically stepped on by the United States.
Where Castro’s often used his Latin charisma to out-maneuver the gringos, Saakashvili uses his Georgian brio to out-charm Russia’s Slavic leaders. In August, 2008, the Russians easily won the shooting war. But they were soundly defeated in the PR war.
Now, the north-south enmity is personal.
During the war, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he would like to string up the Georgian President by his private parts. For his part, President Saakashvili has referred to the Russian Prime Minister as “Lilli-Putin” — a reference to the Russian leader’s short stature.
In an interview with Russian and Georgian reporters last week, President Medvedev dismissed his glad-handing Georgian counterpart as gluey, as a “barnacle.”
Saying the he would never again shake hands with President Saakashvili for starting the war, the Russian president vowed: “I will never forgive him for that, and I will not talk to him, even though he occasionally tries winking at me at various international fora.”
On the August 8 war anniversary, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov chimed in, calling the Georgian leader a “pathology and anomaly.” Then, Russia’s top diplomat cast aspersion on the Georgian’s mother, calling him “clearly a very badly brought up” person.
The school yard taunts sound familiar in the Western hemisphere.
A classic drawing by American cartoonist Jules Feiffer shows two rows of eight American presidents, starting with Dwight D. Eisenhower. Next to each president is the same caption, promising in effect: “Fidel Castro is going out on my watch.”
Instead, Fidel Castro almost outlasted Queen Elizabeth as head of state.
Since Russia is not a democracy, it is highly unlikely that it will have a variety of presidents in coming years. Many analysts believe Prime Minister Putin will return to the presidency next year, putting Russia on course for the Putin quarter century.
South of the border, President Saakashvili may take a leaf from his arch-nemesis’ book. He has engineered a constitutional change that creates a strengthened prime minister in January 2013, just when his presidential term expires. The Georgian leader may well “pull a Putin:” switch titles but keep power.
Echoing the 50-year string of American presidents who failed to get rid of Fidel Castro, we may have only seen a few chapters of what could be the long running Misha and Vlad show.
But then again, Georgia and Cuba are worlds apart. Game over.

James Brooke
James Brooke is the Russia/CIS bureau chief for Voice of America. A lifelong journalist, he covered West Africa, Brazil, the American Rocky Mountain States, Canada, and Japan/Korea for The New York Times. A resident of Moscow since 2006, he was first Bloomberg bureau chief for the region. In 2010, he joined VOA. In addition to writing Russia Watch, his weekly blog, he also does video, radio and web reports from Russia and the former USSR.

29 responses to “Georgia: Cuba of the Caucasus?”

  1. This is a clever essay and there are certainly many parallels of a big powerful neighbor to small feisty neighbor. Vietnam has similar problems with China.

    However the crucial difference is that Cuba is very positive about improving relations with the US.

    President Raul Castro has offered to meet President Obama in a spirit of mutual respect and without preconditions.

    Cubans are very warm to American visitors, fully conversant with our culture and English is widely studied.

    There is however a problem in Washington: 50 years of unremitting economic warfare, an official commitment to regime change, $20 million appropriated by Congress to fund USAID
    intervention programs (leading to the arrest and conviction of Alan Gross), etc.

    President Obama has taken an important step by ending restrictions on travel and remittances for Cuban Americans, but only a faltering half step to open purposeful travel for the rest of us.

    Meanwhile Cuba is moving ahead to transform its economic and social system and the US is completely isolated internationally.

    John McAuliff
    Fund for Reconciliation and Development

    • David says:

      yes true Raul now is all about brown nosing US but how many decades did this take? REmember we and the Ruski’s were just fine less then a decade ago? Misha was a frequent flyer to Moscow after the rose revolution.

  2. Rezo says:

    the author has no idie what is going on in modern Georgia….rubbish!

  3. Rezo says:

    no ones bussnes what language we want to cosnitrate on….i’ts Georgians internal affair…
    very familar dictative tone.
    well, what can you expect fromrussian apologist!

    • Solomon says:

      I am no Russian. I am Georgian like yourself and it is no wise to think that you hold the truth for “domestic distribution”…

  4. Solomon says:

    Briliant! very shrewed commarison. Rezo apparently works for Saakashvili’s party. Georgia is Potyomkin-facade false democracy under Saakashvili. He spents millions on stupid architectural projects which he himself designs and on singers like Enrike Iglesias whose concert was worth of 1.3 mln GEL for Georgia, whereas cutting down all social and healthcare programs. Any business in Georgia can only survive if they have umbrella of Saakashvili’s inner circle mob. Misha has not terminated corruption, it only became “elite”. over 67 people have been killed in streets by police without single person being punished more than 4 year imprisonment, whereas people serve more for steeling <100$. 112 million GEL has been officially collected by process agreements, when prosecution gets false charges against anybody having business and then asks to pay money for avoiding lengthy imprisonments. Media is mainly controlled by Misha's party, 12 private TVs have been forced to change owners into his inner circle or close down. For Georgians Saakashvili is not at all better than Castro for Cubans. He is real hero of the sentence said by Roosevelt regarding Somoza : He is SOB, but at least he is our SOB…

  5. Nino says:

    Ok , are you crazy? When did Saakashvili attack RUSSIA?? “Washington lost control of its young ally in Tbilisi and he attacked Russia on Aug. 8, 2008.” Just very dumb analogy in general. Only very superficially does Georgia resemble Cuba in any way.

  6. Gennady says:

    1. Very witty comparisons
    with the best sentence in the article being
    “Since Russia is not a democracy, it is highly unlikely that it will have a variety of presidents in coming years. Many analysts believe Prime Minister Putin will return to the presidency next year, putting Russia on course for the Putin quarter century.”

    2. I’m not sure that the Russian Federation badly needs Georgian wines. We have plenty of Krasnodar wines. Maybe just some exalted elite suffers.
    Even more. Here, in Russia we don’t feel shortage of any Georgian goods and services.
    One positive moment of the war is that Georgian businessmen operating in Russia and bleeding Russian economy for decades are no more that confident as they have been before the military conflict.

    3. Unfortunately, the article presents just one line of considerations.
    The other line is:
    With Russia’s economic growth dwindling and oil price falling down
    did millions of ordinary Russians need any additional country or territory having been gained in the war?
    Could Russia afford any military conflict not directly related to its territorial integrity?
    Anybody knowing deprivations of poverty-stricken population of the growing depopulated Russian Federation will answer with “NO”.
    The Russian Federation badly needs billions of petrodollars having been spent for the war for its own economic and scientific development.
    Make a time travel with just a few steps aside Nevskiy Prospect in Saint-Petersburg,
    and you will see XIX century Dostoevskiy’s Peterburg with slums, homeless people and deserted children in the XXI century.

  7. David says:

    Russia is not the US and Georgia is not Cuba. The author of this article has a pretty strange imagination to say the least. Look, Georgians are not Cubans and Russians certainly do not have much in common with the US. This comparison is just beyond rediqulouse, seams as if it was written by an amature. Is there anyone in US with some Brains who can at least make if not correct at least appropriate comparisons. And what the hell is wrong with naming streets in Georgia after our American friends and suppoerts, people who playd role in Georgia’s independence. This was between Russia and Georgia over S. Ossetia and Abkhazia was lost a century ago. What Russia did in August of 2008 is lagitimized its occupation and gave it true colors. Georgia’s made no decision in Abkhazia even before the 1st war so nothing changed except for the unfortunate massacare and forceful eviction of Georgian population from those two regions. They needed the war to seal the deal and they did it. What the West needs to do now is hurry up and get Georgia in EU and NATO asap and adopt laws that will recognize these two territories as occupied by Russia (which US just DID) and in the meantime integrate Georgia fully into the WEST. YOu need 400 people in US embassy in Tbilisi because it is a hub for further enlargment and key US interests in the region. Again get your comparisons streight. With all do respect to Cubans but I take it as an insult to be called Cuban never mind the stupidity on the part of an Author. Besides what American would compare themselves to Ruski’s? Its not the same thing. Just because we are smaller and south of that nation does not make us Cubans and them Americans. Most rediqulouse stupid idea I have ever heard. That’s why Russians play dirty games because they see American media has no clew what or where Georgia is and what is really going on……….

  8. Jim Brooke says:

    Thanks for the comments — for more conventional reporting on Georgia, check out the other stories from my wonderful trip through Georgia:
    Off to Kyiv Sunday to take the pulse of Ukraine’s embattled democracy
    Jim Brooke

    • Andor says:

      Jim Brook, Batumi beaches are horrible with large, dirty pebble, hotels are overpriced, and service is mediocre. The projected 1.4 million is a pipe dream, even now foreign tourists are complaining on the travel sites about Batumi. It seems your article was paid by the Georgia Department of Tourism )))
      Of course your OWN trip was wonderful!
      Regarding Georgian wines. I ordered a lot of 12 bottles recently from an American distributor. The regular price was less than $10.00/btl, and it was still on sale for even less. The quality was BAD. Maybe Telavi Cellars are not the best, but…
      On the other hand I traveled to St.Petersburg, Russia, in May, and ordered a bottle of Georgian wine in a small private georgian restaurant. It was delicious. The owner insisted that she was NOT Georgian, she was a Megrel. Obviously, it was very importand to her that I could see her as not Georgian ))

      • David says:

        Jim Brook should travel to Hawaii from where I returned only few weeks ago. I would say the same about Hawaii, overpriced, overcrowded, everyone trying to cheat, subway sandwitch only 10 dollars 🙁 when everywere else it only costs $3 food taste like shit and locals are known to trick, steal and rob tourists.. Batumi compared to Oahu for instance is a paradise. I in fact am Georgia from Samegrelo. About that lady serving you some Georgian wine (which is illigal and you should not have taken it) makes you a criminal in Russia you know. About her telling you she was mengrelian. That is the correct answer only in Russia to avoide being prosecuted, humiliated and god knows what else deported. That just only means that she was smart (I bet you left her a giant tip) and gave you the correct answer for only Russians in Russia to survive. That type of answer depends whether Russian occupants allow Georgians who want to cross the Abkhazia boarder to go back to their homes in Abkhazia. I’ve heard many times that telling Russian guards who stand between Georgia and Abkhazia that they are Georgia immidiately disqualifies them from entering there home in Abkhazia Gali region for instance. Your comment is biest and known to everyone as Russia bitterness, propaganda. YOu are not fulling anyone except yourself. Everyone in this plae knows about your kind. I doubt that you have had any access to any good Georgian wine in US either. It was most likely Russian powder wine made my Russians somewhere in the stinky basement of Brighton Beach. I have a friend here in San Francisco who distributes good Georgian wine and I can’t get a bottle for less then $20. Thats for good Georgian wine I boubt you have ever tried. Besides, everyone knows that what Russian will eat or drink no other self respected person, Nation will, that’s why according to poles American Fast food found the biggest market in Russia. And only Russians consume it here in US :)))

  9. Alex says:

    Gennady, the ban on Georgian products did not eradicate Georgian businessmen who you think “bleed” the Russian economy. In fact, the ones like Alexander Yebralidze, an oligarch, are even rumored to be supported by the Russian government for the Georgian presidency. There are plenty like him cozying up to your government, and Georgians are only a fraction.

    If Russia really wants to ensure that criminal Georgian “businessmen” do not hurt the already criminal-ridden Russian economy, stop embracing every single warlord, murderer, and “thief in law” that flees the Georgian law enforcement just for the sake of angering the Georgian leadership. One example would be Aslan Abashidze.

    In conclusion, what I am trying to say is that Russian businessmen themselves are less than pristine and Russia’s criminal-driven economy attracts just the kind of businessmen that would be able to function in a criminal environment.

  10. Pyotr says:

    Good article.
    I am glad for Georgeans have begun the democratisation process. I wish they become a democracy someday. Alas I cannot see Russia as a democracy for a long and long time from now on. Misha has completely destroyed corruption in the Ministry of Home Affairs that is police. Even if he had’t done anything else during his presidency it would have been per se a great achievement.
    I read that Russians are still very well invited into and recieved at Georgia as tourists provided they dont have the breakaway regions visa stamps in their passports. On the contrary Georgeans are not welcomed very much in Russia even by common Russians because a big part of Russian criminals are ethnicly Georgean. Correct me if it is wrong.

  11. Nino says:

    Like I said before – very false and misleading analogy that simply doesn’t work. A more reasonable analogy would be if the author compared Georgia to previously colonized nations (as Georgia was colonized by Russia by force ) since Georgia is still trying to break free from former colonizer with 1/3 of GEORGIAN TERRITORY illegally occupied by Russia. Why is there no mention of ETHNIC CLEANSING of Georgians that took place in Abkhazia (early 1990s) and most recently in Ossetia?

    • romey says:

      Georgia became part of Russia, to escape the physical destruction of the Ottoman Empire and Persia.
      At the end of 1782 the king of Kartli-Kakheti Heraclius II appealed to Russia and Empress Catherine II to take Georgia under Russian protection. According to the agreement King Irakli II acknowledged the protection of Russia and partly refused an independent foreign policy by committing their troops to serve the Russian empress. Catherine II for his part is the guarantor of the independence and integrity of the territory of Kartli-Kakheti. Georgia provided with full internal autonomy. Contract equated the rights of Georgian and Russian nobility, clergy, and merchants (respectively). Of particular importance were the secret four articles of the treaty. Russia agreed on them to defend Georgia in a war and the conduct of peace negotiations to insist on the return of Kartli-Kakheti kingdom possessions, he has long belonged to (but annexed by Turkey). Russia pledged to keep Georgia’s two infantry battalions, and in case of war to increase the number of its troops. At the same time, urged Georgians to remain united and to avoid internecine strife, which Irakli II had to make peace with the king of Imereti Solomon I.
      The major political significance of the treatise of St. George was to establish a protectorate of Russia in regard to Eastern Georgia, dramatically weakening the position of Iran and Turkey in the Caucasus, formally destroying their claim to East Georgia.
      Georgian Embassy in St. Petersburg June 24, 1800 Board of Foreign Affairs handed over a draft paper on citizenship. The first paragraph reads: King George XII “earnestly wishes with their offspring, the clergy, nobles, and with all the people subservient to him once and for all to take citizenship of the Russian Empire, promising to faithfully perform all that is performed by Russians.

      And about the occupation: the European Union acknowledged that Georgia attacked Russian peacekeepers 08.08.08. It also recognizes and the author of the article.

    • Nino says:

      Georgia asked Russia for in help in 1782 but Russia broke the agreement and annexed Georgia and made it a Gubernia of Russia. Since that time – the Red Army took Georgia again by FORCE and Georgia was once again occupied under Soviet Union for nearly 70 years. Since then Russia has supported and instigated conflicts between Georgians and other ethnic minorities, funding, planning, encouraging and financing wars against Georgia that included TWO ethnic cleanings and massacre of thousands of innocent people in Abkhazia, solely based on the fact that they were ethnic Georgians. America never ethnically cleansed out Cuba from Cubans, nor did they kill thousands of innocent people like Russians did in Georgia.

  12. Aleksandr says:

    “Russian is still the lingua franca used by most of Georgia’s neighbors and tourists, with Turkey being the exception”
    By the way
    None of the Turkish hotel on the coast no problems with the Russian language support staff. In the same way in shops and markets.

  13. Colchian says:

    Dear Nino,

    Please leave this propaganda… is absolutly out of logic. We really are like to Cuba and no only present-day Cuba, but Batista’s Cuba too: only hotels, casinos, etc. Probably, final will be same yankees lost our country and Russians come back because of our and their stupid politics…

  14. Foreigner says:

    Quite interesting. I double checked the blog’s URL to make sure that blog was published by CIA affiliated news outlet, not an FSB channel like ‘Russia Today’.

    As to Ms. Brooke, yes, there are some similarities. But the main difference is that the US did not ethnically cleansed one third of Georgia’s population. The majority of those 500,000 Georgian living in Moscow and other Russian cities, are refugees from Abkhazia. Russia allowed them to live in Russia, but not on the land of their ancestors – Abkhazia. Russia need more loyal pro-Russian aborigines there – Abkhazs. American soldiers did not play football with the heads of killed Cubans in a Havana’s stadium like Russian paramilitaries did in Sokhumi. US soldiers did nit rape teenage girls, killed whole families and burned corpses in their own houses like Russians did in Gagra in the 90s and repeated in 2008 in Georgian villages.
    As for the language, Russian is a regional language, true. But, English is a world language. As a small nation, Georgians have to learn English to survive in the global economy, and as the author correctly noted, Russia is not a number one trade partner of Georgia anymore. Georgian kids still study Russian in schools as a foreign language. Noone prohibited or abolished that. Why Georgians have limit themselves to Russian when Russians themselves study English extensively?
    Yes, Georgians need US help to defend themselves from the empire which is left in 20th century and still thinks that Russia’s survival is in collecting and expanding the empire’s lands. Contrary to Russians, Georgians value their friends and Georgian’s are not free riders. Georgia has been one of the largest contributors of troops per population in both in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ironically, in Afghanistan, Georgians together with the coalition troops have provided security to Russia’s southern borders, which allowed Russia to flex muscles on the West, invade Georgia, and intimidate Ukraine, Poland and Baltic states.
    So, I’d disagree with the author. Russia, Kazakhstan, and other neighbors of Afghanistan are the largest indirect recipients of US assistance among the former soviet republics – not Georgia. Georgian is earning that assistance, and, while Russia is free riding..

  15. George says:

    Dear Jim Brook,

    One citation from this article:
    ” As a result, post-Soviet Georgians, those under 35, speak Russian poorly. When diplomatic relations are one day restored and Georgians can travel north again, they will have a hard time communicating with their estimated 500,000 ethnic cousins living in Russia.”

    This citation is proof of your absolute ignorance of Georgia and georgian: All the Georgians (in Georgia, Russia, Germany or elsewhere) are speaking GEORGIAN (!!!!), So, Russian language is NOT NEEDED to communicate with our ethnic cousins (!!!!). This citation is (Sorry) big idiocy, i ever hear.

    English language is international communication language and if You mean that Georgians must learn first of all Russian, i say was corrupted in Moskau. first 3 foreign languages in Georgia: English, Germany and France.

    Russians have taken great efforts in XX century to eliminate Georgian language, that is at least 700 years elder literature language as russian, they sad, that we must speak only russian, and georgian must not be official language in Georgia (!).

    My recomendation – please read history and information about Georgia and georgian people – not only in Russian (they are falcified by russian “historians” for a long time), also Georgian, turkey, persian, german, or other sources. You will see, that you comparision is comletely false and cretinism.

    You dont know, that georgians and russians are completely different ethnic, linguistic and mentality people. Georgians are Ibero-caucasian people, we are no slavic (!!!).

  16. George says:


    “With your illiterate and at some places crazy remarks you showed the world what some Georgians really are!
    But I won’t generalize to all Georgians in the world
    as you have insulted all Russians in your post on what some of them like to eat and prefer.

    1. First of all you should go to the primary school and learn your English spelling. Almost in every line you have made gross spelling mistakes: ‘sandwitch’, ‘everywere’, ‘ illigal’, ‘avoide’, ‘immidiately’, ‘biest’, ‘You’, ‘fulling’, ‘plae’, ‘boubt’.

    2. You can’t write down correctly the name of the host of the blog. He isn’t J. Brook but J. Brooke.”

    Are You small child?? This is typically russian form to discuss something – arrogant, snobbish and abusive.

    I am sorry for this bad words. I am sorry for the honest Russians, but Russians like Gennady are reason for this prejudice

  17. Foreigner says:


    Stalin and communists killed more Georgians per population than Russians or any other ethnicities of the empire, and Georgia lost a higher portion of its population in the Second World War, then Russia. And, how did Russia repay back for that sacrifice to Georgians? They sent the Black See fleet stationed in the same Crimea trenched by the blood of Georgian soldiers fighting Nazis to attack and bomb Georgian Black Sea cities.

    As of the question who worships or is proud of Stalin, I think you will find more Russians in that category than Georgians, including Russia’s new ‘Stalin’ – Putin. Yes, Stalin was born as a Georgian, but he lived most of his life as a Russian and a Russian dictator. He built his career and reached leadership positions in Russia. Georgian socialists did not like and ridiculed him. He has to move Russia and connect his fate with Lenin and other Russian socialists. As many other non-ethnic Russian rulers of the Russian empire, he was a staunch Russian nationalist. That is why his corpse is still buried in Kremlin. Do you want to wipe out Kremlin and Moscow from the earth for that too 🙂 Georgians removed Stalin’s statue from Gori, and converted its museum into an occupation museum 🙂 This is the same statue Russian troops carefully protected when they bombed and then invaded Gori during the Russo-Georgia war in 2008. Anecdotically, Gori’s governor even offered them money to blow up the statue, but the Russian general refused.

    If Russia wants to distance itself from Stalin’s legacy, I’d suggest to return lands Russia occupied and annexed during Stalin’ rule to your neighbors, including Karelia, Kallingrad, and Kuril islands. Russia did return some land to China, and it has to do the same with other neighbors as well, regardless of their size and military might. And, most importantly, make Russia nuclear free, as it was before Stalin 🙂

  18. James Brooke jbrooke says:

    Readers —
    I was working in Kyiv when a group of inappropriate responses went up.
    The purpose of commentary is intelligent debate — clear responses to issues raised in the columns.
    Let’s take the high road and address the issues at hand.
    Thanks to you who do that.
    Jim Brooke

  19. Colchian says:

    Dear Nino,

    You say Americans never organize ethnic cleanings… is absolutly unhistorical thesis, absolutly… please, ask about this Yankees themselves and they answer that almost whole local population in the N. America was killed by Americans. I agree what you said about Russia, but all Empires do things like this… for example, what you think about N. Ireland how this land was include in UK? off caurse, Russians’ methods are more barbarian, but mechanisms of imperialism are same… the main reason is to build own state without sharing foriegner interests, it is difficult, quite difficult, but it is possible… we did it in David IV’s reighn…

    • Nino says:

      “Colchian” first of all we’re comparing CUBA AND GEORGIA and YES WHAT I SAID about AMERICA never committing ethnic cleansing in Cuba is correct (unlike Russia as I said before). Secondly, I don’t see how Americans killing Native Americans justifies ethnic cleansing of Georgians by Russia. Let me remind you this is 21st century and this kind of barbaric behavior is simply unacceptable.

  20. colchian says:

    Genocide of Native Americans, off course, doesn’t justifie ethnic cleansing of Georgians by Russia… but, Americans did with Cuba more bad things than ethnic cleansing, remind 1959, why Cuba rebelled against Batista and who support this absolutly intorelable person… same situation now in Georgia… all things come to wrong direction and remember my words: if situation will be continue in same direction, Russians come in Georgia again, deadline: 2012…



James Brooke is VOA Moscow bureau chief, covering Russia and the former USSR. With The New York Times, he worked as a foreign correspondent in Africa, Latin America, Canada and Japan/Koreas. He studied Russian in college during the Brezhnev years, first visited Moscow as a reporter during the final months of Gorbachev, and then came back for reporting forays during the Yeltsin and early Putin years. In 2006, he moved to Moscow to report for Bloomberg. He joined VOA in Moscow in 2010. Follow Jim on Twitter @VOA_Moscow.



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