You may have heard of the anti-Russian riots (over the last couple of days) in Tbilisi, Gruzia. To help elucidate what is going on, I have this piece, by reporter Darya Rynochnova. Quick backstory: On Thursday highly organized spontaneous riots broke out in Tbilisi as mobs of Saakashvili supporters, waving Gruzian and Ukrainian flags, attempted to pull a “Maidan” and overthrow the government of President Salome Zurabishvili.
The pretext was the visit to the Gruzian Parliament of a Russian delegation, headed by Communist Party Parliamentarian Sergei Gavrilov. In the course of his visit, Gavrilov committed a well-planned yet accidental faux pas, when he was accidentally-on-purpose invited to sit in the wrong chair. The chair of the Parliamentary Speaker – haha!
Gavrilov knew that it was the wrong protocol, not to mention bad optics, but he didn’t really know what to do, and was too polite to object, so he simply sat down in the sacred chair. Nothing like this had ever happened before, since that fatal day when Boris Godunov plopped himself down on Tsar Fyodor’s throne!
Whereupon all heck broke loose in the streets of the Caucasian republic. Violent Titushki belonging to Saakashvili swarmed all over the city, attacking cops and setting shit on fire, as is their wont. Initially the Gruzian riot cops didn’t know what to do either, they started retreating and allowing the violent criminals to grab their clubs and shields away from them.
Fast forward to Friday. Fortunately, firmer heads prevailed, balls were grown, and the Gruzian Internal Ministry, led by Georgiy Gakharia, ordered/allowed police to repel the violent demonstrators. Maybe some lessons were learned from the Ukrainian Maidan after all! Namely, that if the forces of law and order allow criminal street Nazis to do whatever they please, then it never ends well.
All of this, of course, is the work of Oppositionist forces, led by Saakashvili and other “pro-European” political parties. Who are bent on overthrowing the present government and returning themselves to the Sacred Trough by hook or by crook. These elements learned their own lessons from Maidan: Namely, even if they command only a small minority of the population (experts estimate around 15-17% combined support for all of these extremist parties), they can still take over the government if they behave boldly and aggressively, employing extreme violence as necessary.
Although individuals like Gakharia showed admirable firmness in dealing with these criminals, the Gruzian government as a whole is weak and shaky, unsure of itself, and its very first impulse was to cave in and appease the violent protesters. Hence, a series of forced resignations of government officials following the riots.
In addition, President Salome Zurabishvili has exposed a fatal weakness and lack of leadership during this crisis. Which is the lede to my “Catfight” theme. Instead of lashing out at the Saakashvili goons trying to overthrow her, Salome erupted with criticisms of Russia. Although the disorders were clearly the handiwork of sneaky-snake European governments, not to mention the Ukraine, Salome chose to believe that “Russian Fifth-Columnists” and other pro-Russian provocateurs were behind the violence: “The splitting of our country and society, and this internal rift benefits nobody except Russia. This is the handiwork of Russia and its sophisticated weaponry. Russia is our enemy and occupier!”
Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, lashed back on her Facebook page with her usual verbal irony. The previous day she had creatively reamed out Russia’s Caucasian neighbors for “dispelling that old myth of Gruzian Hospitality.” Now she directed her sharp tongue against Salome herself:
“Well, look who’s winning here! Don’t worry, the so-called Occupier is in retreat, leaving your country and taking your tourist industry with it. [Alluding to President Putin’s decree ending Russian tourist flights to Gruzia, since he could no longer guarantee the safety of Russian tourists there.] Ma cherie, all that you needed to do during this tragic yet routine moment of Gruzian political collapse, was to come out on your balcony and say that you guarantee the safety of the streets of Gruzian cities. Using your authority as President. Authority that was granted to you by the people. You needed to come out in person and make such a statement. Instead you started just shucking and jiving, singing the old song about the Occupier. Who got to you?”