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Petersburg Georgians’ jubilee in “political context”2009-06-02 15:41
Last weekend the Georgian diaspora in Saint Petersburg celebrated its twentieth birthday. In view of current Georgian-Russian relations traditional festive events acquired a political color. Vladimir Khomeriki heading the Foundation for Unity between Russian and Georgian nations told Georgia Times about the festivities.
It should be remembered Georgians have been living in Saint Petersburg since its foundation. Peter I's associates were Georgians: the first Russian General of Artillery Tzarevitch Alexander, Vakhtang VI's confidant Baadur Turkestanishvili, Prince Georgy Dadiani. Now there are around 40 thousand Georgians living in the northern capital of Russia. The guests from Moscow and other cities and regions of Russia came to celebrate the twentieth birthday of the Georgian diaspora in Saint Petersburg.
The festivities were organized by Badri Kakabadze, a Russian businessman, the head of Georgian community in Saint Petersburg. He has been living and working in Russia since 1973 at the time when Petersburg was Leningrad and brotherly republics had nothing to divide and no reason to quarrel. "In my heart I am a citizen of Russia, - Kakabadze repeatedly stated, - but I'm an absolute Georgian and Georgia is my motherland I endlessly love".
Even now Kakabadze is well known in Georgia's business circles. Starting from the 1990s he has owned a number of business facilities in the Georgian territory. Lately he has been in charge of several Vneshtorgbank (VTB) subsidiaries in Georgia (JSC VTB Bank Georgia, Tbilisian gas turbines - Energy Invest LLC and a nitrogen fertilizer plant in Rustavi - Azot JSC)
The event Kakabadze organized aroused a lot of rumors. The following information was reported by the Georgian media: Russia wants to check how ready the Georgian society is to accept a pro-Russian presidential candidate. This is the opinion of Andro Barnov, a Georgian expert, on a heightened activity of influential Georgians in Russia.
"Russia will try to start a discussion how ready the society is to consider a pro-Russian candidate to settle relations between Russia and Georgia. If the Georgian society is ready for that a proper person presented by Russia will turn up", - Barnov said. According to him Russia will be a casual observer.
There was a flow of political news and not the actualities of culture or traditions during festivities in Saint-Petersburg. Petersburg businessman Alexander Ebralidze's political ambitions have become top news for a number of Georgian media. All three pro-governmental TV channels - Rustavi 2, Imedi and Public Broadcaster simultaneously featured Ebralidze announcing restoration of Georgia's territorial integrity as part of his presidential program.
Speaking to the Georgian journalists Alexander Ebralidze reconfirmed his intention to acquire a number of Georgian mass media, nregion.com reports. He also reminded of his presidential ambitions not embarrassed at the fact that legal limitations would not allow him to run for the president. Current Georgian authorities have already accused him of involvement in the military mutiny.
In reply Irakli II Society called on the media not to discredit the Georgian diaspora abroad by referring to some of its representatives as "enemies of the people" for the friendship with Russian ruling elite. It is reported by News Georgia with reference to the organization's statement.