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Sunday, 23 October 2016


Where’s that street, where’s that house, where’s... that Georgia?

2008-11-13 09:35

1/6/3/63.jpegWhere's that street, where's that house? In the future one will be able to add "Where's that country?", which Russian writers, poets and dissidents have come to for rhyme and inspiration. In Tbilisi they have decided to rename Russian street names with the names of towns which "slipped away" during the August war. Moscow Avenue will now be Tskhinvali Avenue, and Petersburg Street will be Akhalgori Street.


"I would wipe out Russian just because Putin spoke it." This is how Mayakovsky's lines have been rephrased in Georgia following the August events. Then Georgia decided not to import medicine from Russia, along with foodstuffs and even spirits. Now they have decided to eradicate Russian names. However corresponding duplicates of Georgian names have long since - straight after the victory of the ‘Rose Revolution'- disappeared from institutions, metro stations and streets. Russian has been accorded the status of a foreign language, and it is not compulsory to study it in schools or in higher education institutions. Now a wave of anti-Russian sentiment has swept through the country's political elite once and for all.

They have decided to vent their feelings towards their northern neighbour notably upon their own street names. The issue is being discussed of renaming Moscow Avenue after Tskhinvali, Petersburg Street after Akhalgori, and Pushkin Square in the centre of the capital after Warsaw.

Perhaps, of course, Georgia's authorities have taken a sudden interest in occultism, since they are convinced that this renaming will magically enable the capitals of South Ossetia and the Akhalgori region, which is now Ossetia's military spoils, to return to their "hearth and home".

As far as Pushkin is concerned, it is as yet unknown what will happen to his bust which stands in the square that until recently bore his name, and also to Pushkin Museum, or to the Griboedov Theatre on Freedom Square. Incidentally, this square was renamed long before the ‘Rose Revolution' when its previous name, Lenin Square, was abolished.

This confirms that it is not just today that Georgia has garnered the experience to fight against its "unpredictable past".

Just as in the entire post-Soviet sphere, in Tbilisi in the early 1990s monuments to the leaders of the revolution were removed from squares and main roads in the centre. And one can only learn from Georgia how to fight the stone statues of former leaders and idols. So the monument to Sergo Ordzhonikidze was dragged off by a tractor in some unknown direction along the central streets with a horrendous clanging and grating. Moreover, this act had been carried out at the request of residents living in an elite region of the capital. For a whole month their peace had been shattered by the "drunk wailing" of cats which had been drawn to the monument from the whole of the surrounding area by the valerian which unknown people had cynically poured all over it.

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