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Tbilisi winds up people’s diplomacy2009-12-02 14:26
Georgian authorities scrap the idea to renew informal contacts between Georgia and Russia. Today a new group of Russian experts was denied access to Tbilisi. It is rumored these people could be Putin's emissaries. Though the explanation given by Shota Malashkhia sounds more credible: the government doesn't want the world to think that dialogue with Moscow is gradually improving.
Russian scholars announced their intention to visit Georgia beforehand. As Nikolay Silayev, senior researcher of Center for Caucasian Studies at Moscow State Institute of International Relations says the trip was meant to build contacts with Georgian colleagues, to have access to archived files and exchange country specific information.
"Earlier there were attempts to restart contacts in Georgia but they were little effective, I think, - he said. - Trips of various public figures, people's diplomacy unfortunately has a tendency to turn into toasting". Silayev underlines there was no political component in this trip.
The fact that Russians get Georgian visas easier than Georgians in Russia has its advantages and drawbacks. If a Georgian is denied entry to the neighboring country he/she learns about it at home. Russians like all foreigners buy their visas at border checkpoints including Tbilisi airport which led to numerous mishaps with deported Russians.
It happened to some journalists: First Channel host, member of Russian Public Chamber Maxim Shevchenko and Izvestia editor-in-chief Vladimir Mamontov in September, organizers of Alexander Nevsky historical and literary award Marina Guseva and Alexander Velikogonenko in November.
In early December - a new deportation of Russian experts from Tbilisi to Yerevan. Two of them were turned down by customs officers, the rest refused in solidarity.
"The purpose of our visit is quite peaceful - to take part in a session of the expert board on Russian-Georgian relations. It was a complete surprise. People on the Georgian side that invited us are also bewildered why it happened", - head of the Russian State Archive Sergey Mironenko said.
According to some information he was the first to fall under "suspicion" of border guards. It is also reported the customs officers didn't quite take to Alexey Miller, senior researcher of Institute of Scientific Information for Public Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences (maybe because of the surname - similar to that of Gazprom CEO?). Only Vladimir Barannikov, deputy head of the Institute of World Economy and Foreign Relations was untarnished. Though all resources unanimously mention Nikolay Silayev as one of "the disallowed".