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Thursday, 19 April 2018

Articles

From Georgia with love

2011-06-15 22:52

The driver looks at me utterly surprised.

-         We don't even count those who come from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. There are lots of them. Are they tourists? They are friends, not tourists.

His voice radiates iron confidence that I doubt whether this man knows about the collapse of the Union, the war in 2008, the attitude of his government, after all. He does, as it turns out.

- Eh, it's all politics you see - he says disdainfully driving along George Bush street - the first one tourists see entering Tbilisi. - People think differently. You will see it for yourself.

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There is that very US president waving his hand from the wall along the street. We turn to Leh Kachinsky street. Unkind faces and names. Are we really received her like friends not occupants? It seems hostility to Russians is obstinately imposed from above. Yet, Georgia resists and does not stop offering a warm welcome to northern neighbors.

Buildings along the road are decorated with banners. Next to white and red ones there are starred blue banners of the European Union

- A banner instead of admission. Looks like we are worming ourselves into it, - the driver snorts pointing at the European flag.

- Don't you want to be a EU member? - I ask slightly surprised.

The driver shrugs.

- Who wants us? We must be friends with Russia. Yet we look in the wrong directions.

These words - "We must be friends with Russia" - will be heard hundreds times over the week I will spend in Georgia.

We are passing a hill featuring a luxurious presidential palace. They say it is almost twice bigger than the White house burying billions of construction costs. Indeed, the palace seems to have been brought from Washington and is in Tbilisi for just a while: it is too alien to the spirit of the Georgian capital. Just like other futurist constructions of Mikheil Saakashvili's epoch - a clumsy glass bridge of Peace, an idiotic building of the Interior Ministry - also made of glass and wavy all around looking more like a swimming pool or an accordion. Desperate kitsch. 

- Do you know how we call this bridge here? - the driver grins. - "an "Always" pad".

Well, sounds obscene but 100% to the point.

- What's your life here? - I ask.

- Poor.  - the driver replies briefly.

A Georgian banner triumphantly uncurls above the presidential palace.

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