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Saakashvili deflects attention from Georgian crisis onto Russia2009-02-24 09:52
The volume of money transfers that Georgia received in January 2009 has fallen by 12.5 percent. Economists are already predicting that the volume of transfers will fall even further, which will severely damage the Georgian lari and the entire banking sector. Meanwhile President Saakashvili is in Barcelona discussing the crisis in Russia.
In the middle of the week, the National Bank of Georgia reported on the reduction in the volume of money transfers. In January 2009 their volume came to $51.2 million, which was $7.3 million less than the same figure for 2008. Over the previous month $27 million was sent from "unfriendly" Russia - which is $8 million less than the same period last year (when $35.6 million was sent). At the same time, just $4.2 million was received from "kindred" Ukraine, and just slightly more from friendly America - $4.4 million.
You don't need to be an expert to work out that because of the raging crisis in the world economy salaries have fallen everywhere. Therefore the money being sent by people to Georgia to assist their relatives has also decreased. And because money traditionally streams in mainly from Russia, this has provided a convenient excuse to talk about the crisis afflicting their "big neighbour". A well-known trick has come into play - it's not statistics themselves that are the most important thing, but the ability to manipulate them. So all week the semi-official media in Georgia has abounded with headlines, such as: "In Russia everything is falling, only unemployment is growing", "Large investors get rid of Russian shares" etc.
And during his tour to Spain, Mikheil Saakashvili has decided, as ever, to play on the "Russian issue", thus trying to attract investors to Georgia. "There is an economic crisis in Russia," AFP quotes Saakashvili's speech to Spanish businessmen, "it has supported an economy which it doesn't know how to modernize. As a result of the fall in oil prices, we are seeing the country's economy collapsing."
This latest attack on Russia by the Georgian president was not exactly novel. But in his Spanish speech, Mikheil Nikolaevich was not entirely consistent: if on the Georgian television stations he convinces his fellow citizens of there being "further aggression from Russia", then he was quick to assure potential investors that because of the crisis "Russia cannot afford to be aggressive". At the same time, Saakashvili presented Georgia to the Spanish businessmen as "a stable country where corruption has been rooted out, there is a low level of bureaucracy, and taxes are low".