A Real Snafu in Georgia

OP-ED

This nation has lately stopped eating, drinking and having fun. It has started living on protests and manifestations of every possible substance and curve, materializing all over the place. The public exaltation became overwhelming, both in the streets and the Internet space, threatening all of us with the maturation of extraordinary developments unless some legitimate power, like a government, wants to take up the situation in its own iron but fair hands, and call the country to order.

The startling snafu came upon the happily quiescent country right out of the blue and it stuck. All of a sudden, people found themselves massively crowded in front of the Parliament building in Tbilisi in a totally unexpected violent demonstration of anti-Russian sentiments, coughing out the unheard-of invectives and vituperations against the occupant Russia. The emotion has probably been latent for years until it became so visibly turbulent, mostly expressed by the young people of cell-phone epoch, who were not even born in the years of Georgia’s latest fight for independence. The trigger of the snafu used to be a Russian parliamentarian, publicly and expressly feeling himself at home in Georgia. Then the heat increased and the nation broke up into rivaling sides, politically and journalistically represented on TV screens with nervous party and corporate intentions respectively. The demonstration, described as peaceful by the opposition and qualified as violent by the administration, came to a dire finale for physically injured protesters who now demand the resignation the policeman number one of the country in retaliation of the used teargas and rubber bullets against them.

The other day, there came another bomb when the cockiest among the ladies and gentlemen of the press started his show with an outburst of a diatribe, personally directed against the Russian president and worded with the harshest possible vocabulary one would hear on the air. The terribly unpolished rant of an anchor ended up in a massive demonstration of viewers in front of his TV station, spontaneously and unsuspectingly defending the otherwise-hated-in-Georgia Russian leader.

The third nidus of discontent was built somewhere in the center of Tbilisi by the gay-haters, bullying off the frightened but still persisting LGBT community. All what I am saying is no longer the news but it is the piece of our history which needs to be parsed. This is just a brief recount of what the nation is breathing with these days.

Axiomatically, the process of building a free democratic society contains in itself the likelihood of manifest public discontent, exposed in occasional public upheavals, but in case of Georgia, the picture called ‘people-in-the-street’ has become a constant political value. We just want to be out there to yell until our voice cords are torn to a lethal extent. I am not saying to keep mum at all times like we did in the still remembered weird soviet times and never say a disgruntled word. I am only against admitting that the street politics in its permanency and endlessness is the only and the best way of building the life we want to build in this country. This style of expressing our dissatisfaction costs us billions of – you name the currency! How shall we get there if the already dying out generation of the Georgian people is still nostalgic of the ‘good old times’ and the younger one is so disoriented philosophically that the preference is mostly given to politics, and not to science. Who will take us towards the western horizons unless we drag ourselves in that direction on our own? What will keep this land on the track of unhampered development and also safe from possible skirmishes with better armed neighbors and potentially looming wars with them unless we know exactly the most optimal ways and instruments of our survival? Standing in the streets interminably and shouting the worn-out slogans might very well be an expression of national freedom and independence but it does not make a better standard of living for us. The outdoor politics might be a token of forwardness but it also is a harbinger of economic backwardness. Shall we at least look for the golden median?

By Nugzar B. Ruhadze

11 July 2019 18:13