Moscow Ex-Mayor’s Visit to Georgia Causes Controversy

TBILISI – A visit to Georgia by Moscow’s former mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, has caused an outcry among Georgian politicians and citizens alike. Luzhkov visited Georgia several days ago. and his photos, published on social networks caused some Georgians to feel irritation and anger.

Luzhkov explained that he is visiting Georgia as a tourist and not a politician. The Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) reported that he visited Vardzia cave monastery complex, Uplistsikhe complex and Stalin's museum in Gori. Luzhkov, along with his friends and family, also attended a liturgy conducted in Aramaic in Kanda village.

The ex-mayor made a brief comment about Georgia’s Breakaway regions. “I think that Abkhazia is absolutely different country, people are different there. And it is the same with South Ossetia. Of course, there is some feeling of nostalgia and anger, but I still think that after breakaway of those regions Georgia is going to feel much better in future,” he told GPB.

The Russian politician visited occupied Sokhumi in 2006 and 2009 without Georgian authorities´consent, a violation of Georgian occupation laws.

Luzhkov said he had no problem while crossing the Georgian border. Georgia’s Deputy Interior Minister Shalva Khutsishvili said the border guard saw no sign that Luzhkov visited Georgia’s occupied territories in the past. “There was no particular reason for preventing Luzkhov from entering Georgia when crossing the state border. He entered by a legal document that envisaged no sign of him having violated the law on occupied territories. Therefore the border guard had no formal basis to make any different decision,” Khutsishvili said.

Sergi Kapanadze, a member of the opposition party the United National Movement (UNM), commented on Khutsishvili’s explanation. He said he believes the government should “protect the sovereignty and interests of the state with more responsibility.”

“In general, every country has its ‘black list,’ and in Georgia, Luzhkov should be among the first ones to include on such list,” Kapanadze said.

Another opposition party, Movement for Freedom-European Georgia, said that Luzhkov was among the first Russian politicians who supported the independence of the breakaway regions of Georgia. “Luzhkov has visited Abkhazia many times, and he even has real estate there. The fact that he was allowed to enter the non-occupied territory of Georgia is a crime,” said European Georgia member Giorgi Kandelaki.

Georgia’s Former President Mikheil Saakashvili commented on Luzhkov’s visit in a Facebook post. “I am not allowed to enter my own country and the fierce enemy of Georgia was honorably received and hosted,” Saakashvili’s post says.

A member of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party, Gia Volsky, said that it is not confirmed that Luzhkov violated the law. “I don’t have bad memories about Luzhkov. He confronted Putin while he was Mayor and rehabilitated the ruined first school in Georgia,” Volsky said.

By Thea Morrison



09 May 2017 00:15