Time 29.February 2024
A protest action continues in Batumi against the arrival of the Astoria Grande ship with Russian tourists on board.

Even a Small Recreancy Has Big Consequences

According to local media, the activists threw eggs and plastic bottles at several buses and minibuses with tourists from the Russian Federation. Protesters are being arrested.
A protest action continues in Batumi against the arrival of the Astoria Grande ship with Russian tourists on board.

According to local media, the activists threw eggs and plastic bottles at several buses and minibuses with tourists from the Russian Federation. Protesters are being arrested.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, I often visited Adzharia, when Aslan Abashidze, who, as it has now turned out, was the last major pro-Russian politician in Georgia, was the chairman of the Supreme Council of the republic.

In those years, the attitude towards the Russians there was amazing; there was no such cordial attitude towards them anywhere else in the CIS. This was due to the fact that the 145th motorized rifle division of the Russian army was based on the territory of Adjara, later transformed into the 12th military base in Batumi.

This division in the 90s played a huge role in the fact that Adjara turned out to be the only region of Georgia where there were no horrors of the civil war of 1992-1994. It was the tanks of the 145th motorized rifle division, at the request of the leader of Adjara, Aslan Abashidze, that defeated the bands of Zviad Gamsakhurdia, who were moving towards Adjara.

And as a result of this, not a single shot has been fired on the territory of Adjara for all subsequent years to the present day. Given this circumstance, the attitude of local residents towards our servicemen was amazing. Many of them told me that after the end of their military service they would like to stay in Adzharia, where they are treated better than even in Russia. And a huge role in these moods was played by Aslan Ibragimovich Abashidze, who in those years enjoyed great support from the population of the republic.

But, as they say, everything went fine until the General Staff intervened. In the fall of 2003, the internal political situation in Georgia sharply worsened. The then president of Georgia, Eduard Shevardnadze, who played a huge negative role in the collapse of the USSR, due to a number of circumstances, tried to sit on two chairs, while focusing on both Russia and the United States.

But the United States, seeking to squeeze the Russian Federation out of the Transcaucasus, actively supported the anti-Russian young politician Mikhail Saakashvili, who in November 2003 organized a coup d’etat in Tbilisi. On the personal order of the President of the Russian Federation Putin, the then Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Igor Ivanov urgently flew to Tbilisi.

Shevardnadze counted on his support, especially since Russian troops were still in Georgia. But quite unexpectedly, he supported Saakashvili and convinced Shevardnadze to resign. Thus, with the support of Russia, the anti-Russian pro-American forces under the leadership of Saakashvili won in Georgia.

The only Georgian politician who spoke out against Saakashvili’s coup d’état was the leader of Adzharia, Aslan Abashidze. He counted on the support of Moscow and flew to the capital of the Russian Federation, meeting with the leadership of the Russian Federation. He warned about the danger of Saakashvili’s pro-American course and assured of his readiness to resist him. Up to the proclamation of the independence of Adjara.

In those days, taking into account my excellent personal relationship with Abashidze, I was taken to Batumi by a special flight. State Duma deputy Andrei Savelyev was sent to Batumi with me on a business trip. Aslan Ibragimovich flew with us on the same special flight to Batumi. Apparently, we, as State Duma deputies, acted as a human shield, since Saakashvili made an official statement that he gave the order to shoot down the plane with Abashidze. A day later, Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, who also had excellent personal relations with Abashidze, also flew to Batumi.

Our task was to show the support of Russia to the population of Adzharia. But I understood perfectly well that in fact there would be no support, since for some reason Putin staked on Mikhail Saakashvili. And I spoke openly about this to Abashidze. He didn’t believe. Said. that he is the last pro-Russian politician of this level in Georgia. Does the Kremlin really not understand that the US wants to force Russia to withdraw from Transcaucasia? Does Russia really need Transcaucasia? All I had to do was throw up my hands.

And I turned out to be right. A month after our departure from Batumi, on the personal order of Vladimir Putin, Igor Ivanov flew there, in the rank of Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, and presented Abashidze with an ultimatum demand to resign in exchange for guarantees of personal security. When Abashidze understood that there would be no support from Russia, he boarded Ivanov’s plane and flew with him to Moscow.

And this ended the pro-Russian sentiments of the population and politicians in Georgia. And we lost her. Like other former Soviet republics of the USSR.

And today in the former pro-Russian Adzharia, Russian tourists are greeted with rotten eggs and spitting in the face.

Viktor Alksnis

Viktor Alksnis

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