The Kremlin has gone mad

This hunt for people with Georgian last names the Kremlin is leading is beyond belief. (Clearly it is ethnic Georgians who are targeted regardless of nationality — not just “illegal immigrants.”) I have a feeling this country is ruled by lunatics. Not just cynics but asylum types. I haven’t had this feeling of trouble descending since August 1991 — when it all ended well…


  1. First of all, there’s a difference between racism (or any form of tribalism), which is perfectly natural, and hunting down and deporting children because of their nationality or ethnicity.

    You can make the private decision to live among and associate with others of your own race, culture, relgion, whatever, without going out of your way to harm others.

    More importantly, this isn’t even an example of racism. This is the Kremlin flouting its power over Georgians in Russia as a way of reminding the government in Georgia that there could be consequences to the Georgian people if their government continues to drift towards Europe and the West.

    I am not supporting the Kremlin’s tactics. I just think it is clear they are motivated by what they perceive to be in Russia’s strategic interests, and find it odd that you presume racism.

  2. Do you have any statistics backing up the Russian government’s claim that one out of 100 Georgians engage in crime-related activities?

    How is the general Russian public responding to this?

    Is there a possibility of this escalating into a real pogrom or, as you say, is this just powerplay?

    Is there proof that Russia is deporting legal residents? As far as I understand they are targetting the kids to get to the illegal immigrants. Cynically, perhaps, but there is a rationale… albeit a rather shocking one.

  3. Anon1: as you may know, police and the tax authorities have been raiding businesses owned by people of Georgian ethnicity. Police have asked some Moscow schools to provide a list of pupils with Georgian names. Boris Akunin, the famous writer whose real name is Georgy Chkhartishvili, and Zurab Tsereteli, the well-known (infamous perhaps) sculptor, have been bothered by the tax service. It’s both indecent and ineffective if the Kremlin wants to put pressure on Saakashvili, who couldn’t care less about Akunin and Tsereteli.

    Anon2: we should distinguish between the riots in Kondopoga, where natives rebelled against an ethnic mafia, and the Kremlin’s anti-Georgian moves (so far restricted to Moscow as far as I know — this may have to do with mayor Luzhkov’s mafia connections). I rather doubt that the average Muscovite adores ethnic Georgians but Moscow is more diverse and better educated that any other place in Moscow, which means that people can figure that if Putin can single out ethnic Georgians as the bad guys today, tomorrow it can be any group.

  4. Alexei, this past year I have begun to fear that humankind is walking blindly toward an abyss.

    Do you know that Russia has now deployed “engineers” in Lebanon?

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