Reacts to Russian journalist Pozner's visit to Tbilisi
Pozner leaves Georgian capital amidst violent protests
Russian journalist Vladimir Pozner, who arrived in Tbilisi on March 31 to celebrate his 87th birthday, left the Georgian capital amid violent protests earlier today.
About 50 of Pozner’s friends and acquaintances had come to Tbilisi to celebrate with him.
Pozner’s position on the issues of Abkhazia and South Ossetia sparked public discontent at his arrival; the Russian journalist often says in interviews that he does not see Abkhazia and South Ossetia as part of Georgia.
Also, the reason for the protests was the fact that the group violated Covid-19 regulations while in Georgia.
After nine in the evening, there is a curfew in the country, everything is closed – cafes, restaurants and shops, people are not allowed to go out. Even during the day, no more than six people can gather at one table in a cafe.
Vladimir Pozner and his guests arrived at the Vinotel hotel restaurant during curfew, where a large table had been laid out for them.
As a result of the protest of citizens, the Ministry of Internal Affairs fined 32 guests of the Russian journalist for violating quarantine rules. According to reports, Pozner himself was among those fined.
The journalist and his invited friends were forced to leave the hotel at the request of the police. As a result, instead of the planned April 3, the Russians flew from Tbilisi on the same night on a charter flight of the Georgian airline Airzena.
The bus, which was carrying some of the guests to the airport, was pelted with eggs by demonstrators.
Vladimir Pozner’s visit to Georgia was met with harsh and ambiguous assessments.
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili believes that the form of protest in connection with the arrival of a Russian journalist was ‘absolutely unacceptable’:
“This form of protest clearly goes beyond the civilized forms and Georgian standards,” Garibashvili said.
Prime Minister Garibashvili said the opposition United National Movement and its leader Mikhail Saakashvili are behind this form of protest:
“One group of our society decided to protest, which was used by the most destructive force, the National Movement, and, as usual, brought events into the framework of its agenda.”
According to Garibashvili, Saakashvili’s goal is “destruction, sabotage and causing maximum damage to the country and its international image”:
“This time [the representatives of the United National Movement] did all this against the background of our country being partially opened to tourists. You know how important the entry of tourists is for us, especially in this situation.”
Expert community assessments
It was an insult to every Georgian citizen that Russian journalist Vladimir Pozner was allowed to violate Georgian laws, said Tengiz Pkhaladze, a political scientist and associate professor at the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA).
“The authorities should not have a special attitude towards anyone. The main concern is our own population. And it is necessary not to create comfort for others, but for our own citizens. This man [Pozner] broke the rules, violated the curfew, and the police did not fine him. I, you, any of us find yourself in such a situation, immediately feel the force of the law. Why should exceptions be made for someone? This causes more damage to the state,” Tengiz Pkhaladze said in an interview with RFE/RL.
Ninia Kakabadze, journalist for the opposition Formula TV:
“I don’t care what Pozner says about Abkhazia and Georgia. I am worried that he considers our country his restaurant, where he will be met with an escort, fed, drunk and serenaded, at a time when the citizens of Georgia themselves cannot even go outside even in the evening – they are fined 2,000 lari [about $590] … We do not have the right to gather in closed rooms – they do.
Paata Shamugia, poet:
“A week ago, a woman came from Gali for treatment, and instead of being treated, she was sent to five-day quarantine, where she died. But at curfew, when the whole country is locked up, some Kremlin propagandist goes from bar to bar with his 50 friends and accompanied by a cordon of the Georgian police. Pozner is above the law in our country?!”
Shalva Ramishvili, host of the pro-government POSTV channel:
“Tina Kandelaki [Russian host and producer] is an old friend of mine. She comes with her family every year and celebrates her birthday here. I accept it. I imagined this rootless Misha (former president of Saakashvili) meeting her with a crowd of militants in a restaurant and insulting her or her family.
This will be the darkest day of my life, because I can cry from powerlessness like a child. When you are insulted, this is one thing, it can still be tolerated. You give back. When your guest is treated like this and you cannot do anything (for the safety of the same guest), this is an indescribable insult. Our country has been driven to madness by the hysteria of crazy people – mankurts, who sometimes use “patriotism”, sometimes “democracy”, sometimes “freedom” as a shield. They curse Posner, but they applaud Nino Burjanadze [the former speaker of the Georgian parliament, now the head of the pro-Russian party] at the rallies. They scold Posner and consider Okruashvili [former defense minister], who collaborated with the FSB, as a member of their team. I am powerless, and my heart hurts very, very much. “
Lasha Bugadze, writer:
Whether we like it or not, the overwhelming majority of Russians, including tourists (and, of course, sophisticated or outspoken propagandists), have no idea where Georgia is today. They have never heard the word “borderization” [the equipment of Russian military borders in the zone of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict, as a result of which local residents suffer], they are, in principle, not very interested in “these things”, because for most of them all this is “politics that does not concern them ”(a Russian citizen does not care about a politician – no one asks him about anything in his own country, it happened historically) … Some – there were such cases – are sincerely surprised why they do not trade in rubles here. In general, deliberate or not ignorance of the average Russian is one thing … But I am amazed by the idiocy of those Georgians, harmful primitives who, like the damned, continue to sing and dance until their deaths during an epidemic, apathy and total crisis, spitting on the law, set the tables for the “elites” ” from Moscow!
After all, these Georgians know what is happening between Georgia and Russia! … Russophobia, xenophobia and so on are a moral crime and unacceptable, but this kind of entertaining Georgian who does not give a damn about everything really deserves hatred … “