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Russia’s Channel 1 claims ‘Adjara is becoming a Turkish region’

Russia’s propaganda press predicts a new conflict in Georgia

Russia’s Pervy kanal (Channel One) has aired a report titled “Georgia’s Adjara is becoming a Turkish region.” 

The report makes avid use of anti-Turkish stereotypes that both Russian propaganda and several Georgian media aspects have formulated in recent years. 

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The anchor of the Sunday programme titled “Tolstoy. Sunday”, is an MP in the Duma and one of the main Kremlin propagandists, Petr Tolstoy, and claims that while American politicians have ‘inserted hostility against Russian tourists in Georgia’ and Georgia is calling Russia an occupier, Turkey has practically occupied Georgia’s border region of Adjara.

“Tensions are growing between the regions still remaining in Georgia,” a voiceover says in the programme. 

The plot focuses on how Tbilisi is losing control of Batumi, since Ankara has almost appropriated everything in Adjara by the expansion of religion and other allegedly impressive means.

“Turkish troops have already crossed the border of Georgia,” the story says.

The shooting took place in Adjara and its author is an ethnic Georgian, Giorgi Olisashvili, who claims:

“Kutaisi Street in Batumi is a rapidly growing into a Turkish quarter. There are dozens of the same type of cafes with a simple scheme: the owner lives in Turkey, a Turkish supervisor is on the ground, the customers are Turkish while only the waitresses are local.”

The report goes on to say that Adjara has already lost one of its most important infrastructure bases: 

“Batumi International Airport was built by a Turkish company, and is operated by a Turkish company as a Turkish domestic airport. And the Turks who come here don’t need a passport.”

The programme claims that Batumi has turned into a gambling haven for Turks: 

“Ankara has long closed the gambling business, and therefore some Turks are building casinos here, while others come just to play. By the standards of a conservative Turkish province, Batumi is the Black Sea Las Vegas. ”

Special mention was given to ‘mosques that multiply like mushrooms’:

“Mosques are being built almost more often than hotels in Adjara, which are built on Turkish money. The residents of the region are Muslim Georgians.”

The reporter expresses concern that Turkish have ‘infiltrated’ Georgia:

“Very close to the minarets of the main mosque of Adjara is a network of establishments with which Georgia has not recently been associated with. From Thailand, the Turks have brought in … masseuses.”

Olisashvili notes that the region was a part of Turkey for 300 years and was returned to Georgia only with the help of Russia.

“Although in Tbilisi, where the authorities have declared Russia an enemy of Georgia, they prefer not to recall this fact,” the story says.

Ancient Georgian churches located in Turkey are almost mentioned, and ruins of churches are displayed. The respondent says that a garden was built around the church, and a sprout with a huge pumpkin was attached to the church wall:

“These are the ruins of a 12th century Georgian temple. It has been documented that here, Queen Tamara prayed. Now it is Turkey. Moreover, the Turks are extremely scrupulous in admitting to the existence of foreign cultures on this land.”

The journalist visited the beach in Sarpi:

“Sarpi is one of the best beaches in Adjara. Here, the water is cleaner, and there are practically no jellyfish. The Turkish border is very close, and 100 meters from the terminal, the Turks have built a mosque, even though the nearest Turkish city is five kilometers from here. The speakers are arranged in such a way that parishioners of an Orthodox church can enjoy the singing of a muezzin.”

At the end of the programme, a brief overview of Adjara’s ‘Turkification’ is presented. 

It all started with the era of Saakashvili and the Rose Revolution, says the journalist. 

“There was no Turkish business in Georgia before Saakashvili”.

Oliashvili says that Turkish interests in Georgia were promoted by Saakashvili’s mother – Turcologist Giuli Alasania, who was friends with the Turkish oppositionist Fethullah Gulen.

“Giuli Alasania was not only friendly with Fethullah Güllen, but was also [much loved by him]”, says Arno Khidirbegashvili, editor of the anti-Turkish and xenophobic newspaper Asaval-Dasavali, mentioned in the credits as a political scientist.

“We are talking about a Russian occupation, while the real occupier of the Georgian lands is Turkey,” says Khidirbegashvili.

The report also highlights the position of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who does not seem to mind restoring the borders of the Ottoman Empire.

“The interest in Adjara is already supported by $2.5 billion pumped into the Georgian economy by Ankara. And an impressive 15 percent of the population of Batumi has  dual citizenship”, explains the journalist.

One of the respondents was former vice-mayor of Batumi, Aslan Smir. He says:

“They all [the Turks] must be driven from here.”

In the past few days, relations between Russia and Georgia have worsened after Russian MP Sergey Gavrilov visited Tbilisi. 

In parliament, he addressed the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy. Gavrilov, who is the president of the assembly, himself conducted the meeting in Russian, which was held in the session hall of the parliament and he did so while sitting in the chair of the speaker of the parliament of Georgia. 

This fact annoyed both the opposition and the authorities, as well as thousands of ordinary people who have been holding campaigns outside the parliament for 12 days. Along with slogans concerning internal issues and complaints against the authorities, another important slogan is “Russia is an occupier.” 

In response to these “anti-Russian attacks,” Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the cancellation of flights to Georgia, and suggested Russian holiday makers look to spend their vacations elsewhere.

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