Kiev wants to 'save' Tbilisi (from Putin)
Ukraine sanctions relatives of the founder of the majority party in Georgia, suspected of links to the Russian leader. Georgians do not want to be dragged into the war. Cautious opposition in Tbilisi.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - The decisions and declarations of various Ukrainian political figures are provoking strong discussions in Georgia. President Volodymyr Zelensky has approved a new list of sanctions, including several close relatives of the founder of the Georgian Dream, Bidzina Ivanišvili, considered the real "agent of Putin" in the Caucasus.
Adding fuel to the fire was the Ukrainian head of state's advisor, Aleksej Arestovič (see photo), promising that 'Ukraine will save Georgia'. Representatives of the majority party in Tbilisi repeat that Kiev intends in this way to drag Georgia into the war against Russia.
There is no sign from the Georgian government of an official request for clarification with Kiev, either diplomatically or otherwise, about the sanctions against Ivanišvili's relatives. The leader of the Georgian Dream, Iraklij Kobakhidze, suggested "not to get carried away by emotions", as Georgia maintains an attitude of friendship with Ukraine, despite the Ukrainian claims related to the war events. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture, Teja Tsulukiani, also spoke on this, stating that 'it is very regrettable that a country that claims to be a friend takes such hostile decisions, but Georgia will not be dragged into the war'.
Speaking on the TV channel Alfa and Omega, Arestovič increased the dose, explaining that the situation in Georgia 'is a catastrophe, taking into account the positions of its pro-Russian government, which is unable to make any decisions. The current executive in Tbilisi, says Arestovič, has destroyed everything that former president Saakašvili (detained in a Georgian prison and in possession of Ukrainian citizenship) had created; now the country is a victim of police corruption, where everyone sells themselves to the highest bidder, 'as Georgians themselves say'.
Arestovič added that he imagined 'how Georgians who really love their homeland are tearing their hair out, but we will do everything we can to save them, and we also want to save Moldova and Armenia, to restore the whole post-Soviet space'. Zelensky's advisor envisages a joint reconstruction effort after the war, in which it will take 'many peacemakers, stabilisation operations and humanitarian assistance'.
In fact, even the Georgian opposition members of the National Movement, the party founded by Saakašvili, were rather surprised by Arestovič's 'salvific' announcements, as the group's leader Khatija Dekanoidze put it, while recognising everyone's 'freedom of speech'. He admits that he does not understand 'these words of war threats, and I do not share the views of anyone who wants to act with force... Arestovič talks about Ukraine's role in the region, but to go to war with the Russians again over our occupied territories is out of the question', alluding to the situation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
According to Dekanoidze, 'Georgians will move exclusively by peaceful means, through political and economic integration with the West, also with the aim of recovering those occupied territories'. Georgian Dream MP Iraklij Kadagišvili commented on Arestovič's words in a different vein: 'In [his] logic, first the armies must enter, then the diplomats and finally the investors, but this way we get new imperialist masters, just like the Russians have always done.
The ruling majority wants to avoid opening a conflict with Ukraine and 'with the West standing behind it', as another opposition MP, Salome Samadašvili, confirms: 'The sanctions against Ivanišvili's family depend on Georgia's bad security choices, and now the Georgian Dream is complaining about the consequences of its inaction, making propaganda against Ukrainians to instil fear in society'.
The head of the Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Relations, Nikoloz Samkharadze, said that the issues raised by Arestovič would be addressed in any case at a forthcoming meeting in Zagreb, where the platform of support for Ukraine would be formed: 'Then serious speeches will be made, not words in the wind that are not worth listening to.