Run away! Rivalries from the past are rekindled when Russians arrive in Georgia.
The Mother of Georgia sculpture, similar to Rio de Janeiro’s less impressive Christ the Savior, can be found above Tbilisi’s Old Town. She is referred to as “Kartlis Deda” by Georgians. She carries a wine cup in her left hand and a sword in her right. She makes a decision for debutantes. Come as a friend because you are our guest. You are not permitted to arrive as a rival.
Tbilisi, an old Silk Road city, is not any more strange to untouchables turning up on its streets. However, more than 100,000 Russians have entered Georgia since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, leaving Georgians unsure of whether to welcome them as friends or as enemies.
The government’s recent attempt to pass a “foreign agent” law modeled after the Kremlin and the massive protests that prevented it, according to critics, have not assisted émigrés in settling in or made locals more comfortable with the newcomers. Many Georgians are concerned about what they see as the country’s gradual Russification, a story they are all too familiar with.
Georgia, a former Soviet republic, has been at odds with Russia and the West for a long time. Despite its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Europe’s potential future is still in flux. Georgia has a mixed relationship with Russia. The two nations have not had formal diplomatic relations with one another since Russia invaded Georgia in 2008. In any case, Russians who live and work in Georgia needn’t bother with a visa, making it a simple choice for the people who escaped the nation last year.
Tbilisi has also received Russian immigrants with mixed reactions. “It’s a whole range of attitudes,” Ivan, a 20-something IT consultant from a city in Russia’s far east, stated. CNN is withholding Ivan’s real name in order to protect him from retaliation in the event that he ever returns to Russia.
Ivan told CNN that some Georgians are “warm and inviting” and treat Russians like their “siblings.” They are told to “get out” by others. He has discovered that the primary difference is age. The greater part of individuals who are inviting were brought into the world in the USSR. The ones who are Russophobic are fundamentally adolescents,” he said.
Ivan reminisces about a recent incident in a bar. Similar to the words of a Ukrainian soldier defending a Black Sea island from the Russian navy in the early days of the war, a young Georgian woman came up to him and said, “Russian warship, go f*** yourself.” Slavic appearance,” he said.
“I try to react with understanding, because I understand why this is happening,” Ivan stated. Be that as it may, such episodes can have an adverse consequence. I do experience some irritation.
George Mchedlishvili, an associate professor of foreign policy at the European University in Tbilisi, provided an explanation for some Georgians’ trepidation. The Russian language might be a source of anxiety for some people. Russian soldiers used it as their language. In this location, the most recent Russian aggression is still fresh. In 1992, Russia attacked the nonconformist locales of Abkhazia and South Ossetia during a five-day struggle with Georgia. Russia still controls 20% of Georgia’s internationally recognized domain today. Georgians have witnessed Russians immersing themselves in their country previously, though not always with bags and pets, as they did last year, but rather with guns and tanks.
Despite the fact that Ivan brought a suitcase to Georgia, he could have brought a gun to Ukraine. He claims that because he had previously served in the Russian army, he became a “valuable asset” after President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization in September.
The following day, officers went to his registered address, which was his mother’s house in his hometown. She initially preferred not to open the door, but they were diligent. He expressed, “They recently continued to come consistently.” Even though he had moved to St. Petersburg for work a long time before, Ivan knew he had to leave Russia when he heard about these visits. He took a taxi and a train south the following day to the Georgian border.
“I was fortunate to pass the border,” Ivan said. He expressed that he had been confined for a few days preceding his delivery in Spring of last year for fighting Russia’s conflict on Ukraine. He was worried that his information might have been kept and that he wouldn’t be able to leave the country, even though he wasn’t facing any criminal charges. He did, however, effortlessly cross the outer limits.
Reprehensible until showed guiltless’
Despite having made himself an “enemy” of his own state, Ivan says he really feels like the “adversary” in Tbilisi. Some Georgians are more tolerant of Russians who fled their country immediately after the war broke out. They are regarded as truly opposing the conflict, whereas those who opted not to participate are regarded as simply opposing the conflict.
He said that because they don’t know about Ivan’s previous imprisonment, some Georgians think of him as one of the less politically savvy Russians. As indicated by the trick, he, is to exhibit your “genuineness” as quick as could truly be anticipated, by showing you are against the exercises of the Russian government – perhaps by wearing a Ukrainian flag.
However, some must meet more stringent requirements. Daria Polkina, a 27-year-old independent visual fashion designer from Moscow, stated, “There are a few bars that require you to sign when you enter.” If they suspect that you’re Russian, they make you sign a paper that expresses ‘I’m against Putin and anything that he is doing.'” Russians who don’t sign are denied entry, she said.
Polkina has recently marked, however she expressed that such necessities scarcely make for a lovely night and that there have been “terrible experiences.” For the most part, when I meet Georgians, when they ask me where I’m from, I express I’m from Russia – and a while later circle back to ‘I’m shattered,'” she said. ” I feel ashamed and guilty about it.