I tried to write a post on the high politics of the Russia-Georgia dispute, but I got sidetracked into the stuff that actually matters: the social impact of it all. There will be another post on Putin and Saakashvili throwing their toys at each other, but first, have something about the real people:
The politicians and pundits are talking up how bad things are. Saakashvili (Georgian president) calls it “a form of ethnic targeting not seen in Europe since the Balkans in the 1990s“, and to Bezuashvili (Georgian foreign minister) it is ‘_a mild form of ethnic cleansing_’. At Georgia Online, a columnist collects a list of recent anti-Georgian Russian headlines and comments “Replace ‘Georgian’ with ‘Jew’, change the date 2006 to 1933, and we fall back to Nazi Germany.”
Certainly, things are bad. Newspaper Novaya Gazeta (employer of Anna Politkovskaya) has printed copies of letters Moscow police sent to local schools, demanding lists of Georgian students. The information required includes:
Relations of children of Georgian nationality with other pupils, cases of hostile relations between children, and such [hostile] relations toward them [i. e. Georgian children], facts about disobedience of Georgian children to teachers, facts of antisocial activities, and unlawful acts.
All this is “For the purpose of securing law and order and abidance of the law, the prevention of terrorist acts and aggressive feelings between children“. [Sean](http://seansrusskiiblog.blogspot.com/2006/10/moscow-police-documents-show-attempted.html) has full translations and commentary.
But, there is some good news. Many Russian bloggers are still trying to counter the anti-Georgian prejudice – the “[I am Georgian](http://ya-gruzin.ru/)” site is one of many examples. And it is striking that the anti-Georgian events in Russia haven’t been mirrored by anti-Russian events in Georgia. At Radio Free Europe, Jimsher Rekhviashvili [interviews](http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2006/10/2168b35e-cec0-4e67-9766-82089160b5a4.html) ethnic Russians living in Georgia. And finds…nothing. No mirror of the anti-Georgian sentiment in Russia. One says “ I continue to receive warmth and love, the lack of which I have never experienced from the Georgian people.“. Another says her friends in Russia “ call and ask us not to believe what we’re hearing. We are by your side, they say. We love Georgia and Georgians.”