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Yesterday the citizens of Georgia gathered in Rustaveli Avenue to celebrate the victory over Russia.
Photo: Vasily Shaposhnikov
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Aug. 13, 2008
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Georgia Makes Believe It Triumphed over Russia
// Mikhail Saakashvili dwells on the war’s outcome
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili declared Georgia’s victory over Russia during a mass rally in Tbilisi yesterday. Kommersant correspondent Vladimir Solovyov watched the country, which was black-robed the day before, conjure up celebrations.
Those who came to the rally in the center of Tbilisi yesterday barely resembled those living in the country where there is still martial law. Unless you knew that back in the morning there was firing in the zone of the Georgia-Ossetian conflict, and Georgia was bombed (during another bombing of Gori four people were killed, including a Dutch reporter) you could have assumed that the people gathered at the venue to celebrate something. Perhaps it was the multitude of Georgian red and white flags you could get from the trucks in Rustaveli Avenue that created the festive atmosphere. Maybe the people’s moods improved as they learnt that Russia’s troops were not closely to Tbilisi, moreover, they even hadn’t entered Gori.

This information was reported by Georgia’s all military bodies on Monday night, which caused quite a panic in the capital: people hurried to leave the city, and you could see long queues in the shops – everyone wanted to buy bread and other foodstuffs. Later it was found out that the mess was a result of the Georgian military men’s mistake: they took a column of their own trucks, tanks and armored troop-carriers, which were evacuated from Gori, for Russian machines.

The demonstrators at the Georgian parliament waved the flags enthusiastically and posed to TV cameras smiling and demonstrating bills “Stop Russia” and “Ivan — go home”. On the specially erected podium, speakers said that this time Georgia averted the Hungarian and Czechoslovak scenarios and defended its sovereignty. Some of the orators, for example Speaker of the Parliament David Bakradze, repeated what they were saying in English too, “We haven’t allowed them to implement the scenario of 1921 (at that time Russia’s Red Army entered Georgia and the republic was annexed to the Soviet Russia – Kommersant), and it’s true heroism,” Mr Bakradze stated.

However, his task was only “warm up” the crowd before the address of the hero of the day – Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili. As he appeared before the microphones, the people gave him quite an ovation.

Mr Saakashvili started with announcing minute’s silence in remembrance of those killed in the confrontation with Russia, and then he began speaking about the things his country could have been deprived of, “They wanted to take away Abkhazia and South Ossetia! They needed to trample all over the country! Russia’s troops destroyed everything we managed to build these years: schools, hospitals, kindergartens. Putin and his cronies told us: bombs are everything you’ll see.”

President Saakashvili put the blame for what happened in Tskhinvali on Moscow, “They have razed the beautiful city of Tskhinvali to the ground!” He hardly seemed to take account of the fact that it was Georgia’s army that started machine-gunning Tskhinvali.

When the losses and damages were counted, Mr Saakashvili told the crowd good news. He said that the Georgian troops suffered far less losses than the Russian military.

“The tried to annihilate us, but received 400 corpses, 21 shot down jets, which were actually shot down with primitive tools,” the Georgian President reported triumphantly.

He went on to speak about his country’s special mission, which “from this time on will mark the border between the good and the evil for the whole world”. He also said that Georgia proved that Russia doesn’t have the right to everything. According to Mr Saakashvili, one of the main achievements was the fact that Russia’s government had to deploy as many as 1200 tanks in the conflict zone.

“They used fewer tanks in Czechoslovakia and Hungary!” Mikhail Saakashvili exclaimed.

The President announced Georgia’s quitting the CIS and suggested that the rest of the countries “should also quit this alliance governed by Russia”. He added that he renders the Russian troops deployed in Abkhazia and South Ossetia occupation forces.

Mikhail Saakashvili left the podium as thousands of his supporters applauded and cried out “Mi-sha! Mi-sha!” These people regarded him the victor – even Georgia’s opposition supported the government’s policy in South Ossetia. Now Mikhail Saakashvili had to enlist support outside his country.

The President left for his residence, where he gave a briefing for the western media. The words he uttered during the briefing contrasted with what he had said on Monday night as he was on air every hour and warned of a planned Russian occupation. This time everything was different. Answering a question of Associated Press reporter whether he regretted having ordered to storm Tskhinvali, Mr Saakashvili replied confidently, “It was no invasion, rather it was responding to Russia’s invasion. Our settlements were attacked, and we had no choice.”

Standing before a map of Georgia, Mr Saakashvili said that his country will have no difficulty recovering from the bitter struggle because it was already once restored from ruins during his presidency. He gave many examples showing that the Georgian economy is one of the most rapidly developing ones in the region and that Georgia has almost rooted out corruption. According to him, it guarantees success.

The President’s addresses practically ousted the footage about the destructive consequences of the conflict from the Georgian TV channels, which had broadcast it all the day before. No one remembered those killed and wounded. According to the law of politics, triumph shouldn’t be overshadowed by bad news.

Vladimir Solovyov

All the Article in Russian as of Aug. 13, 2008

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