Georgian laments, Russian roars
Sign and Sight has rounded up a few opinions about the Caucasus conflict from people who are actually invested in it. I'm reproducing them here while highlighting what I think is of special interest:
Die Welt 16.08.2008
The young Georgian writer Nino Haratichvili defends himself, in conversation with Jenni Roth, against the accusation that Georgians are racist. "Until the nineties, there were never any problems, which is why this accusation is absurd. And the Russians spent the last 15 years handing out Russian passports in Abkhazia and Ossetia, so that they can now turn round and say that they are protecting their citizens. That's not fair."
Die Tageszeitung 16.08.2008
Ossetian literature academic, Shanna Chochiyeva, who teaches in Moscow, has harsh words for the politics of Georgian President Saakashvili: "How could we have known that the Georgians would suddenly take leave of their senses like this? Although the signs had been around for some time. For example, Saakashvili uses former dictator Sviad Gamsachurdia's book, titled "Georgia's Spiritual Mission", as a teaching aid for the seminars he gives to his crazy chauvinists. This contains sentences such as: "There will come a time when the whole world speaks the Georgian language." And in meetings Saakashvili ensures his followers that Georgia will save European civilisation. As far as I see it, these people are Nazis."Süddeutsche Zeitung
Ukrainian writer Yuri Andrukhovych declares his solidarity for Georgia and is concerned for the future: "'Freedom' plays an immense role in Georgian culture, whereas the key Russian concept is 'superpower'." And the West's illusions that Russia will henceforth act as a peacekeeper, are not something Eastern Europe has ever believed. "Since 1991, there has been a growing fear that Russia will 'rise again' sometime. I suspect that we are now experiencing the first acute phase of this 'rising'." Read more articles by Yuri Andrukhovych here Die Tageszeitung
Czech playwright Pavel Kohout talks in an interview about the parallels and differences between the Caucasus conflict and the Russian invasion of Prague in 1968. "The Czechs and Slovaks never shot anyone, they also had no territorial disputes and they had never sent a tank into anywhere. The only thing which connects the invasion of Georgia with that of Czechoslovakia in 1968 was that both involved a Russian attack. This is the nature of Russian politics... What the Russians need is something like a French Revolution. Which ultimately brought democracy. If you look at the Russian Revolution and Russian history, it is clear that we have to give them time, but we should not let them out of our sight."
Here are some cultural representations from each of the countries mentioned in this post:
Georgian folk dancing
Russian music and dance: Natasha Rostova in "War and Peace"
Czech hip hop?
Ukrainian kozak song
"Civilization is not self-supporting. It is artificial. If you are not prepared to concern yourself with the upholding of civilization -- you are done." (Ortega y Gasset)
Friday, August 22, 2008
Georgian laments, Russian roars