Week in Review: Train-spotting, and other poisonous substances

January 13-19, 2002

As the National Geographic’s viewers and readers know only too well, an ability of the higher primates to recognize themselves in a mirror is one of the hints to their superior mental abilities. In other words, our Darwinian ancestors can reconcile themselves with the reality, while other, more immature creatures fail to do so, crushing themselves painfully onto the reflective surface.

Contrary to the scientific discoveries, our government and society has a stunning ability to rediscover the reality with a naïveté which locates its collective cognizance somewhere between a shrimp and a peacock.

Last week, the eyebrows were raised on spotting of the Russian train making it into Sokhumi in breakaway Abkhazia, which is supposed to be cut off from the communication lines. The train-spotting scandal was given a high promo value, and all, from the President to the ministers looked genuinely offended by this appalling unfriendliness by the Russian side. Merab Adeishvili, Minister of Transport and Communications, sent as a royal herald to sort out the issue, said he was “appalled by the cynicism of the Russian side.”

If somebody else is surprised by the misbehavior of our neighbor, let us remind you that only 4 months ago, the president of the same country threatened to conduct “the preemptive military operations” on our territory. For anybody except the authors of the military dictionary, this phrase is a convenient euphemism for war. So, please, why shake in a sacred rage about one small tiny four-cart train? Our chief counterintelligence Mr. Avtandil Ioseliani was even sympathetic to the poor thing, saying it has to travel only 5 kilometers per hour, so badly the Abkhaz are keeping up the rails.

The railway issue was used by the Georgian diplomacy for long, to push for return of the refugees. If we assume that Russia is interested in NOT settling the conflict in Abkhazia in Georgia’s favor, their diplomacy should have done something about this argument. They did. Mr. Chhikvishvili, Russia’s Ambassador to Georgia, says the rail communication is purely a private arrangement, done by the private company. But Russia would welcome economic development in Abkhazia.

Nice, calm and diplomatic slap in a face, as that private company (which was not ever named) has, by some info, only a license for Russia’s internal railway communications. No they do not mention a tiny-font provisions regarding the license to annex some territories left without adequate care from the responsible authorities.

Not much to respond with. Mr. Adeishvili proposed to block the ground and phone communication for the Russian military bases. Impressive, angry, but barely a proportional response. I would suggest sending Georgia’s private train from Zugdidi to Gali and diplomatically retaliating by appointing the Georgian Ambassador to Moscow who would have the Russian last name.

Talking about people willing to bomb: London’s ricin threat publicized by Sunday Times is now firmly linked to Pankisi and Georgia. Security Minister Khaburdzania and his spokesperson Mr. Laliashvili spoke in unison to confirm presence of “two-three people” in Pankisi who were capable of cooking up the deadly substances. As Mr. Khaburdzania said his boys “were monitoring them closely.” To confirm he showed some movies of the Chechens and Arabs moving around in forests. Of course none of them are in Pankisi now, they were “operatively pushed out.” This one is a difficult euphemism, I can not even think of its true meaning.

Elsewhere, the Parliament the gas supplies are cut off, electricity supplies are, hence, also endangered and it is not the governments fault! Only couple rocks dropped down in the North Ossetia to crush the pipeline.

In the end, our congratulations to the Special Representative of the President of Georgia in Settling the South Ossetia Conflict Mr. Vakhtang Rcheulishvili. He was on his first visit in a breakaway republic with no plan, but just to see things. Went to Russia before, checked their opinion on the issue. Nice and calm, Mr. Kokoev, Russian citizen and the South Osset President says no political settlement is reachable and Georgians are to blame. Mr. Rcheulishvili says the same. Once in a decade the conflicting sides agree. By some reports, Mr. Rcheulishvili stayed in Tskhinval waiting for a Vladikavkaz-Tbilisi train.


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