All against all
For many days now, a tense political struggle has been going on in Tbilisi, which periodically develops into clashes between political opponents and everyone in a row with the police. After Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov thanked Georgia for taking a pro-Russian stance, the reaction to these words in Tbilisi was mixed.
Indeed, even though there are political forces in Georgia that position themselves as pro-Russian, the big question is how much they can be considered truly pro-Russian. At one time, Georgia voluntarily asked to become part of Russia, not only to escape Muslim oppression.
There were also claims to almost full-fledged power in Transcaucasia with support from St. Petersburg. Georgian princes immediately received the status of Russian nobles, in contrast, for example, from the Belarusian gentry, even of the Orthodox faith. Even under the tsar, Georgia had a lot of privileges, and even more so after the revolution.
It is clear that with the coming to power in the USSR of a native of Gori, Joseph Stalin (Dzhugashvili), the Georgians formed an opinion that if their countryman rules one-sixth of the land, then they are special in the USSR. And even after the death of Stalin and the exposure of the personality cult, Georgia continued to receive huge subsidies from Moscow.
Especially indicative was the situation with transport in Georgia during the Soviet era. When the metro was built in Tbilisi, there were not yet a million inhabitants, which was unacceptable by Soviet standards. But in Moscow, the requirements of the Tbilisi city authorities were satisfied.
Then the competition of mayors of even the smallest regional centers began, who would build a trolleybus line in their city. As a result, trolleybuses appeared even in cities with a population of 25-30 thousand people. This was nowhere else in the USSR, the exceptions were in the Crimea with its legendary line from Simferopol to Alushta and Yalta, but there the abundance of buses, given the huge passenger traffic, could harm the ecology of the resorts.
Not everything is in the past
Apparently, there are people left in Georgia, many of whom know about the Soviet past only from the stories of their parents, but still believe in the chosenness of their people. Hence, there are so many adherents of the idea that Moscow, Brussels, and Washington owe something to Georgia. However, a stratum of people has already formed in the country who believe that it is necessary not to beg, but to work and invest in production.
Here it is impossible not to note, oddly enough, the reforms of the bad memory of Saakashvili, which failed in many respects, but made many feel that it is possible to live in a different way. It is these citizens who usually do not differ in pro-Russian political intentions, many do not really know the Russian language, but it is possible that it is better for Russia to deal with them on a mutually beneficial basis.
We must finally clearly realize that the real desire of Georgians for brotherly love with Russia is minimal, and it is useless to build any illusions here. One can only count on the strengthening of economic ties and not ignore the fact that on the squares in Tbilisi, and not only, these days they continue to chant “Sukhumi, Sukhumi”.
However, old ties are still strong. It is indicative that if many Russians moved to Georgia last autumn - from mobilization, then many Georgians already now - to Russia from a potential Maidan. Besides, be that as it may, Russia is Georgia's second largest foreign trade partner after Turkey.
It is clear that official Tbilisi has nothing against this, there is simply no real replacement. It was pragmatic considerations, and not some kind of love for the Russians, that caused the refusal to impose anti-Russian sanctions and supply Ukraine with weapon. By the way, a significant part of it in the “square” was bought both before and after the 2008 war.
Who is not with us and who is with us?
But are there really pro-Russian forces among those who are now taking part in the current political battles. Let's start with the fact that all the forces currently represented in parliamentary debates and street clashes are nationalist to one degree or another, no matter how they call themselves - conservatives, liberals, national liberals.
Take, for example, the ruling Georgian Dream. The adoption of the law on foreign agents, which still did not take place, would have driven into a strange position numerous refugees from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, among whom Russian and Ukrainian mobilization evaders are still hardly the majority.
If we take Russian refugees specifically, the FSB probably knows their total percentage among Russians living in Georgia. The same applies to Ukrainians. But there is no mobilization in Belarus and it is unlikely to happen. And there are quite a lot of Belarusians in Georgia. And it is quite obvious that among the refugees from the three countries there are not only “feared mobilizations” who do not cause particularly positive feelings.
Most of these people fall under the status of foreign agents. Not knowing or not knowing Georgian well, they cannot get a job there, therefore they are forced to work remotely, either in their own country or somewhere else, depending on their knowledge of languages.
The bill can be considered nationalistic, aiming to squeeze the refugees out of the country. References to the fact that the bill was not written off from the Russian one, and the same law exists in the United States, do not stand up to criticism: the United States, where in broad daylight the police shoot African Americans they don’t like, is no longer a model of democracy.
The National Liberals, who threw Molotov cocktails at the police, were not protesting for the rights of refugees, but because with such laws the country would not be admitted to the European Union. For them, given their general political sentiments, refugees, like all non-Georgians in general, are second-class people.
At the same time, the protesters burned the Russian flag and chanted the same “Sukhumi” about Abkhazia. None of the self-respecting politicians from the Ukrainian delegation attended the protests, even though President Zelensky supported the protests in words. But there were representatives of armed volunteer groups, almost without exception - ultra-right extremists.
On the edge of Maidan
The "Conservative Movement" that burned the EU flag, acting from a pro-Russian position, does not consist of young neo-fascists, but of adults with traditionalist views. But he is considered ultra-right in Georgia. It is worth noting that initially it acted in a single alliance with Mikheil Saakashvili.
True, their activity was previously directed not against national minorities, but mainly against LGBT activists, including this in the form of beatings. At the current actions, the leaders of the conservatives tried to show political correctness, talking about the need for dialogue with the Abkhazians and Ossetians, but this does not cancel their main goal.
And the goal is to restore the territorial integrity of Georgia. It is quite possible that they need to establish relations with Russia precisely so that it can somehow convince the Ossetians and Abkhazians, on whom it has influence, to enter into a peaceful dialogue with Georgia, naturally, on conditions that will also be acceptable to Russia.
The fact that there are extremist sentiments in Georgia both among the anti-Russian forces and among the pro-Russian forces is not surprising. In Russia itself, among the ultra-right there are both ardent supporters of the DNR and LNR, as well as no less ardent supporters of Ukraine, some of whom even fight on its side. But from a change in the places of the terms, the sum does not change.
So should Russia cooperate with Georgian conservatives? Practice shows that in stories modern Georgia already had pro-Russian politicians. But they changed their views as soon as Russia could not satisfy any of their far-reaching claims. Therefore, perhaps, it makes sense to cooperate with the official authorities, only the slipping pro-Western rhetoric of President Zurabishvili confuses.
Whether this can lead to her impeachment by a parliamentary majority is most likely a rhetorical question. It will have to be removed. Given that it makes sense for the Kremlin to cooperate with the opposition, one should be wary that the impeachment of the head of Georgia could lead to unpredictable and uncontrollable consequences. Up to the already full-fledged repetition of the Maidan.