Georgian “pro-Western” Petty Nationalism
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Georgia has gone through a series of disasters, including a civil war, military conflicts in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali. Georgian raised against Georgian because of the ‘true values’, believing that there are ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ Georgians. To be a true Georgian, you should have had a respective bloodline, a knowledge of local language and an identity of Orthodox Christian. This war of ‘morally superior’ Georgians against ‘faithless’ has ended up cracking the society and plunged the state into chaos. Decades were spent to put together everything that had been left. During Mikhail Saakashvili’s government, political elites managed to finally set up basic rules, widely supported and shared by a majority of Georgian society. The most important were to restrain aggressive nationalistic attitudes and ensure non-violent processes, not letting history to be repeated.
Unfortunately, these basic agreements are currently actively shattered by various Western-financed non-government activists and political opposition. Furthermore, it is obvious that politically motivated members of Ukrainian elites as well as some of the American politicians and EU parliament members are being dragged into this, too. It seems the conflict in Ukraine made some of the Western external actors disapprove of the pragmatic policy of the ruling Georgian Dream toward Russia, hoping that regime change will bring more patriotic sentiments and increase anti-Russian rhetoric in Tbilisi. But this may lead to catastrophic results. Georgia shelters Turks, Azeris, Armenians, Ukrainians, Russians and other nationalities who wage wars abroad. The balance is kept by local Georgians for everyone’s sake. Thus, breaking crucial agreements between the same Georgians may destroy the balance, turning the state into yet another battleground.
The Broken Seals
There were anti-Russian statements in Georgia for a long time. But everything was in the scopes of the general agreement and in accordance with the real Western values. These seals were broken in March, during the protests against the “Foreign Agent Bill”, by some called the “Russian law”, introduced by Georgian Dream. Protest is an inherent part of Georgian political culture but the last one turned into a direct attempt of seizure of the parliament building, police officers attacked, burned alive by protesters and, the worst, U.S. ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan openly cherishing the protesters. Furthermore, EU parliament member Viola von Cramon-Taubadel calling on these small violent groups to make another “Euromaidan” that ended the government of Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine (2013-14).
Georgia has never experienced such an open intrusion into domestic affairs and blatant violation of both, diplomatic protocol as well as misbehavior from the Western actors. Simply saying, the law that aimed at controlling money flow from all over the world was considered by the Western allies as a possible controlling mechanism of “who is paid and for what” that could have diminished the Western opportunity to directly finance various anti-governmental movements, decrease influence on internal political processes. Thus, it has been perceived as a threat, even though the U.S. has an exact same law, and U.S. ambassador “gave green light” to the violence. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that the broader Georgian society was shocked by such behavior. The protesters, on the one hand, and the Western allies, on the other hand, simply broke the rules that the same Georgian society hardly achieved and was desperately protecting. EU ambassador to Georgia Pawel Herczynski was even forced to outline that the EU was not pushing Georgia to violence, keeping in the mind the civil war in the 90s. But the seals are already broken. Now, it is obvious that if in its interest, some part of the West may support radical groups, even an unlawful overthrow of the government and anti-Russian, Russophobe manifestations.
Russophobia among “pro-Western” Elites
And while regular Ukrainians and Georgians were and are free to express what can be assessed as aggressive Russophobe, anti-Russian statements, it is astonishing how widely shared is the same among the elite part of Georgia’s non-governmental sector, elite part of the local civil society. Those who are financed by Western agencies and governments to defend human rights, tolerance and other democratic values, are actively and openly using such terms as “Russian pigs” (geo. „ღრუსები“ – pig and Russians) and other derogatory words on the media, Facebook and other social platforms. These people do not hide their disdain toward every single Russian visiting Georgia. Worse luck, representatives of local European and U.S. embassies are aware of the situation and instead of restraining such questionable behavior, are silent, indirectly supporting it. Even worse is the situation on the so-called pro-Western Georgian oppositional channels. These media sources call on “Georgian patriots”, every single day, to raise against the ruling “Russian Dream”, forcefully overthrow the democratically elected government and expel “Russian pigs” from the country. Those who don’t share the approach are called “traitors” and “agents of the Kremlin”. And some of the Western allies of Georgia are pretty keen to call this media a “beacon of democracy” and a “supporter of the Western values”.
As a consequence, all of these led to a formation of what can be called the Georgian “pro-Western” petty nationalism. Aggressive violent, arguably, pro-Western, pro-Ukrainian, Russophobe (anti-Russian), anti-tolerant movement, used by political opposition, some local civil society organizations and the Western external actors to press Georgian government, threaten it with “consequences”, persecute Russians in the state and attack those Georgians who disagree with the appraisal of the nationalistic attitudes. Some local experts, scholars and other public figures are being verbally insulted, physically assaulted at universities and other public spaces on a regular basis by the same groups of people, financed by the same Western agencies. Unfortunately, with no respective reaction from the West and the state. It became highly dangerous to oppose Georgian “pro-Western” petty nationalism. Regretfully, this warped worldview is actively thought during the so-called “pro-Western” trainings among local youth, especially in Tbilisi, hoping that they will become a ‘mainstay’ for future rivalry between ‘right’ Georgian patriots, supporters of the West, Ukraine and Russia-haters, and the ‘faithless’.
To summarize, nationalistic manifestations and violence became answers to political crisis in the country, all sides actively using it to somehow achieve the goals. And if not stopped, Georgia may fall into yet another confrontation between ‘morally superior’ Georgians against ‘faithless’, leading the country to a collapse. And what will restrain Turks, Azeris, Armenians, Ukrainians, Russians and other nationalities from conducting their own ‘petty vendettas’ for the sake of their own unbridled nationalism?! Nothing!