Georgia, Russia: Feeding Looters and Refugees

Global Voices Online
Tuesday, August 19, 2008

See Global Voices special coverage page on the South Ossetia crisis.

A number of Tbilisi residents gathered in front of the Russian embassy Saturday for a protest prank against looting. LJ user oleg-panfilov posted photos and wrote this (RUS) about the initiative:

[...] To the Russian embassy in Tbilisi they brought old refrigerators, toilets, rolls of toilet paper, irons, bottles of vodka, forks and spoons, clothes and other objects that [looters from the Russian army] took interest in during their visits to private houses of Georgians, state institutions, military bases and army barracks.

People are coming up to have a closer look, shake their heads, laugh. Cars that are passing by are honking...

[six photos]

Tbilisi-based LJ user tony-geo wrote critically (RUS) about the stunt:

"Let's Feed the Russian Army" Action

The action itself is, of course, a powerful PR weapon. But only as long as many Russians get to know about it. I suspect, however, that neither [Vremya news show on Channel 1], nor [Vesti news show on RTR] are going to cover this action.

Here's what I mean. A Russian woman, mother of a Georgian officer, horrified, says that her mother in [Kaliningrad] has no idea whatsoever of what's going on in Georgia and thinks that the Georgian army is still attacking Tskhinvali, which is being courageously defended by the Soviet army. Thank God, she hasn't put a curse on her grandson, who is killing Russian soldiers in that Tskhinvali.

I confirm this report. I talked to my sister in Russia yesterday. Formally, my sister is Georgian, but she was born and grew up in Russia, just like myself, and has only spent a total of a few weeks in Georgia in the 30 years of her life. But she kept her Georgian maiden name when she got married [...]. Anyway, she's also clueless about what's going on. Most ordinary people do not use the internet and satellite TV to get reliable news - they are watching what the [Russian state-owned channels] are showing. So why should it be surprising that this majority firmly believes that the Russian troops have not stepped outside Tskhinvali [...]?

But this isn't my point. In a kindergarten [in one of Tbilisi's neighborhoods], there are 110 refugee families with lots of children. Social aid hasn't made it there. They put them there and that's it, if there's time - we'll help you. At this kindergarten, unlike at the school in the same area, there are children's beds at least. Most people sleep on the floor. There are no blankets and mattresses. They eat what they can buy on the money they've got left. As you understand, they don't have much money left. Yesterday, food was delivered just once to this kindergarten. Stale bread. For 110 families - seven kilos of sugar.

Last night, I took a sack with children's clothes, which I had planned to take to the central donation point [...], to this kindergarten. We (along with my neighbors) also took 20 kilos of sugar and one and a half kilo of butter there. Today I've brought them fruit, milk, [matsoni] and diapers.

Georgians, damn it, enough of the information war. Look out of the window, there are kindergartens and schools packed with refugees out there. First, take what you can to them, and then go to the Russian embassy. [...]

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