Friday, September 28, 2007

Hot Politics

The political temperature is rising in Tbilisi. A couple of days after the former defence minister Okruashvili accused the (absent) President Sakaashvili of involvement in murder, the former finds himself in prison on corruption charges. This leads to two possible conclusions:

  • if he was really corrupt then it is breathtaking political naivety to arrest him just as he attacks the President. But then again, breathtaking naivety is not uncommon here. I think I heard that Sakaashvili, who is at the UN in New York, has not been entirely happy with the UN's work in relation to the break-away region of Abkhazia - and he's not afraid to say anything to anyone. Fair enough, I suppose, the UN is fairly toothless anyway, compared to, say, Russia.
  • if Okruashvili was arrested because of what he said, then the words 'banana' and 'republic' are not that far apart. That sort of thing would really bring down the standing of Georgia in the west. Then again, India survived a similar style of Government in about 1976.....
So today there's a huge demonstration in front of the Parliament building (see photo - I've taken better ones, but it's good to stay away from truncheons). It seems fairly civilised, and I hope not no-one will lose their hot heads. Someone had their very small boy in traditional Georgian costume on the street......At the one end of the road (maybe at both ends, and certainly even more up the side streets) there are 12 buses containing 600 soldiers in riot gear. If there are more soldiers in other places, there could be a thousand easily....

In between is the opera house at which tonight one of the best young cellists in the world, Giorgi Kharadze, will be playing Haydn. This is what the access to the opera house has been looking like for the last few weeks. It's beginning to improve .....Luckily, she can't fail to notice, the slabs that they are putting down are too unwieldy to chuck, should the demonstration turn nasty.