This week Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili will be awarded the prize of the American Bar Association, which recognises world leaders' contribution to strengthening law and order. The Georgian president is a man who has supported the supremacy of law, put an end to the legacy of corruption in his country and is an ardent supporter of legal reforms and peaceful changes in his country, Dennis Archer, the association's president, noted.
Meanwhile, the velvet revolution in Tbilisi is already a thing of the past. Although the festive roses are still standing on Georgian revolutionaries' table, their petals have fallen off and only thorns remain. Adzharia, after losing its profits and autonomy, and its former leader Aslan Abashidze, who left it voluntarily, has not made the rest of Georgia richer. On the contrary, it is also becoming as poor as the rest of Tbilisi-controlled lands. Mr Abashidze might have been a feudal lord, but he kept not only an elite dog nursery in good order, but also many cultural centres. And now the philharmonic society and the unique Adzharian children's opera theatre, which won even the hearts of Italian audiences, are eking out a miserable existence and closing.
Georgia has not defeated corruption, even less so, with its legacy, as Mr Archer believes. After arresting obvious swindlers, the former lawyer Mr Saakashvili merely introduced a system of letting hostages out on bail. In this way, the son-in-law of former Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze was released without facing trial. Moreover, new shady owners are setting their sights on the former leaders' confiscated property. Lastly, thanks to Mr Saakashvili - "an ardent supporter of peaceful changes" - the shooting has started in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The Georgian side is not shooting at any potential enemy. In violation of all multilateral peace agreements, it is shooting at moving targets going in the direction of the "maverick" republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, disregarding the fact that there could be children behind these targets.
On Mr Saakashvili's orders, Abkhazia, a well-known resort in Soviet times where many Russians live and spend their vacations nowadays too, was blockaded from the sea. After the shelling of a peaceful boat that was heading for Sukhumi, the capital of Abkhazia, the Georgian president not only failed to apologise for his navy, but actually banned Russian tourists from vacationing in Abkhazia. I cite the words of Saakashvili, the peacemaker: "If you want to come to Sukhumi by boat - you must accept what happened there several days ago when our warship opened fire at an intruder ship".
The president suggested that tourists wait until "all the pages of the tragic past are turned over" before enjoying the beauty of Abkhazian landscapes. Judging by Tbilisi's current policy, spa visitors will have to wait for a long time, whereas the martyrology of victims in the Caucasus may be continued.
Pyotr Romanov, political commentator
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