MOSCOW. (Gennady Bordyugov, member of the RIA Novosti Expert Council)
Blockades and sanctions have a human dimension. I cannot even imagine the tons of books, newspapers and magazines for the 600,000 Russian speakers in Georgia that are accumulating on the Russian-Georgian border. It is impossible to say how many scientific conferences, art exhibitions and festivals will be cancelled.
The political clot has blocked the cultural and spiritual arteries that connect the two countries, which we worked hard to clean, and pushed us away from each other.
The escalation of provocations has a logic of its own. When obvious sources feeding the conflict become exhausted, the authorities find new ones. It cannot be ruled out that they may prohibit Russian as a teaching subject, close Russian literature departments at Tbilisi and Gori universities, remove Russian books from libraries and shops, or close the famous Griboyedov Theater and the Russian Cultural Center, whose motto is, “Oh, Georgia, the cradle of the Russian muse.”
Likewise, Russia, which has suspended the import of Georgian wines and mineral water and canceled residence and labor quotas for Georgians, may take action to liquidate the Georgian “fifth column” in Russia, outlawing Georgian communities, closing schools and kindergartens where some subjects are taught in Georgian, cancelling the ArtGruz festival of modern Georgian art, which is still just taking its first steps, and dissolving the Society of Georgians in Russia, which has 350,000 members in 35 Russian regions.
All this would mean that Russia has taken the bait and that Russian society is rife with anti-Georgian sentiment.
We must prevent this. The people must not become hostages to narrow-minded nationalism. The political realm should be kept separate from the human one, which took centuries to develop. No regime should be permitted to usurp this space, which belongs to both nations, for political considerations. The intellectual classes of Russia and Georgia must do their best to keep up dialogue and cultural exchange.
Time can be big or small. Georgian philosopher Zaza Shatirashvili once said that big time does not fit into small time, and small time has no memory of the past, but everything remains in its rightful place and memory is enduring in big time.
What time are we living in? We must not allow a political clot to make us forget what Bulat Okudzhava, a Georgian poet who lived and died in Moscow, said: “Don’t lock your door, but keep it always open.” -0-