TBILISI, DFWatch – On the 67th anniversary of VE Day, victory in Europe in World War Two, Vladimir Putin sent his congratulations to the leaders of the countries that are members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), as well as to the two breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia — and to the Georgian people.
Russian news agencies report that Putin’s appeal is special in that he congratulates the Georgian people, not its government, which is exceptional.
“No matter how much time has passed since the end of WWII, May 9 will forever remain a day of pride and a common memory for the peoples of Russia and Georgia,’ he said, ‘Shoulder to shoulder, fighting the Nazi invaders, our fathers and grandfathers have won freedom and peace for future generations. We will always honor the winners of the deed, to defend the truth about the war, determined to stop any attempt to distort or rewrite history.’
President Mikheil Saakashvili’s spokesperson Manana Manjgladaze responded today by saying that Putin’s statement is another expression of cynicism.
“This is speaking about friendship, brotherhood and love of Georgian people on the one hand and on the other hand sending explosive material. This is the real and true face of the current government in Russia,” she said, referring to a recent incident in Zugdidi where police discovered an explosive device next to the Prosecutor’s Office.
The explosive device had been brought in from Russian occupied territory of Abkhazia.
“The fact that explosive devices were transferred from territory occupied by Russia proves the aggressive intentions Russia has towards our country and society. Love for the Georgian people is thus expressed in actions directed against the security of our society, the life of our people,” Manjgaladze added.
Lately, there has been talk about restoring diplomatic relations between Russia and Georgia; however Russian officials refuse to have negotiations with the Saakashvili government.
After Mikheil Saakashvili canceled visa rules for Russian citizens, it seemed that relations warmed up a bit. This was the first time in a long time that Putin mentioned the Georgian president by name.
But the climate cooled down when Russia made demands in connection with cancelling visa requirements for Georgians, and asked to have a law abolished which restricts travel to the breakaway regions. Georgia responded that the law will be abolished only when Russia pulls back its troops from the occupied territories.