Saturday, 9 August 2008

World domination

Last night I started trying to write something about Georgia, but decided there were probably other people out there far more qualified to do so. But here's my two pennyworth... Last time I was in Russia (I did Russian at uni, been there 5 or 6 times) the persecution of Georgians was becoming widespread, with mass rounding up of ethnic Georgians (even those born in Russia), deportations and racial attacks. I met someone involved in the St Petersburg Youth Movement, who told me about an anti-racism campaign, where everyone wore T-shirts in sympathy declaring 'I'm a Georgian'. No-one else at the Conference - which was a couple of years ago - would admit there was a problem at all, which is typically Russian. There was 'no racism' in Russia. This was at a Conference of centre-left/ left Russian political parties.

The other thing I was going to mention was the fear that the Crimea could be next; it's part of the Ukraine, but ethnically Russian and obviously strategically important. About 60% I think are Russians, cf 25% Ukrainians and 12-13% Tatars; nearly 80% speak Russian as their first language, but Ukrainian is the only official language. When I was there (2003 I think, went to Simferopol which is a god forsaken place and then took the world's longest trolley bus ride down through the mountains to Yalta, which is much nicer, tho' a bit touristy) I asked a few people whether they'd prefer to be part of Russia; some did, some wanted to be independent. Needless to say, both would be resisted strongly by Ukraine.

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