Russia’s big round-up of Georgians in the capital brought protesters out onto the streets on Sunday. Near Pushkin’s statue in Moscow city centre, some wore yellow stars with “I am a Georgian” written on them. Banners like “Persecuting people because they are Georgian is Russia’s shame”, and “No to state fascism” could be seen as several hundred people expressed their disgust at the increasingly nasty diplomatic war that has broken out between the two countries.
Liberal politician Vladimir Ryzhkov said:
“Georgian authorities provoked Russia with the arrest of four military officers. It demanded an answer. But the measures with which the Russian authorities decided to answer were clearly inadequate and are, in fact, harming Russia itself.”
Moscow has become uncomfortable even for intellectuals with Georgian-sounding names, with visits from the tax police and other officials, sometime at the homes of the famous.
Air traffic between Russia and Georgia is now exclusively in Russian Emergencies ministry planes, taking Georgian deportees back to Tiblisi and loading up with Russians returning home.
Some are leaving with flowers and wine given from people sad to see them go; some deportees return with tales of frightening treatment at the hands of the Russian security forces.