symbol of prosperity

We officially have a symbol of prosperity, it's a four hundred year old olive tree.

A 400 year-old olive tree planted on Rustaveli Avenue

A 400 year-old olive tree has replaced a young plane tree in the center of Rustaveli Avenue, Tbilisi. The tree has a long history and it is a present which Georgia's Catholicos Patriarch has recieved from Italy. ''This tree is a symbol of Georgia's prosperity,'' Catholicos-Patriarch, Ilia II announced today. His Holiness blessed the olive tree and attended the process of planting today.

Winston called me a cynic when I said that the tree does not have much left to live. There are many ways that may happen, and that is not the point of the post. Just to make things clear, I have no intention of taking any part of assisting the tree's demise.

Point I am trying to make here is about the symbol itself. It is un-Georgian. We have to stop clinging to other nations' core values and making them ours. We should develop our own instead. Georgian language has a word for olive, and it's a very interesting word ზეთისხილი (zetiskhili). Literally, it means fruit of oil. But ზეთი (zeti) itself is a borrowed word and source of the borrowing is olive in Turkish. It is probably because we are not Mediterranean, and probably because preferred grease of Georgia has been ერბო (erbo), same thing that Indians call ghee, and is known in the West as clarified butter.

Why would one establish a tree that is clearly non-Georgian as a symbol of anything? Is that because we already sold every forest that bears traditionally Georgian trees, and we are forced to import symbolism? Or is it because the only way we see ourselves as a part of the European family is to have same symbols?

First we favor word ტოლერანტობა (tolerantoba) instead of already existing Georgian word შემწყნარებლობა (shemtsknarebloba), then we overlook Amirani in favor of Prometheus, now we adopt Olive tree as the symbol of prosperity. What is next?

who shall clean it up?

One of the most repulsive parts of Georgian election process is the campaigning one. In a rare interview, Vano Merabishvili, Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia declared that one of the main reasons National Movement won was because they campaigned better than others.

To me this translates into:

  • We lied the best

  • We spent most money on billboards and posters

I have nothing to say about the first one, at least for now. It's the second one that I find bothersome. I stopped questioning the source of all their money, and decided to accept that business owners donate for one reason or another.

Problem is not the posters they used, but rather how they used them. I know there are few rotten apples in every basket, and one may blame those for improperly placed posters. Yet, it is more or less systematic, and all across town, making it more widespread than not. I decided to take a few photos to document their campaigning efforts.

To start with, I find the whole poster business un-European. A nation that claims to be part of the West, both by religion and culture should have enough moral values not to destroy both private and public property for the sake of being reelected. Unfortunately, it does not hold up. After sticking posters to any usable space they could find, they have sent a cleaning crew around town. Last couple days seem to be the ones when the cleaning people went through extra effort to try and remove any markings that would hold resemblance to the party that financed those posters. It is quite depressing to see white glue and torn paper all over the city.

It seems that temporary wooden fences were not enough for them, they used street name plaques, building walls, telephone and lamp posts, anything that they could stick papers to.

In order to get their voice heard, they put their posters over other parties' posters. They even used extra strong glue, so that they would not be torn off. Maybe they were thinking ahead, and used enough glue so that in four years, they won't have to put up as many posters, a lot of posters from this time around will be still around. You might find it to be a laughing matter, but old town still has posters from four years ago here and there.

Police arrested people for stenciling "I remember November 7" on Leselidze street, yet posters that took same spots and now cannot be removed without redoing walls managed to get their doers into the Parliament. There is not freedom of expression in Georgia. You are free to express yourself, as long as you are willing to spend at least a few days incarcerated. Unless of course your expression coincides with the one of the government...

who's job is it to clean up?

who's job is it to clean up?

who's job is it to clean up?

who's job is it to clean up?

And this is their version of clean up:
their version of clean up

nothing says gutsy, like standing up to a bully

Not much to say here - Georgia asks for an apology and monetary compensation. As I expected, almost a week later, no one speaks of it. Not only that, Russians did not even bother responding to it, at least I did not see it in the breaking news section.

shooting foot, or more like chopping off whole leg

Before the news goes stale - opposition unity is already questionable. Actually, it's an eight party coalition now. How do you manage to lose a party within a few days after elections? Well, it's quite simple I guess. They suggested, and it seems that they are still actively pursuing the idea of an alternative parliament. Boycott turned out to be somewhat unpopular, majoritarian MP from on the the opposition parties refused to boycott, claiming that he has to server his electorate. At least there is one wise person in the bunch.

When asked what happened, leaders of the united opposition decided to blame voters. It is a known fact by know that some people in the opposition have pretty uncivilized ways of talking about the president, but calling voters "stupid" seems not only unfair, but also suicidal. Neither was the rephrased version cheerful - voters are apparently selfish and put their personal well-being ahead of that of the country.

What a surprise, people are selfish. I wish opposition said something new. Alas, they are drowning in the pit they decided to fill with tar themselves. They helped Imedi become popular, and Christian Democrats managed to pocket that popularity. They made November 7 happen, people pocketed 50 Lari vouchers for gas and electricity, and voted to Misha. We are back to square one. January elections gave me a hope, I thought that the Georgian politics was becoming more competitive and diverse. Surveys released prior to May 21 elections seemed to back the idea of diverse, hence strong legislative body, but reality turned out to be pretty grim.

People do not change easily, it takes generations to learn what democracy is. Unfortunately, many of those who got elected this time are the ones who managed to take advantage of unstability of the country during last decade to make money. Now, it seems that best way they found to retain the wealth is to be the ones to command the law. Georgians have to learn to leave their business interests behind when they join the legislative body, but that has yet to materialize. Most join to protect those interests, few have real motivation to help the people and the country.