Popular unrest in the Pankisi Gorge of Georgia, it would seem — purely an internal matter of the neighboring state. But the controversial ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili is trying to look down your nose at the “Russian”, “Chechen” trail. Moscow has not yet responded to the provocation.
Stones, batons, tear gas
On April 21 in the Pankisi Gorge of Georgia began mass protests of residents who protested against the continuation of the construction of the cascade of HPP “Hadori” on the Alazani river. The new, third station (with a capacity of 5.4 MW) should be located near the village of Birkiani, and not just close — to the nearest houses less than a hundred meters.
Local residents are convinced that the construction of the power plant threatens the ecosystem of the gorge: due to a sharp decrease in the water level in Alazani, there will be interruptions in drinking water supply to villages and irrigation. The area of forests will be reduced, and trout and other red-listed fish may disappear in the river itself.
Meanwhile, back in October 2017, the Ministry of the environment of Georgia issued a positive opinion on the construction of the power plant. A site preparation company-investor Alazani Energy Ltd. began in June last year — and even then the residents of Pankisi held several protests. To unite the efforts of the protesters, the Pankisi people’s Assembly was created — it United youth activists and elders. Officials of the Akhmet municipality and representatives of the investor met with them — but it was not possible to find a consensus. Meanwhile, local residents were offered to solve the problem with drinking water, as well as free transfer of inert materials (sand and gravel) for the construction of houses. They also promised to employ at least a hundred Pankisi residents at the construction site, and then introduce a preferential tariff for electricity for them.
Apparently, Tbilisi decided not to negotiate peace with the residents anymore — and two units of police special forces were sent to Pankisi. All this ended predictably: mass slaughter in which, according to official data, about forty people (generally security officers) were wounded. Police officers threw stones, and those, in turn, used batons, tear gas and rubber bullets.
Everyone suffers — from fishermen to pastoralists
After the tragic events in Pankisi extra profit from three Ministers — of Internal Affairs George Gakharia, regional development and infrastructure Maia Tskitishvili and environmental protection and agriculture Levan Davitashvili. Met with protesters behind closed doors and promised that the power plant will begin to build when “for” there will be not less than 90% of locals. Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry launched an investigation into the attack on the police.
When the conflict was almost exhausted, the oil in his fire poured former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, who now lives in the Netherlands (recall that at home he was convicted in absentia for many crimes, including political murder).
He recorded a video message in which he sharply opposed the construction of Hadori-3, condemned the actions of the special forces and demanded the release of one of the detainees Malkhaz Machalikashvili. Recall that this is the father of 19-year-old Tamirlan Machalikashvili, who was killed during last year’s special operation in the Pankisi gorge.
Saakashvili picturesque grieving: say, Georgia — tourist region, and it does not need hydro. What a liar! It was during his presidency that the first power plant was built in the Pankisi gorge (by the way, at the expense of Chinese investors from Sichuan). Under Saakashvili, already in 2013, the second station was launched. After that, the water level in the tributaries of the Alazani began to decline noticeably, which was felt by everyone — from fishermen to cattle breeders.
Well, the company “Peri”, which is building the current HPP in Pankisi, Saakashvili himself announced the best business organization of Georgia during his presidency.
Master “changing shoes in the air»
Saakashvili gave an interview to the Georgian TV channel Rustavi-2, in which he suddenly “changed his shoes”: allegedly the tragic events in Pankisi are not the fault of politicians in Tbilisi… but Moscow. “Russia is definitely interested in this,” Saakashvili said.
With a request to comment on this statement, “Free press” appealed to the researcher of the Institute of Oriental studies Alexander Skakov.
— Saakashvili is a psychopath, these are features of his personality. As for his statements, they are difficult to take seriously. Just in opposition to radical Islamism, the relevant departments of Russia and Georgia are cooperating quite productively, this is a common threat. What does radical Islamism have to do with it?
— Throughout Georgia (and Pankisi is no exception), a difficult social situation, so any reason can lead to an explosion. At this time the blast was triggered by inept and insensitive actions of the government.
Pankisi is even poorer than in other areas. At least because of the climatic conditions and the lack of tourists — unlike, say, Svaneti or Khevsureti, where tourists go and leave money there.
It is Pankisi that continues to be the main focus of radical Islamism in Georgia. Islamization of the country began under Eduard Shevardnadze, at the same time, approximately, in 2000, there was a problem of Pankisi. And to solve this problem can only be a rich country, able to combine the legalized violence of financial investments.
— Saakashvili in his speech stressed that the clashes with the riot police involved is not living in the Pankisi Gorge, the Georgians, and Chechens-the Kists. A hint of Ramzan Kadyrov?
— Chechens (Kistins) of Pankisi, in General, have a negative attitude to Ramzan Kadyrov, although they envy the well-being of their relatives on the Northern side of the Caucasus range. In Chechnya, in addition to the ski is possible and ordinary tourism, in addition to beautiful nature — numerous historical and architectural objects. As in Ingushetia. Moreover, in these republics, there is a lot of tourists and promotional literature. What does a tourist do in Pankisi?