Georgia President Warns Putin’s Anti-Gay Campaign Part of Larger Effort To Influence Ex-Soviet Republics

Jim Burroway

October 3rd, 2013

Buzzfeed’s report by Max Seddon is the only original source I’ve run across, but I think it deserves attention. Outgoing Georgia President Mikheil Saakashvili told the United Nations General Assembly last week that Russia’s foreign policy under President Vladimir Putin is “fueled by intolerance” in a bid to increase its influence over other countries of the former Soviet Union. The Russian delegation walked out during Saakashvili’s remarks. Saakashvili later expanded his comments in an interview with Seddon:

Saakashvili is concerned that a wave of anti-gay pressure inspired by Russia’s law may spread to Georgia: Moldova has already adopted a similar law, and Armenia came close to doing so last month. In May, 50 LGBT activists who attempted to hold a pride parade in the capital, Tbilisi, had to flee after thousands of Georgians – led by Orthodox priests – chased them through the streets, roughing up anyone they suspected of being gay. In the aftermath, anti-gay Georgians told media that they were angry that tolerance was being forced upon them by the West.

Saakashvili says the Kremlin’s embrace of anti-gay policies is Putin’s last desperate attempt to rein in his old empire. “He had nothing to offer to his former zone of influence. He has no soft power. He has no economic benefits to offer them,” Saakashvili says. “So what he’s telling them: ‘OK, Europe is promising you much more, it’s a better market, they might give you subsidies, they might give you lots of new opportunities and openings. But what you should know is Europe is all about gay rights. If you go to Europe, your family values will be undermined, your traditions will be destroyed. So we as Orthodox unity, we should stick together.'”

In 1991 and 1992, Georgia fought a war against Russian separatists in the Georgian republic of South Ossetia. That war ended with much of South Ossetia in the hands of a Russian-backed government that was unrecognized elsewhere in the world. In 2008, Georgia launched an attack to regain control of South Ossetia in a war that saw Russian troops cross into Georgia to occupy South Ossetia and Abkhazi, where they remain today.

Odie

October 3rd, 2013

As with Uganda, all this anti-gay stuff REALLY doesn’t have anything to do with gay people. Gay people existing simply provides a convenient distraction or scapegoat.

Victor

October 3rd, 2013

Saakashvili is correct.

Tom in Lazybrook

October 6th, 2013

I’d be real careful about reading too much one way or the other on this one. Georgia is also AWFUL on LGBT acceptance and civil liberties. Russia and Georgia periodically highlight abuses in each others’ nations in comments meant for Western consumption.

On the whole, its probably a good thing that Georgia would use the UN forum as a method to criticize Russia on LGBT rights. We should remember that Georgia’s treatment of its population should reflect the rhetoric though.

Ben in Oakland

October 6th, 2013

Always remember. Joe Stalin came from Georgia.

Hewasborn in Tbilisi, then known as Tiflis. Oscar Leant wanted to write a piece called “A slight touch of Tiflis”. His publisher thought it was hilarious, but unprintable.

Nothing changes in motherrussia,

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