Georgia starts battle against Olympics in Sochi

The Georgian government is planning to launch a campaign against Russia hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics in the resort city of Sochi, which is about 30 km from the Russian border with Abkhazia.

The Georgian parliament committees in charge of restoring the country’s territorial integrity and working with diasporas have held a closed-door meeting to discuss the issue.

According to News Georgia, work on the plan has already begun with refugees, Chechen diasporas and the so-called “legitimate” Abkhazian government – which has been acting in asylum since the August 2008 war – taking part.

Among the planned steps is a campaign in the international media, protest rallies in different countries and a joint appeal to the International Olympic Committee from refugees as well as from famous sportspeople.

Georgia cannot wreck the Sochi Olympics, believes the chairman of Russia's State Duma international affairs committee, Konstantin Kosachev. According to the official, Ekho Moskvy radio station reports, Georgia’s action is going to be informative rather than substantial. Tbilisi uses any possible occasion to draw the international community’s attention to the issue of Georgian territorial integrity, he pointed out.

He recalled that Georgia has once managed to spoil Olympic festivities: “It happened on August 8, 2008, when it attacked South Ossetia”.It was the first day of the Beijing Summer Olympics and instead of watching sports events “the entire international community had to deal with the Georgian shady undertaking”.

The official is confident though that Tbilisi will not manage to achieve the same result again.

“No one can wreck Sochi Olympics since they are held under the will of the international community. It was a conscious choice made considering all the circumstances and which cannot be subject to conformist revaluation,” Kosachev stated.

Striving for their goal, Georgian deputies are planning to use not only political issues, but also to focus on ecology and history. As “Vzglyad” news outlet writes, citing parliamentary sources, Georgia is going to claim that Sochi Olympic construction sites are harmful for neighboring Abkhazia’s ecology.

According to Sergey Markov, a political scientist and Russian State Duma deputy, Tbilisi’s plans include not only frustrating Sochi-2014, but also inflaming a new conflict in the Caucasus. He believes that the Georgian leadership headed by President Mikhail Saakashvili seeks revenge “over their inability to control Abkhazia and South Ossetia and the failure in the August 2008 war”.

Aleksandr Kozlovsky, deputy chair of the Russian State Duma Committee on international affairs and vice-president of the European Olympic committee, believes that Russia should simply ignore the Georgian move.

“We should turn a deaf ear on that. It is exactly the case when dogs bark, but the caravan goes on,” he told gzt.ru online news source. He pointed out that the Georgian parliament has nothing to do with the Olympic movement.

Only the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is entitled to consider an issue of changing the host for the biggest sport event, Kozlovsky stressed.

“Georgians can do whatever they want: dance…in front of the IOC headquarters, appeal to the UN. It will not help. The IOC has repeatedly stated that it is pleased with how the Sochi Olympics preparations process is going,” the deputy said.

The only thing the Georgian politicians’ can get as a result of their activities is Tbilisi being disqualified as a candidate to host the Youth Olympics in 2015 – which the country has been striving for.

“The Russian side, nevertheless, will support the Georgian bid as it has earlier promised. For us Tbilisi remains a brotherly city,” Kozlovsky said.

Initially, Tbilisi welcomed the decision to hold the Olympic Games in Russia. However, the situation has changed after the war in 2008, which was launched by Georgia when it attacked the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinval.

Shortly after the conflict in the Caucasus, Russia recognized the independence from Georgia of Abkhazia and South Ossetia