Interview with Vladimir Pligin
Russia Today: It seems relations have not improved any, especially given these latest accusations, quite serious accusations, from Georgia, accusing Russia of meddling in its internal politics. What is the current state of relations?
VladimirPligin: First of all speaking about this accusation, I believe it is not so-called moral accusation. I would like to stress it does not reflect the real relationship between the Georgian and Russian peoples. Georgia joined Russia voluntarily about 200 years ago. So today people who position themselves as the leaders of the Georgian people are responsible for supporting this traditionally friendly relationship. Unfortunately they are trying to destroy this relationship.
RT: Let’s come to the chase – what is Georgia trying to achieve, in your view?
V.P: I do not know exactly what the Georgian leadership is trying to achieve. But I think they cannot achieve anything by destroying the relationship between our two peoples. This is very important. I believe that it is a kind of impulsive reaction, and not a really serious intention.
RT: What do you read into these latest incidents in South Ossetia? Can we read anything in their timing?
V.P: I do not know.
RT: Who would benefit from rocking the boat there?
V.P: Who can benefit? Nobody, of course. It is in the interests of neither the Georgian nor the Russian people. It is necessary to thoroughly investigate this situation to understand its real essence and its real roots. Only with this understanding can we find who can benefit from this situation. Not ordinary people, obviously.
RT: Russia and Georgia historically had strong roots as the parts of the USSR. Besides, both countries are Orthodox Christian. Things seem to have very much drifted in the last year or two. What do you actually put this down to? Is it down to the leadership of the countries?
V.P: Of course, it is the policy of the leadership of one country in this case. It is not possible to destroy the real relations between the countries, especially taking into account that Georgian culture has a big influence on the Russian culture and vice versa. We should also remember that a great number of Georgian people now live and work in the Russian Federation. That is why a huge majority of Georgian people – and some people in Georgia have told me this several times – are quite interested in a good, normal relationship and non-visa regime.
RT: Nevertheless, President Saakashvili seems to want to take the country towards the West. He has made quite strong overtures towards the U.S. How does the U.S. view Georgia?
V.P: I do not think this can be called a movement to the West or to the U.S. We are not against this. We are an open society, we understand the problem of globalisation. What we say is that there should not be double standards behind such intentions. They should consider the interests of both of our countries, as well as take into account their relationship with the former parts such as Abkhazia.
RT: Some people may say that it is just President Saakashvili trying to deflect attention from criticism coming from within Georgia, particularly from Irakly Okruashvili who made accusations against him recently. Do you read anything into that?
V.P: Yes. Okruashvili is a very important person coming from the Georgian president’s immediate surrounding. Normally if something goes wrong within the country, politicians try to switch public attention to another topic. Of course, this is not the way to overcome the internal difficulties – especially if it involves adopting a negative position to, historically, one of your country’s best and closest friends.