Russians may gripe loudly and bitterly about their leaders’ authoritative ways, but, apparently, it takes a real Georgian man to turn Russian anger into a proper, full-force, anti-Kremlin protest.
Moscow’s state investigators claim that 44-year-old Georgian lawmaker Givi Targamadze, a close ally of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and onetime chair of Georgia's parliamentary defense committee, was behind a series of anti-government demonstrations this year and last.
(The claim appears to rest primarily on a documentary by the pro-Kremlin TV station NTV that explored the alleged Givi question. )
And now they want Georgia's new government -- political opponents of Givi and Misha both -- to help them with their investigation.
The request comes on the eve of a face-to-face meeting between Russian diplomats and Zurab Abashidze, a former Georgian ambassador to Moscow who has become Tbilisi's new point man for trying to get Russia to meet Georgia halfway.
Accusing domestic political opponents of being in cahoots with an enemy state is a classic device in the former Soviet Union's political playbook. Georgia and Russia are especially keen on pulling out that card.
As of yet, Georgian prosecutors, already accused by critics of running a political witch-hunt against Saakashvili allies, have not responded to Moscow's request.
Russian dissidents have denied the accusations against Targamadze as ludicrous -- they involve a claim that he supplied opposition figure Leonid Razvozzhayev with a big $3,300 to topple the Russian government (Razvozzhayev says his own testimony was forced) -- but, to be sure, Givi the Georgian has been down this road before.
In 2010, Givi was accused of attempts to foil the victory of the perceived pro-Russian candidate, Viktor Yanukovich, who ultimately won anyway. A phone conversation -- a familiar prop in post-Soviet political dramas -- was even posted online to prove the point.
In later comments, Yanukovich’s opponent, Yulya Timoshenko confirmed that the Georgian government indeed had offered to send observers for the election, but not “ninja fighters.”
You'd think it takes more than 2,000 observers in Ukraine or an alleged $3,300 in Russia to change the course of history, but the Kremlin appears to take the Givi menace seriously.
Don't exclude the possibility that, in the interest of rebuilding ties and all that, Russia requests the Georgians to give them Givi -- or the goods on Givi -- before he "strikes" again.