Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mission impossible: Saakashvili and the gypsies

The Georgian Parliament in Rustaveli / DDohler, Flickr
Today, reading Mikheil Saakashvili's interview to Russian Novaya Gazeta, I came across a passage so familiar to me:
[Journalist aks] about impoverished children who are intrusively begging in Tbilisi, grabbing passers-by by their legs. [Saakashvili asnwers:] "They are gypsies, we tried to put them in orphanages. We attempted to negotiate with gypsy barons. But it is difficult to have a deal with them. In France, they were given money for deportation - they all returned. But you won't see our refugees and the poor. They all are settled down."
It happened to me in Tbilisi - two gypsy children grabbed my legs and demanded money. Ironically, I gave some to one of them a minute earlier and they wanted more. There were no police around, though we were in front of the Georgian Parliament in Rustaveli Avenue. Thanks to an old Georgian lady, who released me from the captivity by shouting at the children with her aggressive voice. However, one of the gypsies bit my leg before releasing me, and it was the one whom I gave some money to.

I also asked - without any success - the same question to people I met in Tbilisi – why police didn't chase away those gypsy children from the prime spot of not only Tbilisi, but also of Georgia.

Now Saakashvili himself says it is impossible.

Though his last two sentences ("But you won't see our refugees and the poor. They all are settled down.") – I would dare to say they are not true. If you walk along the streets of central Tbilisi – there are plenty of poor people who are begging – all old men and women and all Georgian.

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