President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.
Question: First question is about Georgia. May I?
Vladimir Putin: We are at such a good international event on technology. Does it [Georgia] demonstrate any achievements in terms of applying the latest technology?
Remark: Unfortunately no.
Question: The words said about you were really unprecedented…
Vladimir Putin: You must be kidding.
Question: And State Duma parties have united in voting for an embargo. On food products and money transfers, of course. When will you decide on this?
Vladimir Putin: You know, it would take a lot of time to give a complete answer. But I will tell you my thoughts in short. In order to understand what I am guided by in this, we should take a look at our past, at history.
Look, Ossetia joined the Russian Empire, if I remember correctly, in 1774. Both northern and southern Ossetia came together, as an independent state. Abkhazia did the same in 1810, also as an independent country, a principality.
Later some events took place within that single state. South Ossetia became part of the Tiflis Governorate. There was no Georgia at the time, but the Tiflis Governorate.
Abkhazia developed in the following way. When the Russian Empire fell after World War I, Georgia made attempts to absorb Abkhazia; an independent country of Georgia was established, and, with help from German troops, it occupied Abkhazia in 1918.
The occupiers were very cruel, and Georgian troops in Ossetia in 1919 and 1920 even more so. This was essentially what is called genocide today.
The Georgian authorities would do well to remember this. It must not be forgotten, if Georgia’s current government wants to mend relations with the people of Abkhazia or South Ossetia.
By the way, during the Soviet era, it was decided to establish the Soviet Socialist Republic of Abkhazia, which included today’s Georgia. It wasn’t even Georgia.
The Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia was established during Stalin’s time, and Abkhazia was included. By the way, human rights activists never note this, which is strange.
However, on Stalin’s orders, the NKVD, headed by Beria, took very harsh measures on Abkhazians – I don’t even want to say what – in order for Georgia to absorb this territory and the Abkhazians.
This is a grim legacy that one of the first Georgian presidents simply ignored when he took Adjara and Abkhazia’s autonomy. All of this resulted in an explosive and fratricidal war.
At the time, I tried to convince Mr Saakashvili. I said, “Mr Saakashvili, do not take any military actions against Abkhazia or South Ossetia.” I said the same to the Americans: “No, under no circumstances.”
And what happened? They started a war. The result? It is well-known today. Russia had to acknowledge the independence of these republics and protect the Abkhazians and the South Ossetians.
Why am I going over all this? Because all these anti-Russia sentiments in Georgia are inflated by those who don’t know anything, or know but prefer to ignore it, thus damaging Georgia and Georgians.
The rest is secondary. Curses and swearing are not so important, so they should not be taken seriously. No need to respond to what some bad guy says.
Regarding the various sanctions against Georgia, I would not do this because I respect the Georgians, because one person that nobody knows came out and said something stupid, and now everyone is talking about it. He has achieved what he wanted. He was suspended for two months and went on holiday. He will continue his work when he returns.
But there are people who protest this in Georgia. I would not take any measures that will make our relations more complicated for these people, in order to restore relations between Russia and Georgia.
Question: The State Duma and other politicians suggested opening a criminal case against the Georgian journalist on grounds of insulting the authorities.
Vladimir Putin: He doesn’t deserve that honour. Let him go on talking.
All the best.