Monday, September 15, 2008

The weight of occupation

Last week I was in the southern part of Georgia, and the scene was peaceful. If you didn't talk with anyone, you would have no idea that the country had been invaded a month earlier, and parts of the country were occupied. Yesterday, I spoke with a journalist and academic in Tbilisi. She painted a different scene. One of her friends was recently beaten by Russian troops. He was a taxi driver. Beaten for no reason, according to her. I know there are always two sides - and I don't have the opportunity to interview the Russian troops involved with this - but I expect it's just part of a general policy of intimidation of the local population.

Nonetheless, the school that employs her is still in business and still making plans for the coming year. Life goes on. Earlier in the week, I met an American who is planing to move to Tbilisi, captivated by its open intellectual atmosphere - quite different from the atmosphere in Baku, I might add.