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Georgia-Russia Relations Warning

Published: January 25, 2013 (Issue # 1743)


MOSCOW Acocktail-party chat that lasted only minutes has triggered hopes that thecountry's troubled relations with Georgia might be headed forsubstantial recovery.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had aconversation with his Georgian counterpart, Bidzina Ivanishvili, during areception atthe Davos World Economic Forum late Wednesday, Medvedev's spokeswoman, Natalya Timakova, said Thursday. "Both prime ministers were atthe reception andhad aconversation," she was quoted as saying byInterfax.

Timakova downplayed themeeting byadding that Medvedev talked "with many delegation heads fromother countries" during theforum, but national media were quick topoint out that theencounter marked thefirst direct contact between governments ofboth countries inyears.

Diplomatic ties between Moscow andTbilisi were cut in2008, after both countries fought abrief war over Georgia's breakaway region South Ossetia, followed byMoscow's recognition ofindependence forthat region

as well as nearby Abkhazia. Moscow has since adamantly refused any contact with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, whom it accuses tobe awar criminal forordering troops intoSouth Ossetia.

But theoutlook has changed since Saakashvili's United National Movement was defeated inparliamentary elections last fall byIvanishvili's Georgian Dream coalition. Ivanishvili, abillionaire who made much ofhis wealth inRussia, has said he wants better relations with Moscow.

This week saw other symbolic high-level meetings ofofficials between both countries. OnWednesday, Georgian Patriarch Ilia II became themost prominent Georgian tobe received byPresident Vladimir Putin inthe Kremlin since the2008 war.

Thehead ofthe Georgian Orthodox Church has maintained close ties with his Russian counterpart, Kirill, over thepast years. Both church leaders met fortalks Tuesday. Unlike theKremlin, theMoscow Patriarchy has inthe past supported Georgia's territorial integrity, arguing that under church law, thebreakaway regions Abkhazia andSouth Ossetia remain part ofGeorgia.

No details ofthe Kremlin talks were published, but Ilia told RIA-Novosti that he would raise theissue with Putin.

Thursday then saw thefirst direct contacts between senior lawmakers fromboth sides, when theforeign relations committee heads fromboth countries met inStrasbourg.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Sept. 19


SPIBAs newest addition to their Cultural Discoveries events is Handmade in Germany, an exhibition featuring unique handmade objects of a significantly higher quality than mass-produced items. The work of over 100 German manufacturers will be displayed during the event, which opens today in the Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Paul on Nevsky Prospekt and runs through Sept. 28.



Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during todays Djembe and Vuvuzela, a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of todays round table discussion on Interaction with Trade Unions being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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