Russian and Georgian peoples want to be closer to each other – experts
According to a survey conducted by the Levada Center and the GORBI research company, Residents of Russia and Georgia have become to treat to each other much better. Thus, the survey data showed that the negative attitude of Russians to Georgia fell to the lowest level since 2005, and it is only 11% now. Despite the fact that about 60% of respondents noted their negative attitude during the five-day war of 2008. At the same time, the number of Georgian citizens, who, in their opinion, have deep knowledge of Russia or those who want to learn more about it, is two times more in comparison Russians who are interested in Georgia – 75% against 32%, respectively.
67% and 91% have a nice attitude towards Russia and the Russians in general. 58% and 71% of Russians have positive attitude to Georgia and Georgians. It is worth noting that respondents from Georgia noted more often than Russians that they had 'strained' (4%) or 'hostile' (18%) attitude towards Russia. For comparison: only 6% of Russians were sure of negative attitude of their compatriots towards residents of Georgia.
It is known that more than 1,600 Russians from 134 settlements and 46 regions of the country, as well as 800 Georgians over 18 years participated in the survey, RBC reports.
Peter Mamradze, the Head of the Strategy Managment Institute said in an interview with a 'Vestnik Kavkaza' correspondent about improvement of Georgians' attitude towards Russians after the cessation of propaganda when Mikhail Saakashvili was President. The expert recalled that firstly Saakashvili showered praise on Russian President Vladimir Putin. "But then he spoiled relations between Russia and Georgia very quickly after he began to criticize the Russian authorities and make appropriate statements. For example, that he intended to bomb and sink all ships that appear near the Georgian shores," the analyst said.
"Then, according to the Levada Center, more than half of Russians stated that Georgia was the second enemy of Russia after the US,'' Mamradze noted.
Now Saakashvili is in Ukraine. According to the head of the Management Strategy Institute the situation has changed drastically changed. "More and more tourists from Russia travel to Georgia. They see that the Georgian population has a positive attitude both to Russia, and the Russians. More than 1 million Georgians live in Russia and help their families from there. Every fourth Georgian lives in Russia. Moscow has became the second city in the world in the number of Georgians after Tbilisi,'' the expert said.
"This tendency is very good. I have seen the result of the survey. According to it, Georgia is at the bottom of the list of Russia's enemies. Georgia is not Russia's enemy at all. This is a good result. And it is a merit of the new authorities,'' he said.
Maksim Shevchenko, member of the Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights, absence of Saakashvili in Tbilisi plays the key role in the restoration of good relations between Russia and Georgia, as he was "an outright enemy of Moscow".
According to him, the Georgian government doesn't have hostile feelings towards Moscow. "Orientation to the West is the position of the ruling elite, which receives money from there. Actually, the Georgian people and Georgia were and remain focused economically, mentally and religiously on an alliance with Russia,'' the analyst said.
Shevchenko also noted that the position of patriarch Ilia II makes Russian and Georgian peoples togather. "Let me remind you that the Russian Church and the Georgian Church have never interrupted relations. Moreover, now the position of Russian and Georgian churches on the so-called Orthodox Cathedral are in solidarity," the member of the Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights concluded.