The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Feb 24, 2010

Georgians Galore

The little country of Georgia has been in the news for a variety of reasons. Most recently, their luge champion tragically died in a practice run at Vancouver's Whistler Sliding Centre. Prior to this tragedy, of course, was the brief but bitter war it fought against Russia. Meanwhile, Stalin appears to be a common object of veneration among the warring parties - both Russia and Georgia (where he was born) are in the midst of a massive rehabilitation of that mass-murderer. Like the Mongols who have reclaimed Genghis Khan, the Georgians want to believe that Stalin, possibly the most famous Georgian ever, is their one claim to greatness. A few months ago, a BBC reporter named John Sweeney (previously famous for losing his temper and yelling at Scientologists) produced a film about the adulation and celebration of Stalin in these countries. Scary stuff.

In a bid to expand its international clout, Georgia has also come up with a couple of other plans. An American teenager is competing in the ice dancing at the Winter Olympics this year for Georgia. (She is half-Japanese, which explains why her elder siblings are also in the field, competing for Japan.) Her dance partner is Georgian, and the Georgians rushed her citizenship through last month so she could compete in Vancouver. (Can't point the finger at Georgia alone, though. I guess their action is not so different from Qatar and Bahrain issuing citizenships to African athletes just so they can have a presence (and possibly a medal or two) at the Summer games.)

What has to take the cake, though, is the recent appointment of a scion of the Habsburgs as Georgia's ambassador to Germany. The ambassador, Gabriela Maria Charlotte Felicitas Elisabeth Antonia von Habsburg-Lothringen, princess Imperial and Archduchess of Austria, Princess Royal of Hungary and Bohemia, used to be an avant-garde sculptor, and having lived in Georgia since 2001, has become its citizen. A name like that, says Georgia's president, should open doors (according to the Economist).

Now tell me: Does Saakashvili have a deliciously deprecating sense of humour or not?


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