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Esteemed Russian journalist tells of Saakashvili meeting

By Salome Modebadze
Monday, September 27
Russian journalist Ksenya Sokolova shared her impressions of Georgia to the Russian NTV+ on September 24. Summarizing the experiences obtained during her visit to Georgia with her colleague Ksenya Sobchak, the journalist compared the President of Georgia and the Prime Minister of Russia to NTV+. “During half of the interview we were talking about the PM Vladimir Putin. The two politicians, who differ in everything from taste and mentality to consciousness, would undoubtedly dislike each other. Stylistic differences between them are so big, that if they would stand side-by-side, a wall would erect between them by itself,” Sokolova said, adding that if they are the politicians who should define relationships between the two countries, then any activities will either be hostile or won’t be at all.

Ksenya Sokolova, who is the Deputy Editor of the Russian edition of GQ magazine, visited Georgia with her colleague about a month ago to interview the President of Georgia but the interview at GQ has not been published yet. In his interview to GQ, Saakashvili claimed he had no personal incompatibilities with Putin despite the fact that the Russian Army occupied Georgian territories under Putin's orders. “I remember when I last phoned the President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev, twice Putin answered my calls…” Saakashvili said stressing that it was actually Putin who governs the country, not Medvedev. “I had different political partners; some of them had been irritating me but Putin somehow had never been among them as our relations had always been restricted but mild; he always used to keep a balance with me,” Saakashvili told the GQ magazine.

Claiming that both journalists could not hide their sympathy for the country and its President, Sokolova told NTV+ how attentive and civil Saakashvili was towards them. “I had interviewed lots of other Presidents including different emirs, but Saakashvili appeared to be absolutely different from the eastern rulers. Georgia is not at all an empire, but there are absolutely different values,” the journalist told NTV+ as the President of Georgia is more interested in meeting interesting people rather than having material possessions, although “He really doesn’t have the characteristics of eastern leadership. Everything around Saakashvili is beautiful, even the Ministers and he can see nothing wrong in appointing a good, 28-year-old girl as the Minister of Economy,” stressed Sokolova.

Recollecting their trip to Georgia, Sokolova spoke of her emotions from visiting the President’s Palace where Saakashvili had been their personal guide. Excited that the Head of a state was sitting and laughing with the two Russia journalists, Sokolova thought Saakashvili seemed comfortable in the role he has held for 6 years. Everyone in Georgia, according to Sokolova, loves their President. “Visiting Batumi disco clubs with the President of Georgia we could really see how people admire him. It was also amazing to see how free he had been with them,” she stated.

The Russian journalist was asked if they had only seen the renewed Batumi. Sokolova answered that she had had an opportunity to visit the damaged streets of the capital with all the IDPs and beggars but she had never seen inhuman destruction within Georgia. “The road from Batumi to Tbilisi was quite good. We could also see the IDPs’ settlements which are in good shape, not as they used to be tens of years ago,” Sokolova told NTV+. “Governments are responsible for solving the problems of their people. What Saakashvili says and does for his country is absolutely logical – but what PM Putin aims at achieving is makes no sense to me,” added the journalist.

The full interview of the Russian journalists with the President Saakashvili has not yet been published by GQ. The Messenger asked the Georgian journalist and media analyst Ia Anradze to give suggestions about the role of the two country’s media in conflict resolution. “In her interview to NTV+ Ksenya Sokolova shared her emotions from the Georgian trip where the two journalists have been hosted by President of Georgia himself. It is definitely good when the media representatives from Russia have such a positive feeling about our President and share it with their people. But we shouldn’t get carried away - I mean our Russian guests were treated in a very special way so that their impression of our country might have been a bit superficial,” Antadze said, explaining that simple impressions cannot have any influence on conflict regulation without the official statements made by the Governments.

On the question of The Messenger whether the Georgian journalists could also pay such a visit to Russia to interview the authorities, Antadze told us that much would depend on the journalist’s qualifications. “Great social support and respect would have been the necessary features for the journalist who would make a story about the Russian authorities. I think he/she would have to be honest and provide the Georgian society with truthful information on how educated, well-balanced or sensitive for example Vladimir Putin could be,” Antadze told us stressing that such visits and interviews will only serve a positive function for both countries.