Kakachia: Everybody knows that demonizing Russia is something that Georgians will react to

30 Oct 2018

(BBC) It takes guts to eat raw chilli. But in Georgia it has become a matter of political conviction. Opponents of one of the top presidential candidates, Salome Zurabishvili, have signed up for a "chilli pepper challenge" on social media to protest her candidacy in elections on Sunday.

They find her so distasteful they would rather eat hot chillies than see her elected as president.

"No to Salome Zurabishvili," says one Facebook user as he struggles to chew on a hot red chilli while filming himself. [...]

But in Georgia, which lost the war and with it control of more than 20% of its internationally recognised territory, the issue of who started the conflict is contentious, says political analyst Kornely Kakachia from the Georgian Institute of Politics.

"She is not at a scientific conference, she is in politics, and in politics people have prejudices, their own ideologies and convictions. When you go against this current, a lot of people consider her as a pro-Russian candidate. Even if she does not have direct links with Russia, she is saying what Moscow wants to hear."

In Georgia it is very common for politicians to accuse their opponents of being pro-Kremlin.

Even campaign posters for her main opposition rival, the openly pro-Western United National Movement candidate Grigol Vashadze, have been vandalised with three letters of Russia's FSB intelligence service.

"That's the result of Russian foreign policy in Georgia in the past 25 years," says Mr. Kakachia.

"Everybody demonises Russia, everything bad is associated with Russia, everybody knows that this is something that Georgians will react to." ...

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