The Guardian: “Russian expansion: ‘I went to bed in Georgia – and woke up in South Ossetia’

Dato Vanishvili outside his property. ‘Now I can’t visit my daughters any more,’ he said. Photo: Andrew North, May 25, 2015, Tbilisi, Georgia

Russia’s creeping annexation of Georgian territory has been thrust into the spotlight by leading UK newspaper The Guardian, who published a revealing account of one man who was unwillingly captured and forced to live behind barbed wire fences.

"Dato Vanishvili had a shock when he came out of his front door one morning. Russian troops were laying coils of razor-wire fence right outside his house. They had cut Vanishvili off from the rest of his village, Khurvaleti – and, in effect, from his own country,” write The Guardian.

I was in Georgia when I went to bed,” said the energetic 81-year-old farmer, speaking from behind the head-height fence. "When I woke I was in South Ossetia.”

The article goes on to say: "Vanishvili is a victim of what appears to be a slow-motion Russian plan to absorb the region for good, while covertly seizing more Georgian territory with its self-declared border fence. Russian troops started building the barrier two years ago, which is when Vanishvili was first cut off – and he has watched helplessly as they have expanded it, complete with sand-bagged gun positions and observation towers.”

Next, the piece details Georgia’s firm ambition of joining Euro-Atlantic institutions and notes the similarities with Russia’s occupation of Georgia territory with what was currently happening in Ukraine, and how Russia was determined to keep the country off-balance as long as it looked westward.

"Most Georgians detest their former imperial master and see NATO and EU membership as the only way to protect their sovereignty,” however the attitudes of some appeared to be changing in Georgia, writes The Guardian. Some feared by moving too close to the West Georgia would lose its unique culture and traditions, particularly the EU would "undermine Georgian culture by encouraging homosexuality – a common refrain of pro-Russia forces in Ukraine as well”.

As for Vanishvili, he is in limbo. "Delegations of foreign politicians are brought up to the boundary fence to see him, but nothing changes”.

The Russians have offered him a solution: to become a Russian citizen.

But I don’t want a Russian passport,” said Vanishvili. "I was born in Georgia and I want to die in Georgia.”

Read the full article here: