Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin took part this weekend in the cherry-picking history game that both Russians and Georgians like to play. Laying a stone at the new "We Were Together in the Fight against Fascism" memorial, Putin took his audience down memory lane to a time when Georgians and Russians had a common enemy.
“We are ready to engage in dialogue with every constructive political force in Georgia,” declared Putin after ragging on Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili for allegedly trying to erase positive Georgians' positive recollections of Russia. Saakashvili, falling into the "non-constructive" category, was not invited to Moscow for the 65th anniversary of the Nazi defeat.
Two of the “constructive” politicians on hand in Moscow were ex-Parliamentary Speaker Nino Burjanadze and ex-Prime Minister Zurab Noghaideli. The two, neither of whom boast poll ratings to rank in the A-league of Georgian politicians, told domestic audiences that Putin wants peace.
The establishment of direct contacts between Georgians and Abkhaz and South Ossetians could prove the test for any peaceful feelings. Noghaideli last week called for discussion to focus on "the return of people, nations," rather than "the return of territories," while Burjanadze today told the BBC that she hopes that "Russia will not hinder" such contacts.