Tag Archives: Georgia

Step’anakert is well worth a match

The Step’anakert Stadium – Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/blackwych/

Damiano Benzoni

The two teams enter the field, their flags ahead of them. On the right the home teams’ red, blue and orange tricolour with a white zig-zag chevron, on the left the seven alternate green and white stripes with a red canton depicting a white hand and seven stars, the flag of the guests. Then, the teams align themselves for the national anthems. The green jerseys of Abkhazia sing Aiaaira, “Victory”, while the red jerseys of the hosts Nagorno-Karabakh sing Azat ow ankax Arc’ax, “Free and Independent Arc’ax (or Artsakh)”, referring to the ancient name of their nation when – between 189 b.C. and 387 A.D. – it used to be a province of the Kingdom of Armenia. On the terrace, some supporters hold a banner: UEFA, we also want to play football. The two squads are the national teams of two de facto independent unrecognised countries. Two countries fighting to have their sovereignty recognised by the international community. Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh mutually recognise each other and have such agreement with two other post-Soviet breakaway republics, South Ossetia and Transnistria. While Abkhazia is also recognised by Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Nauru, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, Nagorno-Karakakh isn’t recognised by any UN member. Continue reading

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Georgian Dream and Shuk’vani’s nightmare

Damiano Benzoni

A loss in a judo bout, a flight from the window and unbearable political pressure: the story of the Georgian judoka Betkil Shuk’vani may be the most eventful and politicised of the whole London Olympics. It’s quite difficult to establish the truth about what happened, as the two contending parts have divergent versions: the facts tell the story of an athlete who disappeared from the Olympic village in London only to reappear a fortnight later in Tbilisi. In a press conference, Shuk’vani accused the most important members of the country’s Olympic delegation of intimidation and pressure caused by his political affiliation. He told he escaped the village in order to avoid beatings by a member of the Georgian ministry of Sport and Youth Policies. The story was given coverage by the Italian version of the Russian news agency Golos Rossii (Voice of Russia), by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and by the Georgian website Ambebi. Continue reading

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