Recent events in Georgia have shed light on a rather curious occurrence: A person with the last name Gavrilov tends to appear in our reality whenever his Georgian colleagues are unable to do their jobs properly.
Russian deputy, orthodox communist Sergey Gavrilov, who just happened to sit where he had no business sitting, recently became famous and “loved at first sight” by the entire country. However, many don’t know that in the 90’s, along with the kerosene smell, the Turbo gum stickers, Dandy and sugar on bread, an entire generation was growing up to the sweet sound of his voice.
Yes, that mystical “flu voice man” who has dubbed all the movies we watched in the 90’s, is named Andrey Gavrilov.
During that period, it was thanks to Andrey Gavrilov and his other “flu voice” colleagues that we were able to see most of our favorite films and cartoons.
Towards the end of the 90’s, Rustavi 2 became the first Georgian television channel to stop broadcasting Russian-dubbed films and allow some screen time to the ones dubbed in Georgian instead. It was only about 20 years later, a couple of days after the infamous “Gavrilov’s night”, to be more precise, that Georgian cinemas definitively refused showing movies dubbed in Russian.
In parallel, there’s been much talk about Russo-Georgian relations reaching their all-time low since the 2008 August war.
In case you have spent the last month and a half on Mars, I will remind you that the Kremlin launched a large-scale anti-Georgian campaign after the June 20 incident. At first, Russia was behaving just like in the “flu voice Gavrilov” times. Along with the aggressive rhetoric and propaganda, the Kremlin also stayed true to its usual punishment measures: the flights towards Georgia were cancelled, the questions about the quality of Georgian wine and other products reappeared.
Giorgi Gabuna replied to all this with his famous monologue that he might as well have read in that famous “flu voice”.
The country basically fell into a panic, the heads of the ruling party almost went as far as to apologize and everybody accused Gabunia of being a provocateur. The particularly enraged part of the population even went to protest in front of the Rustavi 2 building. The fear was so strong that some even talked of a possible new military aggression from Russia.
But Vladimir Putin, who’s been trying for so long to uphold his image of a brutal macho from a 90’s blockbuster, suddenly made a display of unexpected magnanimity and started talking about a special respect for Georgian people.
Meanwhile, people in Russia are regularly arrested for far more harmless actions. After the countless slaps in the face during the past 20 years, the Russian president suddenly almost turned the other cheek to us. Why did Putin “forgive” us? Opinions diverge. However, Russian blogger Aleksey Romanov believes that there might be some kind of arrangement between the Georgian and Russian governments, the upholding of which is now extremely important for Russia. For instance, it could be about the Anaklia port.
In part, yes. But many things have stayed the same.
- We weren’t part of NATO or the EU then and we aren’t part of them now.
- Russia was an occupant back then (de facto) and is now (already de jure).
- Despite all this, just like 20 years ago, some people still believe in the “two Russias” today.
- We still can’t reach a consensus about separating art/sports and politics.
- We were buying natural gas from Russia back then and we’re still buying it today.
- Moreover, an official representation of Gasprom has recently opened in Georgia.
- And last but not least - we still depend on our occupant neighbor economically. To be more precise:
The part of direct foreign investments from Russia has been increasing in the past years. As well as the volume of exports towards Russia. Overall, Russia has regained its leadership during the past 3 years. We’re still buying Russian products just as we were doing it during the “flu voice” Gavrilov times - the volume of imported goods from Russia has also been steadily increasing.
Just like the number of Russian tourists and direct money transfers from Russia (although Russia’s part has actually been decreasing in the latter).
And lastly: we were proven time and again how dangerous it is to be this attached to Russia and its market. What is more, in parallel with all the hostile action, we still constantly hear from Russia how we’re “brother nations of the same faith”, how much they love us and how we have no options beyond Russia anyway.
More and more people are skeptical about the first two statements. But we still haven’t managed to discard the last one. So, we will always be at the mercy of the brutal macho and his magnanimity until we do. And we will most likely always learn about it from the new Gavrilovs.
P.S. By the way, we were also having some problems with the representatives of the Gavrilov name during Soviet times. But we had nothing to do with it back then. On the contrary - in 1982, instead of David Kipiani, one of the most famous Georgian football players, they took one Yuri Gavrilov - midfielder of the “Moscow Spartak” - to the World Cup.