Georgia to send 2,000 soldiers to Iraq

Georgia is to more than double the size of its forces in Iraq, from 850 to 2,000.  The increase will make Georgia the fourth largest contributor of troops to the Coalition in Iraq, behind the US, UK and South Korea:

In a statement, President Mikhail Saakashvili said that Georgia wanted to do everything possible to help the Iraqi people and US-led forces to bring peace and freedom to the country.

The move comes on the back of recent US Congress for Georgian moves towards membership of NATO

I also wonder if the Georgian government’s decision to send extra troops abroad signifies a growing confidence in the stability of the security situation within Georgia itself.  2,000 men, after all, is a significant proportion of the Georgian army. 

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44 Responses

  1. Sean says:

    It appears as Bush’s “Coalition of the Willing” is melting away, the US is cashing in on some political debts. Talk about the gamble of the ends justifies the means. Foolish Georgians. Have fun wading in that morass of death.

  2. Tim Newman says:

    The Georgians, like the Brits, may well have recognised the value of combat experience. Training is one thing, combat is another. The Brits have fought a decent war every 10 years or so, and it ensures the senior NCOs know what it’s like to come under proper enemy fire. The British Army is all the stronger having fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the young officers of our frontline regiments (a few of whom are my friends) having more combat experience than the entire French or German army.

    The Georgians, with one eye on Russia’s activities in South Ossetia, may be looking to get a few of its men experienced in proper fighting.

  3. GER O'BRIEN says:

    God knows what the Yanks gave the Georgians to get the troops. A few Dell computers and a drill seargent or two maybe. More misguided decision making from Saakashvili. The troops would be better employed doing repairs on near third world Tbilisi. The boys in the Kremlin must be roaring laughing. Life on the ground has not improved at all in Georgia since Saakashvilli took over and this is just the latest poor decision from him. Still, he looks good and tough, which is the main thing for him I suppose, considering his country doesnt have an arse to its trousers.

  4. Tim: The British Army is all the stronger having fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the young officers of our frontline regiments (…) having more combat experience than the entire French or German army.

    There are no French and Germans in Afghanistan ? They have no fighting experience ? Ok, you had your dose of exaggerated British nationalism today, any more substantial input to offer ? No ?

  5. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Sergei,

    the same Tim on another post tried to convince me that the Yanks werent in Iraq for the oil at all(!) and that it made no sense to occupy it for that purpose. I responded that in that case why were all the old contracts for oil with Russian and French companies torn up and replaced with contracts with American companies. And I asked why is Iraq full of US oil contractors. Funny, he didnt answer that one at all.
    The English have always had a complex about the Germans and the French so I’d take no notice of his remark above.

  6. Ger, I am used to these British p****** contests. Theirs must be bigger than anybody elses or their day is spoilt. Well, they wake up in the morning and recognize that there is no more British Empire before they are half way through singing ‘Rule Britannia’. Must be real hell to suffer form such a ‘superiority complex’ and actually being a third rate power at best. From the superpower of the 19th century to the lapdog of the Yanks in less than a century, what a career ! Well, atleast they have Russia to bark at and a huge cigar to compensate for a lacking body index 😉

    I just can’t stop to wonder why so many Brits come to Russia to make a living. Maybe France and Germany kicked them out, this would explain the ranting.

  7. Sean says:

    The Georgians, with one eye on Russia’s activities in South Ossetia, may be looking to get a few of its men experienced in proper fighting.

    Yeah that’s it Tim. It has nothing to do with the Georgians ingratiating themselves to their American sponsors. It’s because they need combat training. If that’s the case let them go play in Abkhazia. Your ability to continue to justify this Iraq disaster is truly beyond my understanding.

  8. Tim Newman says:

    There are no French and Germans in Afghanistan ? They have no fighting experience ?

    As far as I am aware, and I have followed this closely, neither the French nor Germans have engaged in actual combat in Afghanistan. The British, on the other hand, have been involved in some extremely fierce fighting.

  9. Tim Newman says:

    Your ability to continue to justify this Iraq disaster is truly beyond my understanding.

    Sorry? The possibility that Geogia might want to get some of its troops combat experience is now justifying the Iraq war? Now that is truly beyond my understanding.

  10. Tim Newman says:

    Funny, he didnt answer that one at all.

    Ger, the reason I stopped responding to your posts was that they became full of personal abuse and supposedly witty one line asides: I have no interest in debating with people who behave like infants.

    Secondly, your arguments were not arguments at all but strings of uncoordinated claims not backed up by evidence. Take this by way of example:

    I responded that in that case why were all the old contracts for oil with Russian and French companies torn up and replaced with contracts with American companies.

    Please can you point to evidence that American oil companies have contracts in Iraq? To my knowledge, none of the large American oil companies (Exxon-Mobil, Chevron-Texaco, Conoco-Phillips, Occidental) are operating in Iraq. I’d also like to see evidence that the likes of Lukoil and Total have been excluded from future contracts in Iraq. From what I’ve been hearing, the first foreign oil company likely to go into Iraq is Lukoil.

  11. Tim Newman says:

    Ger, I am used to these British p****** contests. Theirs must be bigger than anybody elses or their day is spoilt. Well, they wake up in the morning and recognize that there is no more British Empire before they are half way through singing ‘Rule Britannia’.

    Heh! A lecture on jingoistic nationalism from a Russian – one who proudly supports Vladimir Putin, no less – is a level of chutzpah I have not seen since the locals in Dubai would lecture me on morality.

  12. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Tim
    regarding oil, i refer you to the three links below. I could have put about 500 such links there, but i couldnt be arsed. Your very own Independent and Newsnight clearly have much to say on the subject. To be perfectly honest, I’d be more inclined to listen to Jeremy Paxman ahead of you any day of the week. As well as that, I never said that Russian companies arent involved at all now, what I said was that previously drawn up contracts with Russian companies were scrapped. Conveniently
    Comprenez vous? Vyu ponimaete?

    http://news.independent.co.uk/business/news/article2347416.ece

    http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/43045/

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/4354269.stm

    Secondly, I apologised to you previously for the insults I used. Your problem is not the insults, your problem is that like LR you dont answer questions when it doesnt suit you. And as well as that, if you have such a problem with Russia and Putin, why dont you clear off to Aberdeen or Texas and drill oil there?

    Sergei -now now, go easy) I have to be very careful here or I’ll be accused of being anti-english because I am Irish. There are a lot of Brits in Moscow but in fairness they are quite nice and good fun. They’re keeping their heads down at the moment with me after we beat them at rugby 43-13 in Dublin two weeks ago)) They dont adapt terribly well though and I fear a lot of them are melancholy at their appartments, a big problem for westerners in Moscow. They dont tend to drop into debauchery like the North Americans do though – you guys who visit the Boar House, you know who you are))!
    In fairness to Tim though he has made one excellent point before – that Russians do not connect their standards of living directly with the performance of their politicians and just shrug their shoulders at misfortune. It was a very good observation and its a pity its true.

  13. Tim Newman says:

    regarding oil, i refer you to the three links below. I could have put about 500 such links there, but i couldnt be arsed.

    Ger, these links do not constitute evidence that US oil companies are operating in Iraq.

    The first opens with the claim that:

    The British Government intervened to help UK and US energy giants in their attempts to secure lucrative contracts to exploit Iraq’s ruined oilfields.

    Which is a handy way to spin the fact that the foreign office merely advised the Iraqi government that PSAs are probably the best way for Iraq to develop its oil and gas industry. But it does not constitute evidence that US oil companies are currenty operating in Iraq.

    The second is from an anti-war website and contains a lot of useful paragraphs informing us that Irq has a lot of oil, then yet more stating why America might like the oil, before arriving at a complete misunderstanding of PSAs. Sadly, there is no mention of any US oil company currently operating in Iraq.

    The third is a report concerning a “leaked report” on “secret plans” for Iraq’d oil allegedly drawn up by the US state department. Two plans are mentioned: the first concerns the setting up of a nationalised oil company in Iraq, the second the selling off of all of Iraq’d oilfields. The report you link to is dated almost exactly two years ago, yet neither of the two plans seems to have been implemented, and with the new Iraqi oil law setting the ground for PSAs, they are not likely to. Furthermore, the story does not serve as evidence that US oil companies are currently operating in Iraq.

    You claimed that:

    all the old contracts for oil with Russian and French companies torn up and replaced with contracts with American companies.

    And that this was a reason why the US invaded Iraq. I have asked for evidence that US oil companies have contracts to operate in Iraq, and you have provided none. This is because there isn’t any: no major US oil company is currently operating in Iraq. There are volumes upon volumes of speculation masquerading as analysis, but nothing whatsoever which supports the claim that providing lucrative contracts to US oil companies was a motivation for the US invading Iraq.

    as well as that, if you have such a problem with Russia and Putin, why dont you clear off to Aberdeen or Texas and drill oil there?

    I don’t have a problem with Russia (in fact, I rather like it), and not that much of a gripe against Putin (at least, not more than is healthy to level against a politician). I believe we were talking about the involvement of US oil companies in Iraq, and I didn’t mention anything in my conversation with you about Russia or Putin.

  14. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Tim,

    funny that word speculation. There was a lot of ‘speculation’ too about WMDs in Iraq. Turns out there wasnt any. Now I ask YOU, defender of the Iraq war, to give ME evidence of those WMDs and justify YOUR case. You asked me for evidence now I’m asking you.

    Funny but Chevron and Exxon dont advertise what contracts they have with the Iraqi provinces on the internet, I wonder why? Maybe it’ll be in their next Annual Report. I’ll wander along to the next AGM and get a copy just for you. So the Independent, the BBC, and half the world MUST be wrong in suspecting that
    there was oil motivation for the US invasion of Iraq.
    The whole world must be so stupid. But you must be right, cos you’ve got the overalls on and you’re on the big oil rig at Sakhalin! You are right and around 3 billion people are totally off the mark! Isnt that something?
    Only non existent WMDs. And the saving of the Iraqi people from tyranny. The US are so honourable.

    There isnt a single scrap of scientific evidence that clearly proves that smoking causes cancer. Not one paper has shown the mechansim by which radicals and organics alter cell DNA to cause cells to live forever.
    Does that mean that smoking doesnt cause cancer? The statistical evidence is overwhelming that it does.
    Sorry, i dont have access to major oil company executives to get their precise rights over Iraqs oil fields. But its funny that the US decided to invade Iraq illegally on the premise of the existence of WMDs when there werent any. But clearly you are right – they have no interest in the oil at all. WH

    http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=7989

    http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/oil/2002/12heart.htm

  15. GER O'BRIEN says:

    I pressed enter above when I wasnt finished!)
    Anyway, Tim, speaking of hard to find evidence, do you have any evidence that Shell hasnt broken any Russian environmental laws on Sakhalin? You should have the inside track on that. Funny but there’s been a lot of ‘speculation’ about that.
    But then again according to you speculation is invariably wrong.

    As for you not mentioning Putin to me I dont care, I’ll have a go anyway. Sergei actually lives in European Russia not on a Father Ted style island in the Far East so he’s a bit closer to the Russian action than you are.

    And another thing -the situation is so bad in Iraq now that it isnt safe for any kind of companies to operate there. Does that mean that Exxonn etc will stay away when the trouble is over(if the mess is ever sorted out)?

  16. Tim: Heh! A lecture on jingoistic nationalism from a Russian – one who proudly supports Vladimir Putin, no less – is a level of chutzpah I have not seen since the locals in Dubai would lecture me on morality.

    No problem Tim, I can easily arrange an interview for you with the governor of Sakhalin Oblast to have you explain there what you think is wrong about being a Russian ‘nationaist’ and a supporter of Vladimir Vladimirovich. Then you might want to return to Dubai and solve your problem there.

  17. Tim Newman says:

    No problem Tim, I can easily arrange an interview for you with the governor of Sakhalin Oblast to have you explain there what you think is wrong about being a Russian ‘nationaist’ and a supporter of Vladimir Vladimirovich.

    Sure, I will gladly take you up on that kind offer! I have only met the governor once before, but sadly he was rather too busy to speak for long. My email address is tnewman@desertsun.co.uk

    I await your confirmation of the interview date with anticipation.

  18. Ger: There are a lot of Brits in Moscow but in fairness they are quite nice and good fun.

    The fact is that they aren’t in their country, they are in mine / ours. So they have to obey the rules. And the rules are set up by us, not by them. If they were in Britain the story would be different. But they aren_’t. They don’t like the rules, they don’t like the country, they don’t like the government ? Well, there are plenty of road signs indicating the direction to the nearest airport or railway station.

    Unruly ‘guests’ and dead fish have a lot in common, they start to stink after a certain time and will have to be disposed. If Tim or anybody else feels uncomfortable in Russia he’s free to leave any time. I am also convinced that when we feel uncomfortable with Tim or any other expat we are entitled to have him leave. It’s as easy as this.

    As Tim is so much into democracy, here’s an advice :”You are entitled to remain silent as anything you say may be held against you”.

  19. Tim: I await your confirmation of the interview date with anticipation.

    Sure, why don’t you post you’re home address so I can send someone to pick you up. I would hate to see you getting lost in transit.

  20. As I am facing difficulties when posting here I’ll try again:

    Tim: I await your confirmation of the interview date with anticipation.

    Sure, why don’t you post you’re home address so I can send someone to pick you up. I would hate to see you getting lost in transit.

  21. Am I being censored here ?

  22. Andy says:

    Sergej – your posts were caught in my – clearly overzealous – spam filter for some reason, and so didn’t get published until I woke up this morning and retrieved them.

    Hopefully its fixed now – let me know if you have any further problems posting.

  23. Thank you for the info.

  24. Tim Newman says:

    Sure, why don’t you post you’re home address so I can send someone to pick you up. I would hate to see you getting lost in transit.

    Heh! I have to laugh.

    I spent 4 years in the Middle East surrounded by jumped up “elites” who thought they were well connected enough to threaten me, along with many others, with deportation – threats which were usually in the form of asking for my address and a promise that something will follow. Sound familiar?

    And in Russia too, I see the same. If it’s not people on the internet living in either Moscow or St. Petersburg (always those two cities, always) boasting of their influence with local or regional big-wigs, it’s teenage delinquents in the nightclubs of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk boasting they know the local mafia chief well enough to order a hit.

    You know what? It’s all bullshit, and here’s why. Anyone who has connections and is able to make somebody’s life miserable will always have managed to keep those connections by only calling in the favours that are necessary. Nobody with any influence is going to involve himself in petty arguments, because if he did so he would never have risen to have influence in the first place.

    So go ahead – you call the governor of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and tell him that he should send somebody round to pick me up because I laughed at your idiotic web postings. My address is 367A Mira Prospekt, and I use my real name.

    If I don’t hear anything I will assume that you, like so many others before you, have let your ambitions outweigh your abilities.

    Surprise me.

  25. Tim Newman says:

    I am also convinced that when we feel uncomfortable with Tim or any other expat we are entitled to have him leave.

    And who is this “we” to which you refer? Have you suddenly assumed the role of arbiter of who may or may not remain in Russia? I believe this type of mindset is known as being delusional.

  26. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Lads, calm down. I’m prescribing chill pills, to be taken immediately,as they say in Dublin.

    First of all I am apologising to Tim for again sliding on with both feet above. These rows are totally pointless and nothing of any value gets discussed. I’m as bad as anyone else for it but its time for this aggro to stop.
    Tim -you shouldnt be in niteclubs. We’re getting a bit old for them!)
    Sergei, I fully understand Russians get angry very quickly when someone offends Rossiya – I should know I’m married to a Russian. There’s no point getting upset. Inspite of what he thinks, Tim is only in Russia a wet week compared to the rest of us and like all foreigners has only the most rudimentary understanding of the country. Tim wasnt there in 1995 when the country was in bits. I was. Thats why I know Putin is the right man in charge.
    I do take your point about foreigners moaning in Russia-there’s plenty of them. I’m a firm beliver in the notion that if you dont like somewhere or see fit to continuously criticise then you should go home. Tim, whether you like it or not you are working on Russian territory and Russian resources are at least indirectly giving you gainful employment. Its entirely understandable that locals like Sergei would get annoyed at your criticism.

    By the way thanks for beating France Tim. Looks like you may have given your beloved Irish neighbours the Six Nations championship!)

  27. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Sergei, you’ve gone way way too far on that blog of yours. Its nekulturnii and you know it is. Take it down. Its one thing having a go, but if this was football you’d be getting sent off. At the end of the day blogging is just words, it means nothing. Nobody cares.

  28. Alex says:

    French soldiers have been killed in action in Afghanistan.

  29. Rebecca says:

    Ger, I am used to these British p****** contests. Theirs must be bigger than anybody elses or their day is spoilt. Well, they wake up in the morning and recognize that there is no more British Empire before they are half way through singing ‘Rule Britannia’.

    Nice to see a bit of racism going on there! Down with the British I say! (Oh bugger. I am one.)

    It’s interesting to see how quick everyone in the Russian blogosphere is to criticise La R for being racist, but no one complains when it’s the Brits or Yanks that are the butt of the insults from Sergei.

    I don’t really care either way, but I think it’s interesting to be aware of this trend to accept quite extreme anti British/American views in the light of the Iraq invasion, when we would criticise the same views when levelled in a similar way at another nation.

  30. Rebecca says:

    I’m a firm beliver in the notion that if you dont like somewhere or see fit to continuously criticise then you should go home

    What if the place you don’t like and are criticising IS home. I’m quite intrigued by the idea that there’s a place where we all ‘belong’. A ‘home’ that we can send immigrants/foreign nationals/whatever back to when we don’t like what they say.

    Look at this definition of home
    http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&rls=GFRC,GFRC:2006-51,GFRC:en&defl=en&q=define:home&sa=X&oi=glossary_definition&ct=title

    where you live at a particular time; “deliver the package to my home”; “he doesn’t have a home to go to”; “your place or mine?”

    dwelling: housing that someone is living in; “he built a modest dwelling near the pond”; “they raise money to provide homes for the homeless”

    the country or state or city where you live; “Canadian tariffs enabled United States lumber companies to raise prices at home”; “his home is New Jersey”

    an environment offering affection and security; “home is where the heart is”; “he grew up in a good Christian home”; “there’s no place like home”

    an institution where people are cared for; “a home for the elderly”,

    According to that, Russia is Tim’s home.

  31. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Sergei,

    where’s the rest of your blog gone? The attack on Tim was too much by far but the rest of the blog was great and huge and huge entertainment. Put it back!

    Rebecca -if you’re an immigrant without permanent permission to stay in a country then you can hardly call it home just yet. And I stand by my point that if you find the country so distasteful, then clear off home. There’s nothing wrong with criticism of course but if one hates a place so much then there’s always the airport. Moscow is full of worldly, moaning expats and sometimes I feel like saying to them why dont they do Russia a favour and feck off home.

  32. Rebecca says:

    Ok Ger, but what about me? I’m British but I moan about Britain. I hate the place sometimes – where should I ‘feck off’ to? I’m disgusted by British people who say that immigrants or foreign nationals on our shores should feck off home, so in the spirit of fairness, I have to apply that same rationale to those in other countries.

    Increasingly, I think it’s more constructive to think in terms of a global rather than national community – even if we don’t agree with or just plain don’t like some of the people we share that community with. It’s a much more sensible and productive solution to deal rationally with those in our communities that we disagree with, rather than tell them to ‘feck off’ otherwise, there will be no dissenters left – and that would be a terrible thing for the human community.

  33. Blair Sheridan says:

    Now, wait just a minute, Ger: isn’t Tim Welsh? If so, a great big “iechyd da” to him and a thanks for allowing Scotland it’s one victory so far!

  34. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Rebecca- I know what you are saying is true, and it is right – but i cant get my head around immigrants who moan. You are British and are entitled to moan about Britain. I’m Irish and entitled to have a rant about my own country’s problems. But what I cannot bear are foreigners who go somewhere for a ‘better life’ and spend all their time moaning about this, that, the other of their host country. Ireland, for example, is full of Poles, many of whom are pretty unpleasant characters, who have a face on them like a slapped arse and are constantly giving out(and drunk, they put us Paddies in the shade). They clearly have a better existence in Ireland than some coalpit shite hole outside Poznan. My line is if a country that gives you a job and pays your wages then you should have some modicum of respect. There’s nothing wrong with criticising but if somewhere really gets on you goat then you should leave. Neither Ireland, Britain nor Russia owes a lot of these immigrants anything. They work, the country pays, its a symbiotic relationship. Now I know Tim in fairness is likely posted in Russia and working for foreigners. And he’s entitled to a moan. My gripe with Tim is Iraq.
    But I fear Tim is like many expats in Moscow -excessively worldly, acts superior to the locals, refuses to speak Russian(properly anyway) and plays the ”I’m a foreigner, isnt that great, I can bitch all I want at backward Russia” card constantly. I know loads of such people in Moscow, they are ten a penny and I’m sick to the back teeth of them. And I think they should f*** off home, frankly. Russia would not dissimprove in their absence. There are actual western expats in Moscow who after five years cannot put a sentence together in Russian. I kid you not. Such a total lack of respect is mind-boggling. A few years ago there was tv programme about a certain niteclub in Moscow frequented by foreigners. The locals were shocked and I’m still listening to their groans about it! And this in wild Rossiya! Again, I could be wronging Tim totally, and apologies if I am, but my laboured(sorry) point is that if you dont like the country you are in then go home.

    Blair -thats a fine Scottish name you have!! I knew a Blair once from Dunfermline. Sorry about saturday. It wasnt pretty for either of us. You realise its now down to you to sort out France in Paris. Should be no problem at all!) Is Tim Welsh? Gosh, that was a shocker in Rome. I’d be keeping the head down too after that one! And thanks Rebecca for beating France for us!

  35. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Just a note on the above – in fairness Tim isnt really likely to be one of this type of expat. But they do exist and I’m sure there ate plenty of Moscow based westerners who know what I’m talking about.

  36. Tim Newman says:

    But I fear Tim is like many expats in Moscow -excessively worldly, acts superior to the locals, refuses to speak Russian(properly anyway)…

    For what it’s worth, I spoke Russian to a conversational level before I came to work in Russia, and I am considerably better now. I’d been there 3 times on holiday before I came here to live, 2 times alone, plus a trip to Yalta, and have been to more Russian towns than most Russians. I’ve clocked up a few thousand miles on the Russian trains, I know their food inside out, and I can sing along to an awful lot of Russian songs ranging from DDT to Nadezha Kruduscheva to Pioneer ditties. I can spot a Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Tatar, Buryat, or Uzbek at a hundred metres, tell you the difference, and talk about their capital cities. Russian women I generally avoid, with the exception of my wife, but I have an awful lot of Russian male friends, most of whom can’t speak English, and I’m a dab hand at Russian billiards. I’ve read a mass of history books on Russia (I read little else) hence I probably know more about Russian history than most Russians, and a thousand times more than most westerners.

    In fact, my obsession with Russia has got to the point that a few of the locals on Sakhalin jokingly tell people I am not a foreigner, but a Russian pretending to be a Brit. Hell, I even look like a Russian if I wear the right clothes.

  37. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Fair enough))If you can play Russian billiards, it says it all really.

    I think you know the type of lads I’m talking about though. I dunno if you’ve got em on Sakhalin, but we’ve got loads here. A lot of them are frankly an embarrassment to the western nations.
    But you wont beat this claim of western Russia-ness
    -oh no.

    I actually paid the Russian price into a museum once. On my own. No local help. YES. It did happen.
    I went to the Polytechnical Museum one fine May day in 2002(its just down from Lubyanka, the other way, not towards Detskiy Mir, but to Kitai Gorod and Propaganda).

    I said to the old lad behind the counter ‘billet, pazhaluista”.

    There was no wait a minute. There was no cautious look.
    He said ”desyat rublei”. Like nothing was wrong.
    I handed him a Krasnoyarsk. He took it and gave me my ticket.
    Yes – it happened -a foreigner paid Russian price unaided into a Russian state museum. And there was double pricing there at the time. And dont forget I’m Irish with a massive southern Irish accent so I get bonus points.

    Beat that one Mr Newman!!))

    Now readers, genuine claims only. That one actually really 100% happened.

    Though admittedly it never happened again. Ever.

  38. Andy says:

    Hmmmm, my proudest achievement was that I once managed to get into the Kremlin for the Russian student price on an expired university id card. Took a big long argument with the lady behind the counter though – she thought I was there on an exchange programme (apparently stageurs don’t get a Russian student discount).

    In general, though, I don’t usually mind paying the foreigner prices. Most Russian museums are strapped for cash and, even with the surcharge, most museums are far, far cheaper than their Western European / US equivalents.

  39. Blair Sheridan says:

    Ger,

    My parents are Glaswegian, no it’s not all that far away. Saturday was hard, inasmuch as I thought the Scots might pull out another thoroughly unexpected win. At least they only gifted ONE try this time!

    Blair

  40. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Blair -sorry about saturday. It wasnt easy on the eyes for the Irish, the Scots or anyone else for that matter. The fact that Scotland beat France and England last year then lost to Italy this year I cant get my head around. We were deeply worried going to Edinburgh. For years Gavin Hastings and co ensured we got thumped every trip to Murrayfield. The sad thing is I cant see anyone beating NZ. Was there a few months ago -they absolutely expect to win the world cup. I wouldnt blame them with the mess the northern hemisphere is at the moment.

    Tim/Andy – in fairness I know Russian museums need the money and are well worth it but I wasnt being tight! I just got away with it. I like to think that for one sweet moment I actually fooled a local into thinking I was Russian. The wife says he was either tone deaf or hungover or couldnt care less if I was foreign.
    Obviously thats an argument I refuse to accept)
    Tim, I’m waiting for the equaliser from you!
    Speaking of museums, there’s a freaky waxworks at the top of Tverskaya street. I’m not into that type of museum generally but this is one with a difference. It has several Russian/Soviet villains, including Ivan Groznii, Stalin and Beria but creepiest are the statues of Hitler, Napolean and Genghis Khan all sitting around a map of Russia, seemingly plotting deviously togther a carve-up of the country. There’s only one big room but with dark, brooding lighting. Well worth a visit.

  41. Blair Sheridan says:

    Ger,

    No need to apologise for Saturday. One thing that was always guaranteed after a match at Murrayfield or Landsdowne between the Scots and the Irish is good craic! My Irish friends in Kiev are still celebrating and must be killed.

  42. Tim Newman says:

    Tim, I’m waiting for the equaliser from you!

    Haven’t got one, really. As soon as I speak, they know I’m a foreigner. I can pass as a Russian on looks alone, but not once I speak.

    My proudest achievement is probably being wholly accepted into a group of Russian men and not considered to be an outsider in any way, a mere month after arriving in Russia.

  43. GER O'BRIEN says:

    I’ve no answer to that one. My father in law has brought me to Sandunni Banya many times with his business associates but they’ve got their own things to talk about really and I’m an outsider in the group, though they are nice to me. It gives me all I can do to withstand the heat myself to be honest! Actually, I once drank at a party with Dmitrii Andropov, grandson of Yuri. Nice guy though totally spoiled as you can imagine. I got so pissed(drunk) I gave him the Ireland rugby jersey i was wearing! He married a few years back, I know someone who knows him, I dont know him myself at all really. Russian parties are just something else though as I’m sure you know. They can end very badly!