Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili compared current Russian policies toward Georgians to 18th-century czarist edicts against Jews during an official visit Tuesday, marking marked a further strengthening of ties between the Jewish state and the former Soviet republic.
Russian policies singling out Georgians for discrimination and deportation were reminiscent of czarist policies dispossessing Jews, Saakashvili charged, and were one of the reasons that "Georgians and Jews understand each other on a visceral level."
Saakashvili, whose country is embroiled in a feud with Russia over Russia's support for secessionists in two Georgian regions, was to meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other officials during his three-day visit. Saakashvili spoke at an energy conference at Haifa University Tuesday evening.
The Georgian reformist leader noted his country's "complications" with Russia and compared Georgia to Israel. "I know what it means to try to build one's nation when danger is knocking at the door," he said.