Wrath of the Tangerine Man

by Nathan Hamm on 1/8/2007

Russia pulled the “unsanitary” bit on Georgian truckers transporting tangerines. And Russia is almost certainly right in asserting that the truckers should have been aware their cargo would not be admitted into the Russian Federation. They announced their regulations on imports, and authorities in Ajaria, the source of the tangerines, let producers know they should find different markets for their produce.

In retaliation, the truckers, most of whom Interfax says are actually North Ossetians, have blocked the highway crossing the border into Russia. The protest is now in its fourth day, but surely Russia could care less, right? And surely this is of little international concern, right?

Well, like just about everything involving Russia and Georgia, the tangerine truckers’ protest has potential to mushroom into a more serious problem. The truckers and their 1,000 tons of tangerines have cut off South Ossetia from Russia. And authorities in Russia do not take too kindly to this.

The head of North Ossetia’s security council, Aslanbek Kelekhsayev, said his republic “has all the grounds and capabilities to restore order to this strategically important sector of the Russian border”.

Surely they do, but will they? RIA mentions a source saying clearing the road by force has not been ruled out, but that they are taking it so seriously that they hint they might clear the road almost makes one wonder whether or not Georgian authorities encouraged the drivers to try to transport the cargo to Russia in the first place.

Photo from Flickr user drumsnwhistles.

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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