Not Saussure

October 28, 2006

The Wild East

Filed under: Foreigners, Russia/USSR — notsaussure @ 3:12 pm

Via Tim Worstall, an account of official dinners and privatisation in Tiblisi from Johan Norberg. As Mr Norberg says, ‘When Georgians do things, they apparently take it seriously’.

A friend of mine in the airline business went to Tiblisi about 15 years ago to talk about setting up a joint venture with the state airline there (it fell though because Gatwick had concerns about Georgians and security; for some reason they seemed to think it was a bit like setting up a joint venture with Air Sicily).

Anyway, my chum came back a bit shaken because he and his colleagues had entertained the local bigwigs for dinner at the hotel where they were staying, the Metchi Palace (it was then owned by Kempinski Hotels, so things might have changed since, but it was still a five-star hotel run by a major Western chain).

They ‘d been a bit worried, when first they arrived, to see a sign there saying that firearms were not allowed in the restaurant and to find that they had to pass through an airport-style metal detector before going in for breakfast.

They were even more surprised when, as they went in for dinner with their guests, not only their guests’ bodyguards but also all the guests — including the Chairman of the Georgian national airline, a junior finance minister, the Minister for Aviation and several senior civil servants — had handguns to check in with the Austrian security folks, who seemed to think it as normal as giving your coat to the cloakroom.

As Garry said, ‘This never happens when we take BA out for dinner’.

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