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Thursday, February 03, 2005


A death in Georgia

Don't ask me for any insight into the death by gas poisoning of Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhavani. Remember, I get my news from Russian and Azeri as well as western sources. Each has their own agenda, writes analyses based on conspiracy theories or is clueless about the way things work in this part of the world, placing too much confidence in official news sources and not enough in conspiracy theories.

The circumstances of his death are clear: he died of carbon monoxide poisoning. I can't emphasize enough how plausible this is. Gas supplies are erratic all over the country. It's the middle of winter. Everyone uses cheap portable gas or wood heaters to heat their homes. To our logical western minds, that's the end of the story.

But not in the South Caucasus. Its plausibility is precisely why conspiracy theories and rumors have sprung up in Baku like mushrooms in shit. Because no one trusts anyone, everyone's motives are suspect and nothing is transparent, any scenario -- no matter how absurd -- is conceivable if enough people believe it. There is no such thing as an accident here and a ulterior motive can be applied to the most innocent incident. Shadows of doubt and subtle gradations of truth put every scenario on equal footing.

I've heard all of the following today: Maybe the Russians learned their lesson with Yuschenko -- dioxin poisoning was too obvious. Everyone knows Zhavani was gay and he was caught with a lover. He was found with an Azeri. Defeated in Urkaine, the forces of evil have shifted their efforts to snuffing out the rose revolution.

Or maybe, he just didn't leave his windows open.

On one hand, it's impossible to believe everything, but on the other, it's foolish to believe nothing. I've been trying to think of a post that encapsulizes this very dynamic because I operate under it every single day: how can you live in an environment where a sinister explanation can be applied to the most innocent-seeming incident without becoming a paranoid freak?

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