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Discord in the opposition over Russia

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, January 27
The frequent visits of opposition party leader Zurab Noghaideli to Russia and his contacts with top Russian officials have forced the opposition to regroup and reorganise on the basis of the parties' respective positions on relations between Georgia and Russia. Previously the various parties could be classified as either Parliamentary or non-Parliamentary/radical opposition. Now the parties are seen as either Russian oriented or Western oriented.

Immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union being pro-Russian became very unpopular and those with such a position had almost no support in society. In addition there were high expectations about support from the West. The Rose Revolution was made possible by the great popular support Western orientation enjoyed in the country. However NATO's refusal to grant Georgia a Membership Action Plan at the 2008 Bucharest summit and in particular the Russian invasion of Georgia have made it clear that the power of Russian aggression is much greater than the support Georgia receives from the West.

Georgia has fallen into a very difficult situation which could deteriorate further if Yanukovich wins the Ukrainian elections. This will be yet another defeat for the West and USA in their undeclared battle against Russia for leadership in the post-Soviet space.

Opposition Vice Speaker of Parliament Paata Davitaia has stated that whether Russia intends to attack Georgia again will become clear after February 7 (the date of the second round of the Ukrainian Presidential elections) This prediction is very dramatic, but it is obvious that Russia will conduct further provocations against Georgia if it is victorious in Ukraine. Leader of the Popular Front Nodar Natadze thinks that some organisation with an attractive name may be created which will invite the Russians into Georgia, and many other tried and tested Soviet methods of destabilisation could be employed by the present Kremlin regime.

There are two major reasons for the strengthening of the Russian position in Georgia. First, Russia itself wants to find some forces loyal to it in Georgia and second, it is taking advantage of the frustration people feel now that their the high expectations of the West have proven unfounded. In this latter respect Russia has an undeniable advantage because no one expects Russia to do anything good for Georgia. No hopes can be dashed because no one has any hope, but if people have to work with Russia they may as well see how much they can get out of doing so.

Noghaideli has made a breakthrough in relations with Russia. Until he made his open and multiple visits in December last year all contacts between the countries had been conducted discreetly and often not in Russia. Noghaideli has made this communication transparent, and by so doing seeks to show that there is no other way out and the restoration of Georgia’s territorial integrity can only be done through dialogue with Russia. Moreover the NATO leadership has recommended that Georgia conduct dialogue with Russia, a hint if not a straightforward indication of what Georgia has to do if it wants NATO's support in future.

So this way or that pro-Russian forces have started conducting their activities in Georgia openly. Some analysts see this as a serious retreat from the previous pro-Western position. However the positive aspect of it is that someone who says something in favour of Russia is not now labelled an agent or a traitor. Now any type of opinion, even those contradicting the prevailing ones, has the right to exist in Georgia, a small but maybe decisive step forward for democracy.