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Two scenarios for Georgia: Ukrainian and Kyrgyz

By Messenger Staff
Monday, April 19
Recent developments in the former Soviet space are being very intensively discussed in the world media and by analysts. Great interest is being shown in the fate of the so-called 'colour revolutions' which took place in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan at the beginning of the 21st century. There was much hope that these revolutions would lead to democratic progress being made in those countries, but the reality was different.

The revolutionary experiments in Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan have failed. In Ukraine the revolutionary Government was removed peacefully but in Kyrgyzstan it has been overthrown with bloodshed. This leaves only Georgia, whose revolution has faced very serious challenges and must now pass another test, holding local elections the world believes in. Many of the future developments in the country will depend on how these elections are held.

In his speech at the nuclear summit in the USA President Saakashvili boasted of the successful reforms carried out in Georgia under his leadership. By talking about economic and political success he presumably meant to imply that the country would not deviate from its chosen direction and would be led, perhaps for long time, by the forces which came to power in the Rose Revolution of 2003. However the opposition and much of the Georgian population dispute the Government's claims that there has been economic and democratic progress. Certain analysts and politicians have in fact started saying that the country will have to choose whether it wants to see the Ukrainian or Kyrgyz scenario next. The opposition say this as a warning and threat simultaneously: their position is that if the forthcoming elections do not bring serious change, like those in Ukraine did, the alternative could be a Kyrgyz-type scenario.

Officials and analysts who support them generally consider that a repeat of what happened in Kyrgyzstan is unrealistic due to the successful reforms and powerful law enforcement structures in Georgia and express further optimism. However such self-satisfaction is very dangerous. There have been attempts to change the Government already in Georgia, such as the time public protest was suppressed by force on November 7, 2007. This action resulted in difficult times for the authorities and the country. Snap Presidential elections were held, followed by Parliamentary one, and serious waves of protest rallies struck the country in 2008 and 2009. However the economic crisis and in particular the Russian invasion dampened these protests. So allowing either side to use force in any confrontation is risky not only for the authorities but the country as a whole, as things could rapidly move in the Kyrgyz direction.

At the beginning of the 1990s Georgia suffered a lot from civil unrest and chaos. We can predict that if events develop in this way again Russia and pro-Russian forces will benefit the most from this as divide and rule could once again be implemented in Georgia. As for the Ukrainian scenario this has different aspects. First of all to achieve such a transition Georgia would have to hold genuine and transparent elections whose results all the political parties acknowledge. These elections may result in the ruling party losing control of certain key posts throughout the country but the governance of the country would then become more balanced as many opposition parties would be represented in local authorities. However this depends on the ruling party having the genuine goodwill to conduct the elections in such a way.

There is another possible development as well. It is possible that the elections might result in a clearly Russian-oriented party taking power in Tbilisi or elsewhere, as in Ukraine, and this presents another challenge. Unlike in Ukraine the coming to power of pro-Russian forces in Georgia would mean that the latter has to recognize the Russian occupation of Georgian territory and it is naive to think that Russia will become sentimental, kind and generous and return the currently occupied territories to Georgia under these circumstances.

All the political forces active and influential in the country should now show more responsibility, in particular the authorities, which must be ready to face losing power in some regions as the price of holding democratic elections. They may just find however that dialogue with rival parties for the benefit of the country as a whole, which such a situation will impose upon them, is a price well worth paying.