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Kyrgyzstan and Georgia: similarities and differences

By Messenger Staff
Monday, June 21
The Kyrgyzstan tragedy remains headline news throughout the world. Here in Georgia some commentators are even trying to draw parallels between the two countries. On the eve of the May 30 local elections some opposition parties spoke about the crossroads at which Georgia was standing, about having to choose between the Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan scenarios. They suggested that either the ruling party would allow democratic elections and thus give up power, as happened in Ukraine or events would develop as they did in Kyrgyzstan. The one thing both scenarios had in common, of course, was that in both Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan the outcome was a leadership acceptable to Russia.

The May 30 Georgian local elections were conducted very peacefully, and though the ruling party won them the opposition have not held any protest rallies. On the contrary, they have accepted defeat although they received only a few seats in a few of the local administrations. At first sight there is therefore no parallel between Georgia and either Ukraine or Kyrgyzstan, as unlike in Ukraine the revolutionaries in Georgia have maintained their power through elections assessed by the West as democratic. The weakness of the pro-Russian opposition forces shows that the Kyrgyz scenario is not realistic either, but some may challenge these conclusions.

Former Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev, who was overthrown as President in 2005 in the so-called Tulip Revolution and has been in exile in Russia since then, suggested recently that each of the three 'colour revolutions' in Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and Georgia which took place around that time were essentially destructive rather than constructive and have consequently bypassed the constitutional norms of changing power. Therefore it cannot be excluded that the Kyrgyz virus will be caught by Georgia, with fatal consequences. Akaev even expressed surprise that Ukraine has avoided a revolution.

Georgian analysts also are concerned. Ramaz Sakvarelidze thinks, however, that Kyrgyz scenario does not necessarily will take place in Georgia, Demur Giorkhelidze thinks that unless the Government does something provocative and very radical Georgia will not go down this route, but the fact remains that this possibility is being discussed, so must therefore have some level of realism.

It is obvious that currently Georgia is indeed at a crossroads and a level of political culture is needed to lead the country out of this uncertain situation. There is a certain opinion that the ruling party, with its provocative accusations and readiness to manipulate elections in a very sophisticated way, wants to discredit the opposition in the eyes of the people, denouncing them as traitors, perennial losers etcetera. However such an approach contains the serious threat that people might lose trust in both the opposition and the ruling party, which will eventually push them into taking their own steps, which could be radical ones.

The authorities state that there is no possibility that pro-Russian forces could take control of Georgia and nobody can oust the current leadership as they ousted Bakiev in Kyrgyzstan and replaced him with Roza Otunbaeva. It is generally understood that the Georgian people should decide who governs them and officials think that the people's choice was clearly shown at the May 30 elections. However completely turning a blind eye to the existence of credible alternative opinions remains a very dangerous game.