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Russian vector in Georgian politics

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, May 31
After the failure of the “announced revolution” by Nino Burjanadze the ruling administration has started to strongly suggest that the supposed planned overthrow was a Russian made plan. This version alleges that Moscow masterminded a coup d'etat in Tbilisi which did not work. However we repeat that a Russian influence has always been claimed by the ruling authorities in Georgia against any of their opponents since regaining its independence in 1991.

In reality Russia was very short sighted and did almost everything to kill in Georgia any hints of pro Russian sentiments. Of course this was not Russia’s goal but almost all the steps taken by Russia against Georgia were clumsy and non professional and backfired on Russia’s international image. All the time Moscow was ignoring Tbilisi’s interests and trying to undermine its development thereby creating anti Russian sentiment. The Kremlin was exercising so called crawling aggression and annexation of Georgia since 1992 and this process reached its peak in August 2008 when Russia launched a direct military attack on Georgia before later declaring Georgia’s two breakaway regions as independent states. This arrogance and ignoring of not only Georgia’s interest but international law and commitments brought Russian-Georgian relations to deadlock. Many results of different polling showed clearly that most of the Georgian population considers Russia as Georgia's main enemy which is a permanent threat for the country and moreover most of the Georgian population excludes any type of partnership or relations with Moscow whatsoever.

Despite this widespread bad feeling after August 2008, there emerged in Georgia certain forces which made frequent visits to Moscow and expressing their confidence that this was the only way to solve Georgia’s problems. Some segments of the Georgian population were attracted by such an approach which was mostly based not on trust of Moscow but on frustration towards the west. Georgians very naively thought that the west should have helped more efficiently while Georgia was fighting against Russia. Many people in Georgian society had false expectations that the west would more effectively protect Georgia from the northern bear and though Georgia received huge financial support from the west after the war, the frustration of the population has remained quite deep since then.

Meanwhile the relations between the authorities of the two countries have been developing in a very strange way. Leaders of both countries are criticizing one another. Russians repeatedly state that they would not negotiate with Saakashvili, while the latter expresses his visible readiness to negotiate with Moscow despite severely criticizing and blaming its northern neighbour for all possible sins against Georgia. But on the other hand there has been quite intensive economic cooperation between the two countries, in particular in Russia’s purchasing of different assets in Georgia. The Tbilisi administration insists that politics should not be mixed with economics but this statement raises eyebrows when one remembers that Russia is still enforcing economic sanctions towards its southern neighbour.

This strange situation when contact is not made on a political level but cooperates in economics gives substantial ground to the opposition belief that the Georgian administration itself is pro Russian. It is sometimes claimed that Georgia’s current administration is playing a Russian game and this major game of Russia is the occupation of Georgia’s territories. Some opposition members say this was a deliberate step by Saakashvili. Moreover in reality Russia does not want to change Saakashvili at all as he is doing what Russia wants to be done and a newcomer could change the country’s policy. It is difficult to imagine this really being the case but all sides are sticking to their arguments. The opposition gives ground to allegations that it is in deep contact with Moscow. Nino Burjanadze has been in Moscow many times, having meetings at the highest level.

Some analysts suggest that maybe the true scenario was as follows: a confrontation between the opposition and ruling power would escalate and then Moscow would have interfered, but the events developed differently. There was only a small amount of protesters during the recent street actions and therefore the possibility of Moscow’s interference did not arise. Once again, playing the 'Russian card' recently became in Georgia the synonym for failure and shame.