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Three elections for Georgia in 2012

By Messenger Staff
Friday, March 16
2012 will be a critical year for global leaders Russia and the United States, as the former recently completed its presidential elections and latter will hold its this fall.

Georgia will also hold elections this year, with a parliamentary contest tentatively scheduled for October. But the other two elections will have an impact on Georgia, too. With the Russian elections over, we know that Vladimir Putin has returned to the President's office, and will continue his hard-line policy against Georgia. As for the American election, the outcome is undecided. Georgian analysts believe that if the Democrats remain in power, Putin will have greater ability to put pressure on Georgia. But if the Republicans win the White House, they are expected to be more aggressive with the Kremlin. The assumption here is that a Republican foreign policy will not allow Russia to exercise undue influence on the post-Soviet space.

As it is an election year, we cannot expect any serious breakthrough between Moscow and Washington with regards to Russian-Georgian relations. If we remember 2008, when Russia invaded Georgia, the U.S. government was in stand-by mode thanks to the election campaign. Some in Georgia suspect that then-President George W. Bush did not take any significant steps against Russia for that very reason. So it is possible that Russia could initiate yet another provocation against Tbilisi, perhaps even lay the groundwork for unleashing a repeat attack on Georgia.

Already, we can see preconditions for such a development. In the fall of this year, Russia intends to carry out high-level military training in the North Caucasus, near the Georgian border. Shortly before the August 2008 attack, Russia held similar exercises in the same location. As military analysts suggest, this time the training under the name Kavkaz 2012 will be even larger and more impressive. It seems unlikely that Russia will behave aggressively towards Georgia once again, however, considering that Russia is generally unpredictable, one cannot be so sure.

Such speculation also supports the ruling United National Movement, which seeks to build up the threat of Russia for the election campaign both the state itself and its "agents" in the opposition.