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More about the threat from Russia

By Messenger Staff
Monday, August 6
As the parliamentary elections creep closer, talk of the threat of a Russian military attack has become more acute. Political parties try to discredit each other by labeling opponents as pro Russian forces. As soon as the new political challenger appeared (Bidzina Ivanishvili) he was labeled as a pro Russian project supported by the Kremlin by the ruling administration.

The ruling National Movement Party has built-up a complete pre-election strategy based on this idea. It has methodically established a formula that frames Ivanishvili and his coalition as a Georgian party that is subordinate to Russia, whereas coalition leaders counter-attack by accusing the National Movement of being the same. The National Movementís major argument is that most of the capital that Ivanishvili has accumulated was in Russia. On the other hand, Georgian Dream officials paint Saakashvili and his regime as having serious links with Russia and its businesses.

First of all, the opposition arguments are based on the fact that due to irresponsible political decisions, two territories belonging to Georgia (20% of its internationally recognized sovereign territory) is currently under Russian occupation. The second argument is that many of Georgiaís important business assets are in the hands of Russian companies. Russian companies control Enguri Hydro electric power. Russia also controls certain segments of the natural gas supply coming into Georgia as well. In addition a Russian company controls the water supply system of Tbilisi, an ore processing plant in Bolnisi, the manganese producing plant in Chiatura and a ferro alloy factory in Zestaponi. There is also a Russian company (Beeline) in the Georgian market which is the third largest mobile provider in the country. The Russian-based Vneshtorg Bank is functioning very actively in the country as well. Moreover, Georgia wants to sell its strategic assets. Gas pipeline segments transporting natural gas from Russia to Armenia, as well as Georgian railways are others. All these and other arguments give ground to the opposition coalition to claim that the ruling party has in reality, already subordinated Georgia to Russia.

Apart from these accusations, there is speculation that the elections will be followed with civil unrest. Christian Democrat Levan Vepkhvadze recently mentioned that both the ruling party and the Georgian Dream are not only preparing for Election Day but for the day after the elections. According to him, after the election results are known, the Georgian Dream will start a protest whereas the ruling party will be fighting against the protest actions and this situation according to Vepkhvadze, could be used by Russia to intervene in the internal affairs of Georgia. He is warning both sides to be aware of possible developments and do their best to avoid such developments. There are some minor political forces like the National Democrats, whose leader Bachuki Kardava directly points out that the Georgian Dream is planning to encourage Russian aggression. So the situation is complicated and it is premature to say anything precise about the developments but the intrigue is there.