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Georgia has returned to an era of totalitarianism2008-11-01 09:45
This accusation was made on 29th October by the ex-speaker of the Georgian parliament Nino Burjanadze.
"I don't know a single normal democratic country where the government doesn't automatically tender its resignation and new elections aren't carried out after war is lost," also said the former head of parliament.
Burjanadze is seemingly becoming the main rival to the official authorities. Georgia's opposition has been and continues to remain fragmented, incapable of constituting any serious competition to Saakashvili. Nino Burjanadze aspires to the leadership, and her challenge to the president appears completely well-founded and quite convincing. It is no surprise that she has immediately begun to garner popularity. Not only in Georgia.
Moreover, if we turn to Western opinions, even fervent supporters of Tbilisi, such as Great Britain's Foreign Minister David Milliband, have admitted that "the president's actions were ill-thought through". And they have begun to search for his replacement. Western experts have already noted that the attitude to Georgia concerning democracy will not change, whoever were to come to power there. Just think, for Burjanadze, that is a green light. The former speaker quickly assessed the situation and with renewed vigour launched into criticism of the president. Which there is every reason to do.
"Because of the mistakes and inadequate steps taken by the leadership Georgia has found itself in an extremely difficult situation. Russia's influence has become established in our region. Abkhazia and so-called South Ossetia are under the direct control of Moscow," stated Burjanadze. New territories have been added to those under the control of separatists - Kodori and Akhalgori. Instead of 1500 peacekeepers, there are now more than seven thousand soldiers of Russia's regular army in our country. The prospect of joining NATO has been put back for an indefinite amount of time. There exists a high probability of yet more danger. The recent period has clearly shown that the people who are in power today are not capable of protecting us from these threats."
The change to Georgia's government undertaken by Saakashvili on 27th October is no more than an attempt to shore up his rapidly falling approval ratings. However, it is unlikely that this will lead to the desired result.
On the evening of 29th October the make-up of the new cabinet became known. The changes turned out to be minimal. The most "questionable" ministers for Georgia - the Minister for Internal Affairs Vano Merabishvili, the Minister for the Economy Kakha Bendukidze and the Minister for Defence David Kezerashvili, still remained in their posts. Burjanadze answered this with further criticism.
"The new prime minister Grigol Mlagoblishvili is a wonderful young man, he is well brought-up and well educated. I respect him very much, he was an ideal ambassador. But I am not sure that he will be a good prime minister. I can't imagine how he will talk to representatives of the power ministries. So we shouldn't expect anything much from the changes to the cabinet."
In Burjanadze's view the only way out is for the president to change his policies. "For Saakashvili to not just give us lectures about the lessons he has learned, but to prove it in practice. Unfortunately, practice shows that he hasn't learnt anything," said the former speaker. It is difficult not to agree with her.