Russia’s hand reaching out to Washington and Brussels26.03.2009 | 12:49
With the coming of US new president Obama, a Democrat, who replaced Bush Junior, a Republican, the attitude of the American administration to Saakashvili's regime starts getting more critical if not rational which is demonstrated in recent US publications the authors of which do not consider the Rose Revolution in Tbilisi the apotheosis of democracy in the Caucasus.
The most cool-headed analysts are ready to acknowledge that three "color" projects of the West in the CIS space have failed. Today they have to state that neither Tbilisi, nor Kiev, nor Bishkek are flourishing. All the more nobody except for the authorities speaks about the triumph of democracy there. American journalists ask still more often: why is it so hard to establish democracy in Georgia in spite of financial aid and special attention of the West, why is Tbilisi so vividly stepping back to authoritarianism?
Four years ago former US President George Bush called Georgia "a beacon of liberty" in his speech in Freedom Square of Tbilisi. But after the first enthusiasm subsided it became clear that the Bush administration equated support for Saakashvili with support for democracy in Georgia, influential Washington Post (USA) sarcastically remarks. America as well as Europe overlooked autocratic drift of the person pioneering the democratic reforms - Mikheil Saakashvili, Phillip Pan, Washington Post article author writes.
Saakashvili's numerous acts, e.g. introduction of a constitutional amendment allowing him to dissolve parliament or the dispersion of the anti-government rally in November 2007 was justified by the necessity to protect democracy. The White House believed that or was eager to believe that. Because the US president wanted that. All the more Saakashvili explained repressive measures against Georgian opposition by a mythic Russian conspiracy, and George Bush Junior was simply obsessed with the conspiracy theory.
Under the pretext of Moscow conspiracies few democratic achievements of Georgia that cost a lot of public sacrifice following Zviad Gamsakhurdia's authoritarian regime were brought to nought. Phillip Pan continues: though there is no official censorship in Georgia most part of the media were forcedly passed over to the businessmen loyal to Saakashvili. The editors refuse to accept material against current government.
So the freedom of speech in Tbilisi leaves much to be desired. As for the freedom of association, protests and demonstrations, the Tbilisi police are great at dispersions. Georgia is half-way between yesterday's authoritarianism and the democratic system that has never been established. Elections in early 2008 aroused a lot of unfavorable criticism. Then Saakashvili had 52% of votes. Even a terrorist act was staged near one of the voting stations in order to distract the attention of monitors. Last year Freedom House excluded Georgia from the list of democratic states, Washington Post observer reminds.
This article by Phillip Pan is unlikely to reach Georgian media who usually are delighted to reprint all American publications featuring Georgia as a sample of democracy in the Caucasus. However today Saakashvili's propaganda machine is busy dealing with more exciting events. The theory of Moscow (Gazprom - to be more precise) conspiracy against Tbilisi has taken a new turn.
Now two EU committee members for investigation of circumstances and causes of the 8-day war in South Ossetia are accused of the Kremlin's intrigues. State minister of Georgia for reintegration Temur Yakobashvili accused Otto Luchtenhandt, professor at Hamburg University's Institute for East European Law, and Christopher Langton, head of analytical department at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (Great Britain), of having biased the conclusions of the EU committee by order from Moscow. The committee eventually acknowledged that the president of Georgia had been the initiator of hostilities in South Ossetia, as Spiegel magazine reports.
The EU committee got hold of Saakashvili's secret order on "restoration of constitutional order" in South Ossetia. And though Tbilisi refuses to submit the original copy of the document to the committee referring to its top confidentiality it was quoted word by word by Mamuka Kurashbili, Commander of peacekeeping operations of Georgian Armed Forces on August 7 2008 in his speech on a national TV channel. Later he tried to disavow his TV statement referring to contusion. However word spoken is past recalling...
This is why Georgian politicians have to resort to the saving magic stick under the codename "Moscow's hand" believing that this "white lie" would be believed. For the "pillar of Georgian democracy" should be saved by all means.