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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Georgian Prez Comes out Swinging Against Russia

First Kazakhstan, then Ukraine, now Georgia is fleeing the neo-Soviet fold. As RIA Novosti reports:

TBILISI, May 4 (RIA Novosti) - Democracy in Georgia and Ukraine is under threat because Russia is creating obstacles to democratic processes in the countries, the Georgian president said Thursday.

"The wave [of democracy] that started in Tbilisi is in danger," Mikheil Saakashvili said at an international conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, called "Common Visions for the Common Neighborhood" being attended by heads of states from the Baltic and Black Sea regions and NATO and EU representatives.

The two countries have seen relations with Moscow worsen in recent months. Ukraine and Russia had a bitter and very public row over gas prices at the beginning of this year, while Russia recently suspended imports of Georgian wine over what it said were health concerns. The sides in both disputes have traded allegations of politicizing the issues.

"If Moscow creates obstacles to our democratic values it means only escalating danger," Saakashvili said.

"This danger threatens not only Georgia and Ukraine, but the whole of Europe," he said. "If there is no support, then what have we fought for for the last 15 years?"

Georgia and Ukraine are also seeking membership of NATO, arousing concerns in Moscow that the alliance will expand its influence in Russia's backyard and further straining relations with former Soviet republics that have seen "color revolutions" bring Western-leaning governments to power.

Saakashvili also said Georgia was seriously concerned about the future of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a lose union of ex-Soviet republics.

"We seriously think about the future of the CIS, because it has turned into a closed organization," he said.

On Tuesday, Saakashvili instructed his government to look at economic aspects of the country's continued membership of the CIS, a move that could signal the beginning of Georgia's withdrawal from the organization.

In other news, Kyrgyzstan announced it will purge its government of the Russian language starting in 2007, Lithuiania's president launched a furious attack on Russian energy blackmail tactics, and Russia's military has been forced out of their Georgian bases and is in full withdrawal mode, while Russian military forces have also been forced out of the Baikonur space facility in Kazakhstan.

What do all these countries know that the Russophiles don't? Well, the facts I guess.

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