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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

EDITORIAL: Russia Humiliated, Desperate in Georgia


Russia Humiliated, Desperate,Flailing and Pathetic in Georgia

Writing on World Politics Preview Richard Weitz, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, says this about the recent presidential elections in Georgia:
Although the opposition claimed the election was rigged, and sought through mass protests and court petitions to overturn the official results, most of the international community has accepted the legitimacy of the outcome after the OSCE gave its imprimatur. Even the mission for the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a Moscow-led organization of former Soviet republics, found "no obvious offenses" during the elections that "would have prevented citizens from freely stating their will."

The most visible exception to the endorsement of Saakashvili's reelection came from Moscow. Predictably, the Russian government was quick to condemn the ballot -- and the OSCE for accepting the results. The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement denouncing restrictions on Georgian opposition candidates, the use of government "administrative resources" on Saakashvili's behalf, and other "numerous violations of elections laws by the authorities." The statement also dismissed the OSCE's assessment as "superficial."
Russia behavior in refusing to accept the results of Georgian elections (a decisive victory by Georgia's pro-West leader, who doubled the vote total of his nearest rival and took a majority in the first round of voting), even though they have been ratified by its own CIS organization, to say nothing of a host of foreign elections observers, represents a horrifying new low in the childish and often simply barbaric conduct of Russia's foreign affairs.

First, Russia excludes virtually all foreign elections observers from its own parliamentary elections, then it demands that the world respect the result of those elections regardless of blatant fraud (like 90% wins for the pro-Kremlin parties in war-torn areas of southern Russia), and then it caps off this orgy of hypocrisy by daring to question the results in Georgia. Is the Kremlin really so neo-Soviet already that it is incapable of realizing the precedent it is establishing? If Russia can attack Georgia's elections as fraudulent no matter what the rest of the world says, then isn't the world free to do the same where Russian polls are concerned?

Is this the behavior of a strong and confident, civilized country, one that deserves membership in the G-8 organization and respect for its opinion in foreign policy circles around the world?

Viewed in light of these actions, that possibility seems nakedly absurd.

Immediately after his decisive victory, in the manner of a true statesman, a triumphant President Mikhail Saakashvili declared: "The first step for us is to be looking for new opportunities in order to improve pretty damaged relations with Russia." And how does Russia respond? Nationalist lunatic Vladimir Zhirinovksy, a Kremlin pawn, stated: "An authoritarian regime has become established in Georgia for many years to come. This is mainly the fault of the Georgian communists, who have been unable to raise a new generation of Georgians who would be able to appreciate modern democracy." The Foreign Ministry alleged that "reports of numerous offenses of election legislation on the part of the authorities have been and are still coming in from mass media, NGOs and members of the opposition."

How is this behavior any different, we wonder, from that about which Russia so vociferously complains when it originates in the United States and is directed at Russia? Just ask any Georgian (or Ukrainian, or Belarussian, or Estonian, or . . . ) and you will hear exactly the same complaints from them about Russia that Russia makes about the United States. It's exactly this kind of jaw-dropping, unhinged-from-reality hypocrisy that brought down the USSR, yet Russians seem eager to reengage in it at the first opportunity.

It's madness.

The Kremlin is panicking because the people of Georgia overwhelming want to join NATO, and Georgia is making breathtaking progress towards that goal. Yet, it's the Kremlin's own heavy-handed, imperialistic policies that have driven Georgians to embrace the West. It has not even been able to sustain street protests in opposition to the election, revealing itself to be utterly impotent and pathetic even as against this tiny country -- how then would it hold up in a confrontation with NATO?

How can the people of Russia view the Putin regime as being successful when it has so alienated one of Russia's former Soviet colleagues, to the point where it wishes to joint the anti-Soviet military coalition? Doesn't this bespeak the total failure of Putin's foreign policy, leaving Russia friendless and alone within its own so-called sphere of influence?


Anonymous said...

Further to your article you will love this piece of Russian hypocricy par excellence -

'Russia Protests Irregularities In Georgian Vote'

'...Russia's Foreign Ministry issued a statement describing the presidential race as marred by a raft of violations, including

"widespread use of administrative resources, blatant pressure on the opposition
candidates, stringent restriction of access to financial and media

The standard collective Russian amnesia in play here with regards to the nature of their own election.

Not only did numerous OSCE observers (remember their activity was severly hindered during the Russian election) declare that this was conducted broadly in a fair manner, but even observers from Russia's own client state organistation the CIS are at odds with the Kremlin puppet master on this -

'CIS team records "no obvious offenses" during Georgia poll '

Saakashvili scored 52 %, opposition candidates got a credible 15-25 % in some instances which in itself would suggest a more credible democratic process has transpired in Georgia than that of the recent 'democratic ' election in Russia, and that in that bastion of democracy Belarus. Lest we forget where Russia endorsed the result without resevation.

Anonymous said...

Not everyone would agree with that assessment, LR and veritas.

The coalition backing Levan Gachechiladze, the principal opposition candidate, said that they had uncovered violations that invalidated up to 100,000 votes, more than the margin of Mr Saakashvili’s first-round victory.

Party officials told The Times that they had uncovered many discrepancies between vote protocols submitted to the Central Election Commission (CEC) from Georgia's 3,511 electoral precincts and records collected by their own monitors.

Kakha Kukava, a member of parliament with the Conservative Party of Georgia, which backs Mr Gachechiladze, showed two examples where numbers had been altered to increase Mr Saakashvili's total and reduce those of his rival.

A bundle of 200 ballot papers — all in favour of Mr Saakashvili and stamped with an official seal — were in a plastic bag on his table. Mr Kukava said that a supporter of Mr Saakashvili had been prevented from stuffing them into a ballot box at a precinct in western Georgia.


I am deeply concerned at the state of Georgian democracy, along with the brave protestors Saakashvilli's thugs gassed and sprayed with rubber bullets and the brave opposition that has to endure a lack of media coverage, intimidation and the use of state administrative resources against them.

The only improvement in this election is that Saakashvilli no could no longer get a Saddamesque score of 97% (like in the last election) because of the people's dissilusionment with him and his neocon backers and neoliberal policies.

La Russophobe said...

Not everyone, not even in Russia, agrees Putin should be president.

Does that mean he must go?

Can you think AT ALL?

Anonymous said...

Erm, yeah, LR.

Why don't you read my analysis of the situation over at Da Russophile.

It looks messy and primitive now, but it will be shiny and squeaky clean in a few days!

Will you link your blog to mine? (I've already linked to yours).

Also from now on I'll be posting as 'Da Russophile' instead of copiedmap, stalker, etc.