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How will the Ukrainian elections influence Georgia?

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, February 3
The second round of Ukrainian elections on February 7 is approaching. The results of these are anticipated with great interest in different countries. It could be said that the events which could follow these elections will considerably influence Georgia's foreign policy and domestic situation.

Most polls predict that Viktor Yanukovich will win. The Georgian leadership has stated that relations between the two countries will not change no matter who is elected. But it is very well known that the Georgian authorities are backing Tymoshenko. She has become implicated in the scandal which followed the sending of more than 2,000 largely unqualified election observers to Ukraine. It is not yet known whether Georgia will send this number of observers for the second round, or any at all, as the administration will not comment on this. However if such a quantity of Georgian observers does appear again Yanukovich and his supporters will again cry foul, and if victorious make some anti-Georgian moves.

There are different prognoses concerning these elections. The most negative and pessimistic one for Georgia is that Yanukovich wins and transforms Ukraine into a Russian satellite, imposes a visa regime for Georgians and recognises the puppet regimes of Sokhumi and Tskhinvali. Some analysts however think that Yanukovich will take some anti-Georgian steps but not so dramatic ones, suggesting that relations will merely cool down compared to those of the Yushchenko Presidency – bilateral trade will decrease for example.

If Tymoshenko wins the supporters of both these opinions think that relations between two countries will continue as they are at present. Some analysts and ordinary citizens think that personal factors will not have a considerable influence on relations. Akaki Asatiani, leader of the Traditionalists Party of Georgia, suggests that Tymoshenko will not be as good as the authorities think and Yanukovich not be as bad as we think. However it is clear that Ukraine’s future President will try to avoid irritating Russia for the sake of Georgia, and this will inevitably mean that they will distance Ukraine from Georgia.

Of course Moscow wants to install Yanukovich, and has reasons for doing so. He is clearly pro-Russian and has been during previous elections as well. If he does win Moscow will be able to further influence Georgia's domestic politics. Russian political figure Alexander Dugin suggests that changing an administration through elections is unrealistic in any post-Soviet country. He says that after the elections in Ukraine Russia will start looking for support among the Georgian opposition parties.

The scandal of the Georgian observers is a bad precedent which has created some discomfort between the two countries. For instance, head of Ukraine's delegation to the Council of Europe Ivan Popescu has stated that if such a thing happens again Ukraine might introduce a visa regime for Georgians. Georgian Parliament Vice Speaker Mikheil Machavariani challenges this, thinking that the Georgian Government will only send observers if the Ukrainian Government invites it to. Opinions may differ but the reality is approaching.