The messenger logo

Who plays the Russian game?

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, March 18
Hunting for witches, presumably of Russian origin, has become a very common practice in Georgian domestic politics. In the early 90s of the last century first Georgian President Gamsakhurdia labelled any sort of opponent a Kremlin agent, and this meant political death in patriotic Georgia. Recently this practice has taken on a new dimension. It has become a very popular tactic for both sides of the current confrontation, administration and opposition.

The closer we get to April 9 the more intensive the mutual accusations are becoming. Authorities accuse the opposition of receiving Russian money and acting in Russia’s interests. The opposition highlights that the Saakashvili administration is the most desirable one for Russia. Russia itself meanwhile must be relishing the prospect of both sides serving its interests without it needing to send any more expensive tanks.

Some days ago the President said that big money is coming into Georgia from abroad which will be used for subversive activities. His supporters echoed their accord. Even Parliamentary opposition representative Gia Tortladze developed the theme by announcing that large amounts of Russian money have been received by Nino Burjanadze. She refuted these allegations as absurd. It is illegal for political entities to receive money from abroad, so these accusations would be serious if proven. But as the Georgian saying goes “tongue has no bone.”

The opposition tries to defend itself by making counterattacks. Russia needs Saakashvili as Georgia’s leader to carry out its policy, they say. There is indeed a certain logic to the Russian leadership (specifically Foreign Minister Lavrov) stating that Russia’s aim is to change the Saakashvili administration, as this sort of comment arouses patriotic sentiment and encourages people to back Saakashvili, as they did during the August war, assume the opposition. “With this statement Russia has protected Saakashvili” thinks political analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze.

Journalist Giorgi Udzilauri does not exclude that somebody from Russia might “confess” to financing the Georgian opposition, thus undermining the opposition and rescuing Saakashvili.

Political analyst Professor Gogi Khutsishvili lists different reasons why Moscow needs Saakashvili as Georgia’s leader. The country’s image as an unstable place would be confirmed and Russia could build up its military bases on the occupied territories, frustrate investment projects (NABUCCO), aggravate confrontation inside Georgia, foment revolution and undermine the country’s sovereignty. All these things are beneficial for Moscow but would be devastating for Georgia. Meanwhile the Kremlin actively carries out its economic expansion, obtaining more and more strategic industrial facilities and other properties in Georgia.

So it is tit for tat. Accusations are on the table. Whose arguments will be more convincing and who can produce the best propaganda will become clear on April 9.