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Dirty equilibrium

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, July 1
The confrontation between the opposition and the administration has reached a point which could be called dirty equilibrium. Both sides are maintaining their positions by making different accusations against the other and flinging dirt at each other. A scandal has erupted over the origin of the money used by the opposition today or by Saakashvili when he was in opposition about 6 years ago. There are also mutual accusations about connections with the Russian special services and fulfilling Russian orders.

The rating of both sides has dramatically decreased recently. When the opposition loses its rating this does not necessarily mean that public sympathy transfers to the administration or vice versa. The situation is therefore much more serious than it seems at first glance.

Today the most discussed issue in Georgia is the origin of party financing. Under Georgian law no money coming from abroad or from foreign citizens can be used in Georgian politics. The administration says that the opposition is using money donated by Georgians working in Russia and former Shevardnadze regime members now living in Russia. Although the topic of their conversation is not known, state officials insist that the recent meeting between opposition leaders Davit Gamkrelidze and Levan Gachechiladze and former Shevardnadze Interior Minister Kakha Targamadze is indirect proof of financial dealings taking place between the non-Parliamentary opposition and this former Georgian, now Russian citizen. These allegations have not so far been supported by factual evidence, there are no documents outlining any monetary deals, but the dirt is there. The opposition make counter allegations, recalling the post-Rose Revolution period. They recalls the so-called Soros Foundation money and the support from Russians of Georgian origin then opposing Shevardnadze. Former Chair of Parliament now opposition leader Nino Burjanadze has stated she wants to find out what relations Saakashvili and his team had with Igor Giorgadze, a KGB General and former Georgian State Security Minister who was allegedly involved in the assassination attempt on Shevardnadze in 1995 and is therefore wanted in Georgia.

These mutual accusations are confusing the population. Some believe, some doubt, others are at a loss, but the result is clear, politicians from both sides are discrediting each other. The public is interested in one question: why are, and why were, political figures concealing the origin of their financing? This is a simple question for the population to ask its leaders, but there is much doubt in Georgia that politicians are interested in transparency.

As for the political situation itself the passions surrounding it have become so intense that the actual process, whether conducted through confrontation or dialogue, has been shunted into the background. The opposition, having failed to achieve its objective by its current methods, has not managed to diversify them. One political observer has made a nice comparison: he has compared the Georgian opposition to a Sumo wrestler who wants to push his opponent out of the ring. He tries to use his weight alone, but the administration manages to resist. The wrestler needs more tricks in his armoury to defeat a wily and equally strong opponent, but is still too proud of his existing skills to learn any new ones.

Analyst Zaza Piralishvili has said in an interview with Rezonansi that the opposition have based their campaign on three assumptions: Georgian society is indignant, Saakashvili should go and a Parliamentary republic should be established. This approach has turned out to be ineffective and unconvincing, in particular for Georgia’s Western partners and donors. The authorities meanwhile, although they have managed to resist opposition pressure for the time being, are not secure at all as the level of dissatisfaction and protest which brought people into the streets initially is still here, and is mainly based on the results of last year’s war, the lost territories, lost lives and lost dwelling places. As internal problems including social and economic ones can be added to this concern the position of the administration is very unsettled. It seems that the opposition did not have a clear cut action plan of how to deal with the developments we are now seeing, so at the moment they are improvising, but luckily they have firmly rejected the revolutionary option.

It seems that Georgian society has matured considerably since the Rose Revolution. Then the people trusted the younger politicians who forced out Shevardnadze under the slogan of freeing the country from a corrupt regime. They did not care so much who came into power as long as they got rid of the Shevardnadze regime. Today people no longer trust such slogans. When politicians ask for the resignation of the current administration the people immediately want to know who will replace it what they will do when they get there.