Friday, August 15, 2008

This Looks Bad for the Georgia Story

I will refrain from actually holding an opinion on something I know very little about, in this case the Russia-Georgia conflict. I direct you to better informed opinions here and here. But this seems pretty damning to the story of a democratic Georgia:
In an interview with a Dutch magazine, Sandra Roelofs, the Dutch wife of the new Georgian president and hence the new first lady of Georgia, explained that her husband aspires to follow in the long tradition of strong Georgian leaders "like Stalin and Beria". Saakashvili started his march on Tbilisi last November with a rally in front of the statue of Stalin in his birthplace, Gori. Unfazed, the western media continue to chatter about Saakashvili's democratic credentials, even though his seizure of power was consolidated with more than 95% of the vote in a poll in January, and even though he said last week that he did not see the point of having any opposition deputies in the national parliament.

In Sunday's vote - for which final results are mysteriously still unavailable - the government appears to have won nearly every seat. Georgia is now effectively a one-party state, and Saakashvili has even adopted his party flag as the national flag.

The author is John Laughland, a trustee of the British Helsinki Human Rights Group. I still reserve judgment because there seem to be many contradictory stories about what is and has occurred there. Also, having a large proportion of the population voting for you does not mean that you "seized" power, but it is suspicious to those accustomed to seeing Western election results.

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