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Black Roses - Georgia's Reformers Fall Out


20-02-2008, 05:03. Разместил: Next

Exactly four years after the so-called Rose Revolution, the two key leaders of Georgia's People Power revolution are at each other's throats.

Georgia has made stunning progress in carrying out substantial economic, judicial and state reforms… that should allow Georgia to become a prosperous liberal market economy and a fully-fledged democracy governed by human rights and the rule of law. Georgia has set an example for the whole region and beyond.”
Council of Europe reporters Matyas Eorsi & Kastriot Islami
(13 September 2007)[1]

" The style of Saakashvili’s governance … has made dishonesty, injustice and oppression a way of life. Everyday repression, demolition of houses and churches, robbery, ‘kulakization’, and murders, I would stress, murders, have become common practice for the authorities.”
Ex-Defence Minister Irakli Okruashvili in Tbilisi
(25th September, 2007)[2]

On Friday 2nd November, 2007, the centre of the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, was occupied a huge crowd demanding the resignation of President Mikheil Saakashvili.[3] It was exactly four years since Saakashvili had cried foul about Georgia’s parliamentary elections and set in train the protests which brought him to power on 23rd November, 2003. While Western media have largely ignored the tail-spin in the popularity of Georgia’s arch-populist, the waves of criticism and protest denouncing the erstwhile hero of the so-called “Rose Revolution” take place against the sensitive geo-strategic backdrop of Georgia’s dispute with Russia over the status of its breakaway regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Whether the protests peter out or achieve their stated goal of forcing early elections, the myth of People Power has been tarnished once more by the reality of the power struggles and back-stabbing among yesteryear’s “reformers”.
The current crisis in Georgia began when the two leading figures in the “Rose Revolution”, Mikheil Saakashvili and Irakli Okruashvili had a spectacular falling out. Having served as Prosecutor-General purging supporters of the ousted president Eduard Shevardnadze and then as Defence Minister, Irakli Okruashvili, dramatically left Saakashvili’s government in November, 2006. After ten months of public silence, on 25th September, 2007, Mr Okruashvili announced he was launching a “Movement for a United Georgia”.
At the press conference launching his challenge to President Saakashvili, Okruashvili declared, “I want to tell you… recent developments in the country, the fascist tendencies and the steps taken by the authorities against the Georgian state, have made us [the new political party] come together before the public in this team…” Then he declared, “The style of Saakashvili’s governance, which has gone beyond the limits, has made dishonesty, injustice and oppression a way of life. Everyday repression, demolition of houses and churches, robbery, ‘kulakization’, and murders, I would stress, murders, have become common practice for the authorities.”[4]
Such as the shock effect that it was only two days later, after launching his new opposition party with this litany of charges against his former long-time political ally and personal friend, President Mikheil Saakashvili, that Irakli Okruashvili was arrested and taken to Tbilisi’s notorious Isolator Number 7, the scene of well-documented torture of political prisoners since 1991. After he had recanted his charges against the President but confessed to his own crimes in a video session with interrogators but without his lawyer present, Mr Okruashvili posted bail of US$6 million and was released.[5]
At the same time as the former top two of Georgia’s “Rose Revolution” in 2003 was at each others’ throats making blood curdling threats and accusations, events in Burma were being reported with same kind of naive enthusiasm for “People Power” which has left a bitter taste in the mouths of impoverished and oppressed Georgians. They have twice experienced coups d’etat (in 1991 and 2003) lauded in the West as expressions of the will of the people. Even as Okruashvili and Saakashvili traded accusations of murder and treason in Tbilisi, Georgia’s revolution in 2003 was actually been cited as a model by Western media for the saffron-robed monks of Burma protesting against the military government there.[6]
Only people bewitched by the myth of “People Power” could think that given Georgia’s disillusionment any good come from another colored-coded revolution endorsed by the same journalists and “human rights” activists who have praised Georgia as a model for change. Many of the Western groups who funded and trained the so-called “rose revolutionaries” in Georgia in 2003 have been behind the scenes of the “saffron revolution” in Burma. If Burma’s military rulers should go the way of Eduard Shevardnadze will Burma fall through the floor into the same politics of corruption, drugs smuggling and backstabbing which have pock-marked Georgia’s tragic post-Soviet history.
Proponents of “People Power” from the Caucasus to South-East Asia ignore the poverty, oppression, disease and death which have followed events like the “Rose Revolution.” Western media like The Economist and so-called human rights watchdogs like the Council of Europe have a lamentable record of fellow travelling with successive corrupt and cruel regimes in Tbilisi since 1991. It is not too much to say that there isn’t any bad situation which the nexus of Western intelligence agencies, media and human rights agencies cannot make worse, while singing their own praises as the proponents of a new dawn of human happiness.
The infighting and mutual accusations of crime, corruption and killings among the Rose Revolutionaries is the starkest case yet of the reality of a post-People Power country contrasting with the myth peddled abroad in the Western media. No journalists who painted a rosy picture of the new rulers of Georgia has yet come forward to correct, let alone apologise for their myth-making under the guise of reporting.


[1]See Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), “Stunning Progress Achieved in Georgia is an Example for the Whole Region and Beyond” (19th September, 2007): http://assembly.coe.int/ASP/Press/StopPressView.asp?ID=1958.

[2]See “Irakli Okruashvili’s Speech at the Presentation of His Party” in Civil Georgia (25th September, 2007): http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=15862.

[3]Le Monde put it at 70,000. See http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3214,36-974149@51-628857,0.html.

[4]See Civil Georgia, “Okruashvili’s Speech at the Presentation of His Party” (25th September, 2007): http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=15862.

[5]See Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, “Georgian Ex-minister Withdraws Saakashvili Allegations” (8th October, 2007): http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2007/10/05E8BAC8-8624-4CF4-8DB2-BEFD2BF0936C.html

[6]CNN International, for instance, ignored the Georgian crisis though it aired adverts for “Invest in Georgia” with its slogan “The Winner is Georgia” including on 2nd November, 2007.


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