Georgia showed its Teeth to the Americans. What’s next?

Lesezeit7 min

One of the most difficult stages of the political struggle has been passed in Georgia: a law on foreign agents has been adopted. The ruling Georgian Dream won an intermediate, but very important victory, which, however, is too early to celebrate.

Before this, »Dream« accelerated the consideration of the bill , and the parliamentary hearing,previously scheduled for the 17th, was scheduled for May 14. This was the latest of many tricks that the parliamentary majority repeatedly resorted to so that the opposition could not be well prepared for the storming of the parliamentary building. And so it happened.

There were clashes with the police, detentions, scuffles, attempts to cause traffic paralysis in Tbilisi, but the efforts of the authorities yielded results: the security forces easily coped with the task and at this stage maintained stability, since the opposition did not have time to organize itself thoroughly.

However, the fight over the law is not over yet. Now the whole country is waiting for the president’s veto. After all, President Zurabishvili has already announced that she will veto the law, thereby giving another reason to destabilize the situation. Yes, the opposition was unable to prevent the adoption of the law on »foreign agents« and to gain a critical mass of people, but its leaders will take into account their own mistakes and better prepare for the moment of overcoming the presidential veto.

Top‐​ranking European diplomats openly joined the fight. From afar, senior representatives of the EU, the US State Department, American senators and MEPs, the foreign ministers of Germany and France, and senior British officials are barking and threatening a »fundamental curtailment of relations.« The foreign ministers of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Iceland came to Tbilisi to mobilize the opposition and put moral pressure on the government directly on the spot. They had already visited the protesters and encouraged them in the best traditions of »Maidan democracy.« Footage of touching communication on the street was distributed throughout all electronic media from the opposition. The ministers, who addressed the protesters from the rostrum, in their fiery speeches called on the latter to continue the fight with even greater energy. Thus, on Rustaveli Avenue, in contrast to Kyiv Khreshchatyk, not one, but four Victoria Nuland cars appeared at once.

The opposition has rallied even more, and TV channels continue to call on student youth not to stop protests.From the screens of these TVs, and even in classrooms, students are being brainwashed by the liberal professors who swarm Georgian universities. On the other hand, the government, in the person of Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze, has already managed to show character by giving a worthy rebuff to the envoy of the US Secretary of State who hastily arrived in Tbilisi. Despite the demand that the latest version of the bill not be adopted, it was voted on, and the area around parliament was cleared in front of Assistant Secretary of State Jim O’Brien.

At the meeting with the country’s prime minister, he failed to achieve anything. The overseas envoy expressed his dissatisfaction at a press conference held in splendid isolation, where he tried to convince that the Americans did not intend to stage a coup and did not represent the »party of war.« By the way, Bidzina Ivanishvili, the main inspirer of the Georgian rebellion for sovereignty, categorically refused to meet with the American. Thus, the State Department received a slap in the face from a man who, at an essentially anti‐​American rally of many thousands, declared that he was not Yanukovych and was not going to surrender his people and back down. Thus, the mission of the American envoy ended in failure.

The opposition intends to declare mass disobedience. It is possible that by the time the veto is overridden, an assault on parliament is being prepared in order to disrupt the session and cause general destabilization. The leaders once again have a very successful and bloodless image of taking control of the Georgian parliament, and then the entire government, looming before their eyes. The events of 20 years ago are still relevant, when the newly elected parliament, not
having time to take office, was paralyzed at the very first session. But a very important point should be taken into account, which may turn out to be key: unlike 2003, when the »Rose Revolution« took place, the current »revolutionaries« do not have broad support!

True, »Dream« does not have broad support either, which in this sense leads to a certain stalemate. Considering this circumstance, the opposition, supported by the four »Nullands,« literally calls for »taking the Bastille« in order to give birth to the »Robespierres and Marats« of the new era. The ministers arrived on time – just at the moment of the decline in protests and the moral decline of the »Maidanuts« caused by the adoption of the law.

But there is another very important point that distinguishes the current situation from the events of twenty years ago. And this moment again strengthens the position of »Dream«. Then Russia did not make a choice, or, to be more precise, it supported the bloodless option of transferring power into the hands of Saakashvili, thereby preventing a crisis from developing. At the moment, the Russian Federation is clearly in favor of strengthening Georgia’s sovereignty. Both the Russian Foreign Ministry and the State Duma clearly support neutralizing the threat of a »color coup« in the neighboring country.

It all comes down to how the security forces will behave at the critical moment that is yet to come. As long as they behave confidently.

Let’s return to the situation of »Europeanization« of Georgia. Speakers and organizers of rallies openly call for blocking the building of the main legislative body. On the other hand, the head of the Ministry of Internal A airs, and other members of the government, constantly warn hotheads that the practice of sparingly countering the illegal actions of rioters is over. Georgia’s chief police officer formulated very specifically that the provision of the criminal code that prevents attacks on government buildings will be used to the fullest extent, which implies serious criminal penalties and a tough rebuff to lawbreakers from the security forces.

The uncompromising speech of the Minister of Internal Affairs is supported by the no less categorical actions of his charges, who resolutely suppress the actions of the most active protesters attacking security forces in front of the entrances to the parliament building. Unbridled provocateurs are demonstratively beaten, and in police stations they are not greeted with tea and cake and, when released, are not offered an apology.

Photographs of provocateurs especially distinguished by their frenzy, including well‐​known liberal leaders, with black eyes and broken noses are widely circulated. In a word, the security forces are demonstrating their determination to act tough, trying to convey to careless young heads that this is not a game, but an existential confrontation for the future fate of the country. And we can say that such pedagogy bears fruit.

Moreover, the other day, demonstrative arrests of previously untouchable opposition bloggers were made in order to narrow the protest electronic space. In a word, the security forces began to act systematically and effectively, which had not been observed before.

In fact, the fight against the »Russian« law is a reason to destabilize the situation. The Americans really need controlled Georgia so as not to leave Pashinyan alone , that is, so that pro‐​American Armenia does not remain surrounded by countries loyal to Russia. Thus, a certain anti‐ Russian wedge (Armenia plus Georgia) should be created in the southern Caucasus with access to the Black Sea.

After meetings with European foreign ministers, the leaders of the opposition parties, one after another, declare a united front of confrontation, including in the parliamentary elections by the end of October. Consequently, European ministers not only encouraged the demonstrators, but also played an organizing role for the subjects of the coup.

At the same time, President Zurabishvili announced her readiness to unite the opposition and act as the leader of the aforementioned united front in the name of victory in the elections, which also looks like an organic part of a single plan. Thus, the consolidation of pro‐​Western forces by the time of the parliamentary elections is happening before our eyes. However, in the next few days the situation will escalate: as stated above, the moment of overcoming the veto will be used.

The organizers of the riots have nothing to lose and will go to the end, including sacrifices for the sake of democracy, following the example of the Kiev Maidan. If the coup fails, then the ruling elite and security forces will be discredited for a strong moral and political attack before the October parliamentary elections.

Temur Pipia is member of the Socialist Platform of Georgia. The article was written last week.

Image: Graffiti with the logo of the Georgian Dream (Meo Hav CC0, https://​commons​.wikimedia​.org/​w​/​i​n​d​e​x​.​p​h​p​?​c​u​r​i​d​=​5​0​7​1​5​278)

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