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Georgia: Crisis of Democracy Unabated                                                                                                                                             

Articles and Documents
   Georgia continues to face a political crisis. In November 2007, the government of Mikhail Saakashvili in Georgia responded to serious political opposition and massive protests demanding early parliamentary elections by imposing a state of emergency, ordering brutal violence to be used against peaceful demonstrators, and closing down and physically wrecking the main independent television station. For those who had struggled for Georgia's freedom over a genelration and had rallied around the Rose Revolution in 2003, the actions of President Saakashvili were shocking and signaled an abandoment of  democratic commitment on the part of the young lawyer. The crisis has not abated. Saakashvili called snap presidential elections, which were held in January 2008, to ensure his maintenance of power for another term in offiice. They were both undemocratic and fraudulent according to observers. The president held similar elections for parliamemt. They ensured that the president's opponents were swept from office and only pro-Saakashvili loyalists remained. Independent media has been shorn. Civil society has been quieted. The economy is dominated by Saakashvili's allies. And, contrary to his earlier actions to replace the police, the power of the military and security forces, like in earlier times, has been enhanced.

The international community was largely silent in response to Saakashvili's consolidation of powers and repressive actions. But it became mute when the Russian Federation invaded Georgian territory in August of 2008 in order to consolidate its control over two breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Although warned by Russia of its intent to invade if Georgia used any force in South Ossetia, President Saakashvili responded to provocations by Ossetian officials by attacking the capital, Tshkinvali. Russia was true to its word. The severity of the invasion, however, shocked the international community. Russian forces doggedly cleansed South Ossetia and other parts of Georgian territory of ethnic Georgians with great brutality. The result of the military action has been the de facto annexation of two Georgian territories under claims of supporting and recognizing "independence" and protecting a pro-Russian ethnic community from "genocide." (The cynicism of the Russian claims is bald-faced. It militarily supported the breaking away of the regions and has sponsored separate governments for more than 15 years. And in international fora it threatened dire consequences if Kosova, a much larger entity, declared independence.) In response, the international community has simultaneously placated Russian aggression and rallied its support around the Saakashvili regime. As a result, it has been willing to ignore Saakashvili's democratic lapses.

The opposition to Saakashvili has thus far been loud and ineffective, the most recent expression being a series of failed demonstrations in Tbilisi organized by a coalition of opposition forces. It was unable to mobilize public opinion around the manipulation of elections by Saakashvili or to gather sufficient support to overcome the machinations. No clear leader has emerged to challenge Saakashvili's hold on power. On the other hand, even the period of opposition to former president Shevardnadze, the corrupt Kremlin prince who returned to Georgia to rule for ten years until 2003, did not see such unity among opposition forces. Two leading parties, the Republican Party and the Civic Party (check), are committed to a pro-Western policy. 

The Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe has supported Georgia's democratic forces since 1989, working with key civic leaders and organizations and political parties to promote liberal democracy and cross-border cooperation among pro-democratic groups. Starting in 2007, it began a web page devoted to following the events in Georgia and providing key insight and analysis to the Georgian political scene that went beyond the usual Western conclusions (Crisis of Democracy). In August 2008, it updated the page to highlight events leading to and following the invasion of Gerogia by Russia (Crisis of State). In creating these pages, we have relied especially on the recommendations of the Center for Cooperation and Development (CDC), the Civic Development International Center (CDIC), the Republican Party, as well as other materials and current news sources. The individual pages may still be accessed by the links above. But we have united the recommended articles and documents below, organized by year and theme, and continue to update the page with new articles.

Recommended Articles and Documents: 2009

Wall Street Journal: Europe Exposes Russia's Guilt in Georgia (October 1, 2009)
Window on Eurasia: War in Georgia Opens the Way to More Russians (October 1, 2009)
Tedo Japaridze: "A Georgian Chalk Circle: Open Letter to the West," (May 12, 2009), OpenDemocracy.net
HRWatch: Russia/Georgia: All Parties in South Ossetia Conflict Violated Laws of War (January 23, 2009) Lincoln A. Mitchell & Alexander Cooley: "No Way to Treat Our Friends" (January 2009)

Recommended Articles and Documents: Crisis of State (2008)

The Russian Invasion of Georgia

Images of War: A Polish Journalist's Photographs from Gori

Leila Alieva: Russia's Policies in the Caucasus (March 25, 2009)
Centers for Pluralism Letter of Solidarity to Georgian Friends (August 19, 2008)
Pavel Felgenhauer, Eurasian Daily Monitor, June 19 and August 7, 2008
Walter Laqueur: "Russia and the Middle East," Middle East Strategy at Harvard, August 17, 2008.
Ivlian Haindrava: "I Am Afraid the Final Information Will Be Dreadful," an interview in Resonance, August 18, 2008
Peter Finn, "A Two-Sided Descent Into Full-Scale War" The Washington Post, August 5, 2008
Charles Fairbanks: "Georgia: On the Brink of Losing Its Independence", Weekly  Standard, August 22, 2008
Washington Post"Russia's Delusion", Editorial, August 28, 2008
Human Rights Watch: Georgia Page and especially "Georgia: Satellite Images Show Destruction, Ethnic Attacks" (August 29, 2008)
Ivlian Haindrava: "Eyes Wide Open," page 6 in the latest issue of Russian Analytical Digest, No. 45, September 4, 2008
E. Wayne Currey, "U.S., Georgia Face 'Grim Realities' Going Forward," Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, September 5, 2008
CoE Human Rights Commissioner
Human Rights and Humanitarian Principles Have Been Seriously Violated" (Sept. 5, 2008)
Jackson Diehl, "The Trouble With Saakashvili" The Washington Post, September 8, 2008
Human Rights Watch: EU Mission Must Protect Civilians (September 16, 2008)
Human Rights Watch: Investigate Russian Abuse of Detainees (September 21, 2008)
Sozar Subari: Unity in the Name of Freedom and Justice (September 26, 2008) 
Newsweek: "Georgia Is Hailed As a Democracy: But Is It One?" (September 29, 2008)
Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia, "Saakashvili's Authoritarianism Must End" (September 29, 2008)
The New York Times: "News Media Feel Limits to Georgia's Democracy" (October 7, 2008)
RFE/RL: "The Human Cost of the War in Georgia" (October 07, 2008)
RFE/RL: "Eyewitnesses Recount First Days of Russia-Georgia Conflict" (November 14, 2008)

Articles and Documents: Crisis of Democracy (2007-2008)

Appeal to Council of Europe for Special Rapporteur for South Caucasus Political Prisoners (June 6, 2008)

Public Defender Calls on CEC Chief to Resign Over Evidence of "Wide-scale Ballot Rigging" (April 4, 2008)
(see also below Public Defender's Open Letter to Saakashvili to Respect Human Rights).
Full Statement of the Public Defender (April 4, 2008)

Republican Party Statement on NATO Integration (March 31, 2008) (HTML / MS Word).
Republican Party Condemns Latest Developments In Armenia (Prima-News, March 3, 2008) (Statement in Russian)
Republican Party Withdraws From Opposition: Is Strength Found Through Breaking-Up? (Georgian Times, March 3, 2008)
Republican Party Leaves Opposition Union Ahead of Parliamentary Election (Mze TV, February 29, 2008)

OSCE’s Human Rights Office Finds Itself In Crossfire Over Election Monitoring (RFE/RL, February 28, 2008)
OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission (Interim Report / Final Report): Extraordinary Presidential Election on 5 January 2008
National Democratic Institute: NDI Georgia Observation Delegation (Final Statement)

Public Defender's Open Letter to Saakashvili: Improve Human Rights (January 2008)
Related Documents from Online Magazine Civil Georgia

Transparency International in Georgia: Preliminary Report on the Use of Administrative Resources (December 5, 2007)

"Georgia's Leap Backward" by Anne Applebaum, The Washington Post (November 13, 2007)

European Parliament Resolution On The Situation In Georgia (November 27, 2007)

"Misha's Mess," Economist, (November15, 2007)

Manifesto of the National Council of the All People’s Movement of Georgia (United Opposition): October 17, 2007

OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission (Final Report): Municipal Elections of October 5, 2006
Declaration of the Republican and Conservative Parties (“Democratic Front”) on Georgia’s Integration in NATO and
Normalization of Russo-Georgian Relations (June 6, 2006)

"Georgia's Incomplete Democracy" by Ivlian Haindrava (IWPR CRS No. 285, May 5, 2005)

 
 

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