After all is said and done, the political unrest we have been witnessing in Tbilisi might actually prove to be a "Borsch Revolution," after all. More evidence that Saakashvili's time in Georgia is running out: The United States has been curiously quiet in all this. And according to news reports today, NATO is distancing themselves from Saakashvili as well. No amount of ass-kissing will secure Saakashvili's presidency anymore.

Arevordi

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NATO does not want to spoil relations with Russia over Georgia - NATO diplomats

26 June 2007, Moscow: NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and Russian President Vladimir Putin commemorating the fifth anniversary of the NATO-Russia Council, and the tenth of the Founding Act on Mutual Relations

2007

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer's harsh criticism of the crackdown of peaceful opposition protests in Tbilisi and the introduction of the state of emergency in the country are proof that NATO is unwilling to sour relations with Russia, NATO diplomats told Interfax. NATO's stated disagreement with the actions of Georgian authorities will not help Georgia's bid to join the alliance, which is the overarching goal of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, a NATO diplomat said. Scheffer said on Thursday that "the state of emergency and the closure of media agencies in Georgia, with which the alliance is in an intensive dialogue, is a subject of particular concern, because this is not in line with NATO values."

Source: http://www.interfax.ru/e/B/politics/...issue=11903964
A victory for Russia's secret war as Georgian leader calls election



Russia has scored a tactical victory in its long-term strategic battle with Western-leaning Georgia after a clumsy and brutal crackdown on the opposition by the leader of the "rose revolution" in the former Soviet republic, President Mikheil Saakashvili. President Saakashvili, facing his biggest crisis since sweeping to power in a peaceful revolution four years ago, yielded yesterday to an opposition demand by calling a presidential election on 5 January, instead of next autumn, after his government was universally condemned for heavy-handed police tactics against protesters that left 250 people injured. Television images showed opposition demonstrators being chased, kicked and beaten by riot police after the government moved to end five days of peaceful protests by up to 50,000 people.

But it remains to be seen whether Mr Saakashvili's announcement will be sufficient to defuse the crisis and save his presidency. Troops patrolled the capital, Tbilisi, yesterday after the President, a US-trained lawyer who has been accused of becoming increasingly autocratic, ordered a two-week state of emergency on Wednesday night and sent armed troops to shut down the two main opposition television stations. Staff had guns held to their heads. Under the emergency, only state-run outlets may broadcast news and schools have been closed until next week. Rallies have been banned. Mr Saakashvili said he regretted the use of force, but justified the emergency measures by accusing Russia of mounting a coup behind the scenes. "Russian special services have stepped up their activities in Georgia," he said in a televised address several hours after riot police using truncheons, rubber bullets, water cannons and tear gas dispersed protesters calling for his resignation. "A country which has a lot of money and expertise has engaged a machine of lies and a mechanism of provocations," he said, before announcing the expulsion of three Russian diplomats. Russia retaliated swiftly yesterday by expelling three Georgian diplomats from Moscow.

Georgian state television broadcast on Wednesday evening what it said was a taped conversation between opposition leaders and Russian embassy officials, in an apparent attempt to back up the official accusation that the opposition was being manipulated by Moscow. Georgia's relations with Moscow have long been tense because of the republic's decision to seek membership of Nato and the European Union. The Kremlin has shown signs of paranoia as countries which it had traditionally seen as its backyard – ranging from Ukraine to the Baltic states – have joined Western strategic organisations or announced the intention of doing so. Mr Saakashvili's tactics drew a strong condemnation yesterday from Nato, which will consider Georgian membership at a meeting in Bucharest next April. "The imposition of emergency rule, and the closure of media outlets in Georgia, a partner with which the alliance has an intensified dialogue, are of particular concern and not in line with Euro-Atlantic values," the Nato secretary general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, said in a statement.

The EU presidency urged all parties to "exercise the necessary restraint and refrain from using language and actions that could further deepen the political crisis". Moscow said the violent crackdown had "evidently shown what democracy Georgia-style is" and appealed to the United Nations and the Council of Europe to pressure Georgia to stop using violence. Russia denied it had anything to do with the unrest in Tbilisi and accused Mr Saakashvili of trying to distract attention from domestic problems. While the international reaction against the Georgian measures will suit the Kremlin, Russian direct involvement in the latest events remained speculative last night. Although Russia has a history of covert – but blatant – interference in Georgia, diplomats said there was as yet no proof that this was the case in the Tbilisi unrest. At a meeting yesterday with Georgia's Foreign Minister, EU ambassadors were given details of the taped conversation between two Russian diplomats and opposition leaders. "That's not proof," said a diplomat present at the meeting. "That is something that diplomats do all the time." The envoy added: "We've not seen anything else."

Other diplomats said that Mr Saakashvili may have other confidential material that he may share in order to prove Russian involvement. However, the mass protests organised by the opposition, a disparate alliance of 10 parties grouping pro-Western Georgians with die-hard Soviet nostalgics, appeared to be a genuine popular movement, with the opposition capitalising on widespread discontent with rising prices and economic hardship. Speaking in Brussels, the deputy defence minister, Batu Kutelia, told Reuters that his government had "clear evidence collected by our special services of direct financial aid and directives from Moscow. This evidence has been collected and will be distributed to the wider international community. We have evidence that directives have been made to proceed with the riots and to proceed with the overthrow of the government. I have names and particularly visible evidence of specific transfers of money and commands."

The opposition alliance had been holding demonstrations outside parliament since 2 November demanding early elections and an amendment to the electoral code to secure a greater number of opposition seats in parliament. Negotiations with government representatives were in their early stages when Mr Saakashvili ordered the crackdown, tarnishing his democratic credentials. "He over-reacted just when negotiations were getting started. He panicked," said one Western observer in Tbilisi. "It's a great shame." The US and European governments have been largely sympathetic to the Georgian government, which has set out on a road of democratic reform and a market economy, despite a trade embargo imposed by Russia that backs regional separatist movements inside the republic as part of what is seen as attempts to destabilise the Saakashvili government. But the President's tough reaction to suppress the demonstrations were a chilling reminder for Georgians of Soviet-style tactics, recalling in particular the Soviet army's violent suppression of a peaceful opposition protest in April 1989, using toxic gas.

Source: http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/article3143254.ece

In related news:

Russia parliament votes to suspend arms treaty


Russia's parliament voted unanimously on Wednesday to suspend a key arms treaty limiting conventional forces in Europe, saying the United States and NATO were using the pact to undermine Russia's defenses. Ignoring appeals from the United States, the Duma (lower house of parliament) approved 418-0 a law allowing Moscow to stop complying with the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, seen by the West as a cornerstone of European security. The suspension, ordered by President Vladimir Putin as part of a wave of increasingly aggressive moves against the West ahead of elections, will take effect on December 12.

Russia's top general Yuri Baluyevsky said the CFE treaty, which limits the number of heavy conventional weapons deployed and stored between the Atlantic and Russia's Ural mountains, unfairly penalized Moscow. "The current treaty fully suits the United States and NATO," Baluyevsky, the chief of general staff, told parliament. "The treaty allows, practically without any limits, the realization of the strategy for NATO to move eastwards, carrying out the reconfiguration of the U.S.'s military presence in Europe and for constant monitoring of the composition and state of Russia's military in the European zone." Russia had no plans to immediately deploy more forces in the West and in the Caucasus, he added, though it reserved the right to do so.

Russia's move comes after months of sparring with the United States and European Union over plans for a missile defense shield and proposed independence for Serbia's Kosovo province. Putin, who has sought to restore the Kremlin's international clout after the chaos which accompanied the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, gave formal 150-day notice in July about suspending the treaty. The United States, Europe and NATO have all urged Russia not to scrap the treaty, saying it is a vital guarantor of stability in post Cold War Europe. But Moscow has been adamant it will suspend the pact unless NATO agrees to major changes. NATO did not offer immediate comment on the Duma vote but one official said the alliance's position remained unchanged. "We do not want to see any suspension on the treaty and there are intensive consultations continuing among the parties," said the official, who requested anonymity.

MOSCOW "NOT HEARD"

Russian diplomats said Moscow was trying to send a message to the West that the treaty needed to be reworked and ratified but that the West had "not heard" Moscow's concerns. "Russia's actions do not have an aggressive or destructive character -- they are directed not to destroy the system of current agreements but to attract attention of our partners to our concerns," said Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak. "We are not trying to bring any damage to arms control but to give an impulse to the resumption of a workable treaty," Kislyak, who deals with U.S. relations, told parliament. The debate in parliament was full of references to how Russia had been "deceived" by the United States and NATO.

The law approved on Wednesday -- just three clauses long -- gives Putin a free hand to suspend Russia's participation in the treaty or to restore it at any time in the future. The draft still needs final approval from the upper house of parliament and from Putin before becoming law but these steps are regarded as formalities. The CFE treaty, signed in 1990 and updated in 1999, limits the number of tanks, combat aircraft and heavy artillery which can be deployed or stored in the vast area stretching from the Atlantic to Russia's Ural mountains.

Western partners have refused to ratify an amended version of the pact until Russia pulls its forces out of Georgia and Moldova, as it promised in 1999 when the treaty was reviewed. Russian forces are being withdrawn from Georgia. But Russia has so far been reluctant to pull out peacekeepers from Moldova's breakaway province of Transdniestria. Russia, unhappy about NATO's expansion eastwards into territory formerly occupied by the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact, says U.S. plans to open bases for several thousand soldiers in Romania and Bulgaria this year are in breach of the CFE. NATO officials insist that the bases are not intended as permanent and thus cannot be seen as a breach.
Russia threatens to build up troops on western borders over CFE


Russia's Defense Ministry said it might reinforce its troops near its western borders if parliament supports the president's proposed moratorium on a key arms reduction treaty in Europe. Russia's lower house, the State Duma, is expected to pass a presidential bill on the country's withdrawal from the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE) on Wednesday. The proposal has been widely seen as a Kremlin move to prevent the U.S. from deploying a missile shield in Central Europe. "We are carrying out work as regards the issue," said First Deputy Defense Minister, Gen. Alexander Kolmakov, but added that no final decision had been made so far. President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to suspend the 1990 CFE Treaty in mid-July, citing security concerns. If adopted by parliament, the Russian moratorium is likely to come into force on December 12. The amended version of the Soviet-era treaty was signed in 1999, and has not been ratified by any NATO countries. Moscow considers the original CFE Treaty to be outdated since it does not reflect the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, the breakup of the Soviet Union, or recent NATO expansion. NATO countries have insisted on Russia's withdrawal from Transdnestr and other breakaway post-Soviet regions as a condition for their ratification of the CFE Treaty.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20071107/86936203.html

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