US expert: USA must help out Saakashvili - 2007

Could the following comments by Richard Pipes, granddaddy of American Neocons and an ardent Zionist who is also very sympathetic towards Georgia, mean that the US has abandoned Tbilisi to its fate? My instincts still tell me that Moscow has made a deal with Washington regarding Saakashvili. The suggestion that Washington is trying to place a more anti-Russian politician on the throne in Tbilisi seems to be a bit far-fetched at this time. In my opinion, ever since Moscow more-or-less began monopolizing the distribution of the Central Asian/Caspian Sea oil and gas, the geopolitical value of Georgia as a oil/gas transit route for the West has been quite diminished - so has Saakashvili's usefulness. Therefore, they will try to keep Georgia under Western influence, but they will not do so at the expense of confronting Russia.

Arevordi

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US expert: USA must help out Saakashvili

2007

“It is a complete buffoonery taking place in Georgia now,” said American political analyst, expert in the Russian-US relations Richard Pipes commenting on the recent events in Tbilisi to a REGNUM correspondent. “I am an honorary citizen of Georgia and an honorary consular of the country. I dislike what is going on there. It is a complete buffoonery taking place there, and I think the Russians are having their hands in it. I think the USA must help out Mikhail Saakashvili, because he is the president elected by the nation. Anyway, Moscow has a greater interest in Georgia than the United States does,” the expert believes. As REGNUM reported earlier, US officials announced that solution of the situation is Georgia’s own business. “If there are political differences within the political system in Georgia, they can — they should be worked out within the confines of that political system and also, they should be worked out in a peaceful manner,” US State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said yesterday.

Source: http://www.regnum.ru/english/911876.html

Georgia says Russia stirring civil unrest

Riot police in Tbilisi today employed extensive force today in the face of protests against the country’s pro-Western government

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili on Wednesday accused Russian special services of stirring civil unrest in his nation. "Georgia is facing a very serious threat of unrest," Saakashvili said during a televised address to the nation that was carried live in Russia and translated into Russian. "High ranking officials in Russian special services are behind this," he said, adding he had evidence for his claims.

Georgian Police Break Up Protests

Protesters outside the parliament in Tbilisi today were sprayed with a water cannon

Riot police officers used tear gas and a water cannon today to clear thousands of demonstrators from the streets of Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, employing extensive force in the face of protests against the country’s pro-Western government. There were no immediate reports of the extent of injuries. But people who fled the clouds of tear gas reported that police officers had rushed through Rustaveli Avenue, the city’s main boulevard, and had beaten demonstrators who had not managed to escape. Many protesters were seen bleeding. The police also scuffled with journalists covering the confrontation and confiscated or shattered some of their equipment, witnesses said.

The police sweep, while it cleared the avenue at least temporarily, underlined the intensity of the challenge to the government and reputation of President Mikheil Saakashvili, who rose to power with peaceful protests in 2003 and has cast himself as the most democratic ruler in the Caucasus. The opposition has accused him of running a centralized government intolerant of dissent and undermined by high-level corruption and police and prosecutorial abuse. Opposition leaders labeled the police action a political crackdown and mass punishment, and called for Georgians to gather in renewed protests. Georgia is a small and tightly networked nation. The possibility of escalation, or further clashes and police action, seemed high.

“The authorities have used weapons against the peaceful demonstrators, and therefore the authorities will get what they deserve from the people,” Kakka Kukava, an opposition member of Parliament, told journalists, according to the Interfax news agency. The government defended its actions. It said that protesters were not entirely peaceful and that the riot police were necessary after protesters forcibly pushed though police lines. The government and witnesses said that police lines had been briefly established in the morning to restore traffic blocked by the demonstration, which was in its sixth day.

“What happened this morning was very regrettable,” said Giga Bokeria, a prominent member of Parliament and close ally of President Saakashvili, said by telephone. He accused opposition leaders of urging the protesters to rush the police, which he said triggered the violence and bedlam that ensued. “They behaved very badly,” he said. “They just openly called for violence.” Reached by telephone shortly after the police action, Sozar Subari, the country’s human rights ombudsman, denounced the government’s use of force and suggested that Georgia, which had undertaken many reforms since 2003, had stepped backward.

“Georgia is now the same as Lukashenko’s Belarus,” he said, referring to a post-Soviet state that much of the West has labeled a dictatorship. A woman could be heard screaming in the background. Mr. Subari he said he had to go. The United States, the Saakashvili government’s principal foreign sponsor and mentor, had no immediate response. Sergey V. Lavrov, the foreign minister of Russia, which ruled Georgia during Soviet times, issued a statement similar to those that the Kremlin has issued during police crackdowns, some of them intensely violent or even lethal, in Uzbekistan, Belarus and Azerbaijan. “This is a domestic issue for Georgia and its people,” the statement said.

The protesters, who first gathered in front of Parliament on Friday, had initially demanded early Parliamentary elections and other measures that might relax what they regard as the government’s centralized hold on power and allow a degree of political plurality. But after Mr. Saakashvili ignored the demonstrators for nearly three days, and then publicly belittled their leaders on national television and said they were doing the bidding of the Kremlin, the demonstrators roundly demanded that he resign. The Kremlin is highly unpopular in Georgia after decades of Soviet occupation and for its open support since the early 1990s for separatists in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two regions out the Georgian government’s control.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/08/wo...html?ref=world

Georgia in 'state of emergency'

Georgia's president Mikhail Saakashvili has declared a state of emergency in the country following six days of demonstrations. In a televised address he blamed Russia for fuelling protests against the pro-west government in the former Soviet state. Mr Saakashvili said there had been "an attempt at a coup" and announced that the emergency state would last for two days. Three Russian diplomats have been expelled from Georgia and the country's ambassador in Moscow has been withdrawn. Earlier today riot police used tear gas and rubber bullets to break up demonstrations calling for the president to quit his post and for an early election to be held. Health ministry spokeswoman Nino Kochorashvili told the Associated Press news agency that about 360 people have sought medical assistance and more than 100 of them have remained hospitalised.

Source: http://www.inthenews.co.uk/news/world/autocodes/countries/russia/georgia-in-state-emergency-$1163087.htm

In related news:

Russian army chief says U.S. aggravating Georgia’s conflicts


American interference is aggravating relations between Georgia and its two breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the chief of the Russian General Staff said on Wednesday. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who is pushing his country for NATO membership, enjoyed until recently Western backing in his ongoing disputes with Russia, in particular over two breakaway regions that have strong ties with Moscow. "Events in Georgia are occurring with the interference of the United States," Gen. Yury Baluyevsky said. "Who finances Georgia's $820 million military budget? Who is creating this force, which tomorrow might be used against its own people? I am not ruling this out." Baluyevsky also said that an incident involving Russian peacekeepers in Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia in late October was incited by Tbilisi. "This was a provocation, and President Saakashvili is one of the initiators of that provocation, which threatened Russian peacekeepers," Baluyevsky said. The Russian peacekeepers detained five Georgian officers in the village of Ganmukhuri in late October, saying the Georgians had threatened to open fire on them. Georgia said Russian peacekeepers attacked the police officers and beat them up. The officers were released after the Georgian president arrived in the area to intervene. Georgia has repeatedly voiced its goal of regaining control over Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which declared independence in the early 1990s. It has also accused the CIS peacekeeping force, mainly represented by Russians, of backing separatists.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20071107/86979875.html

Russia to close last military base in Georgia ahead of time


Russia will evacuate its last military base in Georgia, whose capital, Tbilisi, has been swept by opposition protests, ahead of the deadline, the chief of the Russian Ground Forces said on Wednesday. "Russia plans to complete the withdrawal of the 12th Russian base in Batumi ahead of schedule," General of the Army Alexei Maslov said, adding that the closure was originally planned for 2008. A Maslov aide said the last train with military hardware and equipment will leave Batumi on November 8. "The cargo will have an aggregate weight of around 55 [metric] tons," Col. Igor Konashenkov said. He said Russia is fulfilling all its obligations under the 2006 agreement and is strictly adhering to the withdrawal schedule. Russia completed the pullout of its military garrison from the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, handing over control of its headquarters to Georgia's Defense Ministry last December, and formally handed over its military base at Akhalkalaki in southern Georgia to Tbilisi in June, ahead of the October 2007 deadline.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20071107/87037401.html

Russian ambassador worried by growing anti-Russian sentiments in georgian politics


Russian Ambassador to Georgia Vyacheslav Kovalenko has expressed concerns over what he described as growing anti-Russian sentiments in the Georgian political environment. "I am really alarmed by the fact that the anti-Russian theme is becoming predominant in Georgia's foreign policy," Kovalenko said in an interview with Interfax on Thursday. "This will do nothing good," he said. "Groundless accusations and statements by a number of Georgian politicians are having a negative effect not only on bilateral Russian-Georgian relations but also on the problem of the settlement of regional conflicts," Kovalenko said. Speaking about Georgia's decision to expel three Russian diplomats, Kovalenko described it as unprecedented. "This is an unprecedented provocation, when three of our diplomats are expelled from Georgia," Kovalenko said in a telephone interview with Interfax on Thursday.

"Allegations that Russian diplomats were involved in the opposition protest action could have been born only from an unsound mind," Kovalenko said. "There is no evidence" to accuse Russian diplomats, he said. Kovalenko says he has no doubt Russia will "take adequate measures" in reaction to the expulsion of its diplomats from Georgia. "It is not today or yesterday that the anti-Russian campaign has been unleashed in Georgia. The Georgian side had no grounds for this," the diplomat said. "It is well-known that the opposition that organizes mass protest actions spent the previous day and night in Washington in consultations on a large number of issues. And it is simply ridiculous to speak today about 'Moscow's arm' in the organization of anti-government actions, and about Russia's leading role in opposition protests, whose actions are simply laden with anti-Russian rhetoric," the ambassador said.

"The image that Russia is an enemy" is being created in Georgia, he said. "Now many Georgian politicians try to blame Russia for the domestic problems. This is not the best way to revitalize Russian-Georgian bilateral relations," Kovalenko said. "The situation that is taking shape now does not help create a favorable climate for a constructive dialogue on settling regional conflicts," he said. To arrange successful dialogue, "it is necessary to start with resolving problems on which agreement could be achieved relatively easily," Kovalenko said. He described as "a good sign" a recent meeting in Tbilisi of the Joint Control Commission for the settlement of the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict. "It is necessary to move further toward resolving more complicated issues. This is the only right way. As for attempts to set up some parallel bodies or entertain ideas to resolve the problem through the use of force, this is a way to deadlock," he said.

As for possible attempts to resolve the South Ossetia and Abkhazia problems with force against the background of the destabilization of the sociopolitical situation in the country, Kovalenko said that this theory is being discussed in Georgian political circles. "There is a lot of talk on this issue," he said. Kovalenko described such a scenario as "extremely undesirable." "Everything possible should be done to avoid bloodshed, and in case of a military operation, there is going to be a lot of bloodshed," he said. Military operations in Abkhazia and South Ossetia "will create a new heap of problems," he said.

Source: http://www.interfax.ru/e/B/exclusive...issue=11903203

Georgia declares three Russian diplomats unwelcome persons

Three Russian diplomats were declared unwelcome persons and have to leave Georgia, the Georgian Foreign Ministry announced on Wednesday. "The Russian embassy in Georgia has been given a note for transfer to the Russian Foreign Ministry," the ministry said. The note says that Russian Minister-Counsellor to Georgia Ivan Volynkin, adviser Pyotr Solomatin, and 3rd Secretary Alexander Kurenkov were declared personae non-gratae. The Georgian Foreign Ministry demanded that Russia recall these diplomats under Clause 9 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Earlier in the day, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said in a televised address to the nation that "several employees of the Russian embassy were engaged in subversive activities and espionage in Georgia. These employees of the Russian embassy will leave Georgia within days." Saakashvili accused Russian secret services of subversive actions against Georgia. "We have proof and we will make it public. We have recalled our ambassador (to Russia) and it's not a theatrical gesture," the president said. Georgia recalled its Ambassador to Russia Irakly Chubinishvili "for consultations in Tbilisi," the Georgian Foreign Ministry said. "I have heard about an alternative government (Georgia) that was created in Moscow," Saakashvili said. He said the leadership of the country "will do everything to prevent mass disturbances."

Source: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/20...nt_7029852.htm

Georgia recalls ambassador to Russia

Georgia on Wednesday recalled its ambassador to Russia, saying Moscow was behind recent political turmoil in the Caucasus nation. "Georgia's ambassador to Russia, Irakly Chubinishvili, has been recalled to Tbilisi for consultations," Georgian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nino Kajaia told Reuters. "The events unfolding in Georgia clearly appear to be linked to Russia," she said, adding that Russia's ambassador to Georgia, Vyacheslav Kovalenko, had been summoned to the Georgian foreign ministry.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/lates.../idUSL07847711

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