Books on Georgia
Update No: 364 -
'We are not ideal….”Wars
may last only five or seven days and yet
decide the fate of countries and regions
for decades or centuries thereafter.
The outcome of the Seven-Day War in June
1967 has decided the fate of the Middle
East to date.
The even shorter five-day war between
Russia and Georgia in August in 2009 looks
like it has settled the fate of the
Caucasus for a long time to come.
Russia to stay
Russia signed an agreement two years ago
with two Georgian rebel regions to
maintain military bases in the
independence-seeking territories for
nearly five decades. The pact with
Abkhazia and South Ossetia was signed on
September 15, 2009.
It is still rankling in Georgia, notably
with its nefarious leader, who is no
longer able to press the anti-Russian
button to remain in power; he has become
so unpopular with his own populace,
something no demagogue should ever do.
Turmoil comes to Tbilisi
Georgia has not escaped the popular unrest
and potential upheaval that are rife now
in the Middle East and the Caucasus.
Thousands of opposition supporters in
Georgia have carried out days of protests,
calling on President Mikhail Saakashvili
to step down. Demonstrators have gathered
outside the parliament in Tbilisi, before
marching on to the presidential palace,
where they had planned to hold an ongoing
Unfortunately, passion has faltered, if
not flagged. Many have just gone home to
bed. And who can blame them?
Correspondents say turnout is falling and
the opposition seems increasingly unsure
of how to continue its campaign. It is of
course not organised - or a relay system
could have been instituted.
The person in charge of the Georgian
polity, Mikhail Saakashvili, says Russian
oligarchs are financing the Georgian
opposition. But he would of course. He
cultivates hatred of Russia as the
leitmotif of his rule. As Dr Johnson said:
“patriotism is the last refuge of the
The opposition accuses him of mishandling
the conflict with Russia over the
breakaway region of South Ossetia, and of
being increasingly autocratic. They are
Still, after a brief pause on April 17,
more than 20,000 opposition supporters
returned to the Georgian parliament
building for another day, chanting "Misha,
Go!". They again blocked the capital's
main street, cheered on the main
opposition leaders and began to march on
the presidential palace.
"The fight continues, and today I have the
impression that this fight will end soon
with your victory," said Levan
Gachechiladze, the main opposition
candidate in last year's presidential
election. "Saakashvili must leave," he
added. "There is no place for him in
The BBC's Tom Esslemont in Tbilisi says
the protesters' message has not changed -
they still want Mr Saakashvili to resign -
but with a diminishing turnout, the
opposition seems increasingly unsure as to
how to convince him or the rest of the
country of its cause.
Some 60,000 people rallied at the start of
the campaign. On April 16, the opposition
leaders talked about entering dialogue
with the president and about spreading
their protest to the regions.
Now, those two ideas appear to have been
While many opposition supporters hold the
president to account for leading his
country into a disastrous war with Russia
last summer, others see no alternative to
him as president and are wary of further
destabilising their country.
Saakashvili, it has to be said, remains
resolute in his determination to finish
his final term in office and has
repeatedly offered to engage in dialogue
with the opposition.