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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Black Roses: Georgia's Reformers Fall Out

THis is from Mark Almond's blog. The article is very long. I have posted only a small portion. The article shows how events in Georgia have been manipulated in the West and how people power is in effect promoted by western interests and often involves leaders who are quite corrupt. Now the leaders are at each other's throats. Georgia as a great success story hardly fits the reality.



Black Roses: Georgia’s Reformers Fall Out -

Georgia’s Transition from ‘People Power’ to Caucasian Cockpit

by

Mark Almond


Introduction:

“Georgia has made stunning progress in carrying out substantial economic, judicial and state reforms… that should allow Georgia to become a prosperous liberal market economy and a fully-fledged democracy governed by human rights and the rule of law. Georgia has set an example for the whole region and beyond.”

Council of Europe rapporteurs Matyas Eorsi & Kastriot Islami
(13 September 2007)[1]

“The style of Saakashvili’s governance … has made dishonesty, injustice and oppression a way of life. Everyday repression, demolition of houses and churches, robbery, ‘kulakization’, and
murders, I would stress, murders, have become common practice for the authorities.”

Ex-Defence Minister Irakli Okruashvili
(25th September, 2007)[2]


On Friday 2nd November, 2007, the centre of the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, was occupied a huge crowd demanding the resignation of President Mikheil Saakashvili.[3] It was exactly four years since Saakashvili had cried foul about Georgia’s parliamentary elections and set in train the protests which brought him to power on 23rd November, 2003. While Western media have largely ignored the tail-spin in the popularity of Georgia’s arch-populist, the waves of criticism and protest denouncing the erstwhile hero of the so-called “Rose Revolution” take place against the sensitive geo-strategic backdrop of Georgia’s dispute with Russia over the status of its breakaway regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Whether the protests peter out or achieve their stated goal of forcing early elections, the myth of People Power has been tarnished once more by the reality of the power struggles and back-stabbing among yesteryear’s “reformers”.

The current crisis in Georgia began when the two leading figures in the “Rose Revolution”, Mikheil Saakashvili and Irakli Okruashvili had a spectacular falling out. Having served as Prosecutor-General purging supporters of the ousted president Eduard Shevardnadze and then as Defence Minister, Irakli Okruashvili, dramatically left Saakashvili’s government in November, 2006. After ten months of public silence, on 25th September, 2007, Mr Okruashvili announced he was launching a “Movement for a United Georgia”.

At the press conference launching his challenge to President Saakashvili, Okruashvili declared, “I want to tell you… recent developments in the country, the fascist tendencies and the steps taken by the authorities against the Georgian state, have made us [the new political party] come together before the public in this team…” Then he declared, “The style of Saakashvili’s governance, which has gone beyond the limits, has made dishonesty, injustice and oppression a way of life. Everyday repression, demolition of houses and churches, robbery, ‘kulakization’, and murders, I would stress, murders, have become common practice for the authorities.”[4]

Such as the shock effect that it was only two days later, after launching his new opposition party with this litany of charges against his former long-time political ally and personal friend, President Mikheil Saakashvili, that Irakli Okruashvili was arrested and taken to Tbilisi’s notorious Isolator Number 7, the scene of well-documented torture of political prisoners since 1991. After he had recanted his charges against the President but confessed to his own crimes in a video session with interrogators but without his lawyer present, Mr Okruashvili posted bail of US$6 million and was released.[5]

At the same time as the former top two of Georgia’s “Rose Revolution” in 2003 were at each others’ throats making blood curdling threats and accusations, events in Burma were being reported with same kind of na├»ve enthusiasm for “People Power” which has left a bitter taste in the mouths of impoverished and oppressed Georgians. They have twice experienced coups d’etat (in 1991 and 2003) lauded in the West as expressions of the will of the people. Even as Okruashvili and Saakashvili traded accusations of murder and treason in Tbilisi, Georgia’s revolution in 2003 was actually been cited as a model by Western media for the saffron-robed monks of Burma protesting against the military government there.[6]

Only people bewitched by the myth of “People Power” could think that given Georgia’s disillusionment any good come from another coloured-coded revolution endorsed by the same journalists and “human rights” activists who have praised Georgia as a model for change. Many of the Western groups who funded and trained the so-called “rose revolutionaries” in Georgia in 2003 have been behind the scenes of the “saffron revolution” in Burma. If Burma’s military rulers should go the way of Eduard Shevardnadze will Burma fall through the floor into the same politics of corruption, drugs smuggling and backstabbing which have pock-marked Georgia’s tragic post-Soviet history.

Proponents of “People Power” from the Caucasus to South-East Asia ignore the poverty, oppression, disease and death which have followed events like the “Rose Revolution.” Western media like The Economist and so-called human rights watchdogs like the Council of Europe have a lamentable record of fellow travelling with successive corrupt and cruel regimes in Tbilisi since 1991. It is not too much to say that there isn’t any bad situation which the nexus of Western intelligence agencies, media and human rights agencies cannot make worse, while singing their own praises as the proponents of a new dawn of human happiness.

The infighting and mutual accusations of crime, corruption and killings among the Rose Revolutionaries is the starkest case yet of the reality of a post-People Power country contrasting with the myth peddled abroad in the Western media. No journalists who painted a rosy picture of the new rulers of Georgia has yet come forward to correct, let alone apologise for their myth-making under the guise of reporting.


When friends fall out: Mikheil Sakashvili & Irakli Okruashvili

“Georgia has produced strong leaders. Stalin, Beria, Gamsakhurdia. Even Shevardnadze, before he got addicted to power. They looked beyond Georgia. My husband does the same;
he fits in the tradition. This country needs a strong hand. It is incredibly important that
respect for authority returns... I think my husband is the right person to frighten people.”

Sandra Roeloffs aka Mrs. Mikheil Saakashvili[7]

“After the revolution, the spring cleaning… Every week has brought fresh arrests of the great and not so good… The whole country is being treated to this televised humiliation, directed personally by the new prosecutor-general… He is also planning further arrests.”

Tim Whewell, “Newsnight”, BBC2 (8th April, 2004)

“This is what official Tbilisi is like nowadays: American workaholic management, West-orientated management, no political unpredictability so typical of the Kremlin”!

Anna Politvkovskaya[8]

They were buddies. Blood brothers. Soul-mates in the fight for democracy against corruption. Every authoritative voice – The Economist, New York Times, the BBC, even the martyred Anna Politkovskaya – assured us that Mikheil Saakashvili and Irakli Okruashvili were the best and brightest hopes for an end to the post-Soviet quagmire of corruption and political in-fighting. So how did it all go wrong?

Readers can be forgiven not knowing that it has all gone wrong. For instance, the BBC reporters who filed successive upbeat stories about the Saakashvili-Okruashvili double have fallen strangely silent when it comes to accounting for their spectacular bust-up.

BBC2’s Newsnight’s Tim Whewell used never to tire of telling us about Irakli Okruashvili’s dynamism as prosecutor: “another day, more arrests” which “doesn’t leave the chief corruption buster with much time for his wife and daughter.” Considering the prosecutor and the president , he assured viewers less than four years ago – admittedly an age ago in media memory – they were “the youngest, most photogenic government in the world…” Apparently photogenic equalled public spirited in Whewell-speak.[9]

In America, too, regime-friendly journalists emphasised the new order’s youth as if it equalled a moral quality. Saakashvili’s regime was a kind of Camelot in the Caucasus according to the Washington Post’s Peter Baker who gushed about the new class ruling Georgia in 2004: “Saakashvili has built the former Soviet Union's first generation of leaders outside the historically Western-oriented Baltic republics, a team whose members look like him -- in their thirties, Western-educated, untainted by the old system.” Taking his argument from Saakashvili himself, Baker quoted the new President , "Absence of experience is an asset in itself. Because what kind of experience was it? Experience at being corrupt. Experience at being part of the old system that didn't work."[10] Georgians have a long history of gulling gullible journalists. After all fellow traveling was invented by hacks hanging on Stalin’s every word, but any anthropologist or sociologist would point out that young people are the most socialised to the dominant system. It is all they have known. In this case it is all their parents and grandparents knew and served. Far from representing an automatic break with Soviet behavioural norms in Georgia, Saakashvili and his generation exemplified the way Sovietised Georgians operated within a patronage system dominated by a distant all-powerful boss. Shevardnadze saw the sun rise in Moscow “where Lenin lies”, Saakashvili sees the sun rise in the West in Washington. Both Shevardnadze and his erstwhile apprentice know how to utter the slogans of the patron while running their satrapy as usual. Sadly, Georgians expect that, and are certainly adapted to mouthing grand principles while doing dirty deals.

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