ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Georgia in Turmoil

An authoritarian president faces continued protests and the larger region remains tense in a standoff with Russia.

Street rallies are being held in the Georgian capital Tbilisi plunged the economy into a crisis. Demonstrations began every day for the past two months. President Mikhail on 9 April 2009 – a highly symbolic day commemorating Saakashvili has been accused of monopolising power, the killing of pro-independence demonstrators by Soviet and leading the country into a brief war with Russia in troops in 1989. Although the momentum has since ebbed, the August 2008 that ended in a crushing military defeat and daily protests led by the parliamentary o pposition are sufficient to disrupt economic a ctivity and make it difficult for Saakashvili.

The opposition includes at least 13 parties, each with its own agenda and therefore united only in wanting to remove Saakashvili, whose term ends in 2013. The opposition, however, does not wish to displease the United States (US) and the p atrons in Washington do take time to replace their protégés. These p rotests still indicate the strength in Georgia’s democracy, as throughout most of the ex-Soviet space public protests are suppressed. Nevertheless, there is concern that if violence breaks out, it could deteriorate into wider civil unrest. On 5 May, there was a mutiny at an army base, the first outbreak of violence since demonstrations began. Suppressing this, Saakashvili claimed that it was inspired by Russian intelligence to overthrow him. Moscow denied any involvement but Georgia remains extremely tense, the slightest provocation could easily become a pretext for r enewed conflict between the two countries.

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