Georgia on the Edge of Political Crisis

The final collapse of the former Soviet republic is possible

Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze stated, most recent parliamentary elections in the republic were the best in the history of the Georgian independence. However, the current situation in the republic is extremely intense. Political crises in Georgia have become regular. Yet, the current crisis may have absolutely unpredictable consequences, right up to the worst scenario - the final collapse of the state.

One of those crises ended up with the civil war in 1991-1992, when President Zviad Gamsahurdia was overthrown. Eduard Shevardnadze replaced him on the position. Georgians started hoping for a better life, although the people had the same hopes about Gamsahurdia a year before. However, unlike Gamsahurdia, Shevardnadze has managed to stay at power. He has been ruling Georgia for more than ten years.

However, Shevardnadze's ruling era was not devoted to the political and economic restoration of the state. Eduard Shevardnadze has been fighting with real and imaginary rivals. The Georgian president has not managed to solve one of the central problems of the country - the recreation of the national territorial integrity.

The collapse of Georgia started in 1991. One may see Moscow's intrigues in it, of course, but shifting Georgia's blame on Russia would testify to the republic's weakness. Virtually, Georgia does not exist as a state within the borders that it used to have during of the Soviet era. It is practically impossible to retrieve the republic's integrity. Certain political forces of Georgia accuse Shevardnadze of falsifying the election results. However, they cannot replace Shevardnadze on the presidential position.

At present moment, Georgia does not have a politician who could be capable of uniting all residents of the former Soviet republic, regardless of their nationality, religion and the social status. There is an outstanding politician in Georgia - Mikhail Saakashvily - but people call him the "Georgian version of Vladimir Zhirinovsky." Saakashvily's bloc, the National Movement, has received the majority of votes at the elections. According to the official information, the National Movement was just a little behind the governmental bloc For New Georgia. The Georgian opposition says, it is Saakashvily's bloc that has won the elections.

The opposition has presented an ultimatum to Shevardnadze. They asked the president to meet their requirements until 2 p.m. on November 7th - to acknowledge the victory at the elections and resign from the position of the president. Otherwise, the opposition threatens to hold massive actions of protests.

It is not ruled out that the situation may go out of control and everything will be over with armed clashes. The Georgian president stated he would resign only if people ask him to. In other words, Shevardnadze is not intended to step down.

It does not mean that Shevardnadze and his milieu prefer to solve the conflict in a military way. Eduard Shevardnadze does not enjoy great popularity in Georgia. It is not ruled out that the national army and the police will not support his actions. Furthermore, the US has already called upon Shevardnadze to provide the transparent and precise counting of votes. Washington still supports the present Georgian government, but the support has its limits.

Most likely, Eduard Shevardnadze will have to weave another plot. The president will have to make certain concessions to the opposition, cancel voting results on several polls and hold the repeated elections. He might also attempt to split the opposition. It will not be a hard nut to crack: the Georgian opposition cannot be described as a strong political force. The only thing that unites oppositionists is their hatred toward Eduard Shevardnadze.

No matter what the final outcome of the parliamentary elections in Georgia might be, it does not mean that political and economic shocks will remain in the past. For the time being, the gradual development of the state is impossible, even if Shevardnadze quits.

A Georgian reporter said in 2001: "One has to run away from incompetence and arrogance of the Georgian political elite now." These words still remain actual.

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Author`s name Olga Savka