The Media Mirror – Today's Russian press review

Georgia remains the main focus of the press this Friday.

KOMMERSANT daily says the Georgian opposition has won a victory in the middle of the state of emergency: Mr. Saakashvili agreed to curtail his Presidential term by a whole year and go for an early election.

KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA daily reports Tbilisi looks clean and peaceful, but empty. The few people you meet in the streets are very likely to look sad. Some are weeping. They weep from fear, a Georgian journalist tells the paper. You call somebody’s phone and there’s no answer, and you don’t know where the person is – in jail or in hiding. In recent years the secret police have been paying US$ 200 for a tip-off on any opposition activity. Now their informants are everywhere and the phones are tapped.

The same paper publishes snap interviews with experts.

Eduard Shevardnadze, former Georgian President says “I'm convinced that the Georgian opposition is not controlled from Moscow and that it's an internal crisis.”

Sergei Markov, political scientist remarks on “a smart move by Saakashvili, this early election. The opposition doesn’t have a single candidate to challenge him.”

Konstantin Zatulin, director of the CIS Institute believes “Saakashvili fears the U.S. is now looking for someone to replace him. He needs an early election to allow Washington as little time as possible for the selection of the replacement.”

The paper concludes that, with his rating in opinion polls at 14%, Mikhail Saakashvili is taking an enormous risk with the early election.

ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA daily says that behind the democratic rhetoric of Mikhail Saakashvili, the West failed to see a Latin American dictator of the mid-20th century. Now he has shown his true colours and that's come as a surprise.

VREMYA NOVOSTEI daily writes that one of the most painful comments for the Georgian President came from NATO – that his actions fall short of North-Atlantic values.

IZVESTIA daily notes that November 8 Georgians woke up in a new country – a country lacking basic freedoms and rights. Instead of the usual unconditional support President Saakashvili had to accept a reprimand from Washington together with the firm conclusion that the events in Tbilisi were not provoked by any external forces. The paper comments “there goes Mr. Saakashvili’s favorite tune about the hand of Moscow.”

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA concludes its Georgia story with a quote from the La Stampa newspaper: it seems, the “coloured revolutions” in the post-Soviet countries have, one by one, found themselves in crisis.