The Media Mirror: what's in today's Russian newspapers? 10.01.08

Today the Media Mirror spotlights the Georgian presidential election with views from Moscow and beyond. We also see how one columnist learned to hate New Year.

Izvestiareports from Georgia under the headline: the Double Saakashvili. The paper says, the opposition in Tbilisi claims Saakashvili is cheating. The paper quotes an opposition member as saying Saakashvili actually won 50% less votes than announced.

Rossiyskaya Gazetaquotes a member of the opposition who believes the right of choice, the basic democratic tool of elections, was denied the Georgian people – stolen from them. The opposition thinks the election results were tampered with to give Saakashvili a clear victory in the first round.

Vedomostipublishes an article by Vladimir Milov who says the Georgian election presents a few lessons to major powers. For Russia: Moscow neglects the issue of the self-proclaimed independent states and continues to pursue the policy of “freezing” the conflicts. As a result, no more pro-Russian politicians are left in Georgia. A lesson for the U.S.: by appointing second-rate career diplomats to protect young democracies, writes Milov, America is undermining its own influence as the world’s main critic of authoritarian rule.

Moskovskiy Komsomolets writes that the opposition has a slim chance of turning the situation in its favor: the West has already recognized the Georgian election as democratic. It means, says the paper, that if forceful methods are implemented again to stop street actions it would be interpreted as necessary steps taken to defend democracy.

The paper continues to say that, on the one hand, it does not mean that Saakashvili would not face another political crisis in the following months, that may happen sooner rather than later.  But on the other hand, Russia should not be complacent about this perspective: when cornered, Saakashvili would turn to his favorite survival tool – a conflict with Russia. This time he may even attempt “a small victorious war” in Southern Ossetia or Abkhazia.

Returning to Russian news: Izvestia columnist Dmitry Sokolov-Mitrich writes that with the 10-day vacation uniting New Year and Orthodox Christmas, he has started to hate the January holiday. There are so many days off in Russia now, it’s hard to find time to work. He writes: I hate calling someone’s office on a mid-January morning and getting a response: “Please call tomorrow. The nation is on holiday.”