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21 Jan, 2008 04:31

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

A modest inauguration in Georgia – this topic dominates the Russian press on Monday.

IZVESTIA writes the second inauguration of Mikhail Saakashvili appeared much less pompous than the first. The modest ceremony was supposed to demonstrate a state of unity between the President and the people – such unity that no showing off is required. Meanwhile, continues the paper, over 80,000 Georgians joined a protest meeting that was arranged exactly at the time of the inauguration.

VREMYA NOVOSTEI says the inauguration day revealed a dangerous division of Georgian society into “whites” and “reds” – the paper borrows from the vocabulary of the Russian Civil war, meaning that the gap between Saakashvili loyalists and his critics is as wide as between the Communists and the White Guard in 1920s.

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA writes recent events in Georgia initiated the acceleration of Euro-Atlantic integration for Georgia itself, as well as for Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova. The paper says, Mikhail Saakashvili played a round of win-win lottery when he scheduled the election to be held simultaneously with a nation-wide opinion survey about NATO membership. Every Georgian – members of the opposition as much as Saakashvili supporters – want their country to join NATO.

MOSKOVSKI KOMSOMOLETS writes the situation in Georgia cannot be called diarchy as the opposition has only the numbers but not the power. However in the eyes of the majority of Georgians Saakashvili is not a fully legitimate President.

KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA quotes a Tbilisi-based expert saying the opposition has lost because it lacked a clear goal and a charismatic leader. Another expert dubs Saakashvili a Democrat by rhetoric and a Tsar by nature. The paper says, during the inauguration President Saakashvili extended a hand to Russia while his feet were pointing towards NATO.

The same newspaper has answers from several Russians to the question: how do you see the future of Russia-Georgia relations?

Vyacheslav Nikonov, the Politika Foundation claims relations won't get better. Saakashvili hasn't changed or shifted his position in any of the existing problems he says.

Boris Nemtsov, the leader of the Union of Right-wing Forces says the legitimacy of the election victory is shaky, so Saakashvili will have to be more flexible with Moscow. But that would make him even less predictable.

Silvia, a reader claims that Russians won't lose their appetite for Georgian wines and oranges, and for Georgians their appetite for Russian girls.