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10 Mar, 2021 15:50

US prepared to back Georgia opposition as Tbilisi government no longer dancing to Washington’s tune, says Russia's top spy chief

US prepared to back Georgia opposition as Tbilisi government no longer dancing to Washington’s tune, says Russia's top spy chief

The head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service believes the US is becoming frustrated with the ruling political party in Georgia, a long-time client state of Washington, and is planning to provide support to the opposition.

On Tuesday, Sergey Naryshkin claimed that Washington has gotten used to dictating government policy in Tbilisi, but appears to have lost control. The chief spook also revealed his belief that the US is unhappy with the current leadership in the Caucasian nation.

"Dissatisfaction with the actions of the ruling Georgian Dream party is growing in Washington," Naryshkin said, believing that the White House is annoyed that the government in Tbilisi is not entirely fulfilling the plan for so-called Euro-Atlantic integration.

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"Since the time of [former President] Mikhail Saakashvili, the United States has become accustomed to manually managing the political process in Georgia, dictating how the government should function and what line to pursue in relation to the opposition," Naryshkin continued.

The early months of 2021 have been a turbulent time for Tbilisi politics. In February, law enforcement arrested Nika Melia, a prominent opposition politician. Melia is accused of being involved in riots in 2019, but says the charges are politically motivated.

Shortly after that, Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia resigned, noting increased polarization in the country's politics.

Melia is the chairman of the United National Movement, a pro-Western party founded by Saakashvili, who rose to power after the country's 2003 Rose Revolution. Nowadays, it is the second-most popular faction. In the time since Melia's arrest, his supporters have been taking to the streets in protest, demanding his release.

According to Naryshkin, following the turmoil, Washington is ready to throw its weight behind the opposition.

"To restore order in Georgia, the Americans plan to organize systematic work to provide support to the opposition," the intelligence chief claimed.

"Washington is making it clear to the Georgian authorities that the White House's further actions will be determined by the readiness of the Georgian leadership to precisely follow American instructions."

In his opinion, Georgia serves as an example of how looking to the US for patronage eventually leads to the loss of sovereignty and the inability to pursue independent policies.

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