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22 May, 2009 09:13

ROAR: Russian Opinion and Analytics Review, May 22

ROAR: Russian Opinion and Analytics Review, May 22

This Friday ROAR presents opinions on the state of affairs in Moldova and Georgia. Both articles touch on the question of ‘color revolutions’: are they history, or may there be a come back?

Political commentator Valery Vyzhutovich writes in ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA under the headline ‘The end of all color’ that Moldova is entering a new political cycle, with the Parliament speaker (and acting president) Vladimir Voronin in place, and several candidates contesting the presidential office. The presidential election, he writes, will go through its second round on May 28. The opposition is saying it will boycott the election again, in order to make the government dissolve the parliament and set the date for a new parliamentary election.

The commentator quotes experts as saying that such a scenario is highly unlikely. Vyzhutovich writes that the political division in Moldovan society is not that deep: there are the radical young who dream of joining Romania "like boys in a prep school dream of joining a street gang," but the majority of the voting population belong to older age groups who consider Moldova to be their Motherland, who identify themselves as Moldovans and do not want to become Romanians.

This electorate is the power base for such politicians as Vladimir Voronin who, even under the next president is going to maintain his firm grip on power through his party (the Communist party) of which he is the leader, and through the parliament of which he is the speaker.

The commentator says Voronin is a most popular leader at home and a simultaneous favorite of the EU and Russia: or rather, he is the only leader who is readily accepted by both. Voronin, says the commentator, has a record of distancing himself from Russia for a considerably long while, but recently Moscow and Chisinau have been more often in agreement over various matters than not, including the issue of the unrecognized Trans-Dniestr Republic.

Russia’s strategic interests in Moldova are not of great significance, says the author, but for Russia, Moldova is the perfect ground to prove to the world community its ability to settle conflicts in the post-Soviet era.

Incidentally, says the author, after the caricature protest by the Moldovan opposition it became clear that the era of ‘color revolutions’ in our neighboring countries is over. He explains that the scenario in which after an election there are severe street protests which seek a result contrary to that achieved by the election, which they win in the end, is feasible only when an outside organization – European or American – raises doubts about the legitimacy of the election. It happened that way in Ukraine and Georgia, but another color revolution, the one in Armenia, failed because international monitoring agencies had found no fault in the Armenian election.

Of course, says the commentator, that is not the only reason for the end of the color revolution era: the main reason is the fact that the ‘export of democracy’ to the post-Soviet era has proven unfeasible: those in the West who greeted the Orange revolution and the Revolution of the Roses are now deeply concerned about the current political situation in Ukraine and Georgia.

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA publishes an article by Viktoria Magda, who reports on the contradictions among the leadership of the Georgian opposition.

The writer says that there are at least fifteen leaders of various branches and groups of the Georgian opposition, united by only one common goal: the ousting of Mikhail Saakashvili. He writes that representatives of the opposition have recently tried to explain the situation to the leadership of the European Union, ‘which had a totally wrong perception of what is going on in Georgia.’

The writer doubts that former Foreign Minister Salome Zurabishvili succeeded in persuading Xavier Solana that the opposition in Georgia is capable of joint actions. Then again, what shall happen if the opposition wins its victory over Saakashvili, no one can predict so far.

The author also notes that there are large groups of Georgians supporting the opposition sentiment, who live in Russia and other post-Soviet republics. At a conference in Sochi, the World Association of the peoples of Georgia stated in its final declaration that Georgia ‘must become a neutral non-bloc state, maintaining and developing relations with all its neighbor states and all countries of the world.’

The writer concludes by saying that the organizers of the Association, differing in opinion on various matters, are firm and united in the following: Saakashvili must go; the Association represents the hopes of the Georgian people, not the will of Moscow; the Association considers normalization of relations with Russia to be a first priority task serving, first of all, the interest of the people of Georgia.

Evgeny Belenkiy, RT.