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Mikheil Saakashvili has shown his country and the world what Georgian
Mikheil Saakashvili has shown his country and the world what Georgian democracy should be, as he sees it.

He dispersed the protesters with water cannon, rubber bullets and teargas, introduced a state of emergency and banned opposition television. His sympathizers-the European Union, the United States and Ukraine-have joined Russia in calls against the violence.

The president has made a fatal blunder. Tbilisi streets are silent, and so is Imedi television, the principal opposition outlet. He will pay dearly for this Pyrrhic victory. Saakashvili's days in office are numbered. He will lose whatever turn the developments take.

Saakashvili announced on Thursday that the presidential election would take place on January 5, 2008. A referendum on whether or not to hold the parliamentary elections earlier will also happen at that time. The last two months robbed him of any chance to win the parliamentary and presidential polls. Saakashvili will be in an even worse position if his regime stoops to ballot rigging, which is quite possible. The Rose Revolution, which overthrew Eduard Shevardnadze four years ago, started for just that reason.

Saakashvili flew into a panic even when things were not so bad for him-when he could not be sure his opponents would reenact Ukraine's Orange Revolution, and their camp near the Parliament House would hold on as long as its Kiev prototype in autumn 2004.

The president sees a threat from an external enemy as the only chance to consolidate the nation. He started with tracking the opposition down to Russian oligarchs in a television address. Georgians did not swallow it, so he turned to Russian secret services and their alleged collaboration with opposition leaders.

Pro-presidential Rustavi 2 television showed relevant footage. They misfired as Russian diplomats made no secret of contacts with Georgian political activists, while another denunciation had an adverse effect, revealing to the public that Russian Embassy telephones were bugged (which incidentally the Georgian parliament deems legal) and all politicians were shadowed.

The earliest footage dates back to May 2005, which means that Georgian secret services were ready to face public unrest long before it started. Saakashvili has kept the compromising information up his sleeve to use it-his only trump-now that things are heating up. He has expelled several Russian diplomats and is ready to recall the Georgian ambassador from Moscow, thus starting a diplomatic war with Russia in a vain attempt to settle his country's domestic problems. What he is doing is no cure-all, and he is aware of it just as his opponents, who are no fast friends of Moscow, either.

The U.S. administration also sees the point. At any rate, the latest pronouncement of the State Department thwarted Saakashvili's hopes. Its spokesman Sean McCormack said that America insisted on citizens' right to peaceful protests, and that he could not say anything about alleged attempts to stir up unrest in Georgia from the outside.

Georgian opposition has been seeking to win Western not Russian support for several months. Whatever Russian politicians might be saying now about American influence on the violent suppression of the budding Georgian revolution, opposition has at least started the U.S. administration thinking whether or not democracy, Saakashvili-style, is as fine as it first appeared.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

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