Democracy a Victim of Hit and Run in Georgia
1:00 PM, May 27, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
The other day, on a rainy night in Tbilisi, Georgian opposition leader Nino Burjanadze’s motorcade ran over a cop and sped away:
This particular video of Burjanadze’s motorcade running over a cop appears to have been an accident, though it’s fitting into an uncomfortable pattern of events in Georgia, filled with protests, deaths, and the occasional unexplained bombing—all of which are in keeping with how Moscow conducts business.
Burjanadze is deeply unpopular in Georgia, mostly because people rightly perceive her as a tool of Russian’s chief thug, Vladimir Putin. Georgian’s democratically elected president, Mikheil Saakashvili, has a high approval rating and just won democratic municipal elections last spring.
While the opposition is weak and divided, they are participating in the government, trying to build up their parties. The protesters, in contrast, are an element of the radical opposition, trying to win through violence what they couldn't win at the ballot box. And many of these protesters seem to have loyalties to Georgia’s primary enemy, Russia. Indeed, there is evidence that the instigators behind these protests is the Kremlin, which is primarily aiming at bringing down their democratic neighbors.
Indeed, it’s becoming pretty clear that Burjanadze isn’t simply working alone – she seems to have been colluding with the Russkies. Time magazine reports:
It’s hard to see the protesters as an unconnected element from the Russian hand. And it’s hard to make the argument that the Russians have been not successful. The results? Undermining Saakashvili through worldwide propaganda. Consider this slanted write-up from the Los Angeles Times:
The truth is, protesters have been going at it for days, the first of which they were able to do so unmolested by police. But that changed when the protesters tried to block the National Day parade on the main square: They were asked to move the protest, but refused. It was precisely the confrontation the protesters wanted.
There is bad video of cops beating handcuffed protesters. Police got a little carried away beating on some of the people—but nothing too bad considering it's a bunch of lunatics with clubs who refused police orders to disperse.
But this is not Russia. In Georgia, where the rule of law is respected, the cops are going to be investigated – then probably fired and could end up doing jail time themselves.
Some will surely try to place Georgian opposition and protesters in with the Arab Spring—probably under the assumption that all protests that draw blood look alike. Squishy Europeans and the Obama administration will probably use this as another excuse not to support the Georgians as fully as we should.
But Georgia isn’t a tyranny. In a democracy, unlike Putin’s Russia, that's how things work—warts and all.