Political Revival in Caucasus Threatens Georgia’s Reformer Image

Political Revival in Caucasus Threatens Georgia’s Reformer Image

With Russia embroiled in mass demonstrations following surprisingly tough and contested Duma elections, the breakaway republic of South Ossetia gripped by ongoing political confusion following its own controversial presidential poll, and separatist Abkhazia coming off recent fiercely contested elections, it may be time to re-evaluate more than a few political tropes in Eurasia. The developments are all the more noteworthy in that they come as Georgia, long portrayed by Western supporters as the region’s consummate reformer, faces an unexpected political showdown that is casting the ostensibly democratic republic’s autocratic contours into sharp relief.

In a stunning rebuke to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s hold on power, thousands of protesters have taken to Russia’s streets across the country following tight elections for the Duma. Despite widespread allegations of extensive fraud, the outcome of the voting still cut the ruling United Russia party’s majority to a bare minimum.

Stephen Sestanovich, a Russia expert at the Council for Foreign Relations, argued that the mass demonstrations are evidence of an anti-Putin tide that could well have historic reverberations.

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