The threat of a Russian threat
by The Messenger
With elections coming closer and closer, Georgia’s leadership has started publicly speculating about military threats facing the country. Despite the grave seriousness of such talk, threats from abroad are receiving extra significance because of the elections, and not necessarily because they are genuine. The administration is using talk of war and Russian aggression in order to discredit and undermine its major political rival - Bidzina Ivanishvili and his Georgian Dream coalition.
First it was President Mikheil Saakashvili who initiated the topic of a possible military threat from Russia. According to him, that country's government deliberately planned its military training in the North Caucasus for September 2012, a period which coincides with Georgia's parliamentary elections. The Kavkaz 2012 exercises are an attempt to intimidate the Georgian population and discredit their elections, he says. He also mentioned that there is another way to manipulate Georgian elections – bribes from Russian officials, or their agents (meaning Ivanishvili and his companions).
Later, Secretary of the National Security Council Giga Bokeria echoed the President's statement in an interview, saying that he does not rule out another military engagement with Russia. For Bokeria, like the President, the Kavkaz exercises represent evidence to support this view. On April 3, Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze also highlighted that the timing of the training is no coincidence. He compared it to the exercises held by the Russian military in 2008, on the eve of military aggression against Georgia.
A possible military threat to Georgia has even been discussed in Parliament. United National Movement MP Nugzar Tsiklauri connected the Russian threat to Georgian Dream members, whom he said endangered the country by spreading rumors about Saakashvili's partisan paramilitary groups in Samegrelo. The Georgian government is actively trying to reinforce its defense systems and tell its Western allies to take preventive measures. So as the election date draws nearer, the more intense and more frantic the campaign becomes.