Haley Sweetland Edwards writes on the campaign of intimidation directed against Saakashvili’s political opponents in Georgia:
Almost immediately after Ivanishvili entered the fray, Saakashvili and his party loyalists began behaving like goons. (A United Nations rapporteur put it a little more diplomatically: The Georgian government’s “generally positive trajectory” is in danger, he wrote in February, of succumbing to “a widespread climate of fear, intimidation and arbitrary restrictions of fundamental freedoms.”) In October, Ivanishvili was stripped of his Georgian citizenship on the basis of an infrequently-applied law (he’s currently appealing), and in the following months, his businesses and colleagues were subjected to police harassment, surveillance and arrest on trumped up charges, according to Irakli Alasani, Georgia’s former ambassador to the United Nations and now a prominent member of Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream coalition.
Last month, the ominously-titled Chamber of Control, Georgia’s internal auditing agency, hauled in more than 100 Ivanishvili supporters, subjecting each to private interrogations lasting for several hours. Amnesty International called it a case of voter intimidation.
But the way Saakashvili’s government has gone about it — namely, passing two problematic amendments in December, and unleashing the Chamber of Control in March — has been duplicitous, undemocratic and downright disheartening, particularly for the international community, which has sunk more than $4 billion dollars into Georgia since 2008 on the hope that it would actually become that beacon of democracy that Saakashvili promised.
What Edwards doesn’t discuss here is that Saakashvili’s response to Ivanishvili’s challenge to the ruling party is completely unsurprising for anyone who has followed his behavior since he took power eight years ago. The bloom has been off the “Rose” revolutionary for at least the last four years ever since he ordered a brutal crackdown on protesters opposed to him in the fall of 2007. I hope that the alliance member states take this into consideration when they decide on what NATO is going to offer Georgia at the Chicago summit later this year.