Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Lincoln Mitchell (Adjunct Associate Research Scholar) and Tinatin Japaridze (MARS '19) co-authored an op-ed for the Moscow Times, titled "The Specter of Russia Hangs over Georgia's Presidential Runoff" (November 28, 2018).
When Georgians went to the polls last month in the first round of a presidential election, they sent a clear message that they are dissatisfied with the leadership of the Georgian Dream (GD) government and the leader of that party, billionaire and former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili.
Salome Zurabashvili, the GD-backed candidate finished second with 37 percent of the vote, one point behind Grigol Vashadze, the candidate from the once disgraced United National Movement (UNM), which governed the country from 2004-2012. Now, the two will meet in a runoff on Nov. 28.
The race is, on some level a grudge match between Ivanishvili and former President Mikheil Saakashvili who is a key backer of Vashadze’s. But despite the limited power of the presidency in Georgia, there is a lot at stake for Georgia and the region.
For Russia, a victory for Zurabashvili would mean a clear continuation of Tbilisi’s policy of diplomatic opposition to Russia, balanced by Tbilisi’s ongoing efforts to de-escalate tensions between the two countries while avoiding saber rattling.