The Georgian Embassy said in a statement that Ivanishvili had not made any formal complaint about the cyberissue. “Had the government been informed about the alleged cyber attack, it would have acted vigorously to determine who had undertaken it,” the statement said, adding: “Should Bidzina Ivanishvili formally request that the government investigate this case, it will do so immediately. The country of Georgia itself was a victim of a vicious cyber attack in 2008, directed out of Russia, and so is exceedingly sensitive to this issue.”
Jeremy Rosner, a prominent U.S. pollster hired by Saakashvili’s party, cautioned that Georgian Dream has committed its own abuses, including inaccurate polling data that had led him to file a complaint with the group that oversees international polling. “Ivanishvili and his party are engaged in a systematic attempt to discredit the integrity of Georgia’s election system,” Rosner charged.
Ignatius writes a twice-a-week foreign affairs column and contributes to the PostPartisan blog.
Saakashvili has claimed that his billionaire rival represents “Russian money” and that Ivanishvili’s election will undermine Georgia’s independence. The United States, which appreciates Georgia’s decision to send troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, has stayed neutral, urging that the parliamentary elections next month and presidential election in October 2013 be “free and fair.”
What’s happening in Georgia is partly a proxy war, as a jittery and sometimes overzealous Saakashvili government tries to cope with a Russia that increasingly wants to assert its influence. The political tension spiked Wednesday, with graphic reports from Georgia of police abuse of prisoners.
The Georgian battle, to me, illustrates the modern folk wisdom, “What goes around, comes around.” The Rose Revolution made Saakashvili a role model for democratic challenges to autocratic rulers in Ukraine, Iran and elsewhere. But in this year’s murky campaign, Saakashvili’s regime risks becoming a symbol of what he once so eloquently opposed: the resistance of an entrenched elite to political change.