Friday, April 10, 2009

More Turbulence in the Former Soviet Bloc

Moldova, the poorest country in Europe, has recently been the scene of protests similar to those that occurred in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and the Ukraine in recent years. The political divisions within the countries are similar, as well, as there is an intense struggle between Russia and the West for influence in regions once within the realm of the Soviet Union. The European Union and United States want continued economic expansion into low-wage countries, in order to revitalize corporate profit rates, and develop new markets. Russia wants a buffer with the West, to preserve its own political and territorial sovereignty. Russian peacekeepers currently occupy a part of Moldova, known as Transdniestria, which was the scene of a civil war in the early 1990's.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the United States and Russia should not force former Soviet republics to choose between an alliance with Washington and Moscow, RIA news agency reported on Thursday...."It is inadmissible to try to place a false choice before them -- either you are with us or against us -- otherwise this will lead to a whole struggle for spheres of influence," Lavrov was quoted as saying by the agency.

Meanwhile, in Georgia, president Mikheil Saakashvili's popularity has eroded since last summer's military defeat at the hands of Russia.

In the capital of Tbilisi :
Tens of thousands of protesters marched through the streets of this capital city on Thursday bearing signs and chanting slogans against President Mikheil Saakashvili, who took office five years ago with promises of a progressive, pro-Western government.

The protesters gathered in front of the Parliament building to demand the resignation of the president, whom opposition speakers denounced as a tyrant who had mishandled the war with Russia. While the atmosphere was tense, the day’s events unfolded without violence.

The deteriorating economy is a major backdrop, as well:
Former Soviet-bloc states are facing their worst recession since the collapse of European communism two decades ago, ratings agency Fitch warned Wednesday.

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