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Georgia protests revive charges of foreign meddling

Embattled President Saakashvili has accused Russians of financing a popular movement to oust him.

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As the first wave of "colored revolutions" was breaking, many experts believed that many countries in the former Soviet Union, including Russia, were vulnerable to a sharp political shock delivered by democracy activists taking action in the streets.

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In a 2006 meeting with Russian secret services, then-President Vladimir Putin urged them to be vigilant, especially concerning the activities of Western-funded nongovernmental organizations, to prevent “attempts by foreign states to use these organizations to interfere in Russia's internal affairs.”

But an investigation by the Monitor at the time of Ukraine's "Orange Revolution" found that while Western institutions were funding some Ukrainian NGOs that had programs in democracy education and civil society-building, there was no discernable evidence that they were subsidizing any subversive or politically partisan activities.

The continuing tendency among most political experts in Moscow is to view political turmoil in any far-flung corner of the former Soviet Union as a Western-orchestrated attempt to undermine Russian influence.

"Moldova was doomed to see an anti-Russian revolution, and an attempt at changing power was a mater of time and of a convenient occasion," the daily Komsomolskaya Pravda editorialized after the riots in Chinisau last week.

"For the past few years the West kept poking a finger into Russia's perimeter border to test if for reliability. The real aim of this is clear to all – surrounding Russia with a ring of states affiliated with the same military and political alliance [NATO],” it added.

Outside pressure vs. anger from within

Most experts say the tumult in the region is caused by internal pressures and part of the historical readjustment process for nations that were locked inside the USSR for 70 years.

“The reasons for these colored revolutions, whether successful or not, are purely internal,” says Alexander Iskanderyan, director of the independent Center for Caucasian Studies in Yerevan, Armenia. “Outside forces may be present, but they cannot initiate a revolt unless the local preconditions are already present.”

But others, such as the head of the Russian nationalist International Eurasian Movement, Alexander Dugin, argue that there's a geopolitical war going on for dominance in the post-Soviet space, and that Russia is losing it.

“Russia doesn't show any capacity to be an equal to the US in this battle,” Mr. Dugin says. He says that pro-Western groups, including disaffected young people and “globalist” NGOs, are employing the latest information technology to “network” and stage flash revolutions that have the potential to rapidly overwhelm legitimate but slow-moving established regimes.

“We are seeing just the first stage of these revolts,” he says “The whole world, including Russia, is becoming more vulnerable to this method of revolution. I think it will repeat itself in many places, including Russia.”

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