Russia NATO envoy says U.S. planning to replace Georgian leader
With former parliamentary speaker Nino Burdzhanadze
The United States is planning to replace Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili with former parliamentary speaker Nino Burdzhanadze, Russia`s NATO envoy said on Friday, RIA Novosti reported.
"Georgia`s friends at NATO are deeply disappointed with Saakashvili," Dmitry Rogozin said in an interview with Russia`s Vesti news channel, "Another leader for Georgia is being prepared. Most likely it will be Nino Burdzhanadze."
He said the United States "likes" Burdzhanadze, adding that in his opinion "she is a better alternative than the tie-chewing Saakashvili."
Saakashvili was filmed chewing on his tie during a phone conversation with a top Western official in the middle of the country`s five-day war with Russia in August. The footage was then aired by the BBC.
The Russian envoy also said it was unlikely that NATO would grant a Membership Action Plan (MAP) to Georgia and Ukraine, another former Soviet republic striving to join the alliance, and the organization would probably come out with "some kind of a partnership declaration," to make all the sides involved happy.
NATO refused at its summit in April to let Georgia and Ukraine into MAP, a key step for membership to the 26-nation alliance, but promised to review the decision in December. The countries had received strong U.S. backing for their bids.
Georgia`s August 8 attack on its breakaway republic of South Ossetia, which led to Russia`s operation to "force Georgia to peace," was barely mentioned in earlier mainstream Western media reports on the war, and initially Russia was portrayed as the sole aggressor in the conflict.
The picture changed last month, however, with Western media coverage shifting the blame to Georgia and calling Saakashvili`s decision to start hostilities a "mistake."
Some experts said that this shift by Western media could indicate that Georgia`s "Western patrons" had become deeply disappointed with Saakashvili and were seeking to replace him.