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Georgia: Tbilisi Pols Looking to Washington to Influence Election Outcome?

As the South Caucasus state of Georgia gears up for parliamentary elections on October 1, Washington, DC, is proving to be a key theater of the political campaign.

The Georgian government, dominated by the United National Movement (UNM), and its main opponent, the Georgian Dream coalition led by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, are spending liberally in Washington. A small, impoverished country with muscular neighbors, Georgia has long lobbied for support from larger countries. But, in many ways, these rival PR campaigns have more to do with domestic politics than with diplomatic ties.

In essence, Washington has become the new Moscow, according to Marina Muskhelishvili, director of the Center for Social Studies in Tbilisi. “When there is a conflict internally, the sides . . . always look for somebody outside who will solve the conflict,” Muskhelishvili said. “Before . . . it was . . . Moscow that had this power, and now they [Georgian politicians] are looking to the West.”

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Molly Corso is a freelance journalist who also works as editor of Investor.ge, a monthly publication by the American Chamber of Commerce in Georgia. Paul Rimple is a freelance reporter based in Tbilisi.

Georgia: Tbilisi Pols Looking to Washington to Influence Election Outcome?

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