‘Dream’ comes true, as ruling party backed candidate wins Georgian polls

Salome Zurabishvili, a French-born Georgian independent candidate backed by the ruling Georgian Dream party, is poised to become the country’s new president, exit polls show, according to Izvestia. In the runoff presidential election, she secured nearly 57% of the vote. Zurabishvili’s victory opens the door for restoring direct dialogue between Tbilisi and Moscow, Georgian MP Georgy Lomia told the paper. According to experts, the outcome signals that citizens fear that former President Mikheil Saakashvili and his allies could return to power.

"In Salome Zurabishvili’s case, there are more chances that she will take the first step and meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, something that [her rival] Grigol Vashadze would definitely not do," Lomia said. According to him, the restoration of bilateral contacts should be a priority for Georgia, given that the situation where both countries have almost no contacts is abnormal.

"Mending ties with Russia is of vital importance for Georgia. One should not have bad relations with such a neighbor as Russia. This is nonsense," the lawmaker stressed. "Many are looking to the West, but it has done nothing for us. We have been pushed into billions upon billions in debts, which we must pay off. While the Russian market could be used, it is now closed to ordinary citizens. No one is exporting goods to the West."

The Georgian president has very limited powers, but can still create better conditions for dialogue between Moscow and Tbilisi, Deputy Director of the Institute of CIS Countries Vladimir Evseev said.

Zurabishvili’s victory can be explained by the fact that people still remember the time, when Saakashvili ruled the country, Azhdar Kurtov, a political analyst and expert at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, told the paper. "There are no conditions in Georgia now for the restoration of the ex-president’s power.

Saakashvili’s time in power is very well remembered, he caused much trouble and grief. He sparked conflicts inside the country, caused the loss of some territories, conducted illegal prosecution of entrepreneurs and undesirable journalists, and had torture in prisons. People do not want this to happen again," the expert said.

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