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Russian-US Victory in Georgia

Sunday's election of a new president in the Republic of Georgia was not only a victory for this poor and splintered nation in the Caucasus. It showed that Moscow and Washington can work together in a delicate power balance to allow a vulnerable small country express its desire for a workable democracy.

Georgia's ethnic divisions make it easy prey for its neighbors, especially Russia. And its 4.4 million people have been pawns in the great game over pipelines for Caspian Sea oil.

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Some regional leaders in Georgia even refuse to acknowledge the new president, Mikhail Saakashvili, a US-educated lawyer who won a landslide victory and helped draw over 50 percent of voters to the polls.

Mr. Saakashvili will need further money and advice from the US and noninterference from Russia to unify his nation. His strong democratic credentials were set in November when he led a "rose revolution," following a corrupt parliamentary election, and forced Soviet-era survivor Eduard Shevardnadze to resign.

Now Saakashvili must use this reborn democracy to further distribute power to the autonomous regions and boost a dormant economy in order to keep Georgia whole.

Continuing benign foreign influence, such as that of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, also will help Georgia prosper.


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