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Beware Russia's hand in elections in Georgia, Ukraine, Lithuania

A top priority of Russian President Vladimir Putin is the reintegration of former Soviet republics – based on tighter economic links and culminating in a political and security pact centered around Russia. Meddling in Eastern European elections is one way to fulfill Putin's regional ambition.

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People hold Georgian state flags during a campaign rally for President Mikhail Saakashvili's United National Movement in Tbilisi, Georgia, Sept. 28. Georgia holds tightly contested parliamentary elections Oct. 1. Op-ed contributor Janusz Bugajski writes: 'In the worst-case scenario, major [electoral] unrest in Georgia could precipitate another Russian military intervention on the pretext of restoring law and order by installing a friendlier government.'

Shakh Aivazov/AP

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Starting today with Georgia, and followed by Ukraine and Lithuania, parliamentary elections in Europe's east are revealing the tenuous nature of democracy and sovereignty in countries once entrapped by Soviet-era Moscow.

Among the top priorities that Russian President Vladimir Putin set for his third presidential term is the reintegration of former Soviet republics – based on tighter economic links and culminating in a political and security pact centered around Russia. Moscow seeks to create a new Eurasian Union that will balance the European Union in the West and China in the East.

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