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Russia wary of Georgia post-election

Oct. 8, 2012 at 9:20 AM

MOSCOW, Oct. 8 (UPI) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin said he suspected his Georgian counterpart would cling to power despite a loss for his party in recent parliamentary elections.

The United National Movement party of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili lost to the Georgian Dream party during last week's parliamentary elections. Saakashvili, accused of monopolizing power following a 2004 revolution, said he'd move his party into the opposition.

Putin said he expected Saakashvili to hold on to power despite the loss.

"Saakashvili will try to cling to power," Putin was quoted by state-run news agency RIA Novosti as saying.

Saakashvili was criticized for going to war with Russia in 2008 over the disputed territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and cut diplomatic ties to Moscow.

Saakashvili remains in power until October 2013. The country's government will shift to a parliamentary system after those elections.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said the campaign environment was marred by violence and polarization, though the election itself was viewed as competitive.

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