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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

In Washington, Saakashvili Warns of Russian Threat

WASHINGTON -- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili warned that Russia was trying to undermine his government in hopes of intimidating democracy activists from rising up against corrupt regimes like the one he toppled three years ago.

Saakashvili -- who led the Rose Revolution in Georgia and inspired two other "color revolutions" -- complained in an interview with editors and reporters at The Washington Post that Moscow had employed hard-nosed tactics aimed at starving his nation economically and breaking it up physically. If it succeeded, he said, it would chill the spread of democracy far beyond his borders. "It will mean revolutions don't work and everyone ought to calm down, ... that color revolutions are bad and no one should follow their example," he said Thursday. He added: "From our perspective, any kind of setback would be a real disaster, a real disaster. If Georgia fails, it will not be that my government fails. ... It means the whole idea of the democracy agenda, which is so precious to us, is in real trouble."

Russia, he said, has tried to destabilize Georgia by restricting imports of Georgian wine, vegetables and mineral water while encouraging separatists in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Saakashvili wrapped up a visit to Washington highlighted by two hours of meetings at the White House, including an Oval Office session with U.S. President George W. Bush, who publicly called the Georgian "my friend" and promised to "make the path a little smoother for Georgia" to join NATO over Russian objections. Saakashvili also met with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other officials. The high-profile round of meetings was seen as a signal of U.S. solidarity with Russia's neighbors in the face of pressure from Moscow barely a week before Bush heads to St. Petersburg for the Group of Eight summit.