Russian President Dmitri Medvedev called a halt to the Russian assault on Georgia, its former Soviet state, on Tuesday. But going forward, no one is clear on what plans, exactly, Russia has for the tiny nation, which the Bush administration has held up as a beacon of democracy. One aim is clear at least: as the Washington Post reported, the Russian foreign minister said Russia would like Georgia’s recently re-elected President Mikhail Saakashvili out of the picture.

At the very least, Saakashvili has already been weakened militarily and politically, the Los Angeles Times reports. And that concerns not just U.S. diplomats, but a lot of American lawyers. As we reported in American Lawyer‘s March issue, Saakashvili, a Columbia Law LL.M. and a former Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler associate, has wide and deep bonds of friendship with many in the U.S. legal community. Since his rise to power in the nonviolent Rose Revolution in 2003, the Tbilisi office of the American Bar Assocation’s Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative — now renamed Rule of Law Initiative — has grown into one of the largest in the former Soviet states. At his invitation, the ABA spent the last 12 years helping the country draw up a new Constitution and institute legal reforms. Saakashvili himself received the ABA’s top legal reformer award in 2004, as we reported in an accompanying story, “Law and Disorder.”

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