Georgia: Changing the Guard

For thirty years Eduard Shevardnadze was the sun in the solar system of Georgian politics. All other political forces orbited around him. This sun was expected to burn out at the presidential election in April 2005.

The World Today Published 1 January 2004 Updated 16 October 2020 4 minute READ

Jonathan Cohen

Caucasus Programme Manager, Conciliation Resources, London

All knew his power was waning but few expected this wily political operator who, as Soviet foreign minister under President Mikhail Gorbachev had played a key role in the end of the Cold War, to suddenly implode in the three weeks following the rigged parliamentary election of November 2. Now, as a new political era begins on a wave of euphoria generated by the tens of thousands who took to the streets to vent their anger at the stolen election, the question is whether the orbiting planets can chart a new course or will be dragged into a black hole.

President Eduard Shevardnadze was ousted by a troika of young ‘reformers’ he had brought to prominence. Two former parliamentary speakers, Zurab Zhvania and Nino Burjanadze, have become state minister and acting head of state, while Mikheil Saakashvili, the figurehead of the so-called ‘rose revolution’, is expected to be elected president on January 4.

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