- Created: Thursday, 14 May 2009 21:24
- Written by Ed Scrivens
FRFI 176 December 2003 / January 2004
On 23 November the former darling of the West, President Eduard Shevardnadze of Georgia was forced to resign after three weeks of mass protests against his re-election in a rigged ballot. Tens of thousands of demonstrators had taken to the streets of Tbilisi and on 22 November stormed the parliament building, unopposed by the army or police. Parliamentary speaker Nino Burdzhanadze is now acting president and hopes to hold presidential and parliamentary elections within 45 days.
Shevardnadze became well known as the Soviet foreign minister who with Gorbachev led the USSR to collapse and counter-revolution. Following the break up of the Soviet Union he returned to his native Georgia to become president in 1992. However Georgia, like other former Soviet republics, was too weak to exist independently and became the plaything of foreign powers. Under Shevardnadze Georgia became dependent on US imperialism which provided the country with $1bn over the last ten years, second only to Israel in per capita aid. Despite this, Georgia fell into ruin as the economy collapsed, electricity supplies frequently failed and the country’s once famously fertile agriculture declined. Where socialism had promoted co-operation between the different nationalities within the country, capitalism promoted conflict. Civil war broke out in the early 1990s and Georgia disintegrated, as the national autonomous regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia effectively split from Tbilisi under warlords with the encouragement of Russian expansionism. The pro-Russian government of the Adjaria region responded by closing its borders with the rest of Georgia so cutting off rail links to the country’s main port Batumi. Following Washington’s declaration of the War on Terrorism, US military forces arrived in Georgia and set up base.