Mikheil Saakashvili
President of Georgia
Mikheil Saakashvili
Mikheil Saakashvili is a Georgian politician, the third and current President of Georgia and leader of the United National Movement Party. Involved in national politics since 1995, he became president on 25 January 2004 after President Eduard Shevardnadze resigned in the November 2003 bloodless "Rose Revolution" led by Saakashvili and his political allies, Nino Burjanadze and Zurab Zhvania. He was re-elected in the Georgian presidential election on 5 January 2008.
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Georgia's ex-president vows to force early Ukraine elections
Yahoo News - 3 months
Georgia's pro-Western former president Mikheil Saakashvili on Friday announced plans to create a new opposition movement in Ukraine that aims to topple the current leadership and force early elections. Saakashvili was a passionate supporter of Ukraine's 2014 pro-EU revolution that ousted the Russian-backed president and set the former Soviet republic on its westward course.
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Mikheil Saakashvili Resigns Post in Ukraine, Citing Corruption
NYTimes - 3 months
The former president of Georgia quit his post as governor of the Odessa region, accusing the Ukrainian president of blocking efforts to root out graft.
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NYTimes article
Ruling party in Georgia wins constitutional majority after vote run-off
Yahoo News - 4 months
By Margarita Antidze TBILISI (Reuters) - Georgia's ruling party decisively won a second round of voting on Sunday, giving it more than three quarters of seats in parliament, enough to change the constitution if it wants, data from the Central Election Commission showed on Monday. The result cements Georgian Dream's already firm grip on power in the ex-Soviet nation and is a crushing defeat for the opposition United National Movement (UNM) and its founder, former president Mikheil Saakashvili, a regional governor in Ukraine who has spoken of a possible return to his homeland. Georgian Dream, which came to power in 2012, is pro-Western but also favors closer ties with Russia, while the UNM is strongly pro-Western.
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The education of Mikheil Saakashvili
Chicago Times - 4 months
Just last week, former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili was confidently predicting his imminent return to his home country. Anticipating that his old political party would triumph in the Oct. 8 parliamentary elections -- and that corruption charges the current government instigated against...
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Chicago Times article
Pro-Western Georgia holds knife-edge parliamentary vote
Yahoo News - 4 months
Georgians voted Saturday in bitterly contested parliamentary polls that have sparked fears of political instability in the Caucasus nation, with two pro-Western parties tied after a fraught campaign. The knife-edge elections see the ruling Georgian Dream party, led from behind the scenes by billionaire ex-PM Bidzina Ivanishvili, grappling with the United National Movement (UNM), founded by exiled former president Mikheil Saakashvili. Georgia's Western allies will be watching closely to see if the strategic nation -- praised as a rare example of democracy in the former Soviet region -- can cement gains after its first transfer of power at the ballot box four years ago.
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A New Ancien Regime In The White House
Huffington Post - 5 months
The United States is indeed exceptional. It is the only country that ushers in a new presidency by displacing thousands of the highest executive branch officials. How do institutional integrity and coherent foreign policy survive this upheaval? Placed in historical perspective, it is striking that shifts by Washington, and hence adjustments required of other powers tend to be marginal. Think of the Cold War. Premises and purposes varied ever so slightly between Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan. Events more than leaders were the primary cause of significant alterations in its modalities. Stalin’s death, the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis (above all), Vietnam, the 1973 complex of Middle East crises, the fall of the Shah, Afghanistan and then – finally and conclusively – the arrival in the Kremlin of Mikhail Gorbachev. The post-Cold War era has witnessed similar continuity. Six successive administrations headed by four different presidents have dedicated America to accomplish ...
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Huffington Post article
Mikheil Saakashvili: 'Ukraine's government has no vision for reform'
Guardian (UK) - 9 months
A year after becoming governor of Odessa, the combative ex-Georgian president talks about his anti-corruption drive and his frustration with Petro Poroshenko When Mikheil Saakashvili was appointed governor of the Ukrainian region of Odessa a year ago, the former Georgian president constantly mentioned Vladimir Putin. Reforms in post-revolution Ukraine, and attempts to reform Russophone Odessa, were all part of a grand plan to stick two fingers up to the Kremlin, and prove to both Ukrainians and Russians that post-Soviet life could be transformed to remove corrupt elites and promote democratic values. A year later, and Saakashvili still talks about Putin, during a late-night interview at his residence on the outskirts of Odessa. But as well as the Russian president, the man who crushed his Georgian army during a brief 2008 war, Saakashvili also has increasingly tough words for the man who appointed him to his new role in Odessa: the Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko. Continue re ...
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Guardian (UK) article
Railing Against Graft, a Georgian Leads Calls for a Cleanup in Ukraine
NYTimes - about 1 year
Mikheil Saakashvili, the former president of Georgia, is making a political comeback in Ukraine at the forefront of a movement to strip oligarchs of their power.
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NYTimes article
World Briefing: Georgia: Ex-President Loses Citizenship
NYTimes - about 1 year
Former President Mikheil Saakashvili was stripped of his citizenship, a move one of his supporters described as a settling of scores.
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NYTimes article
Rose Revolution hero runs into a wall of debauchery in Odessa
LATimes - about 1 year
When former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili was appointed governor of the Odessa region in May, Ukraine's president and fawning media hailed the brash, Western-educated reformer as the new sheriff in town who would clean up the Black Sea port's legendary corruption. You could almost hear...
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LATimes article
Thousands in Georgia march call for government to step down
Yahoo News - almost 2 years
Tens of thousands of Georgians joined a protest rally Saturday in the ex-Soviet republic's capital Tbilisi to demand the government's resignation, claimed it has mishandled the battered economy. Protesters packed Tbilisi's central Freedom Square after being called onto the streets by exiled former president Mikheil Saakashvili's United National Movement (UNM), before marching towards the State Chancellery building, the seat of government. "We are united by our shared task to liberate Georgia from the government which destroys our country," Saakashvili said in an emotional address. Saakashvili's UNM party has accused the ruling Georgian Dream coalition government of mishandling the tiny Caucasus country's economy that, during the last two years, saw growth slowdown, a 30-percent currency devaluation, and rising inflation and unemployment.
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Georgia mustn't use justice system to settle scores: Europe rights body
Yahoo News - almost 2 years
By Margarita Antidze TBILISI (Reuters) - Georgian authorities should not use the justice system to settle political scores with the former government of Mikheil Saakashvili, a European rights body said on Friday. Dozens of former officials, including the prime, defense and interior ministers, have been arrested on charges including abuse of power and corruption since ex-president Saakashvili's party lost an election in October 2012. "The demonization of political competitors ... is not healthy for a democracy, and the power to detain suspected criminals must not be used, or appear to be used, to settle political scores," said Pedro Agramunt, rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), after visit to Georgia. "I could not help getting the impression that this (pre-trial detention) is part of a bitter campaign by the current authorities against their predecessors," he said in a statement on Friday.
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Putin's longtime enemy speaks out
CNN - about 2 years
Former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili speaks to CNN's Brooke Baldwin about Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Article Link:
CNN article
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Mikheil Saakashvili
  • 2015
    Saakashvili stated on 1 June 2015 that he had given up (three days before) Georgian citizenship to avoid "guaranteed imprisonment" in Georgia.
    More Details Hide Details The Constitution of Ukraine forbids the extradition of Ukrainians to other states.
    On 30 May 2015 Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko appointed Saakashvili Governor of Odessa Oblast (region).
    More Details Hide Details He was also granted Ukrainian citizenship. Some non-Georgian sources spell Saakashvili's first name via the Russian version of the name Mikhail. In Georgia, he is commonly known as Misha, a hypocorism for Mikheil.
    In December 2015 Saakashvili started an anti-corruption NGO Movement for Purification.
    More Details Hide Details Among rumours that this NGO would be transformed into a political force Saakashvili has stated he does not have the intention to create a new political party.
    On 4 December 2015 Saakashvili was stripped of his Georgian citizenship.
    More Details Hide Details According to him this was done to prevent him to lead the United National Movement in the 2016 Georgian parliamentary election.
    Also on 1 June 2015 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia stated that the appointment of Saakashvili would not have a negative impact on the relations between Georgia and Ukraine.
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    Saakashvili stated on 1 June 2015 that he had now changed his mind to avoid "guaranteed imprisonment" in Georgia and to defend Georgian interest through his governorship in Odessa.
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    On the previous day, 29 May 2015, he was granted Ukrainian citizenship.
    More Details Hide Details A month before this appointment Saakashvili had stated that he had turned down the post of First Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine because in order to fulfill that post he would have had to become a Ukrainian citizen and renounce his Georgian citizenship.
    On 30 May 2015 Poroshenko appointed Saakashvili Governor of Odessa Oblast (region).
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    On 13 February 2015 Saakashvili was appointed by the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko as head of the International Advisory Council on Reforms—an advisory body whose main task is working out proposals and recommendations for implementation and introduction of reforms in Ukraine based on best international practices.
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  • 2014
    In September 2014 Saakashvili moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
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    On 28 July 2014, criminal charges were filed by the Georgian prosecutor's office against the former President Mikheil Saakashvili over alleged "exceeding official powers" during the 2007 Georgian demonstrations as well as a police raid on and "seizure" of Imedi TV and other assets owned by the late tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili.
    More Details Hide Details Saakashvili, then being in Hungary, responded by accusing the Georgian authorities of political score-settling and attempts at appeasing Russia. The United States expressed concerns over the case and warned that "the legal system should not be used as a tool of political retribution". The European Union stated that it took "note with concern" and it will "closely monitor these and other legal proceedings against members of the former government and current opposition in Georgia". On 2 August 2014, Tbilisi City Court ordered pre-trial detention in absentia for Saakashvili, as well as for the co-accused Zurab Adeishvili (chief prosecutor in 2007) and Davit Kezerashvili (defense minister in 2007), with a preliminary hearing appointed for September 2014.
    On 7 March 2014, Saakashvili authored an op-ed piece entitled "When Putin invaded my country", in the context of the turmoil in Ukraine after the ouster on 22 February of President Viktor Yanukovich and before the 16 March referendum in the 2014 Crimean crisis.
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    Saakashvili energetically supported Ukraine's Euromaidan movement and its 2014 Ukrainian revolution.
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  • 2013
    In December 2013 Saakashvili accepted the position of lecturer and senior statesman at Tufts University in the United States.
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    He was barred from seeking a third term in the 2013 presidential election.
    More Details Hide Details Saakashvili left Georgia shortly after the election.
    He was barred by the constitution of Georgia from seeking a third term in the 2013 presidential election, which was won by the Georgian Dream's candidate Giorgi Margvelashvili.
    More Details Hide Details Shortly after the election, Saakashvili left Georgia. Saakashvili is wanted by Georgia's new government on multiple criminal charges, which he denies as politically motivated. Saakashvili energetically supported Ukraine's Euromaidan movement and the 2014 Ukrainian revolution.
  • 2012
    On 2 October 2012, Saakashvili admitted defeat in Georgia's parliamentary election against Bidzina Ivanishvili in the election the day before.
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    In September, 2012, during Saakashvili's presidency, a video taken inside Tbilisi prison Gldani #8 showing prisoners being beaten and sodomized was released to the public.
    More Details Hide Details Georgian Minister of Correction, Probation and Legal Assistance Khatuna Kalmakhelidze was forced to resign over the scandal. Human rights organizations including the U.N. Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement expressing outrage over the video.
  • 2010
    In 2010, he had a 67% approval rating despite being criticized by the opposition for his alleged authoritarian tendencies and electoral fraud.
    More Details Hide Details On 2 October 2012, Saakashvili admitted his party's defeat in Georgia's parliamentary election against the Georgian Dream coalition led by the tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili.
  • 2009
    The pressure against Saakashvili intensified in 2009, when the opposition launched mass demonstrations against Saakashvili's rule.
    More Details Hide Details On 5 May 2009, Georgian police said large-scale disorders were planned in Georgia of which the failed army mutiny was part. According to the police, Saakashvili's assassination had also been plotted. Opposition figures dispute the claim of an attempted mutiny and instead say that troops refused an illegal order to use force against opposition demonstrators.
  • 2008
    On 28 October 2008, Mikheil Saakashvili proposed Grigol Mgaloblishvili, Georgian Ambassador to Turkey for the premiership.
    More Details Hide Details According to the President, Gurgenidze had initially agreed to serve only for a year and that Georgia was facing new challenges which needed new approach. The Parliament of Georgia approved Mgaloblishvili as the premier on 1 November 2008. In 2009 (2009 Georgian demonstrations), 2011 (2011 Georgian protests) and 2012 (2012 Georgian protests) protests against Saakashvili spread across Georgia.
    On 22 February 2008 Saakashvili held an official meeting with the President of Russia Vladimir Putin, in his residence in Novo-Ogaryovo.
    More Details Hide Details The presidents discussed the issues of aviation regulations between the two countries. This was Putin's last meeting in his second term as the President of Russia, being succeeded by Dimitry Medvedev shortly thereafter. However, after a series of clashes between Georgians and South Ossetians, Russian military forces intervened on the side of the South Ossetian separatists in response to the Georgian attack on Tskhinvali and invaded Gori in Shida Kartli. The two counterparts were led to a ceasefire agreement and a six-point peace plan, due to the French President's mediation. On 26 August the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, signed a decree recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. On 26 August 2008, in response to Russia's recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Deputy Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze announced that Georgia had broken diplomatic relations with Russia. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev held Saakashvili responsible for the Russo-Georgian War, and states that Saakashvili is responsible for the collapse of the Georgian state. Medvedev has stated "(a)s soon as Georgia gets a new leader we will have every opportunity to restore ties."
    Another series of demonstrations forced Saakashvili to reset the pre-scheduled presidential elections to 5 January 2008. On 5 January 2008, an early presidential election, was held nationwide with the exception of a highland village Shatili, where the polling station was not opened due to the high levels of snowfall.
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    He also proposed to hold a plebiscite in parallel to snap presidential elections about when to hold parliamentary polls – in spring as pushed for by the opposition parties, or in late 2008.
    More Details Hide Details Several concessions in the election code were also made to the opposition.
    He was re-elected in the Georgian presidential election on 5 January 2008.
    More Details Hide Details He was widely regarded as a pro-NATO and pro-West leader who spearheaded a series of political and economic reforms.
  • 2007
    In a televised address, President Saakashvili had proposed to hold the election earlier than called for by the Georgian constitution in order to resolve the political tension surrounding opposition-led demonstrations, their suppression by the government on 7 November 2007, and the closure of the most popular opposition television network, Imedi.
    More Details Hide Details Saakashvili said in his presidential address that "these elections will be held according to our timing, and not that of our ill-wishers." Saakashvili publicly announced about his plans of modernising the Cabinet of Georgia well before Georgian presidential elections. Shortly after being re-elected, the president formally re-appointed the Prime Minister of Georgia Lado Gurgenidze and asked him to present a renewed cabinet to the Parliament of Georgia for final approval. Gurgenidze changed most ministers, leaving Ivane Merabishvili, controversial Minister for Home Affairs, Defence Minister David Kezerashvili and Minister of Finance Nika Gilauri on their former positions. Gia Nodia was appointed as the Minister of Education and Science. Zaza Gamcemlidze, former director of Tbilisi Botanic Garden, took over the position of the Minister of Natural Resources and Nature Protection. Famous archaeologist, and already the eldest minister in the cabinet, Iulon Gagoshidze was appointed on a newly designated position of the Minister of State for Diasporas.
    On 23 November 2007, the ruling United National Movement party officially nominated Saakashvili as its candidate for the upcoming elections.
    More Details Hide Details Pursuant to the Constitution of Georgia, Saakashvili resigned on 25 November to launch his pre-election campaign for early presidential polls. Saakashvili came under criticism for dispersing with rubber bullets and tear gas hundreds of protesters who were blocking Tbilisi's main transport artery, Rustaveli Avenue. The demonstrations started as protest against the arrest of two well-known sportsmen accused of blackmail but soon grew into a demonstration against the central authorities. 25 people were arrested including five members of opposition parties.
    On 8 November 2007, President Saakashvili announced a compromise solution to hold early presidential elections for 5 January 2008.
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    The late Georgian businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili claimed that pressure had been exerted on his financial interests after Imedi Television broadcast several accusations against officials. On 25 October 2007, former defense minister Irakli Okruashvili accused the president of planning Patarkatsishvili's murder. Okruashvili was detained two days later on charges of extortion, money laundering, and abuse of office. However, in a videotaped confession released by the General Prosecutor's Office on 8 October 2007, in which Okruashvili pleaded guilty to large-scale bribery through extortion and negligence while serving as minister, he retracted his accusations against the president and said that he did so to gain some political benefit and that Badri Patarkatsishvili told him to do so.
    More Details Hide Details Okruashvili's lawyer and other opposition leaders said his retraction had been made under duress. Georgia faced the worst crisis since the Rose Revolution. A series of anti-government demonstration were sparked, in October, by accusations of murders and corruption levelled by Irakli Okruashvili, Saakashvili's erstwhile associate and former member of his government, against the president and his allies. The protests climaxed early in November 2007, and involved several opposition groups and the influential media tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili. Although the demonstrations rapidly went downhill, the government's decision to use police force against the remaining protesters evolved into clashes in the streets of Tbilisi on 7 November. The declaration of state of emergency by the president (7–16 November) and the restriction imposed on some mass media sources led to harsh criticism of the Saakashvili government both in the country and abroad. Human Rights Watch criticised the Georgian government for using "excessive" force against protesters in November and International Crisis Group warned of growing authoritarianism.
  • 2006
    In December 2006, Saakashvili signed a constitutional amendment completely abolishing the death penalty in law.
    More Details Hide Details Saakashvili's government massively increased military spending to modernize the Georgian Armed Forces, which at the time were small and poorly equipped and trained. By 2007, the military budget had increased twenty-fold since 1999. New weapons and vehicles were purchased, military salaries were raised, new bases were built, and Georgian soldiers engaged in joint training exercises with the US military.
    In late July 2006, Saakashvili's government managed to deal successfully with another major crisis, this time in Abkhazia's Kodori Gorge where Georgia's police forces disarmed a defiant militia led by a local warlord Emzar Kvitsiani.
    More Details Hide Details In his foreign policy, Saakashvili maintains close ties with the U.S., as well as other NATO countries, and remains one of the key partners of the GUAM organisation. The Saakashvili-led Rose Revolution has been described by the White House as one of the most powerful movements in the modern history that has inspired others to seek freedom. At the time Saakashvili took office, Georgia suffered from a stagnant economy, widespread corruption by police and state officials to the point where bribery was needed for any kind of commercial transaction, high crime rates, and widespread infrastructure problems, including widespread power outages, and schools and medical facilities falling into disrepair. Saakashvili set out on a massive reform program. He systematically fired politicians, public officials, and police officers suspected of corruption and significantly raised the salaries of state employees to the point where they could depend on their salaries rather than bribes for a living. Many oligarchs who had dominated the economy were arrested, with most agreeing to pay massive fines into the state budget in exchange for their freedom. Saakashvili reformed the economy by cutting red tape which had made business difficult, courting foreign investment, simplifying the tax code, launching a privatization campaign, and tackling widespread tax evasion. Due to the establishment of a functioning taxation and customs infrastructure, the state budget increased by 300% within three years. The government massively upgraded infrastructure and public services.
  • 2005
    On 10 May 2005, while U.S. President George W. Bush was giving a speech in Tbilisi's Freedom Square, Vladimir Arutyunian threw a live hand grenade at where Saakashvili and Bush were sitting.
    More Details Hide Details It landed in the crowd about from the podium after hitting a girl and did not detonate. Arutyunian was arrested in July of that year, but before his capture he managed to kill one law enforcement agent. He was convicted of the attempted assassinations of Saakashvili and Bush and the murder of the agent, and given a life sentence.
  • 2004
    The crisis threatened to develop into an armed confrontation, but Saakashvili's government managed to resolve the conflict peacefully, forcing Abashidze to resign on 6 May 2004.
    More Details Hide Details Success in Adjara encouraged the new president to intensify his efforts towards bringing the breakaway South Ossetia back under the Georgian jurisdiction. The separatist authorities responded with intense militarization in the region, that led to armed clashes in August 2004. A stalemate ensued, and despite a new peace plan proposed by the Georgian government in 2005, the conflict remains unresolved.
    Saakashvili was sworn in as President in Tbilisi on 25 January 2004.
    More Details Hide Details Immediately after the ceremony he signed a decree establishing a new state flag. On 26 January, in a ceremony held at the Tbilisi Kashueti Church of Saint George, he promulgated a decree granting permission for the return of the body of the first President of Georgia, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, from Grozny (Chechen Republic) to Tbilisi and renaming a major road in the capital after Gamsakhurdia. He also released 32 Gamsakhurdia supporters (political prisoners) imprisoned by the Shevardnadze government in 1993-94. In the first months of his presidency, Saakashvili faced a major political crisis in the southwestern Autonomous Republic of Adjara run by an authoritarian regional leader, Aslan Abashidze, who largely ignored the central Georgian government and was viewed by many as a pro-Russian politician.
    On 4 January 2004 Mikheil Saakashvili won the presidential elections in Georgia with more than 96% of the votes cast, making him the youngest national president in Europe.
    More Details Hide Details On a platform of opposing corruption and improving pay and pensions he has promised to improve relations with the outside world. Although he is strongly pro-Western and intends to seek Georgian membership of NATO and the European Union, he has also spoken of the importance of better relations with Russia. He faced major problems, however, particularly Georgia's difficult economic situation and the still unresolved question of separatism in the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Abkhazia regards itself as independent of Georgia and did not take part in the elections, while South Ossetia favours union with its northern counterpart in Russia.
    The 2004 presidential election were carried out on 4 January 2004.
    More Details Hide Details The election was an outcome of the bloodless Rose Revolution and a consequent resignation of President Eduard Shevardnadze. It is well known for a very high level of electoral turnout and also for the number of votes cast for one particular presidential candidate — Mikheil Saakashvili (96%). All other candidates received less than 2% of the votes. In total, 1,763,000 eligible voters participated in the election.
    He is the current Governor of Ukraine's Odessa Oblast (region), and was the third President of Georgia for two consecutive terms from 25 January 2004 to 17 November 2013.
    More Details Hide Details Saakashvili is the founder and former chairman of the United National Movement Party. Involved in Georgian politics since 1995, he became president in January 2004 after President Eduard Shevardnadze resigned in the November 2003 bloodless "Rose Revolution" led by Saakashvili and his political allies, Nino Burjanadze and Zurab Zhvania.
  • 2003
    When Saakashvili took office, the university entrance system was bribe-based, with a university spot costing up to $50,000 in 2003.
    More Details Hide Details Saakashvili's government introduced a common entrance exam, replacing the bribe-based system with a merit-based one. The quality of university education also improved. Despite this, Saakashvili was accused of failing to reform the quality of primary and secondary-level school education, which reportedly remained low at the end of his term in office. After Georgian independence, the government found that its Soviet-style centralized healthcare system was underfunded and failing. State-run centralized medical facilities were typically inefficient and in need of renovation and technological upgrades. As a result, the government privatized almost all public hospitals and clinics, and the insurance system was deregulated, with private insurance companies able to offer coverage. Only a few specialized facilities for mental health and infectious diseases remained in government hands, and the state continued to provide health insurance for those below the poverty line, whose insurance was paid for by public funds and provided by private insurers, and some civil servants, amounting to about 40% of the population. As a result, the level of healthcare greatly improved, with new hospitals and clinics beginning to replace older facilities. However, a portion of the population was uninsured, as it could not afford private insurance and did not qualify for public insurance.
    Saakashvili's "storming of Georgia's parliament" in 2003 "put U.S. diplomats off guard...
    More Details Hide Details Saakashvili ousted a leader the U.S. had long backed, Eduard Shevardnadze." Seeking support, Saakashvili went outside the U.S. State Department. He hired Randy Scheunemann, now Sen. John McCain's top foreign-policy adviser, as a lobbyist and used Daniel Kunin of USAID and the NDI as a full-time adviser. On 24 February 2004 the United National Movement and the United Democrats had amalgamated. The new political movement was named the National Movement - Democrats (NMD). The movement's main political priorities include raising pensions and providing social services to the poor, its main base of support; fighting corruption; and increasing state revenue.
  • 2002
    In June 2002, he was elected as the Chairman of the Tbilisi Assembly ("Sakrebulo") following an agreement between the United National Movement and the Georgian Labour Party.
    More Details Hide Details This gave him a powerful new platform from which to criticize the government. Georgia held parliamentary elections on 2 November 2003 which were denounced by local and international observers as being grossly rigged. Saakashvilli claimed that he had won the elections (a claim supported by independent exit polls), and urged Georgians to demonstrate against Shevardnadze's government and engage in nonviolent civil disobedience against the authorities. Saakashvili's UNM and Burdjanadze-Democrats united to demand the ouster of Shevardnadze and the rerun of the elections. Massive political demonstrations were held in Tbilisi in November, with over 100,000 people participating and listening to speeches by Saakashvili and other opposition figures. The Kmara ("Enough!") youth organization (a Georgian counterpart of the Serbian "Otpor! ") and several NGOs, like Liberty Institute, were active in all protest activities. After an increasingly tense two weeks of demonstrations, Shevardnadze resigned as President on 23 November, to be replaced on an interim basis by parliamentary speaker Nino Burjanadze. While the revolutionary leaders did their best to stay within the constitutional norms, many called the change of government a popular coup dubbed by Georgian media as the Rose Revolution.
  • 2001
    Having resigned from the government and quit the Shevardnadze-run Union of Citizens of Georgia party, Saakashvili founded the United National Movement (UNM) in October 2001, a center-right political party with a touch of nationalism, to provide a focus for part of the Georgian reformists leaders.
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    Saakashvili resigned on 5 September 2001, saying that "I consider it immoral for me to remain as a member of Shevardnadze's government."
    More Details Hide Details He declared that corruption had penetrated to the very center of the Georgian government and that Shevardnadze lacked the will to deal with it, warning that "current developments in Georgia will turn the country into a criminal enclave in one or two years."
    But in mid-2001 he became involved in a major controversy with the State Security Minister Vakhtang Kutateladze and Tbilisi police chief Ioseb Alavidze, accusing them of profiting from corrupt business deals.
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  • 2000
    On 12 October 2000, Saakashvili became Minister of Justice for the government of President Shevardnadze.
    More Details Hide Details He initiated major reforms in the Georgian criminal justice and prisons system. This earned praise from international observers and human rights activists.
    In January 2000, Saakashvili was appointed Vice-President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
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  • 1997
    He was named "man of the year" by a panel of journalists and human rights advocates in 1997.
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  • 1995
    He stood in the December 1995 elections along with Zhvania, and both men won seats in parliament, standing for the Union of Citizens of Georgia, Shevardnadze's party.
    More Details Hide Details Saakashvili was chairman of the parliamentary committee which was in charge of creating a new electoral system, an independent judiciary and a non-political police force. Opinion surveys recognised him to be the second most popular person in Georgia, behind Shevardnadze.
    He interned at the United Nations. After graduation, while on internship in the New York law firm of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler in early 1995, Saakashvili was approached by Zurab Zhvania, an old friend from Georgia who was working on behalf of President Eduard Shevardnadze to enter politics.
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    In 1995, he also received a diploma from the International Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.
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  • 1994
    He received an LL.M. from Columbia Law School in 1994 and took classes at The George Washington University Law School the following year.
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  • 1993
    Saakashvili is married to Dutch linguist Sandra Roelofs, whom he met in Strasbourg in 1993.
    More Details Hide Details The couple have two sons, Eduard and Nikoloz. Apart from his native Georgian, Saakashvili speaks fluent English, French, Russian and Ukrainian, and has some command of Ossetian and Spanish. In the 2010 study Competitive Authoritarianism: Hybrid Regimes After the Cold War, political scientists Steven Levitsky and Lucan A. Way cite various media and human rights reports to describe Saakashvili's Georgia as a "competitive authoritarian" (i.e., a formally democratic but essentially non-democratic) state. Saakashvili's government has been lauded for making "striking improvements" in the fight against corruption. In addition, the U.S. State Department noted that during 2005 "the government amended several laws and increased the amount of investigations and prosecutions reducing the amount of abuse and ill-treatment in pre-trial detention facilities". The status of religious freedom also improved due to increased investigation and prosecution of those harassing followers of non-traditional faiths.
  • 1992
    Saakashvili graduated from the Institute of International Relations (Department of International Law) of the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv (in then independent Ukraine) in 1992.
    More Details Hide Details At this university he was friends with later President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko. Saakashvili briefly worked as a human rights officer for the interim State Council of Georgia following the overthrow of President Zviad Gamsakhurdia before receiving a fellowship from the United States State Department (via the Edmund S. Muskie Graduate Fellowship Program).
  • 1989
    During university, he served his shortened military service in 1989–1990 with the Soviet Border Troops' checkpoint unit in the Boryspil Airport in Ukraine (then as Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic also a part of the Soviet Union).
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  • 1967
    Mikheil Saakashvili was born in Tbilisi on 21 December 1967, capital of the then Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic in the Soviet Union, to a Georgian family.
    More Details Hide Details His father, Nikoloz Saakashvili, is a physician who practices medicine in Tbilisi and directs a local Balneological Center. His mother, Giuli Alasania, is a historian who lectures at Tbilisi State University.
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