შევარდნაძე is Shevardnadze in Georgian

So I went into work yesterday, hoping to clear the paper on Georgia that has been hanging around for too long off my desk.

I expected that the opposition would fail; the paper was written mostly before the 2 November elections, updated later, and took the line that we had to start planning now for Shevardnadze to leave office in 2005, at the planned end of his presidential term.

By lunchtime I was practically finished. I’d been talking to our man on the ground in Tbilisi off and on all morning (having been there myself for a couple of days in July), and reckoned that if the new session of parliament was successfully opened then it was all over for the revolution. Once I heard that Shevardnadze had started speaking I began to clear up my things.

And then Andrew, our media officer, who was also at work and was tuned to CNN, yelled down the hall for me not to leave. As the whole world now knows, the president got only a few sentences into his speech before the opposition broke into the chamber and he had to be rushed away by his bodyguards. Even more significantly (though less reported on the news) the opposition has apparently also got control of the Chancellery, ie the President’s office. I think this makes their takeover irreversible (though I’ve been wrong about Georgia before).

So looks like that’s it for Shevardnadze. He was far from the most oppressive of post-Soviet rulers, with little ideological difference between him and his opponents – the fact that Georgia has a pretty free media was obvious from the way yesterday’s events were covered by well-position local journalists who will have (hopefully) made a fortune as their live feeds were bought by the world’s TV. But he ran a hopelessly corrupt system and appeared incapable of reform of any kind. The new government will face contested legitimacy of their own rule, contested sovereignty over parts of their own country and a desperate population hungry for food and jobs.

Georgian joke (as told by me to Ken MacLeod):

What did we use for lighting before we had candles?

Electricity.

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1 Response to შევარდნაძე is Shevardnadze in Georgian

  1. willplant says:

    the shark story is a fake – apparently it is from Serbia’s version of The Onion…

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