1. Georgia Main Page
  2. Georgia Gains Independence from USSR
  3. U.S. Supports Georgia
  4. Georgia and Russia Are Antagonists in Fight Over Breakaway South Ossetia and Abkhazia
  5. Georgia and Russia Reach Trade Agreement
  6. Georgia's President and Prime Minister Engage in Prolonged Power Struggle
  7. Georgia Holds Presidential Elections in October 2013
  8. Unrest in Abkhazia as Parliament Calls for Early Elections
U.S. Supports Georgia

In 2002, U.S. troops trained Georgia's military in antiterrorism measures in the hopes that Georgian troops would subdue Muslim rebels fighting in the country. Tensions between Georgia and Russia were strained over the Pankisi Gorge, a lawless region of Georgia that Russia said had become a haven for Islamic militants and Chechen rebels.

In May 2003, work began on the Georgian section of the enormously ambitious Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, which runs from Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey. The pipeline opened in July 2006.

Massive demonstrations began after the preliminary results of the Nov. 2003 parliamentary elections. The opposition party (and international monitors) claimed that the elections were rigged in favor of Shevardnadze and the political parties who supported him. After more than three weeks of massive protests, Shevardnadze resigned on Nov. 30. Georgians compared the turn of events to Czechoslovakia’s “velvet revolution.” In Jan. 2004 presidential elections, Mikhail Saakashvili, the key opposition leader, won in a landslide. The 36-year-old lawyer built his reputation as a reformer committed to ending corruption, and in his first three years as president, Saakashvili made significant progress in rooting out the country's endemic corruption and establishing a series of reforms. Saakashvili's ongoing difficulty has been reining in Georgia's two breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, both of which are strongly supported by neighboring Russia.

Saakashvili's popularity took a hit in November 2007 when some 50,000 demonstrators gathered outside Parliament in Tbilisi and demanded early elections and his resignation. The opposition accused Saakashvili of abusing power and stifling dissent. After three days of protest, Saakashvili deployed riot police, who used tear gas and rubber bullets to break up the demonstrations, and delcared a state of emergency. Parliament voted 149 to 0 to approve the state of emergency. The opposition in the 235-seat Parliament boycotted the vote, however. Saakashvili later announced that a presidential election would be held in January 2008, and he resigned to run in the race. Saakashvili won the election, taking 52.8% of the vote, enough to avoid a runoff. Voters also voted in a referendum in favor of joining NATO.

Next: Georgia and Russia Are Antagonists in Fight Over Breakaway South Ossetia and Abkhazia
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