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

In August 2008, fighting between Georgia and its two breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, broke out. Russia sent hundreds of troops to support the enclaves, launched airstrikes, moved to occupy areas of Georgia. Observers speculated that Russia’s aggressive tactics marked an attempt to gain control of Georgia’s oil and gas export routes.

At the end of August, after a cease-fire agreement between Russia and Georgia was signed, Russian president Dmitri Medvedev severed diplomatic ties with Georgia, officially recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent regions and pledged military assistance from Russia, heightening tensions between Russia and the West.

Both Russia and Georgia have painted each other as the aggressor responsible for the war—Georgia said it launched an attack in South Ossetia because a Russian invasion was under way, and Russia claimed it sent troops to the breakaway region to protect civilians from Georgia's offensive attack. In November 2008, Erosi Kitsmarishvili, a former Georgian diplomat to Moscow, testified that the Georgian government was responsible for starting the conflict with Russia. Kitsmarishvili stated that Georgian officials told him in April that they planned to start a war in the breakaway regions and were supported by the U.S. government.

The South Ossetian Parliament approved Aslanbek Bulatsev as prime minister on Oct. 22, 2008.

On Oct. 27, 2008, Mikheil Saaksahvili replaced Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze with Grigol Mgaloblishvili, Georgia's ambassador to Turkey. On Nov. 1, 2008, parliament confirmed Mgaloblishvili as prime minister in a 98 to 11 vote. After only three months in office, Mgaloblishvili resigned from office on health grounds. Nika Gilauri became prime minister in February 2009.

In April 2009, tens of thousands of protesters marched through Tbilisi, demanding Saaksahvili's resignation. However, one year later in May 2010, Saaksahvili's ruling party easily won municipal elections. As part of a series of reforms to placate the opposition, Saaksahvili moved up the elections by six months and allowed voters to elect the mayor of Tbilisi for the first time ever. Giorgi "Gigi" Ugulava, the incumbent mayor and an ally of Saaksahvili, won the election by an overwhelming amount of votes.

Next: Georgia and Russia Reach Trade Agreement
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