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Rose Revolution

Rose Revolution

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The "Revolution of Roses" (often translated into English as the Rose Revolution) ( - vardebis revolutsia) was a change of power in Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

 in November 2003, which took place after having widespread protests over the disputed parliamentary elections. As a result, President
President of Georgia
The President of Georgia is the head of state, supreme commander-in-chief and holder of the highest office within the Government of Georgia. Executive power is split between the President and the Prime Minister, who is the head of government...

 Eduard Shevardnadze
Eduard Shevardnadze
Eduard Shevardnadze is a former Soviet, and later, Georgian statesman from the height to the end of the Cold War. He served as President of Georgia from 1995 to 2003, and as First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party , from 1972 to 1985. Shevardnadze was responsible for many top decisions on...

 was forced to resign on November 23, 2003.

Elections and protests


Georgia held parliamentary elections
Georgia legislative election, 2003
Parliamentary elections were held in the Republic of Georgia on November 2, 2003. According to statistics released by the Georgian Election Commission, the elections were won by a combination of parties supporting President Eduard Shevardnadze....

 on November 2, 2003. At stake were 235 seats in parliament of which 135 would be decided by a nationwide proportional party-list system and 85 were "majoritarian" contests in which a "first past the post" winner would be determined in each of Georgia's 85 electoral districts. In addition, a nationwide referendum was held on whether the future parliament should be reduced to 150 members. Voters used a separate ballot for each of these three contests, folding them together and placing them in a single envelope which was then put in the ballot box. This was not a presidential election; that was set to occur in the spring of 2005, at the expiration of President Shevardnadze's second and final term.

On 3 November the International Election Observation Mission, composed of the Parliamentary Assemblies of the OSCE and the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), concluded that the 2 November parliamentary elections in Georgia fell short of a number of OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections. Mikheil Saakashvili
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 the national politics since 1995, Saakashvili became president on 25 January 2004 after President Eduard Shevardnadze resigned in a November 2003...

 claimed that he had won the elections (a claim supported by independent exit polls). This was confirmed by an independent parallel vote tabulation (PVT) conducted by the ISFED (International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, local election monitoring group). Saakashvilli and the united opposition accepted ISFED's PVT as "official" results, and urged Georgians to demonstrate against Shevardnadze's government and engage in nonviolent civil disobedience against the authorities. The main democratic opposition parties united to demand the ousting of Shevardnadze and the rerun of the elections.

In mid-November, massive anti-governmental demonstrations started in the central streets of Tbilisi, soon involving almost all major cities and towns of Georgia in a concerted campaign of civil resistance
Civil resistance
The term civil resistance, alongside the term nonviolent resistance, is used to describe political action that relies on the use of non-violent methods by civil groups to challenge a particular power, force, policy or regime. Civil resistance operates through appeals to the adversary, pressure and...

. The "Kmara
Kmara
Kmara is a civic resistance movement in the republic of Georgia which undermined the government of Eduard Shevardnadze. After international observers condemned his government's conduct of the November 2003 parliamentary elections, Kmara led the protests which precipitated his downfall in what...

" ("Enough!") youth organization (a Georgian counterpart of the Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

n "Otpor
Otpor
Otpor! was a civic youth movement that existed as such from 1998 until 2003 in Serbia , employing nonviolent struggle against the regime of Slobodan Milošević as their course of action. In the course of two-year nonviolent struggle against Milosevic, Otpor spread across Serbia and attracted more...

") and several NGO
Non-governmental organization
A non-governmental organization is a legally constituted organization created by natural or legal persons that operates independently from any government. The term originated from the United Nations , and is normally used to refer to organizations that do not form part of the government and are...

s, like the Liberty Institute
Liberty Institute (Georgia)
Liberty Institute is a Georgian research and advocacy organization affiliated with Ilia Chavchavadze State University.Liberty has always been the cornerstone of established Georgian values. It has been transformed into classical liberal tradition by Ilia Chavchavadze...

, were active in all protest activities. Shevardnadze’s government was backed by Aslan Abashidze
Aslan Abashidze
Aslan Abashidze was the leader of the Ajarian Autonomous Republic in western Georgia from 1991 to May 5, 2004. He resigned under the pressure of the central Georgian government and mass opposition rallies during the 2004 Adjara crisis, and has since lived in Moscow, Russia...

, the semi-separatist leader of the autonomous Ajara region, who sent thousands of his supporters to hold a pro-governmental counter-demonstration in Tbilisi
Tbilisi
Tbilisi is the capital and the largest city of Georgia, lying on the banks of the Mt'k'vari River. The name is derived from an early Georgian form T'pilisi and it was officially known as Tiflis until 1936...

.

Change of power



The opposition protest reached its peak on November 22, when President Shevardnadze attempted to open the new session of parliament. This session was considered illegitimate by the major opposition parties. Supporters of two of those parties, led by Saakashvili, burst into the session with roses in their hands (hence the name Rose Revolution), interrupting a speech of President Eduard Shevardnadze
Eduard Shevardnadze
Eduard Shevardnadze is a former Soviet, and later, Georgian statesman from the height to the end of the Cold War. He served as President of Georgia from 1995 to 2003, and as First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party , from 1972 to 1985. Shevardnadze was responsible for many top decisions on...

 and forcing him to escape with his bodyguards. He later declared a state of emergency and began to mobilize troops and police near his residence in Tbilisi. However, the elite military units refused to support the government. In the evening of November 23 (St George's Day in Georgia), Shevardnadze met with the opposition leaders Saakashvili and Zurab Zhvania to discuss the situation, in a meeting arranged by Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov
Igor Ivanov
Igor Sergeyevich Ivanov is a Russian politician and was Russian Foreign Minister from 1998 to 2004.- Early life :...

. After the meeting, the president announced his resignation. That prompted euphoria in the streets of Tbilisi. More than 100,000 protesters celebrated the victory all night long, accompanied by fireworks and rock concerts.

The outgoing speaker of parliament, Nino Burjanadze, assumed the presidency until new elections could be held. The Supreme Court of Georgia annulled the results of the parliamentary elections. In the January 4, 2004 presidential election
Georgia presidential election, 2004
A presidential election was held in the Republic of Georgia on January 4, 2004. The election followed the resignation of former President Eduard Shevardnadze. As expected, the main opposition leader, Mikhail Saakashvili, was soon shown by exit polls to be heading for an overwhelming victory...

 Mikheil Saakashvili
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 the national politics since 1995, Saakashvili became president on 25 January 2004 after President Eduard Shevardnadze resigned in a November 2003...

 won an overwhelming victory and was inaugurated as the new President of Georgia on January 25. On March 28, 2004, new parliamentary elections
Georgia legislative election, 2004
Legislative elections were held in the Georgia on March 28, 2004. The elections followed the annulment of the November 2003 legislative elections, which were widely believed to have been rigged by the former President, Eduard Shevardnadze...

 were held, with a large majority won by the Saakashvili-supporting National Movement - Democrats
National Movement - Democrats
United National Movement is the main center-right party, largest political organization and current governing party in Georgia.- History :UNM was founded in October 2001 by Mikheil Saakashvili...

, and a minority representation of the Rightist Opposition
Rightist Opposition
The Right Opposition is an alliance of Georgia's New Rights and Industry will save Georgia parties. It is the only opposition group that successfully won over seven percent of the votes on March 28, 2004, which was the necessary threshold to secure seats in Parliament...

.

Funding from Soros-related organizations


A significant source of funding for the Rose Revolution was the network of foundations and NGOs associated with Hungarian-American billionaire financier George Soros
George Soros
George Soros is a Hungarian-American business magnate, investor, philosopher, and philanthropist. He is the chairman of Soros Fund Management. Soros supports progressive-liberal causes...

. The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies reports the case of a former Georgian parliamentarian who alleges that in the three months prior to the Rose Revolution, "Soros spent $42 million ramping-up for the overthrow of Shevardnadze."http://www.defenddemocracy.org/in_the_media/in_the_media_show.htm?doc_id=225687 Speaking in T'blisi in June 2005, Soros said, "I'm very pleased and proud of the work of the foundation in preparing Georgian society for what became a Rose Revolution, but the role of the foundation and my personal has been greatly exaggerated."http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2005/5/31/164945.shtml

Among the personalities who worked for Soros' organizations who later assumed positions in the Georgian government are:
  • Alexander Lomaia, Secretary of the Georgian Security Council and former Minister of Education and Science, is a former Executive Director of the Open Society Georgia Foundation (Soros Foundation
    Soros Foundation
    A Soros Foundation is one of a network of national foundations, mostly in Central and Eastern Europe, which fund volunteer socio-political activity, created by George Soros, international financier and self-proclaimed philanthropist, and coordinated since early 1994 by a management team called the...

    ), overseeing a staff of 50 and a budget of $2,500,000.http://www.oecd.org/document/49/0,2340,en_21571361_36507471_37001521_1_1_1_1,00.html
  • David Darchiashvili, presently the chairman of the Committee for Eurointegration in the Georgian parliament, is also a former Executive Director of the Open Society Georgia Foundation.http://www.soros.org/about/foundations/georgia


Former Georgian Foreign Minister Salomé Zourabichvili
Salome Zourabichvili
Salomé Zourabichvili is a Georgian politician, from 2004 to 2005 Foreign Minister of Georgia and a former diplomat in the French service. Currently she is the Coordinator of the Panel of Experts assisting the UN Security Council’s Iran Sanctions Committee.-Biography:Zourabichvili was born in...

 wrote:

Adjara


In May 2004, the so-called "Second Rose Revolution" took place in Batumi
Batumi
Batumi is a seaside city on the Black Sea coast and capital of Adjara, an autonomous republic in southwest Georgia. Sometimes considered Georgia's second capital, with a population of 121,806 , Batumi serves as an important port and a commercial center. It is situated in a subtropical zone, rich in...

, Adjara
Adjara
Adjara , officially the Autonomous Republic of Adjara , is an autonomous republic of Georgia.Adjara is located in the southwestern corner of Georgia, bordered by Turkey to the south and the eastern end of the Black Sea...

. After months of extreme tension between Saakashvili's government and Aslan Abashidze
Aslan Abashidze
Aslan Abashidze was the leader of the Ajarian Autonomous Republic in western Georgia from 1991 to May 5, 2004. He resigned under the pressure of the central Georgian government and mass opposition rallies during the 2004 Adjara crisis, and has since lived in Moscow, Russia...

, the virtual dictator of the autonomous region, thousands of Adjarans, mobilized by the United National Movement and Kmara
Kmara
Kmara is a civic resistance movement in the republic of Georgia which undermined the government of Eduard Shevardnadze. After international observers condemned his government's conduct of the November 2003 parliamentary elections, Kmara led the protests which precipitated his downfall in what...

, protested against Abashidze’s policy of separatism and militarization. Abashidze used security forces and paramilitary groups to break up the demonstrations in the streets of Batumi and Kobuleti. However, he failed to suppress the protests, and they grew in size and scope. On May 6, 2004 (again St George's Day), protesters from all Ajara gathered in Batumi despite being dispersed by force the day before. Georgian Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Georgia
The Prime Minister of Georgia is the most senior minister within the Cabinet of Georgia, appointed by the President of Georgia. The official title of the Head of the Government of Georgia has varied throughout history, however, the duties and functions of the leader have changed only marginally....

 Zurab Zhvania and Interior Minister Giorgi Baramidze
Giorgi Baramidze
Giorgi Baramidze was born in 1968, in Tbilisi. He graduated from Technical University of Georgia, majoring in chemical technology. He has conducted scientific researches and is the author of several academic publications. Giorgi Baramidze was one of the founders and key members of the anti-Soviet...

 negotiated with Adjaran Interior Minister Jemal Gogitidze to withdraw his forces from the administrative border at the Choloki River
Choloki River
The Choloki River in Georgia forms the border between the autonomous province of Ajaria and the province of Guria. For a time in the nineteenth century it formed the border between Turkey and Imperial Russia....

 and led Georgian Special Forces
Special forces
Special forces, or special operations forces are terms used to describe elite military tactical teams trained to perform high-risk dangerous missions that conventional units cannot perform...

 into the region. Abashidze bowed to the inevitable, resigned in the same evening and left for Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

. President Saakashvili visited Batumi
Batumi
Batumi is a seaside city on the Black Sea coast and capital of Adjara, an autonomous republic in southwest Georgia. Sometimes considered Georgia's second capital, with a population of 121,806 , Batumi serves as an important port and a commercial center. It is situated in a subtropical zone, rich in...

 the next day and was met by celebrating Adjarans.

International effects


The Orange Revolution
Orange Revolution
The Orange Revolution was a series of protests and political events that took place in Ukraine from late November 2004 to January 2005, in the immediate aftermath of the run-off vote of the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election which was claimed to be marred by massive corruption, voter...

, which followed the disputed November 2004 Ukrainian presidential election
Ukrainian presidential election, 2004
The Ukrainian presidential election, 2004 was held on October 31, November 21 and December 26, 2004. The election was the fourth presidential election to take place in Ukraine following independence from the Soviet Union...

, is said to have been partly inspired by the Georgian Rose Revolution.

See also

  • Civil disobedience
    Civil disobedience
    Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power. Civil disobedience is commonly, though not always, defined as being nonviolent resistance. It is one form of civil resistance...

  • Civil resistance
    Civil resistance
    The term civil resistance, alongside the term nonviolent resistance, is used to describe political action that relies on the use of non-violent methods by civil groups to challenge a particular power, force, policy or regime. Civil resistance operates through appeals to the adversary, pressure and...

  • Color revolution
    Color revolution
    Colour revolutions is a term that was widely used by the media to describe related movements that developed in several societies in the CIS and Balkan states during the early 2000s. The term has also been applied to a number of revolutions elsewhere, including in the Middle East...

  • Kmara
    Kmara
    Kmara is a civic resistance movement in the republic of Georgia which undermined the government of Eduard Shevardnadze. After international observers condemned his government's conduct of the November 2003 parliamentary elections, Kmara led the protests which precipitated his downfall in what...

  • Liberty Institute (Georgia)
    Liberty Institute (Georgia)
    Liberty Institute is a Georgian research and advocacy organization affiliated with Ilia Chavchavadze State University.Liberty has always been the cornerstone of established Georgian values. It has been transformed into classical liberal tradition by Ilia Chavchavadze...

  • Non-violent revolution
    Non-violent revolution
    A nonviolent revolution is a revolution using mostly campaigns of civil resistance, including various forms of nonviolent protest, to bring about the departure of governments seen as entrenched and authoritarian...

  • Nonviolent resistance
    Nonviolent resistance
    Nonviolent resistance is the practice of achieving goals through symbolic protests, civil disobedience, economic or political noncooperation, and other methods, without using violence. It is largely synonymous with civil resistance...

  • Politics of Georgia (country)
  • 2007 Tbilisi Demonstrations
  • United National Movement

External links