Saakashvili, Mikheil

Saakashvili, Mikheil

(mē`käēl sä-ä`käshvē`lē), 1967–, Georgian lawyer and political leader, president of Georgia (2004–7, 2008–13), b. Tbilisi. He received law degrees from Kiev Univ., Columbia, and Georgetown Univ. In 1995 Saakashvili returned to his homeland to enter politics, winning a seat in the parliament that year as a Union of Citizens of Georgia candidate. Appointed minister of justice in 2000 by President Eduard ShevardnadzeShevardnadze, Eduard Amvrosiyevich
, 1928–2014, Georgian politician and diplomat. Known for pragmatism rather than polemicism, Shevardnadze served as the head of the Georgian Communist party from 1972 to 1985 when Georgia was part of the Soviet Union, and became known as
..... Click the link for more information.
, Saakashvili resigned in 2002, claiming that corruption was rampant among his fellow ministers. In 2003 he was a leader of the Rose Revolution, in which demonstrations and the occupation of Parliament led to Shevardnadze's resignation. In Jan., 2004, Saakashvili won the presidency in a landslide victory. Economic growth, judicial reform, and a crackdown on corruption followed, but Saakashvili was accused of being autocratic and marginalizing Parliament.

Following antigovernment demonstrations in Nov., 2007 (which were violently suppressed), he called for a new presidential election, and subsequently resigned to run. He was reelected (Jan., 2008) with more than 51% of the vote. His Aug., 2008, decision to invade South Ossetia to reestablish Georgian control there led to the Russian defeat of Georgia and Russia's recognition of the Georgian breakway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent. Constitutional changes (2010) strengthening the prime minister's powers beginning in 2013 were seen as an attempt to Saakashvili to extend his rule after the end of his second and last term, but the 2012 parliamentary elections resulted in an opposition win.

Saakashvili left Georgia after his presidency ended. He was later (2014) charged with abuse of power and other crimes in connection with the violence in Nov., 2007, and other events, and convicted in absentia (2017) of abuse of power for pardons he issued. In 2015, Ukraine's President Poroshenko named Saakashvili as head of his International Advisory Council on Reforms and then governor (2015–16) of Odessa region. Saakashvili, who also was granted Ukrainian citizenship, was later stripped of his Georgian citizenship. He denounced Ukrainian corruption when he resigned as Odessa's governor and then formed a political party; while abroad he was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship by Poroshenko in 2017, but reentered Ukraine with the help of supporters.