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The "Revolution of Roses" (often translated into English as the Rose Revolution) (Georgian: ვარდების რევოლუცია - vardebis revolucia) was a bloodless revolution in the country of Georgia in 2003 that displaced President Eduard Shevardnadze.


Elections and protests

Demonstration at the City Hall, Freedom Square, Tbilisi

Georgia held parliamentary elections 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.

Subsequently, the elections were denounced by local and international observers as being grossly rigged in favor of Shevardnadze. Mikheil Saakashvili 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. The "Kmara" ("Enough!") youth organization (a Georgian counterpart of the Serbian "Otpor") and several NGOs, like the Liberty Institute, were active in all protest activities. Shevardnadze’s government was backed by Aslan Abashidze, the semi-separatist leader of autonomous Ajara region, who sent thousands of his supporters to hold a pro-governmental counter-demonstration in Tbilisi.

Change of power

Saakashvili's inauguration as President of Georgia

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 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. 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 Mikheil Saakashvili won an overwhelming victory and was inaugurated as the new President of Georgia on January 25. On March 28, 2004, new parliamentary elections were held, with a large majority won by the Saakashvili-supporting National Movement - Democrats, and a minority representation of the Rightist Opposition.


Funding from Soros-related organizations

A significant source of funding for the Rose Revolution was the network of foundations and NGOs associated with American billionaire financier George Soros. 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."[1] 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."[2]

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,) overseeing a staff of 50 and a budget of $2,500,000.[3]
  • 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.[4]

Former Georgian Foreign Minister Salomé Zourabichvili wrote:

These institutions were the cradle of democratization, notably the Soros Foundation … all the NGO’s which gravitate around the Soros Foundation undeniably carried the revolution. However, one cannot end one’s analysis with the revolution and one clearly sees that, afterwards, the Soros Foundation and the NGOs were integrated into power.

Salomé Zourabichvili, Herodote (magazine of the French Institute for Geopolitics), April, 2008

In Ajaria

In May 2004, the so-called "Second Rose Revolution" took place in Batumi, Ajaria. After months of extreme tension between Saakashvili's government and Aslan Abashidze, the virtual dictator of the autonomous region, thousands of Ajarians, mobilized by the United National Movement and Kmara, 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 Zurab Zhvania and Interior Minister Giorgi Baramidze negotiated with Ajarian Interior Minister Jemal Gogitidze to withdraw his forces from the administrative border at the Choloki River and led Georgian Special Forces into the region. Abashidze bowed to the inevitable, resigned in the same evening and left for Moscow. President Saakashvili visited Batumi the next day and was met by celebrating Ajarians.

International effects

The Orange Revolution, which followed the disputed November 2004 Ukrainian presidential election, is said to have been partly inspired by the Georgian Rose Revolution[1]. Georgian flags were seen being waved by supporters of Viktor Yushchenko, who held up a rose while greeting the crowds. The chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Defense and Security, Givi Targamadze, former member of the Liberty Institute, was consulted by Ukrainian opposition leaders on techniques of nonviolent struggle. Later he also advised leaders of the Kyrgyz opposition during the 2005 Tulip Revolution.

See also


  1. ^ Bunce, V.J & Wolchik, S.L. International diffusion and postcommunist electoral revolutions Communist and Post-Communist Studies (2006) V.39 No 3 p. 283-304

External links


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