Iron Lady nino burjanadze finds the steel to theaten her struggling ally
She styles her hair like Margaret Thatcher and counts the Iron Lady
among her political idols. Now the female face of Georgia’s
pro-Western Rose Revolution is challenging her former ally Mikhail
Nino Burjanadze is emerging as the key threat to President
Saakashvili over the disastrous handling of the war for South
Ossetia. Protest was muted while the Russian Army occupied Georgia
but its withdrawal is stirring opposition demands for him to
Mrs Burjanadze, 44, poses a particularly potent threat because she
was the revolution’s second-most powerful figure. She marked the
fifth anniversary of the Rose Revolution this week by founding her
own opposition party and demanding early elections, saying her
former allies had no moral right to remain in power.
Mrs Burjanadze was acting president while Mr Saakashvili campaigned
in a snap election in January that was called after he ordered riot
police to break up opposition protests last November.
She was chairman of parliament for seven years until she resigned
from his ruling National Movement a month before elections in
She began her campaign against Mr Saakashvili by publishing a list
of 43 questions in Georgian newspapers demanding explanations for
the political and military conduct of the war in August. “These are
quite objective and reasonable questions and, of course, I and a
lot of people in Georgia want direct and adequate answers . . .
It’s absolutely necessary to understand what happened,” she told
The Times. “Unfortunately, the country is in very serious trouble
after these events.”
She lists the costs: the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South
Ossetia, now recognised as independent by Russia, are farther from
rejoining Georgia than before the war; Nato scepticism about
membership for Georgia has been reinforced, and foreign investment
has been scared away.
Mr Saakashvili admitted yesterday that Georgia began military
operations in South Ossestia but insisted that it was in response
to Russian provocation.
Georgia’s former Ambassador to Moscow blamed Mr Saakashvili on
Tuesday, saying: “Russia was ready for this war but the Georgian
leadership started the military action.”
Mrs Burjanadze says that she remains true to the revolution’s
liberal values and left parliament because she believed that Mr
Saakashvili and his team had lost their way.
From The Times
November 29, 2008