Mikheil Saakashvili

Mikheil Saakashvili

Web-site: http://www.president.gov.ge/index.php?lang_id=GEO&sec_id=&lang_id=ENG

Mikheil Saakashvili (მიხეილ სააკაშვილი) was born on Dec. 21, 1967, in Tbilisi, Georgia. His father was a doctor, his mother a historian.

Education: Law, Kiev University Institute of International Relations, 1992. Law, Columbia University, 1995.

1989-1990: Served in the border troops in the Soviet armed forces

1995-1996: Studied law at the doctoral level at the George Washington University National Center of Law

1995: Admitted to the New York Bar and practiced commercial law for nearly a year at Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler in New York

1995: Elected to the Georgian parliament alongside Zurab Zhvania, his ally and fellow member of the Union of Citizens of Georgia party

2000: Became vice president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)

2000-2001: Justice minister. Saakashvili drove through major reforms and accused a number of key cabinet ministers of corruption. He resigned in 2001, citing obstruction from President Eduard Shevardnadze, and quit the Union of Citizens of Georgia to found a new party, the United National Movement (UNM).

Summer 2002: Elected chairman of the Tbilisi City Council

2003: Amid allegations of vote-rigging by President Shevardnadze's allies in parliamentary elections, Saakashvili and Zurab Zhvania led the non-violent Rose Revolution. Shevardnadze resigned on Nov. 23 after two weeks of street protests

January 2004: Elected president with 96 percent of the vote. At age 36, he became the youngest president in Europe. Saakashvili styled himself as a pro-Western, anti-corruption crusader. He also called for improved relations with Russia and peaceful dialogue with the separatist region of Abkhazia (story).

January 2008: Re-elected president with 53.5 percent of the vote. His main opponent, Levan Gachechiladze, received 25.7 percent.

August 2008: Russia-Georgia War. Responding to what it says was a Georgian offensive in the breakaway region of South Ossetia, Russia sent troops into Georgia, forcing Georgian units to retreat after five days of fighting. Russia subsequently recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another Georgian region, drawing condemnation from world leaders.

May 26, 2011: 3,000 rally in Freedom Square, demanding Saakashvili's resignation. Among the most prominent opposition figures are Nino Burdzhanadze, who led Saakashvili's National Movement party in parliament until May 2008, and Irakli Okruashvili, a former Georgian defense minister under Saakashvili.

Saakashvili has been under pressure since 2007, when protests against alleged political persecution and poor living standards turned violent. NATO and the European Union criticized him for declaring a state of emergency that restricted public gatherings and broadcasts.

Saakashvili is married and has two sons. He speaks fluent English, French, Russian and Ukrainian as well as Georgian.

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