Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvilli has led thousands in celebrating the anniversary of the popular ousting of veteran leader Eduard Shevardnadze.
Two years on, the “Rose Revolution” was marked with speeches and entertainment in Freedom Square in the capital, Tbilisi. Among the guests was Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko, whose “Orange Revolution” of last November was seen as inspired by events in Georgia a year before. But prior to the glitz of the official party, some 2,000 opposition supporters held a demonstration, denouncing Saakashvilli’s policies. The former Soviet state has seen much change for the better over the past two years, although plenty remains to be done. Two years ago, following weeks of street protests against rigged elections, thousands of Georgians led by Saakashvilli broke into the country’s parliament. Since then pensions have doubled, the police and education system have been reformed, the budget tripled and foreign investment increased. But unemployment remains close to 60 per cent with no sign of falling quickly and poverty is still overwhelming. And the president still has to deliver on one of his biggest promises: that of bringing the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia back into the fold.