Mikheil Saakashvili (born in 1967) is a Georgian and Ukrainian politician who gained fame as the leader of the Rose Revolution in the fall of 2003. This was when post-soviet leader Eduard Shevardnadze and his administration were forced to step down.
Saakashvili worked as a lawyer in New York and came to Georgia at the end of 1999 in order to enter politics. In 2000, he became the Minister of Justice under Shevardnadze’s administration, which he overturned three years later. Saakashvili served two terms as president of Georgia, from January 25, 2004 through November 17, 2013. His war against corruption on all levels of the government and his radical economic reform are considered to be his main triumphs. During his presidency, the state budget revenues grew 10 times, new roads were laid across the whole country, and the infrastructure of many cities was renewed and rebuilt.
The main problems with Saakashvili’s government were the human rights violations, including violations of property rights. The opposition calls this period the time of the police regime. On November 7, 2007, police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse a demonstration of thousands of people who were demanding Saakashvili’s resignation in downtown Tbilisi.
The biggest period of conflict during Saakashvili’s presidency was the 2008 war with Russia surrounding the self-proclaimed South Ossetian Republic.
From May 2015 to November 2016, Saakashvili was the governor of Odessa in Ukraine, and received Ukrainian citizenship. But he was forced to leave Ukrainian politics and flee the country after a conflict with the then Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko.
The new Georgian government, under the unofficial leadership of billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, filed several criminal cases against Saakashvili. His Georgian citizenship was revoked in 2015.
In October 2021, Saakashvili returned to Georgia, was arrested, and sentenced to six years in prison. He is currently seriously ill and, according to an independent medical commission, is dying in the prison hospital. The Georgian authorities refuse to allow him to be taken abroad for treatment.