Georgia PM death: five facts on the country

FACTBOX-Georgia PM death: five facts on the country

TBILISI, Feb 3 (Reuters) – Here are five basic facts on ex-Soviet
Georgia, whose Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania was found dead on
Thursday, apparently from accidental gas poisoning:

– Georgia toppled long standing leader Eduard Shevardnadze in a
bloodless “Rose Revolution” in November 2003 and replaced him with
West-leaning president Mikhail Saakashvili. Saakashvili wants to pilot
his poor country into the Europe mainstream.

– Zhvania, 41, was one of the fathers of the revolution and as prime
minister was seen as a moderating influence on Saakashvili, a volatile
37-year-old U.S.-trained lawyer.

– The Georgian model of mass street protests over rigged elections was
emulated by another ex-Soviet state, Ukraine, a year later in an
“Orange Revolution” that brought Viktor Yushchenko to power.

– A mountainous republic of about 5 million in the Caucasus, Georgia
is one of the poorest ex-Soviet states. It has a ramshackle economy
with a small industrial base and limited natural resources. The new
government has pledged to implement liberal reforms to attract

– Though small, Georgia is riven by separatist tensions. The
Saakashvili leadership has pledged to re-assert control by peaceful
means over two breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which
say they want to join Russia.

02/03/05 12:41 ET