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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 May 2005, 10:44 GMT 11:44 UK
How the Rose revolution happened
In November 2003, a revolution took place in Georgia - a revolution of a kind the turbulent region had never seen before.

Protester with rose
Roses symbolised the protesters' peaceful intentions
Not one person was injured, not a drop of blood was spilled.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to protest against the flawed results of a parliamentary election.

The demonstrators demanded the resignation of Eduard Shevardnadze, a man who had ruled Georgia for more than 30 years in total, as its Soviet-era Communist Party boss and its longest-serving post-independence president.

Mr Shevardnadze told protesters they risked causing a civil war and he deployed hundreds of soldiers on the streets of Tbilisi.

At that point, student demonstrators decided to give red roses to the soldiers.

Many soldiers laid down their guns.

Parliament stormed

"People were kissing the police and military, it was really spectacular," said Giorgi Kandelaki, a 21-year-old student.

Woman kisses picture of Saakashvili
Constitutional changes have boosted Mr Saakashvili's powers
"And the roses of course which people had with them, which Misha carried with him into the parliament hall, that was the moment when people said that it was a rose revolution."

Misha is Mikhail Saakashvili, the US-educated 35-year-old firebrand who, on 23 November, led the demonstrators to the parliament building.

Along with thousands of his supporters he forced his way through the thick wooden doors of the parliament chamber where Mr Shevardnadze was inside, giving a speech.

Mr Saakashvili held a long-stemmed red rose above his head and shouted "Resign!"

He waved the rose in the face of Georgia's 75-year-old president.

Mr Shevardnadze's bodyguards rushed him out of the parliament building by a back door.

That was the moment that power changed hands in Georgia.

Anti-corruption drive

In January 2004, Mr Saakashvili was elected president.

The following month, the Georgian parliament passed constitutional amendments which strengthened the presidency at the parliament's expense, and gave the country a cabinet and a prime minister for the first time.

Then in March 2004, Mr Saakashvili's National Movement-Democratic Front won a landslide victory in parliamentary elections.

In the first year after the revolution, dozens of former government officials were jailed on corruption and embezzlement charges. Their assets were confiscated and their savings moved to state coffers.

One of Mr Saakashvili's two main allies in the Rose Revolution, Zurab Zhvania, became prime minister. The other, Nino Burjanadze, remained in her position as speaker of the weakened parliament.

Mr Zhvania died of gas poisoning blamed on a faulty heater, in February 2005.

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