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Photo file Special features How life has changed Countdown to collapse Introduction Russian Version
Collapse of the USSR Countdown to collapse How life has changed Gorbachev webcast Photo file


Independence declared: 9 April 1991

Population: 5 million

Capital: Tbilisi

President: Eduard Shevardnadze (since 26 November 1995)

 Country profile


What would my life be like today if the Soviet Union still existed? No doubt there would be more certainty. We would have confidence in the future, I would work calmly, and my parents would be provided for in their old age. On the other hand, today I have the possibility of growth. Iím planning to go to America for two months next year. In Soviet times, that would have been absolutely impossible. And itís also easier to pursue a career now. Of course, many people donít have enough money for food, and Iím talking about careers. But for an enterprising person, thereís more opportunity today than in Soviet times. However, I no longer have a feeling of stability.

Georgy Sulakadze, lawyer

I have had long hair for 16 years. In the Soviet time this caused huge problems. I played rock-and-roll, and this was absolutely forbidden. The police used to follow us, and we werenít allowed into concert halls. After the collapse of the USSR, rock music emerged from underground, long hair became acceptable, and no-one stopped anyone from playing music. But thereís another problem. In Soviet times, despite all the bans, young people went to concerts and rock groups were popular. Today people can do what they want, but they donít need rock anymore. So itís still difficult for musicians like me, but for different reasons.

Zaza Narsia, guitarist, 34

The collapse of the USSR brought nothing good for me. I used to work in an electric locomotive factory. Itís not only stopped working, but has been totally dismantled. The tools, the equipment, everything has been taken apart, and the pieces have been sold for scrap metal. Iím a highly-qualified specialist, and have been forced to work as a vendor.

Zurab Managadze, engineer

Introduction 4. Lithuania 8. Georgia 12. Uzbekistan
1. Russia 5. Belarus 9. Armenia 13. Tajikistan
2. Estonia 6. Ukraine 10. Azerbaijan 14. Kyrgyzstan
3. Latvia 7. Moldova 11. Turkmenistan 15. Kazakhstan

Tbilisi Parliament under fire in 1992
Violence flared in Georgia in the aftermath of independence

The killing of 19 young protesters by Soviet troops in a nationalist rally in 1989 gave a huge boost to the pro-independence movement, and paved the way for the election of former dissident and fervent Georgian nationalist Zviad Gamsakhurdia in 1991.

Separatist groups in South Ossetia and Abkhazia began to demand autonomy. Gamsakhurdia was overthrown in 1992 after a brief civil war, and former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze was installed in his place.

Georgia had been the only former republic outside the Baltic states not to join the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), but it joined up in October 1993 after its army was driven out of Abkhazia, in order to gain Russian military support to contain the lingering threat from supporters of Gamsakhurdia.

The situation has now stabilized, and Georgia has made substantial economic gains since 1995. But both conflicts are unresolved and the country is still racked with crime and corruption.

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