Ms Burjanadze has always been in the right place at the right time. The daughter of a famous Georgian official, she was introduced into Eduard Shevardnadze’s circle, but she managed to dissociate herself from him to head the rose revolution with Mikhail Saakashvili. Some people said the she was to become new Georgia’s President, but Mr Saakashvili was allegedly shrewder, and the West staked on him. Adjara’s former leader Aslan Abashidze once said that Eduard Shevardnadze treated Mikhail Saakashvili and Nino Burjanadze as his closest supporters, but they let him down. However, in Georgia it was regarded as a feat, rather than betrayal. Indeed, can you call betrayal something that is done in the name of the motherland? But for the revolution, Eduard Shevardnadze and his cronies would have ruined the country. This is what new national leaders said. Nino Burjanadze headed the Georgian Parliament for eight years, remaining Mikhail Saakashvili’s close supporter. She was dubbed Iron Nino for her self-mastery – something Mikhail Saakashvili has always lacked. When the recent presidential campaign was launched last year, Mikhail Saakashvili endowed Nino Burjanadze with the right to be acting President. He both trusted and was afraid of her. He was aware that Iron Nino didn’t give up her presidential ambitions. At that time he praised Ms Burjanadze much, calling her his devoted friend, Iron Lady and Georgian Margaret Thatcher. In response, the Speaker asked her supporters not to rally and not to impede the Government’s work. She knew quite well that she was far away from being a big-timer.Nino Burjanadze stayed with Mikhail Saakashvili till she felt it jeopardized her. And she quit the Saakashvili team at the right time again. According to the South Ossetian party, the Georgian army began preparing for a military operation in South Ossetia back in April. That month Nino Burjanadze announced her resignation. Perhaps she did not know that hostilities would be unleashed in South Ossetia, but she couldn’t have noticed Georgia’s militarization. She must have understood that Mikhail Saakashvili’s refusal to sign a treaty on the non-use of force with Tskhinvali and Sukhumi meant that hostilities would certainly break out. She knew that Mikhail Saakashvili had no other way out. Russia would grab South Ossetia and Abkhazia; and the President would be unable to explain his people why he had done nothing to stop the “Russian expansion.”It would have been unwise to side with Mikhail Saakashvili longer. And Ms Burjanadze cannot be called an unwise politician. She has always been astute. Now that Georgia was defeated in the war and the public is disappointed at Mikhail Saakashvili’s policy, she appears the only stronghold in the world of instability and challenges, which is why she is mostly likely to become the next Georgian President.
Olga Allenova, Kommersant special correspondent