Annnd in this corner . . . the President . . . MIIIIISSSHHHHAAAAAA

Misha Saakashvili cannot run for president again in 2013 because he’ll already have served two terms. But let’s not fool ourselves, Misha is the “heavyweight champion” in the next election.

And . . . he may “win” the next election. He may pull a Putin and become the prime minister.

I’m a journalist, which means that I’ve been trained to suspect people’s motives. The result of such suspicions is that journalists are often cynical. But I’ll let you decide.

Here are the facts. Georgia is in the process of revising its constitution. A draft of the new constitution appears to concentrate power in the office of prime minister rather than with the president. The party that dominates parliament selects the prime minister. In May 2010, Saakashvili’s party, United National Movement, won 63 percent of the votes. Georgia’s parliament will continue discussing the draft constitution this fall. Coincidence? (

It is also difficult to hide my cynical nature when I think about a particular decree issued on October 12, 2011, a week after Bidzina Ivanishvili (the billionaire) announced he would run in the upcoming elections. In this decree, the Civil Registry stripped Ivanishvili of his citizenship (and, therefore, his chance to participate in the next elections). Did the government have grounds for its actions? Yes. Could it have avoided taking such actions? Yes (in my opinion). Will Ivanishvili regain his citizenship in time? Yes (in my opinion).

By the way, both Saakashvili and Ivanishvili support the United States. For a conspiracy theory on “how the US will replace Mikheil Saakashvili with Bidzina Ivanishvili,” read comments by the leader of the Labor party, Shalva Natelashvili, in The Messenger Online. (

(If you are wondering, the “shvili” part of their names means “child,” and many Georgian names end in “shvili.”)

I wonder if Misha is nervous about the upcoming election. If so, he might begin chewing on his tie again. I was looking for a copyright free photo of Saakashvili and found this image of him chewing nervously on his tie. He had been waiting for a television interview at the height of the August 2008 war with Russia and he was not aware that the camera was already rolling. Bad news for President Saakashvili, but good news for at least one entrepreneur. Oleg Panfilov, a supporter of Saakashvili, created an edible tie made of traditional Georgian dried plum puree. He calls them “Edible Reformist Ties” because they will “whet the appetite for democracy and freedom.” (


About keithrkenney
Keith Kenney is a professor of visual communication at the University of South Carolina. He is living in Tbilisi, Georgia, for a year. This blog is about several topics. "CSJMM-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management in Tbilisi, Georgia. "USC-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC) at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. CSJMM and SJMC are recipients of a "Journalism School Partnership" program grant from the US Department of State. The purpose of this $750,000 grant is to improve CSJMM and ensure its sustainability. "Tbilisi, Georgia" is about Susanna Melo and my experiences in Tbilisi. "Columbia, SC" will be about our experiences in our home town--Columbia--when we return home. "Georgia" is about Susanna and my experiences when we travel in Georgia outside of Tbilisi. "United States" is about our experiences traveling in the US. "Films and Photography" is about two documentary films I'm working on in Georgia. One story follows how Adishi handles the rapid tourism that is being developed in Svaneti. The other story follows Tamaz Jalagania, who is a craftsman of swords and guns, an opera singer, and an extraordinary storyteller. "Scholarship" is about my current books, articles, reviews, and grants.

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