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The author, a former senior United Nations official stationed in Sukhumi and Tbilisi, tells the stories of people in Abkhazia and Georgia proper, intertwined with astute and timely analysis of the political events that have shaped the small Caucasus nation in the years since she gained her independence—from the rise and fall of Shevardnadze, the hero of perestroika and the West’s favourite “democrat”, to the era of Saakashvili, the proclaimed “beacon of democracy”, increasingly authoritarian and challenged by a discontented public. The analysis is also anchored in Georgia’s history and collective memory, indelibly marked by the lasting impact of the brutal rule of Stalin and Beria and the ever-present shadow and interference of Russia.

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