Georgian leader left post after coup to avoid plunging land into conflict

Your departure from the leadership of Georgia occurred in dramatic fashion. Your guards got you away through the rear door of the parliament. It was said that the Americans were behind the «Rose Revolution» and the demonstrations against you; that you fell victim to the game of oil pipelines in the Caucasus. There was no revolution unless you count some people who entered the parliament at the moment I was making a seven-minute speech. When that happened I declared a state of emergency, which enabled me to make use of force. But, immediately afterward, on returning home and talking to my wife and telephoning my son as well, I rescinded the order declaring a state of emergency. As president of Georgia, I did not think it right to plunge the country into bloodshed, given that in the case of an armed conflict people might kill and be killed. So the next day I invited my colleagues to the presidential residence and said, «If you can run the country, take it and run it.» The decision to withdraw and retire was correct. When those people entered the parliament and the security guards removed me, my supporters were waiting for me in the corridor. They said: «Wait, don’t leave your post. Tomorrow we’ll go into the street and thousands of people will support us.» But I already knew that I wouldn’t stay. That would have created reaction of a sort I never wanted.

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