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Nino Burjanadze

Nino Burjanadze (born on July 16, 1964) is a Georgian jurist and politician. (Her surname is also occasionally transliterated as Burdzanadze or Burdjanadze.) She is acting President of the Republic of Georgia after the resignation of Eduard Shevardnadze on November 23, 2003. She was formerly speaker of the Georgian parliament, a position she held from November 9, 2001.

Burjanadze was born in Kutaisi, Georgia. She graduated in 1986 from the Faculty of Law of the Tbilisi State University (TSU) and studied at the Moscow State University in 1986-89. She graduated with a doctorate in International Law in 1990.

Since 1991 she has been Associate Professor of the Faculty of International Law of the Tbilisi State University.

First elected to the parliament of Georgia in 1995, Budjanadze has been a Vice-President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly since 2000. She was originally a member of then-President Eduard Shevardnadze's Citizen's Union of Georgia (CUG), which was also supported financially by her father, a wealthy businessmen. Before her election as speaker, she headed the Georgian parliament's legal committee until 1999 and was subsequently the chairman of the parliamentary commission for foreign affairs. She was nominated to the post of speaker by the Union of Georgian Traditionalists faction and was later supported by several other factions.

In 2001-2002 Burjanadze was a President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation.

Although she gave Shevardnadze strong support in his dealings with foreign countries (particularly Russia), she spoke out forcefully against the corruption and inefficiency of his government's domestic policy, declaring it to be "absolutely incompetent." She left the CUG in 2002, forming an opposition party called the Burjanadze-Democrats to fight the November 2003 parliamentary elections.

After the rigged parliamentary elections of November 2, 2003 she joined other opposition leaders in denouncing the election results and urging mass demonstrations against Shevardnadze. The terms of the Georgian constitution automatically made her the acting president when Shevardnadze resigned. One of Burjanadze's first actions was to appeal for national unity and repeal the state of emergency declared by Shevardnadze, in an effort to restore stability to a country with a long history of political violence. She was an obvious candidate for the post, as she is widely respected by her compatriots - opinion polling in 2003 showed her to be one of Georgia's three most popular political figures.

She is seen as pro-Western and has said that she wants Georgia to join the European Union and NATO as soon as possible.

Burjanadze is due to be replaced as president on January 25, 2004 by Mikhail Saakashvili, who won the presidential elections of January 4, 2004. It is expected that Barjanadze will revert to her old post as speaker, prior to fresh parliamentary elections proposed for March.

Burjanadze is married to Georgia's deputy prosecutor general. They have two sons, 10 and 18 years old (as of November 2003).