First Ladies of Independent Georgia
29 October, 2018
First Ladies of Independent Georgia
The presidential election took place on the 28th of October in Georgia. It was the last election in which the president will be selected by popular vote. After that, presidents will be picked by an electoral college of 300 lawmakers and regional officials.

The initial results from Georgia’s presidential election showed that neither of the two frontrunners, Salome Zourabichvili who is backed by the ruling party and Grigol Vashadze from an opposition coalition, was likely to win enough votes to secure.

Now take a look the first ladies of Georgia since the declaration of the country’s independence in 1991.

The first president of Georgia – and the first first lady


Zviad Gamsakhurdia was the first president of Georgia ( 1991 – 1993). During his presidency, the country signed its first independence referendum followed by the declaration of the country’s independence. His second wife Manana Archvadze was the first lady of Independent Georgia. She is a pediatrician. Manan Archavdze was actively involved in her husband’s campaign. She often talks publicly about current situations in Georgia. They have three sons, one from the first marriage of Zviad Gamsakhurdia.
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Manana Archvadze and Zviad Gamsakhurida, Photo courtesy: www.marshalpress.ge

In January 1992, rival nationalists ousted Gamsakhurdia in a brief civil war. Shortly after he had fled to Grozny, Eduard Shevardnadze, the former Soviet foreign minister, returned to his homeland to rule. During the war in Abkhazia, Gamsakhurdia returned from Grozny and start a rebellion against Mr. Shevardnadze. He returned to Georgia on September 24, 1993, a couple of days before the ultimate Fall of Sukhumi (the capital city of Abkhazia), establishing a "government in exile" in the western Georgian city of Zugdidi. The uprising quickly collapsed and Zugdidi fell as Russia provided troops to aid the government of Georgia.
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Manana Archvadze and Zviad Gamsakhurida, Photo courtesy: www.burusi.wordpress.com

On December 31, 1993, Zviad Gamsakhurdia died in circumstances that are still unclear. It is known that he died in the village of Khibula in the Samegrelo region of western Georgia and later was re-buried in the village of Jikhashkari (also in the Samegrelo region). Then his body was found in in the Chechen capital of Grozny. In 2007, the body of the first president was re-buried in the Mtatsminda Pantheon. As Manana Archvadze said he should be buried next to those prominent Georgians such as the political figure and writer Ilia Chavchavadze. A variety of reasons have been given for his death, which is still controversial and remains unresolved.

Presidency of Eduard Shevardnadze and Nanuli Shevardnadze

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Eduard and Nanuli Shevardnadze, Photo courtesy: www.dspace.nplg.gov.ge

Nanuli Shevardnadze was the first lady of Georgia during the presidency of Eduard Shevardnadze (1995-2003). Her father was purged during Joseph Stalin's rule. Despite the fact that it would be risky for his career to marry a daughter of the man executed as an enemy of the people, they married in 1951. In the 1960s and 1970s, Nanuli Shevardnadze worked as a journalist and specialist in the Russian language, editing a popular women's magazine in Tbilisi. During her husband's tenure as Soviet Foreign Minister in the 1980s, she befriended the wives of many top American officials.
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Eduard and Nanuli Shevardnadze, Photo courtesy: www.dspace.nplg.gov.ge

During the presidency of Eduard Shevardnadze, she founded and chaired an international movement "Women of Georgia for Peace and Life" and edited the magazine "Peace to All". In the mid-1990s, she campaigned against the adoption of orphaned Georgian children by foreigners, arguing this threatened Georgia's already difficult demographic situation. Eduard Shevardnadze stepped down as president during the bloodless Rose Revolution on 23 November 2003.

Misha Saakashvili and Sandra Roelofs


Nanuli Shevardnadze was followed by Sandra Roelofs, a Dutch–Georgian activist and diplomat who was the First Lady of Georgia from 2004 to 2013 during the presidency of Mikheil Saakashvili. Sandra Roelofs was born in Terneuzen, Netherlands. In 1991 she graduated in French and German languages from the Erasmushogeschool in Brussels and in 1993 attended courses at the International Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
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Sandra Roelofs and Mikheil Saakashvili, Photo courtesy: www.intermedia.ge

She met Mikheil Saakashvili in 1993 in Strasbourg and later that year moved to New York City where she worked at Columbia University and a Dutch law firm. In 1996 the couple came to Georgia, where Roelofs worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Consulate of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Tbilisi.
From 1999 to 2003, Roelofs was a visiting lecturer of French language at Tbilisi State University and was a radio correspondent for Dutch radio. Beyond her native Dutch, Roelofs speaks French, English, German, Russian, and Georgian.
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Sandra Roelofs and Mikheil Saakashvili, Photo courtesy: www.marshalpress.ge

Roelofs set up breast and cervical cancer screening programs in Georgia, as well as prenatal screening and promoted palliative care and awareness about rare diseases, safety belts and, healthy lifestyle. Her autobiographical book The Story of an Idealist has been translated into Georgian, Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Turkish and English. The couple have two sons, Eduard and Nikoloz.

Maka Chichua – The first lady and public figure


Finally, the first lady of Georgia is Maka Chichua, wife of the present president Giorgi Margvelashvili. In October 2012, he became a member of the newly formed cabinet of Bidzina Ivanishvili as Minister of Education and Science of Georgia. In February 2013, he was additionally appointed as First Deputy Prime Minister. Margvelashvili was named by the Ivanishvili-led Georgian Dream coalition as its presidential candidate in May 2013 and he won the October 2013 presidential election with 62% of votes. Margvelashvili is not a member of any political party.
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Giorgi Margvelashvili and Maka Chichua, Photo courtesy: www.primenewsgeorgia.ge

Chichua and Margvelashvili were longtime partners for at least four or five years prior to Giorgi Margvelashvili's presidency. In 2014, the couple married in 2013. The couple have two son - Teimuraz (born February 2, 2015) and Toma (born January 25, 2018). Maka Chichua also had one daughter from a previous relationship, as well as a stepdaughter from Margvelashvili's previous marriage.
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Giorgi Margvelashvili and Maka Chichua, Photo courtesy:www.on.ge

Maka was born on March 31, 1971, in Tbilisi, Georgia. She graduated from the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts. She has been involved in various activities, including modeling, music, television and film industries. She has taken part in several music videos and feature films. She has collaborated with several TV Companies working as a presenter, a judge of the TV show Georgia’s Got Talent, the head of the visual group and art director.

Related stories:

What does Giorgi Margvelashvili own?

President Margvelashvili with Maka Chichua pay respects to Zviad Gamsakhurdia’s memory

Son of former president Mikheil Saakashvili, Nikoloz changes his image

From Shevardnadze to Ivanishvili - Will 2030 resemble the Soviet era?



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