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Zviad Gamsakhurdia

Zviad Gamsakhurdia
ზვიად გამსახურდია
Zviad Gamsakhurdia, Tbilisi, 1988.jpg
1st President of Georgia
In office
April 14, 1991 – January 6, 1992
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Position abolished;
Military Council as the interim head of state
Chairman of the Supreme Council of Georgia
In office
November 14, 1990 – April 14, 1991
Preceded by Irakli Abashidze
Succeeded by Himself as the Head of state;
Akaki Asatiani as the Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia
Personal details
Born (1939-03-31)March 31, 1939
Tbilisi, Georgian SSR, Soviet Union
Died December 31, 1993(1993-12-31) (aged 54)
Khibula, Georgia
Nationality Georgian
Religion Georgian Orthodox Church
Signature

Zviad Gamsakhurdia (Georgian: ზვიად გამსახურდია, tr. Zviad K'onst'ant'ines dze Gamsakhurdia; Russian: Звиа́д Константи́нович Гамсаху́рдия, tr. Zviad Konstantinovich Gamsakhurdiya; March 31, 1939 — December 31, 1993) was a Georgian politician, dissident, scholar, and writer who became the first democratically elected President of Georgia in the post-Soviet era. Gamsakhurdia is the only Georgian President to have died whilst formally in office.

Zviad Gamsakhurdia was born in the Georgian capital Tbilisi in 1939, in a distinguished Georgian family; his father, Academician Konstantine Gamsakhurdia (1893–1975), was one of the most famous Georgian writers of the 20th century. Perhaps influenced by his father, Zviad received training in philology and began a professional career as a translator and literary critic.

Despite (or perhaps because of) the country's association with Joseph Stalin, Soviet rule in Georgia was particularly harsh during the 1950s and sought to restrict Georgian cultural expression. In 1955, Zviad Gamsakhurdia established a youth underground group which he called the Gorgasliani (a reference to the ancient line of Georgian kings) which sought to circulate reports of human rights abuses. In 1956, he was arrested during demonstrations in Tbilisi against the Soviet policy of de-stalinization and was arrested again in 1958 for distributing anti-communist literature and proclamations. He was confined for six months to a mental hospital in Tbilisi where he was diagnosed as suffering from "psychopathy with decompensation", thus perhaps becoming an early victim of what became a widespread policy of using psychiatry for political purposes.


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