The World According to Misha: Georgia's Saakashvili

He survived war with Russia, faced down opposition at home and became a Western media star in the process. But what kind of ally is Georgia's Mikheil Saakashvili?

Thomas Dworzak / Magnum

Saakashvili, at the launch of a new bank branch in Batumi, hopes to lure new investment to Georgia.

The weary dissidents and opposition leaders of Tbilisi call it the Show, the ready display of virility and political kinetics that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili reserves for the many visitors whose good opinion he seeks. "I'm sure you'll be charmed," says Tinatin Khidasheli, a human-rights lawyer who is a leader of the opposition Republican Party of Georgia, over espresso and cigarettes at the brand-new Radisson Tbilisi. "Everyone always is."

The Show is a little different for each visitor. For Senator John McCain, it meant jet-skiing with Saakashvili on the Black Sea. Vice President Joe Biden was treated...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!