Recent events in Georgia, a former Soviet republic on the shores of the Black Sea, underscore how quickly euphoria can turn into tragedy.
In only seven months as president, power went so quickly into the head of Zviad Gamsakhurdia, a nationalist hero, that his former allies turned against him in a violent bid to oust him from office. Early Monday, the 52-year-old translator of Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson and Allen Ginsberg slipped out of Georgia, leaving his loyalists to continue the bloody battle against the opposition.
Gamsakhurdia's self-removal from power comes as a relief to all those who want Georgia and the other former Soviet republics to succeed. At the same time, the violent way in which he was deposed causes concern.