The street protests that raged against Georgia's U.S.-backed president in recent days are, in part, the gambit of a smart young man with an eye to toppling his onetime boss by being his polar opposite.
In a land where leaders are expected to emote theatrically, 35-year-old opposition leader Irakli Alasania is a tamped-down anomaly. The lawyer, negotiator and diplomat is in his element one-on-one, gaze direct, voice low and measured. Standing before the cheering masses, he often appears stiff; seen from afar, his reserve turns to inscrutability.
But in a nation exhausted by upheaval, revolution and war, and increasingly wary of the sometimes irrational spontaneity that marks President Mikheil Saakashvili's leadership, the buzz around the former U.N. ambassador continues to grow.