ZHORDANIA, NOE (1868-1953). Georgian statesman, leader of the Democratic Republic of Georgia in 1918-1921. Born into an impoverished noble family in Guria (western Georgia), Zhordania studied at the Tbilisi Seminary and the Warsaw Veterinary Institute. In the 1890s, he became involved in the Georgian Marxist groups and eventually emerged as one of the leaders of the Mesame dasi group. He was arrested on several occasions and later traveled in Europe in 1893-1897. Returning to Georgia, he worked as editor of the newspaper Kvali in Tbilisi. In 1903, he was elected a member of the Caucausian Union Committee of Social Democrats and attended the 2nd Congress of RSDRP. By 1905, he was the leader of the Georgian Mensheviks and edited the influential newspaper Sotsial-Demokratia. He was a deputy from Tbilisi to the 1st State Duma, clashed with the Bolshevik faction of the RSDRP and, in 1907, he was elected to the Central Committee of the RSDRP. During World War I, Zhordania took a defensist position and further distanced himself from the Bolsheviks. After the February Revolution of 1917, he became chairman of the Tbilisi Soviet and of the Caucasian Region Center of Soviets. In December, he was elected as the chairman of the Georgian National Assembly.
Zhordania served in the Transcaucasian Seim in 1918 and played an important role in the events leading to the proclamation of Georgian independence in May 1918. One month later, he was chosen to lead the first Menshevik government of the Georgian Republic. He held this post for three years, preparing a land reform, comprehensive social and political legislation and resisting the Bolshevik underground activities. His foreign policy led to Georgia’s recognition by Germany, Italy, Turkey, Britain, Japan, Belgium, France and Russia. However, his growing rift with the Bolsheviks ultimately led to the invasion of the Red Army in February 1921. Zhordania emigrated to France, where he lived in exile in Paris, led the Georgian government-in-exile and continued political struggle for independent Georgia until his death in 1953.