News / Europe

Former Georgian President, Soviet FM Shevardnadze Dies at 86

  • Former Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze smiles during an interview with Reuters in his residence in Tbilisi, Nov. 24, 2003.
  • Georgia's former President Eduard Shevardnadze casts his ballot during the presidential election at his residence in Tbilisi, Oct. 27, 2013.
  • U.S. President Bill Clinton meets with Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze in the Oval Office at the White House, Sept. 23, 1999.
  • Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze is sworn in as Georgian president in Tbilisi, Nov. 26, 1995.
  • Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze is seen in this television picture with cuts and bruises after escaping an apparent assassination attempt August 29, 1995.
  • Georgian Leader Eduard Shevardnadze and visiting Russian President Boris Yeltsin listen to Georgian Katolikos Patriarch Ilia ll in a Patriarch's church in Tbilisi, Feb. 03, 1994.
  • Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbechev and President Fidel Castro sign a friendship and cooperation treaty as Soviet Foreign Minister Edward Shevardnadze and Cuban Politburo member Juan Almeda shake hands, Havana, April 4, 1989.
  • U.S. Secretary of State James Baker and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze wave from a rubber raft after they went fishing in Snake River, Wyoming, Sept. 24, 1989.
  • A smiling President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze walk from the Oval Office in the White House, Sept. 27, 1985.
VOA News

Former Georgian President and Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze, who helped end the Cold War as the Soviet Union's last foreign minister, has died at the age of 86.

A spokeswoman said he died Monday after a long illness.

Russian leaders swiftly praised Shevardnadze as an outstanding statesman.

President Vladimir Putin expressed "deep condolences to [Shevardnadze's] relatives and loved ones as well as to the entire Georgian people," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies.

Eduard Shevardnadze

  • Born in 1928 in the Guria region
  • Joined the Communist Party in 1948
  • Became head of Communist Party in Georgia in 1972
  • Foreign Minister of Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985
  • Led Georgia after its first post-Soviet presidency collapsed
  • Resigned during Georgia's 2003 Rose Revolution

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev added "He was a very capable, talented man, very much predisposed to working with people, with all strata of society."

Speaking on popular radio Echo of Moscow, Gorbachev added that Shevardnadze was "Georgia's ideal representative."

"You could speak to him directly, it was good working with him."

Glasnost, perestroika

As Soviet foreign minister, the white-haired man with a gravelly voice was the diplomatic face of Gorbachev's liberalizing policies of glasnost and perestroika.

Following the wooden Andrei Gromyko, Shevardnadze impressed Western leaders with his charisma, his quick wit and his commitment to Gorbachev's reform course.

Shevardnadze helped push through the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan in 1989, signed landmark arms control agreements, and helped negotiate German reunification in 1990 - a development that Soviet leaders had long feared and staunchly opposed.

Western leaders, especially Germans, would remain grateful for Shevardnadze's work as foreign minister. But in the former Soviet Union, those nostalgic for a return to superpower status lumped Shevardnadze with Gorbachev in the ranks of the unpardonable.

Shevardnadze, who was appointed Soviet foreign minister in 1985, resigned in December 1990, warning that reform was collapsing and dictatorship was imminent. A year later, the Soviet Union collapsed in the wake of an attempted hard-line coup against Gorbachev.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, he returned to Georgia and helped stabilize the country in its early days. He was elected president in 1995 and survived two assassination attempts while in office.

Georgian politics

His government became dogged by corruption and allegations of vote fraud in a 2003 parliamentary election, and he suffered a dramatic fall from grace when his overthrow in the 2003 Rose Revolution saw thousands dancing and singing in the streets of the capital Tbilisi.

Shevardnadze was born on Jan. 25, 1928, in the village of Mamati near Georgia's Black Sea coast, the fifth and final child in a rural family that hoped he would become a doctor.

Instead, he launched a political career at age 20 by joining the Communist Party, and received a university degree only 31 years later from a teachers' institute.

His wife, Nanuli, died in 2004, and Shevardnadze spent his final years in seclusion in his private residence outside Tbilisi, writing memoirs of the time when he helped shape the fate of Europe.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AFP and AP.

You May Like

Photogallery Kyiv: Russian Forces Tightening Grip on East

And new United Nations report documents human rights abuses committed by both sides in conflict More

Locust Swarms Fill Antananarivo Skies

FAO-led control efforts halted plague More

South Africa’s Plan to Move Rhinos May Not Stop Poaching

Experts say international coordination needed to follow the money trail and bring down rhino horn kingpins More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Lawrence Bush from: Kennebonport, Texas
July 07, 2014 1:20 PM
Comments on the great lives, great personalities and great works of the world statures at the fastigens in any field.....no say over this. Former Soviet foreign minister and the Georgian president Edward Shevardnadze was a stature of this august category of great personality.

Moving with the last Soviet president His Excellency Mikhail S Gorbachev and the very efforts to down the iron curtain along with the downing of the Berlin wall for the unification of two German states into one.......... the promulgation of the perestroika and the glasnost policies...... all that do really symbolise the the class of statesmanship. ......

On his demise, on behalf of we all Americans - irrespective of our government, people of all walks do convey our heartfelt condolence for his family and and all his near and dear ones in our friendly state Georgia. May Christ keep him in His abode.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Weeki
X
August 29, 2014 2:18 AM
The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid