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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs