Eduard Shevardnadze


Biography of Eduard Shevardnadze

Eduard Ambrosis dze Shevardnadze (born 25 January 1928) is a former Soviet minister of foreign affairs, and later, Georgian statesman from the height to the end of the Cold War. He served as President of Georgia from 1995 to 2003, and as First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party (GPC, the de facto leader of Soviet Georgia), from 1972 to 1985. Shevardnadze was responsible for many top decisions on Soviet foreign policy in the Gorbachev Era. He was forced to retire in 2003 as a consequence of the bloodless Rose Revolution.

Shevardnadze's political career started in the late 1940s as a leading member of his local Komsomol organisation. He was later appointed its Second Secretary, and even First Secretary. His rise up the Georgian Soviet hierarchy continued until 1961 when he was demoted after he insulted a senior official. After spending two years in obscurity, Shevardnadze's returned as a First Secretary of a Tbilisi city district, and was able to charge the Tbilisi First Secretary at the time for corruption. His anti-corruption work quickly garnered the interest of the Soviet government, and Shevardnadze was appointed to First Deputy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Georgian SSR. He would later become the head of the internal affairs ministry and was able to charge First Secretary (leader of Soviet Georgia) Vasil Mzhavanadze for corruption charges.

As First Secretary, Shevardandze started several economic reforms which would spur economic growth in the republic, an uncommon occurrence in the Soviet Union because the country was experiencing a nationwide economic stagnation. Shevardnadze anti-corruption campaign continued until he resigned from his office as First Secretary. Mikhail Gorbachev appointed Shevardnadze to the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs. From then on, with the exception of a brief period between 1990 and 1991, only Gorbachev would outrank Shevardnadze in importance in Soviet foreign policy.

In the aftermath of the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991 Shevardnadze returned to a newly independent Georgia. He became the country's head of state following the removal of Zviad Gamsakhurdia as President. Three years later, in 1995, Shevardnadze was elected President. His presidency was marked by rampant corruption and accusations of nepotism. After allegations of an apparent electoral fraud during the 2003 legislative election Shevardnadze was forced to resign following a series of public protests and demonstrations colloquially known as the Rose Revolution. He has lived in relative obscurity ever since, but has published his memoirs.

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