Eduard Shevardnazde

/ telegraph.co.uk

/ telegraph.co.uk

This politician came from Georgia, a Soviet state until democratization. He was born in 1928, did well in history studies at the Kutaisi Institute of Education and joined the Communist party in 1948 at the age of twenty.

Enroled in the Komsomol youth league, he shot upwards through the party machinery during the 1950s and became head of the Georgian Ministry of Interior in 1964. Though it seems strange, given his later reputation, he was strongly against political corruption, becoming an energetic opponent. His bête noir was Mahavanadze, the Party Secretary, who received verbal assaults from every direction, except that it was Eduard who was behind them.

With established fame for courage, he became Party Secretary himself in 1972. He introduced startling reforms,especially in agricultural policies, but his enemies said they were only experimental, and would not last. In 1978 he was in the Politburo as a candidate member, having the advantage of long-standing acquaintance with Mikhail Gorbachev. Quite soon he received full Politburo status and was appointed Soviet Russia’s Foreign Minister in 1985. He was wholly different from his predecessor, the grim Gromyko who never smiled, whereas Shevardnazde’s attractive feature was his smile. You cannot win though, because his enemies pronounced that it was the smile of a tiger.

It was he who overhauled the foreign policy machinery; working alongside Gorbachev, he greatly helped towards ending the Cold War with the West. He was charming, and he listened to people. But his most important contribution was his invariable insistence on political reform within the USSR. During the winter of 1990/91 he repeatedly warned Gorbachev of the impending danger of a coup orchestrated by Soviet hard-liners who feared the two of them intended to turn from away Communism and install a democracy. They may well have been right, but outwardly both Shevardnadze and Gorbachev remained Marxist party apparatchiks.

In 1992 a parting of the ways took place and Eduard returned to his home state of Georgia, now in the middle of what could be termed a civil war. When independence came he eventually became President, and survived two attempts on his life in 1995 and 1998. Unfortunately his regime was reputed by the world press as politically corrupt, with E.S. heavily involved in the corruption. He was forced to resign in 2003, vanished from view, and died in July, 2014.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *