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Shevardnadze, the second president of Georgia and the foreign minister of the Soviet Union between 1985 and 1990, passed away around noon on Monday in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi at the age of 86.
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev also expressed his condolences on Monday saying that the late ex-president was a man of great talents.
“I must say he had an ability and talent of communicating with all sorts of people, including with scientists and ordinary citizens,” Gorbachev, 83, a Nobel Peace laureate, said.
Shevardnadze was born on January 25, 1928 in the remote Georgian rural settlement of Mamati in a family of a local school teacher.
In 1965 he was appointed to head the Georgian Public Order Protection Ministry, which three years later was renamed into the Interior Ministry. He served in the post of the minister until 1972, when he was appointed the secretary of the Georgian Communist Party, in other words assumed the role of the republic’s head.
At that time Georgia was rumored to be one of the most corrupted of 15 republics comprising the Soviet Union and Shevardnadze made the anti-corruption fight as one of his priorities in the post of the republic’s leader.
In 1985 then-President of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev proposed Shevardnadze the post of the Soviet foreign minister, which he accepted and occupied until 1990. His tenure in the office saw the end of the Cold War era with the United States, the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, the reunification of East and West Germany and many other historical developments.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Georgia became a sovereign state led by President Zvyad Gamsakhurdia, who fled the country in 1992 as a result of a state coup.
Oppositionists and organizers of the state coup asked Shevardnadze to return to Georgia in 1992, which he did and assumed responsibility of the head of the new Georgian parliament.
In November of 1995 Shevardnadze was elected the president of Georgia having won 72.9% of the vote. He was reelected to the post in April of 2000 with 82% of the vote in his support.
In November of 2003, Georgian opposition leaders Mikhail Saakashvili, Nino Burdzhanadze and Zurab Zhvaniya, declared that the parliamentary elections at that time were falsified and asked Shevardnadze to resign from the post of the Georgian president. He submitted his letter of resignation on November 23.
Following his resignation in 2003, Shevardnadze abstained from taking part in the political and public life of his country and was writing memoirs. His latest book of memoirs “Thoughts about the Past and the Future” was published in 2006.