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Former Georgian leader Shevardnadze to be buried in grounds of family estate

July 08, 2014, 15:37 UTC+3 TBILISI

Shevardnadze, second president of Georgia and foreign minister of the Soviet Union between 1985 and 1990, passed away on Monday, aged 86

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TBILISI, July 08. /ITAR-TASS/. Late Georgian former President Eduard Shevardnadze will be buried on Sunday in the grounds of his family estate in the capital, Tbilisi, next to the remains of his wife Nanuli Tsagareishvili as he asked in his will, the former president’s press secretary said on Tuesday.

Shevardnadze, second president of Georgia and foreign minister of the Soviet Union between 1985 and 1990, passed away around noon on Monday in Tbilisi, aged 86.

“Eduard Shevardnadze will be laid to rest with all due honours appropriate for the former president,” press secretary Marina Davitashvili told an ITAR-TASS correspondent.

Davitashvili said the body of the late president would be carried on Friday to Tbilisi's Holy Trinity Cathedral, commonly known as Sameba, where people wishing to pay last respects could do so, as also on Saturday.

On Sunday at 3pm local time (11am GMT) his body will be taken from the Sameba to his family estate, where he will be laid to rest.

Seven years ago in an interview with Georgian daily Asaval Dasavali, Shevardnadze said “the issue concerning the place of my burial is very simple. I will write and leave a will asking to be buried in the yard of my house near Nanuli’s grave.”

Shevardnadze was born on January 25, 1928 in the remote Georgian rural settlement of Mamati into the family of a local school teacher.

Having graduated from Kutaissi Pedagogical Institute in 1959, majoring in history, Shevardnadze began a rapidly ascending political career.

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 minister until 1972, when he was appointed secretary of the Georgian Communist Party - in other words, assuming the role of the Soviet republic’s leader.

At that time, Georgia was rumoured to be one of the most corrupt of 15 republics comprising the Soviet Union. Shevardnadze made the anti-corruption fight one of his top priorities.

In 1985, then-president of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev proposed Shevardnadze for the post of 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, collapse of the Warsaw Pact, reunification of East and West Germany and many other historic developments.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Georgia became a sovereign state led by President Zvyad Gamsakhurdia, who eventually fled the country in 1992 in a state coup.

Oppositionists and organisers of the coup asked Shevardnadze to return to Georgia in 1992, which he did and assumed responsibility as head of the new parliament.

In November 1995, Shevardnadze was elected president of Georgia, having won 72.9% of the vote. He was re-elected to the post in April 2000 with 82% of the vote in his support.

However, continued deterioration in the national economy and unresolved territorial disputes with the Georgian republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia led to the so-called "Rose Revolution" against Shevardnadze.

In November 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 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.

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