Former Soviet FM, Georgia President Eduard Shevardnadze dies at 86

Eduard Shevardnadze, a former president of Georgia and Soviet foreign minister, died on Monday after a long struggle with illness, his personal assistant, Marina Davitashvili, told Reuters News Agency.

Shevardnadze, who was 86, played a vital role in ending the Cold War as Soviet foreign minister, went on to lead his native Georgia in the stormy early years after independence before being ousted in street protests.

Shevardnadze was born on January 25, 1928 in the Mamati village of Lanchkhut District (Guria) of Georgia Soviet Socialist Republic (now Georgia).  He was foreign minister of the Soviet Union (1985–90, 1991) and head of state of Georgia (1992–2003).

After the Soviet Union collapsed, Shevardnadze returned to Georgia to become president and brought some stability to the republic after a period of anarchy, when protesters toting Kalashnikovs prowled the streets.

He was toppled in the country’s 2003 Rose Revolution, unceremoniously bundled out of parliament by his minders when it was stormed by protesters.

Shevardnadze had survived two assassination attempts. In 1995, he was wounded in bomb blast. In 1998, Shevardnadze’s motorcade was attacked at night in the heart of his picturesque, red-roofed capital, Tbilisi, by a group of 10 to 15 men armed with guns and grenade launchers. Two of his bodyguards and one of the attackers were killed; the others escaped. The armored Mercedes saved Shevardnadze’s life.