The man who served under Gorbachev, Eduard Shevadnadze, has died at the age of 86.
Eduard Shevardnadze is normally given credit for having helped end the cold war along with his boss, Mikhail Gorbachev. As for his years on the job, they vacillated between opposites.
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He acted as president of Georgia in his times and later on gave up his presidency. Eduard climbed the political ladder of the communist party and went on to be the foreign minister of the USSR.
When Gorbachev came out with his concept of perestroika or restructuring, Eduard Shevardnadze was the poster boy (or man) for this new idea in what Ronald Reagan had labeled the evil empire.
It was partly Eduard and partly Gorbachev who helped end dictatorship in the Soviet Union which in turn led to the Cold War’s demise. The Berlin Wall fell before this wind of change and from then onwards the United States emerged as the lone superpower in the world.
Eduard Shevardnadze became the president of Georgia when the USSR split up into many small states. And he was supposed to lead his nation of Georgia into an era of peace and prosperity.
But that unfortunately never materialized. His state became one of the top ten corrupt countries of the world. While Eduard was a hero abroad for his role in ending the Cold War, at home he was a much maligned man.
"In the West, we think of Shevardnadze as a man who helped to peacefully end the Soviet Union, but here he became a despised man, and people described him as a dictator whom they simply could not stand having in power anymore," CNN correspondent Jill Dougherty said at the time.
His self esteem took quite a few blows as his own countrymen took to calling him a dictator and potentate. Finally, he announced fresh elections in 2003. But the opposition led protests and so there was a lot of chaos and hubbub about the whole matter.
At long last things took a revolutionary turn and hundreds of thousands of angry people converged on the capital of Georgia and demanded Eduard Shevardnadze’s resignation.
"At the beginning, I had a different mood, but now I see that it is impossible to avoid bloodshed. I never betrayed my people," Shevardnadze said. "Now, I say it's much better to resign with no bloodshed, no victims."
He complied in the end as a tired and bitter man who still had some degree of self respect left in him. He had never wanted things to become violent so he had stepped down without an uproar. Today he is no longer with us and his soul has left for the otherworld. R.I.P.
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