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Former Georgia president and Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze dies at 86

Former Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze, who later became president of independent Georgia, died yesterday aged 86 after a long illness.

He was closely linked to then Communist Party leader Mikhail Gorbachov, having gained a reputation in his home republic for rooting out corruption.

“He made a large contribution to the foreign-affairs policy of perestroika and he was a true supporter of new thinking in global affairs,” Mr Gorbachov said yesterday.

However, his record in office was disastrous for the Soviet people and for their country’s allies.

Naively accepting the good faith of imperialist leaders, he pushed through withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan in 1989 and West Germany’s absorption of the German Democratic Republic in 1990 without insisting on a conditional response from the US.

His failure was replicated in Georgia where, after being elected president in 1995, he was driven from office in 2003 after allegations of widespread electoral fraud.

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