Friday, October 24, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Shevardnadze: Fearless life, sad political ending

By
July 08, 2014 |

WASHINGTON — Eduard Shevardnadze was sitting in the front of the small Yak-40 jet that was screaming toward liftoff from Sukhumi. It was 10 p.m. The runway and cabin lights were off. The Georgian leader had spent the day with his troops who were defending the Black Sea city. Abkhazian separatist forces were pouring in rockets.

Shevardnadze, who died Monday at 86, made the dangerous journey to Sukhumi in early March 1993 to take symbolic charge of the Georgian forces. I and my CNN television crew flew with the Georgian leader from the capital, Tbilisi. We spent the day wandering the city, darting into cellar doorways when rocket fire was heard.

At a poorly equipped hospital, Georgian fighters lay bloodied on the floor, and triage doctors darted from one horribly wounded soldier to the next. Shevardnadze visited the clinic, offering comfort to the wounded. He then set off to visit his forces at hilltop positions on the outskirts of Sukhumi.

In the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse and Georgian independence, separatists in the autonomous regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia were trying to break free from Georgian control.

Shevardnadze, once the vibrant and new-thinking foreign minister under Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, had returned to his homeland — the former Soviet Republic of Georgia — after Moscow’s sprawling Eurasian empire disintegrated on Christmas night 1991.

Toward the end of that damp and chilly March day in Sukhumi, Shevardnadze drove up in a Russian-made Volga sedan — no armor plating visible — and sat down for an interview in the artillery-blasted regional parliament. He removed his bullet-proof vest and helmet.

He spoke of the bloody ethnic cleansing at the hands of Abkhazian fighters who were driving tens of thousands of Georgians from their homes in the region. Shelters in Tbilisi were full, and even what was then the best hotel in the capital was crammed with displaced Georgian families.

Shevardnadze ducked a question about his own forces having behaved like the Abkhazians. Ethnic hatred had reached extremes.

Shevardnadze said a small country like Georgia could ill afford to lose Abkhazia and its Black Sea coastline, and could not surrender the important port at Sukhumi.

The Georgian leader was calm, dismissing questions about having risked his life in the Abkhazian bombardment. He said he had no choice but to visit the front lines to boost the morale of his forces. The city had been under siege for four months.

I had been with Shevardnadze many times during my long stint in Moscow. Also memorable was one night when Gorbachev was held captive during a failed coup against him in 1991. All our live broadcasting was done on the roof of our building in central Moscow. The only access was to clamber up a steel ladder and through a tiny hatch.

Shevardnadze popped out of that hatch and spoke witheringly of the coup plotters.

He and Gorbachev were both members of the ruling Soviet Politburo when Gorbachev was named to the top post of general secretary in 1985. They were old friends and men with a liberal bent. Shevardnadze said in a memoir that he was shocked when Gorbachev called him to Moscow to be foreign minister.

Before Gorbachev took control of the Soviet Union and began his policies of perestroika and glasnost (restructuring and openness), I had heard from a KGB source that the two men met by chance in the southern Russian city of Stavropol, near Gorbachev’s home village. I was never able to confirm the report. But the source said the two men had a long talk and agreed that the country needed to end its occupation of Afghanistan and drop its Cold War stance toward the United States and the West.

Once Gorbachev took power and Shevardnadze was foreign minister, the two men began a dramatic dismantling of Soviet control over its Central and East European satellite nations, pulled forces back inside the Soviet Union and set off on successful negotiations with Washington to limit nuclear weapons. They moved as if taking care of a checklist of international problems — a list that originated in that Stavropol meeting.

But by 1990, Shevardnadze, showing the convictions he had displayed on the Sukhumi journey, quit as foreign minister and warned of a dictatorship. He was worried, he later wrote, of a new dictatorship in the country, as Gorbachev was believed to be falling under the influence of communist hard-liners.

But in the course of his leadership of the tiny country of his birth, Shevardnadze’s administration became increasingly akin to the dictatorial stance he had warned Gorbachev about more than a decade earlier. He was driven from office in a 2003 uprising, but had done much to pull Georgia back from the failed-nation brink it had reached when he took control.

It was, for a time, Georgia’s great good fortune that the Yak-40 made it safely back to Tbilisi.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
‘The Rocky Horror Show’ finds a home on stage

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
For sale: Solano home with Nike missile bunkers

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1, 4 Comments | Gallery

 
Cassette tapes used for music and more

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

 
Salvation Army debuts giant kettle for holidays campaign

By Robinson Kuntz | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Fairfield police log: Oct. 22, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Oct. 22, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

New survey details vast scope of teen dating abuse

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 2 Comments

 
Boosters seek to keep Bay Bridge light display

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Driver attacked after ice cream truck kills boy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 4 Comments | Gallery

 
$50,000 reward to find killer of Anaheim girl, 9

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Video shows bikers taunting California officer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 3 Comments

 
California man guilty in wife’s stabbing death

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Brown opens up spending in campaign’s final month

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Suspect in girl’s 1984 killing was police employee

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

PTSD argued in case of Marine jailed in Mexico

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
US tech firm fined for underpaying Indian workers

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Paintings in national parks spark probe, furor

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Prisoner in Afghanistan to be tried in US

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

US, SKorea agree to delay wartime control transfer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
US officials: Iraqi army regrouping slowly

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Gary killings put spotlight on abandoned buildings

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Lawmakers seek to end benefits to former Nazis

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

For teen with passport, Syria trip can be seamless

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Border deaths drop to 15-year low

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Cremation fears leave empty Ebola beds in Liberia

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Ex-Mountie hero of shooting at Canada’s Parliament

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Canada gunman wanted a passport to go to Mideast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
NYC mayor: Don’t be alarmed by doctor’s Ebola

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

NK experts: US must apologize to free detainees

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Ebola: A crash course in fear and how it hurts us

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

NY doctor back from Guinea has Ebola, 1st in city

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

 
.

Opinion

 
Planning Commission not listening to the people

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 5 Comments

Not sure I trust government on Ebola

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 5 Comments

 
Is America prepared for Ebola or is threat overhyped?

By Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis | From Page: A11

.

Living

Community Calendar: Oct. 24, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: Oct. 24, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

My husband and I don’t share anything anymore, including a bedroom

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

 
Horoscopes: Oct. 24, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Week in preview Oct. 24-30, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Review: ‘John Wick’ delivers non-stop action

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
‘Rocky Horror’ a participatory treat

By Tony Wade | From Page: B3

Entertainment calendar Oct. 24, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

 
Burns’ series gives PBS a ratings milestone

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Q&A: Mick Jagger, the film producer, heads to work

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

.

Sports

 
At 1-all, World Series moves to quirky Giants park

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Giants’ Hudson to face Royals’ Guthrie in Game 3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
College notebook: Cordes chosen to try out for USA national team

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Homecoming still on but no game for VCS

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B8

 
Compton among PGA leaders at Sea Island

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Steve Nash ruled out for season with back injury

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Judge questions $75M NCAA concussion settlement

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Arizona men near-unanimous pick by media to win Pac-12

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Raiders may lose Woodley to biceps injury

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

No. 6 Oregon looks to extend streak against Cal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
The Write Way: KC coach’s lineup cards are artful

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

Prep football capsules: Week 8

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B9

 
Manning, Sanders lead Broncos past Chargers, 35-21

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

Sports on TV/Local sports for Friday, Oct. 24, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B10

 
This date in sports history for Friday, Oct. 24, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

.

Business

Honda Fit becomes even more intriguing small car

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1 | Gallery

 
Letting your car find a spot and park itself

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2 | Gallery

Cloud business lifts Microsoft’s quarterly results

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
A blue Christmas for Amazon?

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Zuckerberg speaks Chinese, Beijing students cheer

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11 | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

Mark Dean Lindsay

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9