“Shevy”
10 July, 2014
“Shevy”
The news about his death, even long-expected, might not have been shocking but it gave a sensation of reminiscent tendencies and the desire to know exactly what the man had done for his country. One of the most controversial men of our roaring times has passed away! His name is Eduard Shevardnadze – Georgia’s number one decision maker for many tens of years. Literally, every reference book around the globe carries an article about this doubtlessly significant political animal of the
world renown. His sinuous way from the dusty relinquished roads of a remote Georgian village to the glamorous halls and murky labyrinths of intergovernmental schemes and conspiracies was marked with a bittersweet glory of a politician who made a sharp difference anywhere he went and found himself engaged. On the international playground, he was affectionately nicknamed as SHEVY, which befitted him perfectly well. President Shevardnadze’s political career vacillated between the two edges – on the global arena, he was a politician who had a very serious say in the termination of the infamous Cold War, and in his native land he was the person whose resignation as president was wildly greeted. His political fate had it that Shevy metamorphosed from a national leader into a shining international personification of Gorbachev’s perestroika. Later, his political efforts led to the fall of the notorious European eyesore – the Berlin Wall. Shevy managed to normalize relations with the United States of America for the Russian government of that time. Following the well-known political ups and downs in the erstwhile USSR, Eduard Shevardnadze returned to Georgia to lead his newly-born country, having replaced the ousted President Gamsakhurdia, but during his leadership, corruption became ubiquitous in Georgia. The nation felt exhausted of his leadership and became furious about his style of ruling the country, which ended in the bloodless revolt, known as Rose Revolution. Shevardnadze stepped down under the pressure of tens of thousands of protestors. This is the briefest possible presentation of Shevy’s intrinsic and knotty mode of life. His biography could be looked up in any encyclopedia, and this article is not his obituary of course. This is an unassuming attempt to give a way to a deeply personal opinion of what might have changed had President Shevardnadze not been born into this arch-suffered but extremely lovable land of Georgia. Both answers – ‘not much’ and ‘too much’ – might be legitimate and justified. Shevy was born a natural leader and stepped very gingerly up the momentarily ascending scale of his career. His watchers and promoters had all maintained that he was a talented young man who adapted himself masterfully to what you may call a communist party-oriented protocol and mien, which at that time used to be absolutely indispensable for making a safe path towards the soviet higher echelons. This feature of his strong character was already a clear sign that the buildup of a career of a typical soviet communist cadre was almost guaranteed. To wit, there was no doubt even in his salad years that Georgia was receiving a leader whose grasp on life was tight and whose professional calling was powerful. I have never seen or heard of a person who had a stronger ability of adapting to a change then this giant of a man. Shevy’s ideology and political beliefs proved to be so flexible that he had no misgivings or inhibitions at all in turning himself from a communist authoritarian manager into an autonomous democratic leader of a free nation. This would have been utterly impossible had he not been the man he was. When we are talking about politics, we certainly do not mean that the doers of politics are purified winged angels, who only do good and right. Politician is a politician is a politician, including Eduard Shevardnadze, who may change faces myriad times, depending on what the situation is dictating at the moment. Lying is also a regular thing. Unfulfilled promises sound natural too. But Shevy’s case is outright unique! He was always able to do the impossible. I have worked for the guy and I have many times written about him. I have also made several TV stories and had many personal meetings with him. I know his family, his children and grandchildren very well, and I now well what I am writing. I have seen the original of his full-size painted portrait, predominantly in grey color, which has impressed me forever as an image of a powerful personality with unmitigated desire to fight and be victorious. And Shevy had many notable triumphs in life, but not without failures either. He was recognized and denounced, lauded and vilified, followed and rebelled against, loved and hated, trusted and doubted, carried in hands and trodden down, venerated and deprecated, listened to and ignored, his council accepted and rejected, his word believed and mistrusted, both badly misunderstood and understood accordingly. Shevy has gone through every possible vicissitude of life and has always emerged dry out of those treacherous political waters. He has worked hard day and night, but many of his efforts have given precarious and doubtful results. And it is almost impossible to know for sure whether this nation is thankful to him or not. Nobody knows if his people will ever build a memorable monument to glorify his life. What is this country ready for when it considers and reconsiders the life and work of the late President Eduard Shevardnadze? Unclear so far! The discussion will continue for a long time to come, but nobody knows for sure whether the controversy about him ends up in his favor or against him. Knowing that President Shevardnadze will postmortem receive all the honors that the presidents of a regular modern democracy deserve is very gratifying. His role is definitely tremendous in the history of this nation, and if we want to criticize his deeds, we are free to do so, but we will also have to be careful about being fair and cautious about the evaluation of this unusual man’s legacy. The news about his death, even long-expected, might not have been shocking but it gave a sensation of reminiscent tendencies and the desire to know exactly what the man had done for his country. Repeating the question about the difference he had made by his birth, I am inclined to confirm that yes, his life made a remarkable difference – just as it was lived, felt and understood.
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