Vasil Mzhavanadze

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Vasil Mzhavanadze. 1957

Vasil Pavlovich Mzhavanadze (also Vasily; Georgian: ვასილი მჟავანაძე; Kutaisi, 20 September [O.S. 7 September] 1902 – 5 September 1988) was the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Georgian SSR from September 1953 to September 28, 1972 and a member of the CPSU's Politburo from June 29, 1957 to December 18, 1972. Dismissed after a corruption scandal, he was replaced by Eduard Shevardnadze.

Mzhavanadze served in the Red Army as a political commissar during World War II. After the war, he became deputy commander for political affairs in the Kiev military district in the Ukrainian SSR, under the administration of Ukrainian Communist Party leader (and later Soviet leader) Nikita Khrushchev.

Georgia was at this time ruled by supporters of Lavrentiy Beria, who had been the First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party from 1931 to 1938. In July 1953, following the death of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and the arrest of Beria, the leadership of the Georgian Communist Party was purged by Khrushchev's supporters. Mzhavanadze was promoted to lead the Party in Georgia, replacing Beria's protégé Aleksandre Mirtskhulava as First Secretary in September 1953. In an unprecedented display of military presence on the political arena, Mzhavanadze was joined in the Georgian Central Committee by the generals Alexi Inauri and Aleksei Antonov.[1] When Khrushchev became leader of the USSR in 1957, Mzhavanadze was appointed to become a candidate (non-voting) member of the Soviet Politburo. He became a full member in 1966.

Georgia prospered during Mzhavanadze's term of office against a background of corruption. Mzhavanadze himself became a symbol of corrupt, inefficient governance. He was accused of auctioning jobs, pocketing state funds and running illegal factories for his own enrichment; his wife Tamara, nicknamed Queen Tamara after the famous Georgian medieval queen, became known for her tastes in expensive jewellery and antiques.

In mid-1972, Mzhavanadze was publicly accused of corruption and was denounced by the state-controlled media. He resigned from his post as First Secretary on September 28, 1972, and was replaced by his ambitious Interior Minister, Eduard Shevardnadze. It has widely been speculated that Shevardnadze had a hand in his boss's downfall; he was certainly the obvious candidate to replace Mzhavanadze. On December 18, Mzhavanadze was sacked from his Politburo position and retired to Georgia in disgrace. He died in 1988.


  1. ^ Knight, Ami W. (1993), Beria: Stalin's First Lieutenant, p. 214. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, ISBN 0-691-01093-5.
Party political offices
Preceded by
Aleksandre Mirtskhulava
First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party
Succeeded by
Eduard Shevardnadze