Nanuli Shevardnadze

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Nanuli Shevardnadze, 1988

Nanuli Shevardnadze (Georgian: ნანული შევარდნაძე) née Tsagareishvili (ცაგარეიშვილი) (9 March 1929 – 20 October 2004) was a Soviet and Georgian journalist and activist. In 1951 she married Eduard Shevardnadze, who would become Soviet Foreign Minister (1985–1991) and leader of post-Soviet Georgia (1992–2003).


Nanuli's father Razhden Tsagareishvili was purged during Joseph Stalin's rule, while her mother died of tuberculosis, leaving Nanuli and her two siblings orphaned.[1] Shevardnadze, then a Komsomol activist, met her in the last years of Stalin's life and married her in 1951, ignoring warning that it would be fatal to his career to marry a woman whose father was executed as an "enemy of the people".[2] Even Nanuli initially rejected Shevardnadze's marriage proposal, fearing her background would ruin his career, but he did not back down.[3]

In the 1960s and 1970s, Nanuli Shevardnadze worked as a journalist and specialist in the Russian language, editing a popular women's magazine in Tbilisi. During her husband's tenure as Soviet Foreign Minister in the 1980s, she befriended the wives of many top American officials. In March 1992, she followed Shevardnadze back to her native Georgia, which was suffering from a civil strife. Shevardnadze became an interim head of state, being elected to the post of president in 1995. During these years, Nanuli Shevardnadze took part in many charitable events. She founded and chaired an international movement "Women of Georgia for Peace and Life" and edited the magazine "Peace to All". In the mid-1990s, she campaigned against the adoption of orphaned Georgian children by foreigners, arguing this threatened Georgia's already difficult demographic situation.[4] Eduard Shevardnadze stepped down as president during the bloodless Rose Revolution on 23 November 2003. He later claimed that Nanuli was among those who urged him to resign earlier.[5]

On 20 October 2004, Nanuli Shevardnadze suffered a heart attack and died in a hospital in Tbilisi. Eduard Shevardnadze was at that time in Germany on his first foreign visit since he resigned in 2003.[6] She was survived by her husband, two children—Paata and Manana—and five grandchildren, including the journalist Sophie Shevardnadze.


  2. ^ Suny, Ronald Grigor (1994), The Making of the Georgian Nation, p. 329. Indiana University Press, ISBN 0-253-20915-3
  3. ^ Ekedahl, Carolyn M, and Goodman, Melvin A (2001), The Wars of Eduard Shevardnadze: Second Edition, p. 9. Brassey's, ISBN 1-57488-404-2
  4. ^ Rita James Simon & Howard Altstein (2000), Adoption Across Borders: Serving the Children in Transracial and Intercountry Adoptions, p. 109. Rowman & Littlefield, ISBN 0-8476-9833-5
  5. ^ New Leadership Prepares for Elections, Shevardnadze Remains in Georgia. Civil Georgia. November 25, 2003
  6. ^ Ex-First Lady Dies at 75. Civil Georgia. 20 October 2004

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