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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 November, 2003, 14:33 GMT
Shevardnadze says US betrayed him
Shevardnadze
Shevardnadze said he had been a good friend to the US
Ousted Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze has accused the US of helping to remove him from power.

Mr Shevardnadze said he could not understand why he had been abandoned after giving Washington full support in foreign policy, including on Iraq.

His comments came as President George W Bush telephoned acting president Nino Burjanadze to say he was sending a delegation "to assess Georgia's needs".

He said he wanted to help her democratic and free-market reforms.

Bewildered

Mr Shevardnadze eventually left office after weeks of opposition protests against flawed elections led to a takeover of parliament last weekend.

He said that he resigned when he saw a crackdown would only lead to bloodshed.

I looked at the huge crowd - I saw in their faces it would be impossible to calm them, that they were not afraid of anything, and I knew there would be bloodshed
Eduard Shevardnadze
Correspondents say he appeared tired and a little bewildered as he spoke to reporters at his residence outside the capital Tbilisi. He is said to have aged visibly in the past two weeks.

He said that, as Soviet foreign minister, he had played a major part in rescuing the world from the Cold War, and, as president of Georgia, he was a good friend to the US.

"When they needed my support on Iraq, I gave it," he said. "What happened here, this I cannot explain."

He said he suspected the involvement of US ambassador Richard Miles, who was posted to Belgrade before the overthrow of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic in 2000. The US has denied any involvement.

"In relation to the ambassador, I have serious... suspicions that this situation that happened in Tbilisi is an exact repetition of the events in Yugoslavia," Mr Shevardnadze said. "Someone had a plan."

The main opposition leader, Mikhail Saakashvili, has already said that he went to Belgrade earlier this year to study the events there three years ago and wanted to repeat them in Georgia.

'Not afraid'

The former leader said he thought the opposition was wrong to break into the country's parliament.

Mikhail Saakashvili
Shevardnadze had nothing bad to say about his likely successor
He added that he called a state of emergency because he saw a threat to the integrity of Georgia.

"Everything was ready - the army, the internal troops, the police - but I looked at the huge crowd," he said.

"I saw in their faces it would be impossible to calm them, that they were not afraid of anything, and I knew there would be bloodshed.

"That morning I told my colleagues the only way out was my resignation."

He was clearly hurt by comparisons with Mr Milosevic and with former Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu, who was shot by firing squad after being ousted in a popular revolution in 1989.

"Who in the world would believe that Shevardnadze could be Ceaucescu or Milosevic?" he said, adding that he had been the first to offer support to Romania's new leaders after the uprising.

He said he had nothing bad to say about Mr Saakashvili.

"I want to advise him to avoid chaos," he said. "Chaos already happened in the country and he can change the situation."


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