Shevardnadze, who was 86, played a vital role in ending the Cold War as Soviet foreign minister, went on to lead his native Georgia in the stormy early years after independence before being ousted in street protests.
The last Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev, expressed sorrow over the passing of a friend, hailing him as an extraordinary, talented person who had done much to bring down the Berlin wall and end the nuclear arms race.
He was always quick to find a way of connecting with different people with youngsters and the older generation. He had a bright character, a Georgian temperament, he said, referring to Shevardnadze's passionate nature. Russian President Vladimir Putin offered his condolences to his family.