Eduard Shevardnadze's fears he was to be the latest sacrificial victim of President Mikhail Gorbachev's politics may have affected his decision to resign as foreign minister, lawmakers and Soviet journalists say.

Shevardnadze's feelings he was let down by his one-time patron are so strong that he most likely will never take another job under Gorbachev, the sources said during breaks in the session of the Congress of People's Deputies that began last week.The observers noted that for the past several months, newspapers were filled with speculation about a new job for Shevardnadze, either as premier to replace Nikolai Ryzhkov or as vice president to fill the vice-presidential post Congress created Tuesday.

Other analysts who follow Soviet politics closely pointed out the irony of Shevardnadze's departure one month after Gorbachev won the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize for ending the Cold War.

Still others asked why Gorbachev sent Presidential Council member Yevgeny Primakov, rumored for weeks to be next foreign minister, on two missions to Iraq in October when Shevardnadze was available to mediate in the gulf crisis by meeting with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Gorbachev, one correspondent said, was prepared to sacrifice Shevardnadze in order to get needed votes from right-wing lawmakers on his congress agenda.

But Shevardnadze pre-empted the move and quit first, capitalizing on his international name and the respect he has won in all capitals of the world, the correspondent said.