MOSCOW, JAN. 7 -- Soviet Vice President Gennady Yanayev hinted today that Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, who stunned the world last amonth by announcing his resignation, may stay in his post.

Asked by reporters about Shevardnadze's status, Yanayev said: "In politics and personnel issues, prognoses of things are dangerous. . . . I never said anywhere that there would be a new foreign minister. Why do you exclude that Shevardnadze might remain?"

In a Dec. 20 address to the Soviet Congress of People's Deputies, Shevardnadze issued an emotional warning against what he said was a rising danger of dictatorship in the country, then clearly took President Mikhail Gorbachev by surprise by announcing his resignation.

Shevardnadze's spokesman, Vitaly Churkin, has called the decision to resign "irreversible," and other high-ranking aides have said they saw little possibility that the foreign minister would change his mind after such a dramatic gesture.

Yanayev, who was named vice president on Dec. 27, heads a committee charged with selecting and defining the powers of a newly approved presidential cabinet and government ministers. One of Gorbachev's closest aides, Giorgi Shakhnazarov, said he was surprised by Yanayev's comments.

Gorbachev and Shevardnadze -- longtime close allies in the Soviet hierarchy -- are known to have spoken several times since the resignation announcement, but details of those conversations havve not been made public. The Soviet leader, who called the resignation "unforgivable," has said he hoped Shevardnadze would remain in the leadership.

In an interview this week with the newspaper Moscow News, Shevardnadze showed no signs of reversing his decision and said he was hoping to start a foreign-policy analysis institute this year.

Among several candidates the Kremlin leadership is said to be considering as a replacement for Shevardnadze are Alexander Bessmertnykh, the ambassador in the United States; Alexander Dzasokhov, the Communist Party's chief ideologist; Yevgeny Primakov, Gorbachev's special Middle East envoy; and Yuli Vorontsov, a deputy foreign minister who oversaw the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan.

Yanayev said -- as has Gorbachev and others here previously -- that a change in foreign ministers would not change the course of Soviet foreign policy. But some foreign-policy analysts here say they sense a distinct shift in emphasis, that officials are now asking more frequent questions about how certain foreign-policy developments serve the interests of the Soviet Union.

"The policy of 'common human values' in the past several years was wonderful and won a Nobel Prize {for Gorbachev}, but people are beginning to ask what has it gotten the country," said Andrei Melville, a well-known expert on U.S.-Soviet relations.

"When you look at the degree of retreat and concessions on issues like German reunification or the various arms-control pacts, there is a certain pride, but also a sense of 'Where's the beef?' What have we gained?" Melville said. For example, food aid sent by Germany to avert possible famine in the Soviet Union this winter "has gotten a lot of publicity, but, really, it's just peanuts. It's not just reactionaries who are asking these questions. It's even good liberals like me."