Dispute over Georgian heroic general’s statue in Tbilisi
01 December, 2016
Dispute over Georgian heroic general’s statue in Tbilisi
The monument of distinguished and respectful Georgian general and one of the most prominent military figures in the Democratic Republic of Georgia Giorgi Mazniashvili, set up in the park, at the crossroad of Mazniashvili and Tsinamdzgvrishvili streets, has caused controversial reactions among public. Majority of society and social network users have criticized the bust by sculptor Genadi Zakaraia, claiming that the statue is not is not compatible to the heroic deeds and immense contribution of iconic Georgian military figure. Moreover, sarcastic collages have gone viral on internet where Mazniashvili’s sculpture is compared to a fictional character from one of comedy films. Yet despite the harsh criticism and demand to remove the statue and replace it with proper one, part of Georgian society, in particular artists evaluate the work positively.
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Giorgi Mazniashvili (1871-1937) was an outstanding Georgian general who played an important role in Georgia’s history and committed himself to defending his native land from various enemies. The bold general earned fame in the Russo-Japanese war (1904–1905), where he was seriously wounded, (Georgia was part of Russia back then). As it has been reported, Russia’s Tsar Nicholas II sent his daughters to bandage his wounds to the renowned military figure. Moreover, Mazniashvili was visited personally by the Emperor, who awarded him St George’s Cross and invited the general to the palace.
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Mazniashvili also took part in World War I. After Russian Revolution of 1917 Georgia temporarily gained back its independence before being occupied by Soviet Russia again in 1921. During this time of hardship Maznishavili served his country honorably and did his best to maintain its territorial integrity. He formed two national divisions and secured the capital Tbilisi from the chaotically retreating and increasingly Bolshevist Russian soldiers. In April 1918, he successfully defended Georgia’s southwestern Guria region from the Ottoman invasion defeating them on the Choloki River. In June 1918, he served as a governor general of Abkhazia and crushed there a pro-Bolshevik revolt; then he took Gagra, Sochi and Tuapse in the first phase of the Sochi conflict. From October to December 1918, he served as a governor general of Tbilisi. During the December Georgian-Armenian war 1918, he was appointed a commander-in-chief and successfully defended the Georgian borders.

During the Soviet invasion of February 1921, he repulsed the Red Army from the Soghanlughi heights
at the outskirts of Tbilisi. The war, however, was lost. Mazniashvili did not follow the country’s leaders in exile, but mobilized the remnants of the Georgian armed forces to recover the Black Sea city of Batumi from the Turkish occupation, March 1921. During Red Terror Giorgi Mazniashvili was arrested and exiled to Iran from where he moved to France then later returned to Georgia. Upon returning to native country general faced oppression,  he was left unemployed and without pension. Maznishvi had no other way then to return to his native village of Sasireti where he grew up and live a rural life. In 1937 during Great Terror carried out by Bolshevik regime, Maznishvili was arrested together with his son Ivane and executed even without a trial. Unfortunately his grave has been lost. In 2013, he was posthumously awarded the title and Order of National Hero of Georgia.

When Sergo Orjonikidze, a Georgian Bolshevik and close associate of Joseph Stalin, intended to persuade Georgian general to change his position and join them, he told him that he, considered as a Menshevik general, was declared an outlaw and anyone could kill him. Yet in response Mazniashvili told him : “I am neither Menshevik nor Bolshevik. I am a Georgian General.”
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General Giorgi Mazniashvili together with his children

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