The 1921 Revolt against Occupants
16 December, 2010
The 1921 Revolt against Occupants

There was every prerequisite in place in Georgia for achieving the victory had the  revolt not been prompted by the Kremlin and had it taken place really naturally – at the right time under the right conspiratorial rules. Professor Simon Maskharashvili has more.
GJ – The current situation in Georgia – interminable manifestations and the public protests – were a real heads-up for Stalin and his team, meaning that Georgia might be dragged into a serious revolt directed against the

Russian occupation. To keep the situation under his control, Stalin had planned a cunning subterfuge. What did the further developments look like?
SM – To organize the revolt, in 1924, the former commanders of the Georgian National Guard Valiko Jugeli and Daniel Chkhikvishvili came to Georgia from France. They pursued a goal of setting the so to speak ‘reddened’ Georgian army against the Bolshevik Russian occupants.
GJ – There were at that time plenty of their fellow combatants in the Georgian army . . .
SM – Actually, those military experts who had refused to emigrate together with the fled Georgian Menshevik government were serving in the Red Army. Imagine that even Giorgi Mazniashvili served there. Except them, many other Menshevik members of Georgia’s National Guard and the new recruits too – the fledgling warriors from rural areas – were among those who served in the Red Army regardless their hatred for the communists. BY the way, Jugeli and Chkhikvishvili were apprehended the moment they had arrived in Georgia. I think they were simply cajoled into coming to Georgia by the agents of relevant services. 
GJ – Were they simply arrested or executed too? 
SM – They were shot right after quenching the revolt. Before that, in 1924, Stalin summoned the Georgian Bolsheviks – every single well-known personality like Mamya Orakhelashvili who lived in Moscow but often traveled to Georgia, Philpeh Makharadze, Budu Mdivani and even Sergo Orjonikidze himself – and offered them to immediately leave Georgia and acquire permanent residence in Moscow. Stalin assigned a certain Russian Bolshevik Neyasnikov head of the South Caucasus Communist Party organization, and Narimanov as president of the all-Union Central Executive Committee. Mogylevski and Atarbegov were both at the helm of the Cheka (KGB). Noticeably, Stalin took away the levers of high management from Sergo Orjonikidze himself because he did not want to face any leakage of information about the fact that the revolt in Georgia was provoked from above.   
GJ – What do you mean ‘from above’?
SM – As it is known, the 28th of August is noted in Georgia as the Day of Virgin Mary’s Dormition. For Georgians, this is a big Day of religious devotion, celebrated with huge honors and display. 28 August and the next day of Easter are as a rule the most unhelpful days for starting a battle because in those days the fighting capability of an average male Georgian is very low. Based on the general public morale, it was calculated the revolt would start and people would follow its leaders spontaneously, and as I said, 29 August is the most irrelevant day for bringing people out into the streets. In this case, the interior troops which controlled the situation anyway, would have an advantage over the rebels. Moreover, the provocation of the Kremlin-planned revolt was supposed to take place (as long as the revolt was to take place anyway) in the summer because the spring and the summer are characterized in Georgia with rains and floods (Russians would have found it difficult to operate), and in the winter the cross-over in the Caucasus mountains is closed because of the snow-fall which would be in the way of the Russian ancillary troops. The revolt started on the 28th of August in one of the most important cities of Georgia called Chiatura which is situated right in the middle of the country. It immediately became clear which of the military units supported the rebels. The leaders of the revolt had no practical way to begin vigorous action although they were in touch with each other by means of consultations and conversations.
GJ – So there was only one city which had revolted against the Russian occupation . . .
SM – The worst part of it was that the rebels had revealed themselves, which gave a chance to special units under Mogylevski’s control to neutralize the leaders, to quell the revolt in Chiatura very quickly and, most importantly to sow the seeds of fright among the population.
GJ – In spite of all that, the revolt had engulfed the entire Georgia . . .
SM – Yes, when the fixed time came, the revolt erupted in many other cities of Georgia anyway, but with less power, less impact and at a lower organizational level. For example, one of the inspirators and organizers of the revolt Kakutsa Choloqashvili expected 500 rebels to turn up, but only 50 persons came out. Somewhere, a presumable leader refused to make an appearance . . . In a word; there was a rampant disorientation and absence of discipline among the rebels. Quite contrary was happening with Neyasnikov, Mogylevski and Narimanov – they all were perfectly organized and up to the point. They foresaw all the processes quite clearly. Regardless, the Soviet power fell in west Georgia in just two week’s time. Same thing happened in Dusheti of the Mtianeti region. To conclude, the Soviet authority was paralyzed for several days on almost 70% of Georgia’s territory. There was every prerequisite in place in Georgia for achieving the victory had the revolt not been prompted by the Kremlin and had it taken place really naturally – at the right time under the right conspiratorial rules.
GJ – The revolt was quelled and repressions started . . .
SM – About 6000 persons were liquidated . . . six thousand healthy functional Georgians were executed, the leadership centers were annihilated. It looked like Georgia would not stand again in many long years to come.
GJ – Some of the facts, describing the situation are outrageous. This happened at the Shorapani railways station of the Zestafoni region: totally innocent people were crammed into one carriage and a machine-gun was trained on them. Blood made fountain-like jets from the wholes punched by the bullets into the walls of the carriage. The population listened to the moaning of the wounded for days to come.
SM – Yes, it happened right there at the Shorapanni raiway station of the Zestafoni region. Some of the people who found themselves inside the doomed carriage hadn’t even touched a gun to fight. That was an example of an egregious cruelty. In September of 1924, absolute Soviet dictatorship was imposed on Georgia. One day in March of 1925 (the new Georgian government was practically complete with non-Georgian personnel) the young aviator Ambako Sagaradze was advised that the entire political elite, including Mogylevski, Neyasnikov and the famous executioner Atarbegov (Narimanov had passed away two days earlier) were headed for certain destination, and he had to be aboard the plane. People soon heard the shocking sound of explosion over Tbilisi and later saw two wounded men jettisoning from the enflamed plane. They were Mogylevski and Atarbegov. That day, Ambako Sagaradze shot the entire South Caucasus political, Communist and KGB elite aboard that plane. He died too, but he took revenge on behalf of all Georgians for those executed fellow countrymen. Those who were responsible for quenching the 1924 revolt in Georgia, just all of them except Stalin were liquidated. The fact instigated a terrible fright in Stalin. He understood that yearning for revenge in Georgia would never mitigate. Stalin died, but sense of revenge had never cooled down in Georgians. The feeling has always pursued the Georgian people.

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