The Georgian Nationalist-Uklonists
25 November, 2010
The Georgian Nationalist-Uklonists

There actions were fraught with features contradicting the communist international ideas and were biased towards clearly-cut nationalism. Professor Simon Maskharashvili has more.
GJ – The processes that had started in Georgia in 1921 ended up in the occupation of Georgia by the Bolshevik Russia. But it is known that the Georgian nation had never stopped fighting against the red occupation since the fatal day when the debilitated Georgian Menshevik government abandoned the country to delve into emigration.
SM – In

Georgia, by the way, in addition to military activity, there emerged the popular movement of resistance and civil disobedience. As I said, the active stage in the Russian-Georgian war had not yet ended when a red Army high-ranking officer Kurishev was killed in Signaghi of the Kakheti region, and up until now, it is not known who did the killing.  
GJ – Do you want to say that the people had never revealed the killer’s name? 
SM – Yes! But that was not the only and exceptional case. For example, the private of the 11th Soviet Army Nikita Khrushchev (Stalin’s successor) was beaten black-and-blue at that time. Settling accounts with the occupant Russian soldiers and officers was taking place from the very first days of invasion. That was a genuinely public movement. The military confrontation is one thing as you know, and the public activity and civil disobedience against an occupant is something totally different.
GJ – Yes, the movement which is not led by any particular political power, but is a pure expression of the people’s will . . .
SM – Certainly! In February of 1921, there were a certain number of armed soldiers in Georgia, but this did not mean at all that only several thousand Georgians were defying the communist occupation. The Russian occupation was confronted almost by the entire nation, even the working class, so very loyal to Bolsheviks. The revolt erupted in Svaneti from the very first days of the Bolshevik occupation, headed by Dadeshkeliani, Pirveli and Gardapkhadze. According to official sources, the Soviet power was imposed on Svaneti right after the 1924 revolt. In actuality, the Soviet structures started functioning in Svaneti much later, and they functioned very weakly and ineffectively in the duration of the entire communist era, among those, the law enforcement and agriculture. At the same time, the indigenous traditional institutions were very strong and effective. Same would be true to say about Khevsureti. These processes of 1920’s are very masterfully described in the novels by the great Georgian writers K. Gamsakhurdia (‘Abduction of the Moon’) and the victim of Soviet repressions M. Javakhishvili (‘The White Collar’). In a word, the power of the Soviet regime in the Georgian highland was at nadir. In lowland, the Soviet power was established and strengthened much easier. The Soviet rule was still under a great question mark in those regions. The Russian Bolsheviks came across many hurdles here. One of them was the fact that the majority of members of the League of Nations had recognized Georgia as an independent nation at that time. That was the reason of not installing the Russian administration in Georgia. Instead, the Georgian Bolsheviks were given the reins of management of the country.
GJ – Who were they? 
SM – They were Sergo Orjonikidze, Mamya Orakhelashvili, Philipeh Makharadze, Budu Mdivani, Lavrenti Kartvelishvili, Levan Gogoberidze and others. In 1922, the question was raised about Georgia’s joining the big Soviet state. This was an attempt of actual occupation of Georgia by the Soviet Russia, thus legalizing the factual occupation. Having this in mind, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan were contemplated as part of the unified South Caucasian Federal Soviet Republic. By the end of 1922, those three republics were supposed to make up the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) together with the Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. The creation of the Union practically meant the legalization of the occupation, a complete annexation. Absolutely unexpectedly, the idea was defied by the bigger part of the Georgian Bolsheviks – members of the Georgian government. 
GJ – That is to say, the people who lead the armed forces of Russia into Georgia in 1921 . . .
SM – Exactly! All of a sudden it became clear that they were against the Russian annexation and unification with Russia.
GJ – Very strange! Unbelievable!
SM – As it seems, many communists were lead into an error. They were probably thinking that they would use the Russian weapons, depose the Menshevik government (the Menshevik wing of Social-Democrats) and would come to power in the de-jure recognized Georgia. They would certainly partner up with Russia, but Georgia would still remain an independent country. Among those figures, most prominent were Budu Mdivani and Philipeh Makharadze. 
GJ – Philipeh Makharadze? Wasn’t he one of the leaders of the ‘Shulaveri Committee’?
SM – Yes, the self-same Philipeh Makharadze. It is now difficult to say exactly whether this was their original idea or they simply were enjoying living and working in the de-jure recognized country. It is also difficult to say when the idea occurred to them, but it is a fact that they defied the restriction of Georgia’s independence and sovereignty. Moreover, by means of controlling the migration process, they were trying to increase the number of population in the urban areas of Georgia. Had we not known their past they could have impressed us as real nationalist leaders.
Their actions were fraught with features contradicting the communist international ideas and were biased towards clearly-cut nationalism. As a matter of fact, part of the Georgian national elite who had not emigrated and stayed in Georgia made a close contact with that part of communists.
GJ – And why did they do it? 
SM – They had probably noticed that there was less vice in those people compared to Stalin and Orjonikidze, or in the political philosophy of Lenin. That part of the Georgian communists was named the group of the ‘Georgian National-Uklonists’ (deviated ones), against which Stalin unleashed a serious war.

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