Victims of Communist Repression – Sandro Akhmeteli (Part Three)
03 March, 2011

He was no longer a trustable Soviet citizen. At the same time, Sandro Akhmeteli had many followers and admirers because of his distinguished family ties and thanks to his own artistic talent, even among the highest communist circles. Professor Simon Maskharashvili has more.
GJ – The famous Georgian theatrical director and the artist of an outstanding talent Sandro Akhmeteli and his entire family became the victims of the harsh Bolshevik repressions of 1937.  As it was noted, the brothers Akhmeteli

and Joseph Stalin had resented each other since their childhood years.
SM – The fate of the Akhmeteli family was practically decided when Stalin came to power in the Soviet Union. Except the elder brother Stephane (he used to be ranking highly in the Tsarist Army), every member of the Akhmeteli family was extremely useful to Soviet authorities. As I have said before, two of the brothers were highly qualified veterinarians and Sandro Akhmeteli himself was one of the greatest theatrical directors of the entire Soviet Union. He was the only director (not just among Georgians but Russians too) who had deviated from the well-established direction of the famous Stanislavski school and succeeded in creating a totally unique theater marked with its individual character and style. This was a very impressive fact. Sandro Akhmeteli enjoyed an exceptional reputation and honor in the theatrical world of the entire USSR and beyond its boundaries too. He was not allowed by Soviet authorities to travel abroad, but before 1930’s the Soviet borders were more or less open for traveling to foreign specialists of various fields, journalists and others who used to come to the Soviet country. This is why it was not very simple to easily fight and eliminate Sandro Akhmeteli. 
GJ – I am more than sure that the Soviet secret service, tempered and experienced in myriad political intrigues, could any time find some reason to get him.
SM – They certainly did. Sandro Akhmeteli was mainly specializing in directing and producing the plays written by the famous Georgian emigre poet and dramatist Grigol Robakidze. When Grigol’s fate was once and for all decided in the Soviet reality, being officially declared the enemy of the Soviet system, producing his plays became a risky venture for any Soviet theater. As you know, there was no television then, and cinematographic capabilities were also very limited (that was the time of only movies, not talkies) which made theater in general one of the most popular and powerful tools of propaganda which agitated people. Nowhere and through no form of art was a word spread more massively and statements made more abundantly than via theater. Therefore, Sandro Akhmeteli, in a capacity of a theatrical director was a very serious and extremely popular persona. Because the plays by Grigol Robakidze occupied the biggest part of Sandro Akhmeteli’s creative work, those two persons were identified as one team in the eyes of communists.    
GJ – It seems the communists had a lot of excuses for getting rid of Sandro Akhmeteli and finally eliminating him ...
SM – Before emigrating, Grikgol Robakidze was working as the head of cultural department under the Commissar (minister) of Education of Georgia. He was practically functioning in the capacity of Minister of Culture of Georgia. At that time, Sandro Akhmeteli was positioned at an unaccessible height for Grigol thanks to Sandro’s fame and renown.  But when Robakidze turned from the Soviet minister of culture into the enemy of the Soviet Union, Akhmeteli fell under suspicion too in the eyes of Soviet authorities. He was no longer a trustable Soviet citizen. At the same time, Sandro Akhmeteli had many followers and admirers because of his distinguished family ties and thanks to his own artistic talent, even among the highest communist circles. Even the persona like Lavrenti Beria was considerate towards him. He had no way to easily hurt Sandro even if he wanted to. It is remembered that once Beria came to the rehearsal of one of Akhmeteli’s spectacles and Sandro gave Beria an expressly curt dismissal feeling no fear or remorse about his own action (Continued in the next article on this page).

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