Giorgi Gegeshidze
23 June, 2011

There was a man of action in the Central Committee of Georgia who was supporting all those developments, contradicting the habitual Soviet style. Vasili Mzhavanadze’s most realistic heir was the young, energetic and talented Giorgi Gegeshidze. He was the one who strongly lobbied and held up the entire process of a new direction. Professor Simon Maskharashvili has more.

SM – If you worked hard and fulfilled the plan, and showed the actual revenues for statistics, the federal economic and financial structures,

centered in Moscow, obligated you to work even harder to get more result from you. That is why Mzhavanadze did not show the real revenues, asking for more money and resources from the Center, which meant that he was getting more than he was paying into the federal budget. On the other hand, there were certain strategic enterprises like Batumi Sea Port, Baku-Batumi oil pipe-line and coal mines which did not benefit Georgia at all. All those revenues were going to the Soviet federal budget completely. This certainly was an absolute rip-off for Georgia. Mzhavanadze was trying to hide Georgia’s actual revenues from the Kremlin, using the saved funds for developing the local infrastructure and for helping people economically, building houses for them, saying nothing about the business activity of the Lazishvili and the Lekishvili families, which was a very important prerequisite for the development of capitalist economy in the country. Their enterprises produced not the products of low quality in compliance with the Soviet standards and demands, but the products which were compatible with Western standards in compliance with the demands of Georgia’s middle class. In most cases those were the articles of everyday consumption. In a word, the foundation was in making for transferring Georgia from socialist to capitalist pattern of development.

GJ – Was there a real chance of that on the horizon?

SM – Yes, there was a huge chance if not for Shevardnadze’s taking over the power in Georgia, which was planned in Moscow from A to Z. Take the Georgian movie industry of that period for example. It was of a very high quality in the first place, having achieved serious success on international arena. And secondly, in almost all of them there was a latent but very incisive sarcasm against the socialist reality. Some of those films were a direct and open critique of the Soviet way of life and communist party elite. The characters of those films were very different from the personages of typically detestable Soviet pseudo-righteous movies. This was one of the characteristic features of national-liberation movement in Georgia which struggled to gather momentum in the harshest Soviet reality. Did Khrushchev notice all that? Of course he did! Was the Soviet government nettled and distraught over all that? It certainly was! They clearly understood that the Soviet system was being dismantled right in front of their eyes in broad daylight, but it was practically impossible to find a deterrent against it.

GJ – Why was it so difficult?

SM – Because in Georgia there was a man of action in the Central Committee who was supporting all those developments, contradicting the habitual Soviet style. Vasili Mzhavanadze’s most realistic heir was the young, energetic and talented Giorgi Gegeshidze. He was the one who strongly lobbied and held up the entire process of a new direction.

GJ – And what was the guarantee that the brilliant Giorgi Gegeshidze would sustain the acquired position, thus perpetuating his progressive ideas? Was he not under the threat of losing his job?

SM – He will indeed lose his job and position some day real soon, but Georgia’s chief of KGB was trying to wink at his doings as far as he could and the situation allowed him to.

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