Ethnic Conflicts Used to Ruin the Army’s Reputation
13 October, 2011

Gorbachev lost war in Afghanistan. He did not want to invade any other country because he was playing a democrat in the eyes of the Western leaders. So the external world was not the right arena for disgracing the army. Only the internal territory was the most relevant theater for this.  Professor Simon Maskharashvili has more.


GJ – As it seems, Gorbachev was trying to kill two birds with one stone. On the one hand, the soviet leader was eager to

create and maintain good relationships with Western leaders because their benevolence and support meant a lot for him to justify the incipient radical changes in the USSR and directing it towards the successful capitalism-oriented end. Also, Gorbachev was not especially scrupulous about the ‘royalties’ that came his way from the West. On the other hand, he was trying to cut back on the army expenses in favor of the federal budget and the party elite. How did all that add up?

SM – Well . . . as it was already noted, he first wanted to destroy the reputation of the army and then assign it only the function of defense to it, thus making its function weaker and eventually, achieve the goal – its demolition.

GJ – What did he do for this, to be more specific?

SM – For instance, he organized the 9th of April massacre in the capital of Georgia in 1989.

GJ – In 1988, the national-liberation movement in Georgia was in its zenith. The dissidents of the soviet era had been released from prisons and they had returned from exile. They joined the movement without delay and also, became very active in it. Tbilisi was overwhelmed with political manifestations and political protest meetings in the streets. Where was all that taking the nation?

SM – Good question! Interestingly enough, the magazines and newspapers were all of a sudden headed by the persons who worked on promoting the Russian political interests. Lot of previously prohibited literature hit the book market. This had worked as a powerful impetus for national-liberation movement in Georgia.

GJ – How accurate would it be to say that the Georgian national-liberation movement was inspired and organized by the KGB?

SM – Their agents were legion and ubiquitous in the national-liberation movement, in the entourage of Zviad Gamsakhurdia, among the clergy too, among parishioners, in the ranks of the confrontational forces . . . just everywhere! They had certainly managed to boost the national-liberation movement, but what they needed next was the smart motive to pursue the main goal. And the decision was made accordingly: to develop inter-ethnic conflicts in the former soviet republics, including Georgia. The decision served several purposes. One of them was the termination of local national-liberation movements in the republics at some point in time.

GJ – But the movement had to be contained within the limits of tolerable so that none of them desired to secede the Soviet Union unexpectedly. Is this true?

SM – Yes, it is! The planned ethno-conflicts were meant to hamper the national-liberation movement in the republics. There was another motive working here: sell the arms and make big money. And the third reason – the most important one – was using those ethno-conflicts as a background for discrediting the Soviet Army.

GJ – This truly was a  . . .

SM – Let’s follow up the events and have a look at what happened as a result! Gorbachev lost war in Afghanistan. He did not want to invade any other country because he was playing a democrat in the eyes of the Western leaders. So the external world was not the right arena to disgrace the army. Only the internal territory was the most relevant theater for this. Presumably, the action of the army against massive protests inside the country would trigger the indignation of the Soviet People, which in its own turn would work as an incentive for starting the capitalization of the country – the goal pursued adamantly by Gorbachev and his team.

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