Roots of Ethnic Conflicts
20 October, 2011
Roots of Ethnic Conflicts

The soviet government had prepared a tentative plan which was meant to keep in check the indigenous national-liberation movements in the soviet republics by means of boosting the sense of nationalism within the minor ethnic groups, known as explosive parochial nests. This would give Moscow a permanent role of a troubleshooter in the republics, thus guaranteeing its presence there for a long time to come. Consequently, dependence on Moscow was firmly imposed on Georgia. Professor Simon Maskharashvili has more.

GJ –

We already know that Mikhail Gorbachev intended to cut back on spending from federal budget by means of downsizing the armed forces of the Soviet Union. We are also aware of the fact that the Army and its commanding elite were reckoned as Gorabchev’s main challengers in the course of realizing the Perestroika principles – radical reforms all over the country. Therefore, he wanted to somehow disgrace and humiliate the Soviet Army. On the other hand, the public discontent was growing which was instigated either artificially or was happening naturally. Regular discontent was gradually turning into national-liberation movements in various soviet republics. The leader of Georgia at that time was the first secretary of the Georgian Communist party central committee Jumber Patiashvili. He led the country when the national-liberation movement in Georgia was in its zenith in 1988 and 1989.  What was Gorabchev’s attitude?

SM – Mikhail Gorbachev might have wanted for Secretary Patiashvili to become a clear supporter of the national-liberation movement. It was also evident that he would rather see Patiashvili in the role of a leader of the movement than Zviad Gamsakhurdia or Merab Kostava – the popular national heroes and former soviet dissidents.

GJ – And why did all this make sense?

SM – For a very simple reason: to contain the Georgian national-liberation movement within certain boundaries, and not to let it develop beyond those limitations. But that was not all. The soviet government had prepared a tentative plan which was meant to keep in check the indigenous national-liberation movements in the soviet republics by means of boosting the sense of nationalism within the minor ethnic groups, known as explosive parochial nests. This would give Moscow a permanent role of a troubleshooter in the republics, thus guaranteeing its presence there for a long time to come. Consequently, dependence on Moscow was firmly imposed on Georgia which was expected to beseech Russia to resolve those conflicts for her.

GJ – So the delayed-action bombs, installed by Joseph Stalin in his own time in Apkhazeti (Abkhazia) and the Tskhinvali Region (the so called South Ossetia), were detonated by Gorbachev and his team, weren’t they?

SM – Yes, one could say so! Not many people remember today how those ethnic conflicts had started developing. One of the first ones had started as follows: the president of the Sokhumi University in Apkhazeti was fired for some reason. There were two departments in the University – Georgian and Apkhazian. In reality, those were Georgian and Russian departments because Russian instructors were teaching in Russian in the Apkhazian department and the Georgian professors were teaching in the Georgian language in the Georgian department. The Georgian department was a huge nest of corruption. Those applicants who were not lucky enough to be admitted at Tbilisi State University would as a rule apply to Sukhumi University to be enrolled. A transfer from one university to another was much easier than a transfer form a regular institute (a college) to university. Tbilisi State University was at that time the most prestigious school in Georgia and one of the best in the entire Soviet Union. Most of the Georgian department teachers of Sukhumi University were corrupt and they used to go into illegal financial deals supported by its Georgian rector. Those deals were a great source of income for certain part of Georgian educators. Bribery for admittance to the University was rampant.  But all of a sudden a new rector of Sukhumi University was appointed. He had a Georgian name, but he identified himself more with the Apkhaz than with Georgians.

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