Politically Naive Crowds
27 October, 2011

 

Quote:’ So far, this manifestation of protest is peaceful, but nobody knows what it might grow into. How about the possibility of Russians using the bullets? What if they kill your child, or mine? Who is going to be responsible for the spilled blood?’ Professor Simon Maskharashvili has more.

 

 

SM – Yes, the crowd was in place but what   to do next was the problem. Irakli Surguladze, prominent Georgian scholar of ethnography took floor and said: ‘So far, this manifestation

of protest is peaceful, but nobody knows what it might grow into. How about the possibility of Russians using the bullets? What if they kill your child, or mine? Who is going to be responsible for the spilled blood?’ The ever-kindly-remembered Merab Kostava (He was an extremely honest man who would never lie to people) said he had a direct line with Georgia’s communist party boss of that time Jumber Patiashvili. He continued that they had an agreement between each other that the manifestations would be held until April 14 whereupon the Mother-Tongue’s Day would be celebrated pompously, and the crowd would disperse. He assured everybody that the event would be held in the same peaceful format as other similar rallies in the month of November the previous year.

GJ – In November of 1988, mass manifestations were held in Georgia. Thousands were out in the streets of Tbilisi and other cities. Some students and certain leaders of the national-liberation movement were on hunger strike, spending nights in make-shift tents in front of the government house. There were no provocations and unpleasant incidents taking place. Just the contrary, I remember that Jumber Patiashvili visited the strikers, and he even ordered to supply them with water and blankets.

SM – Here is what happened during the November manifestations:  the secretary of Georgia’s communist party for ideology Nugzar Popkhadze wrote a letter with his own hand, which as if was prompted by Gorbachev to Shevardnadze. The letter was loudly read at the November rally.

GJ – I don’t remember the contents of that letter . . .

SM – Georgians will have everything the way they want to have . . . as if the Kremlin had backed out . . . This was just a figment of imagination. Moscow certainly knew what Popkhadze had done, but did not say anything. The purpose of Moscow’s silence was to abet the Georgian people even more.

SM – Why the abetment of the Georgian people?

GJ – Abetment of crowds in the streets of our cities and towns was a choice Russian trick, so cunningly used a little while later by them.

GJ – But who need that?

SM – Gorbachev was nursing his own plan of action in the moribund Soviet Union. On the 4th of April, when the wave of manifestations in Georgia gathered a new momentum, the population thought that the Kremlin really backed out in November of 1988. The public in Georgia was almost sure that the Kremlin would back out again. The chief of state security Alexi Inauri resigned as early as the November manifestations.

GJ – He was a great professional, wasn’t he? He might have foreseen the development of events well in advance.

SM – He simply decided not to take any part in this dirty and dire political game. Unfortunately, the Georgian people were not prone to make any reasonable analysis of the events. And when the most honest of men, Georgia’s living national hero Merab Kostava said he had an agreement with communist party boss Patiashvili and no excesses would take place and the demonstration would disperse peacefully, people believed that.

 

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