The Putsch – Breakup of the Soviet Union
15 December, 2011
The Putsch – Breakup of the Soviet Union

Ioseliani made contact with Kitovani. They made a joint statement about setting up the military council which would be entrusted with interim ruling of the country. On the 6th of January of 1992, President Gamsakhurdia left the Parliament House and the capital of Georgia too.  Professor Simon Maskharashvili has more.

GJ – By December the 29th of 1991, any kind of negotiations and consensus was already unimaginable between the government and the opposition in Georgia. Sound of intensive shootings was heard

all over the place. Civil confrontation had erupted in Tbilisi. How did the events develop further on?

SM – There opened two doors, so to speak, at the South Caucasus Defense headquarters – from one of them President Gamsakhurdia’s supporters were supplied with weapons, from the other, the Kitovani military unit and other oppositionists received the fire-arms. There was an unheard of abundance of weapons in town in the hands of population. The entire Tbilisi was armed. Some people wanted to join Kitovani, some were going to the President’s side, and some embarked on looting and plundering. At the very first shot, heard in Tbilisi, the Russian military staff started the export of destruction into Georgia: weapons, narcotics and what not. This was all done with the purpose of working up even more havoc in the country, more burglaries, and more bloodshed. The penitentiary facilities went out of control too. The founder and leader of the military unit ‘Mkhedrioni’ Jaba Ioseliani was released from prison. He assembled the former ‘Mkhedrioni’ members in the Chess Palace at the Vera Park in Tbilisi. In the beginning only 50 persons turned up, a while later there were 100 of them and finally 700 armed men were ready to follow the leader’s command. It became clear that the process was going to come to an end – the Parliament house was going to be captured by the opposition forces. Ioseliani made contact with Kitovani. They made a joint statement about setting up the military council which would be entrusted with interim ruling of the country. On the 6th of January of 1992, President Gamsakhurdia left the Parliament House and the capital of Georgia too.

GJ – The President accompanied by his family members and several close associates found shelter in Armenia – initially. Georgia was overwhelmed with total chaos.

SM – The center of Tbilisi was in ruins. Weapons were scattered all over the place. Regional authorities were being toppled on permanent basis in Georgia. The power was changing hands very often. The Military Council, which used to be the interim authority in the country, would appoint a person as a district leader (something like a governor) but local population would not approve of their candidate, as a result of which endless confrontations were taking place.

GJ – Very often, those confrontations would end up in bloody clashes and cruel setting of accounts with each other. The war theatre in the Rustaveli Avenue moved into the regions of Georgia. Every state structure became dysfunctional. The country plunged into complete anarchy. Was there any hope for any improvement?

SM – No, the hope has totally disappeared to make things better. There was no power supply. There was no natural gas flow. The cities and towns were left without any food supply. There were unbelievable long lines for bread, formed in the streets everywhere. The situation eventuated into an utter destruction. On the 3rd of January of 1992, near the Didube metro station in Tbilisi, fire was open at the unarmed supporters of President Gamsakhurdia which resulted in the killing of peaceful citizens of Georgia. Things like this were happening ubiquitously and at all times. I will not go into detailed chronicling of the atrocious events of those days, but during that outrageous chaos in Georgia, Mikhail Gorbachev made a television appearance and officially declared the breakup of the Soviet Union, which meant that Georgia had automatically become an independent country. In those days, the recognition of the soviet republics, including Georgia was in processing.

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