In the course of the last two decades the Georgian society has been continuously asking the following question: was it possible to avoid the civil war of the nineties, events of Abkhazia and South Ossetia that resulted in thousands of deaths, causing hostilities among people and destroying many in Georgia and the whole Caucasus? What was a cause of all this? Was it just whims and ambitions of a small group of people? Or was it assault and confrontation foisted on small nations by outside forces that had their own interests and agenda? Maybe it was an objective necessity of historical, social and geopolitical changes. It will take quite some time for historians, politicians and others to answer all these questions.
This is a modest attempt from "the Club of Experts" to help the Georgian society look into the maze of the Russian Security Services, underestimation of capabilities of which and non-consideration of historical lessons led to many false steps that itself brought disastrous results in the country.
Following the turbulent 20s of the last century the Bolshevik regime despite mass repressions, war and difficult material problems managed to weaken a spark of the Georgian protest and someway put it in the box. Later inner ebullition started again and it found a pretext for eruption in March 1956 when many in Georgia found insulting to their national pride personal insults and affront directed at Stalin’s personality who in the world for decades had been considered as a sparkle of the Georgian genius, as well as a mysterious physical elimination of Beria before that.
Speech of Nikita Khrushchev about the Personality Cult of Stalin was met as yet another unfair attempt to put the blame of century-old sins of Russian Empire on the brutality of the Georgian nature. Events of the 9th of March was the first unconscious protest of the Georgian youth against yet unrecognized evil that resulted again without realization in deaths of tens of boys and girls. But on the 9th of March awakening of the sleeping Georgian society started.
That day Georgian youths and Russian special divisions that were brought to Tbilisi especially for that event were facing each other. From the Communications Building the divisions opened fire at the unarmed column that was coming towards them and killed and shot hundreds of innocent people on the spot. Astonishment of witnesses was boundless – Russian soldiers sitting inside the tanks that were raging on Rustaveli Avenue were helpless in the face of youths who were enraged by deaths of their brothers and were riding their tanks.
Weapons were taken away from the Georgian police and security services. Georgian national armed forces were hurriedly dismantled. The full control was taken by the Military office.
There were rumors that Nikita Khrushchev intended to send the entire Georgian nation into exile in Siberia. Authorities of the Republic were very concerned.
Despite all this neither before that nor afterwards there were not a fact of negative attitude towards Russian citizens based on their ethnicity. Although there were plenty of attempts to receive such material that would have served as a pretext of defending the Russian citizens for carrying out repressions. Georgia could not tolerate dictate and the Russian boot but the latter was never been identified with the Russian people and the Russian culture.
Generations spent decades in struggling with themselves as it was difficult to reconsider old values in new ways. Information was lacking and most of the times they were denying each other. Aspiration towards the western values was gathering strength in a certain part of the Georgian intelligentsia and youth. Spread of anti-Soviet leaflets and publishing of the illegal magazines started. Georgian Helsinki Group of Human Rights was created. Actual formation of the Georgian National Movement commenced.
The Kremlin blamed everything on the Western propaganda and in response in 1967 created special so-called fifth operative direction within the State Security Committee, duty of which was to fight against ideological sabotages and anti-Soviet and nationalistic manifestations of the main rival.
Even later Moscow assessed Georgian and Baltic national liberation movements as the most dangerous carriers of the Western imperialist policy that were directed at weakening and destruction of the Soviet Union. With respect to such report the security services were given a task to take care and create permanent illegal agent positions in these republics. We suppose that this task was realized.
Hotspots of tensions were being created in the autonomies of the country and all along the sea coast considering historical, ethnic, geographic and psychological characteristics. Separatist forces in Abkhazia and South Ossetia became more active and respectively their demands took more radical form. It is known that protest letters sent from time to time by the Abkhazian separatists to the Central Committee of the Soviet Union and organized protest demonstrations with anti-Georgian slogans and demands of secession from the Georgia was occasional occurrence since the creation of the first independent republic and more frequent one since 1957. As a rule, everything tend to finish "peacefully" with interference of the Central Committee of the Soviet Union and in many cases at the expense of unjustifiable concessions of the Georgian Central government.
To have a clear understanding of the events in Abkhazia in the last decade we should definitely mention a notorious large gathering of the Abkhazian separatists on the 18th of March 1989 in a village of Likhny of Gudauta district where all the Abkhazian Party elite was present. At that gathering an anti-Georgian goal – to detach Abkhazia from Georgia - was openly announced. A statement addressed to the Central Committee of KPSU approved at this gathering caused turmoil in the Georgian society. The separatists showed Georgians with this statement that only Abkhazians could decide a fate of Abkhazia and Georgians would not even be asked. Obedient Georgians were accustomed to such attitude over the years but the letter of Likhny was a last drop in the overflowing cup of Georgian patience and immediate protest followed. The Likhny gathering was like a thunder and spread through the whole of Georgia. Thousands of demonstrators gathered in Sukhumi, Leselidze, Gulripsh and Gali were addressed with speeches about muny-century-old friendship of the two nations and were called not to align themselves with the separatists.
From the beginning of April protests started in Tbilisi in connection with the Likhny events and the demonstrations became permanent. Leaders of the national liberation movement made a demand of secession of Georgia from the Soviet Union.
Events that took place in Tbilisi on the 9th of April 1989 completely changed a vector of not only the development of Georgia but it also put a fat question mark on the existence of the Soviet Union. The Kremlin considered this too much and immediate reaction followed. The Russian security services put in motion those slow action mines – system of the country's national organization of those times - that were designed for extreme conditions.
As we mentioned above the Kremlin considered Georgia as well as the Baltic Republics to be unreliable regions and it was expecting that these republics would leave the Soviet Union. According to the plan made in KGB "Adamon Nikhas" and "Aidgilara", organizations supposedly formed by the local national forces started to actively operate in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. These organizations were given a task to counter the Georgian national liberation forces in the autonomies and to intervene in their fight for the Georgian independence.
Coming from a simple logic if these organizations were really pursuing national liberating goals they would have fought alongside the Georgians for the secession from the Soviet Union not against them.
Based on common interests Russian and Armenian organizations "Ruski Dom" and "Krunk" were in close contact with "Aidgilara". These organizations like "Aidgilara" were formed and managed by the Soviet KGB. The top level of these organizations consisted mostly of those who during the previous years were registered by KGB for stirring up separatism in the population. Some of them were under investigation and some of them even were recruited.
The above mentioned organizations were forming branches in different districts without any resistance. Their representatives were actively working on the ideological treatment of non-Georgian population. By falsifying historical facts they were painting Georgians as occupiers and were constantly implanting into the minds of non-Georgians and especially Abkhazians an idea of necessity of cleansing Abkhazia of Georgians.
Another ideological front against Georgia was created as presented by the Northern Caucasian Republics. The Russian Security Services created so-called popular-national movements like "Aidgilara" and "Adamon Nikhas" there that were promising all the help to the Abkhazian separatists. Especially active was Kabardian national movement "Adaghe Khase". On the Abkhazian TV and Press the separatist leaders were constantly talking about unshakable brotherhood and unity of Abkhazian and Northern Caucasian nations. This period suspiciously coincided with the formation of "the Confederation of the Mountainous People" whose capital was announced to be Sukhumi. Meetings were held with Northern Caucasian representatives.
Publications of defamatory articles written by the organization "Ruski Dom" in the newspaper "Sovetskaya Abkhazia" about the facts of trafficking that supposedly Georgians were carrying out towards Russian persons became frequent.
Gradual intensification of the separatist ideas among the Abkhazian population and frequent displays of the anti-Georgian attitude in various forms had created conditions for strengthening of the Georgian national consciousness that transformed the National liberation movement into the united popular movement in Abkhazia. Naturally, in such conditions, every sensible Georgian, notwithstanding their past and party belonging started to unite under one idea.
Therefore, the national forces, notwithstanding their desire, were compelled not only to take into account but also to rely on the local Georgian party authorities.
It's hard to imagine what kind of means and forces should have been used in order to neutralize visible and invisible anti-Georgian forces in Georgia, and in particular in Abkhazia, that were subordinated to and nurtured and supported by KGB.
The Georgian national liberation movement had a big test ahead of them as apart from the Communist regime it was opposed by the separatisms in Abkhazia that was managed by KGB. It should also be noted that in Abkhazia separatism seemed much more dangerous to the Georgian national liberation movement than the Communist regime.
The Georgian national liberation movement and later the national authorities could not pass this test. Along with subjective there were objective factors as well that inexperienced Georgian authorities could not take into account as Russia put in action the entire arsenal of leverage in order to keep such strategically vital region in its sphere of influence. And although with full concentration of forces these attacks were temporarily averted but the young government was not ready to neutralize outbreaks caused by separatism and national rivalry. Furthermore, many fatal mistakes were made. As a result Russian security services managed to instigate bloody confrontation with Abkhazians and Ossetians with whom Georgian people were connected through history of brotherly co-existence, common culture and ties of relationship for centuries. These mistakes were so many that it will take us long to recite. We will try to present and analyze just some of them.
To be continued...