Abkhazian separatism was born in labyrinths of KGB. Part III
21/12/2009 10:35
Expert's Club

(See parts I, II)

Exactly 20 years ago the newspaper "Literaturuli Sakartvelo" in its 21st July 1989 issue published a large article by George Hewitt, English scholar of Caucasian languages titled "Foreigner's observations on Abkhazian-Georgian tense relations – open letter to Georgians". The author specifically stressed that the article was written in England on 12th of May 1989.

This article was like adding fuel to the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict that was already there. Everything was calculated in the article – time, circumstances, ethnicity of the author, his "scholarly competence", Georgian intelligentsia's loyal attitude towards him at that time and general emotional background.

Editorial staff of "Literaturuli Sakartvelo" and representatives of Georgian intelligentsia correctly evaluated objective and direction of the article as well as those possible outcomes for which this collective article published under Hewitt's name was intended. The article was immediately translated into Russian (although careful reading of the article makes it clear that the article originally was written in Russian) and was distributed in the form of leaflets all over Abkhazia. Neither American, European and, all the more, Russian journalists shied away from spreading this article.

Among reasons that were "thrown in" from outside and provoked Georgian-Abkhazian war not the last place is occupied by Hewitt's "masterpiece". That's why it would be appropriate to analyze it in a new way and draw relevant conclusions from today's' perspective. Let us look at it more closely.

In the seventies of the last century there was an evident activization of scholars of history and languages of Caucasian peoples in the western countries.

Soviet security services considered them as ideological subversives who under the pretense of studying history and languages of people of this region were gathering materials on topics and problems that were tabooed by the Soviet censorship. One of such scholars is our character – Brian George Hewitt, a professor of the School of Oriental and African Studies at University of London. He was born in 1949 in Lancaster, England. In 1975-76 he as a postgraduate student was studying at Tbilisi State University. He was brought to Tbilisi by a british professor of  Caucasian studies and who had been in Georgia since 1960. In 1963 he was recruited by the Security Committee of Georgia using so-called discreditable materials (facts of homosexuality). He was given an agent name of "Jimmy". His special "attitude" towards Hewitt was noted in both Tbilisi and London. Together with Georgian security services the First Main Directorate (intelligence) of Central KGB (PGU) was working with "Jimmy".

While in Tbilisi George Hewitt was perfecting his Georgian, went sightseeing and was getting to know famous faces of intelligentsia. He was enraptured with Georgian history and its culture. With help and support of Georgian scholars just another ordinary scholar of Caucasian studies from London became a well-known and authoritative scholar in Europe.

In 1976 George Hewitt married ethnic Abkhazian postgraduate student of Tbilisi State University Zaira Khiba. Her brother was Anatoly Khiba who was a criminal jailed eight times and they were members of a family that was notorious for its Georgianophobia. This marriage aroused many suspicions.

Notable is a comment of one of the agents in his personal KGB file with regards to this marriage: "Attention is drawn to the fact that the wife is five years senior and is not a very attractive woman". "Jimmy"'s friend George Hewitt was less interested in women. Marriage to Khiba was getting him closer to a more important goal. Hewitt started to frequent Abkhazia, his in-laws and Sukhumi Institute of Abkhazian Language, Literature and History that was a centre of anti-Georgian ideology and that once was headed by V. Ardzinba. The latter was also given a degree in Tbilisi with help and support of Georgian scholars and was later recommended by Georgian authorities for the post of the head of Abkhazia. These two persons who were directed by the same hand managed to easily find a common ground.

On March 18th 1989 at the notorious gathering of Likhny of Abkhazian separatists a statement was made about secession of Abkhazia from Georgia. This was followed by demonstrations of protest of Georgian population. After the tragic events of April 9th, 1989 in Tbilisi national movement raised an issue of secession of Georgia from the Soviet Union. Tensions in Georgia as well as in Abkhazia reached its climax. And, it was this time when notorious political libel by George Hewitt – "Open letter to Georgians" - was published.

This article devoid of all scholarly value was saturated with hatred towards Georgian people and their history and also it voiced Hewitt's interpretation and exaggerated existing and made-up negative events. It presented a terrifying account of supposed suppression and humiliation of Abkhazian people by Georgians over the centuries. Even discussion about the issue of origins of Georgian, Abkhazian, Mingrelian and Svan languages was directed towards aggravation of confrontation between these two people.

Certain forces tried to present this article as though Abkhazians who rebelled against Georgians were supported by Western countries along with North Caucasians, Turk and Arab voluntaries.

In these circumstances a "great defender" of Abkhazian people remained silence and had his head in the sand. Everything was being done to erase from people's memory as to who had driven thousands of Abkhazian Muhajirs out their homeland and who had almost sent this people to the brink of extinction. This two century-long part of Abkhazian history "slipped" even the mind of a great scholar of Abkhazian history - George Hewitt.

Fruitless was an attempt of one part of Georgian intelligentsia led by the head of Tbilisi State University Nodar Amaglobeli to send a letter to the British Embassy in Moscow about dishonest and provocative actions of their citizen. Only Moscow could prevent sending this letter of protest.

Hewitt's "activities" were not just limited to Georgian-Abkhazian relations. Towards the end of 1989 he together with his three English colleagues – scholars of Caucasian studies - traveled to Tskhinvali and Vladikavkaz in order to get information about Ossetians who were "suppressed" by Georgians and appropriately publicize this issue in the British media.

George Hewitt fulfilled tasks of all – that of London as well as of Moscow, and, at the same time, indulged Abkhazian separatists and received large reward from the above three parties at the expense of tens of thousands of dead and hundreds of thousands of refugees that were left homeless.

One thing is clear. A moor has done his deed and ... left. He left and now is reveling in results of his work together with his wife, his friends from Moscow and London. He is taking pleasure and maybe thinks that Georgians also are not totally displeased as he had taught them a bitter lesson of distinguishing an enemy from a friend. 

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