Comments on a book by Mark Bliev "South Ossetia in the conflicts of the Russian-Georgian relations"
14/06/2010 13:08
Ronald Topchishvili
Head of Department of Caucasian ethnology of Ivane Javakhishvili Institute of History and Ethnology

It should be said from the start that study of Georgian-Ossetian relations became especially acute in the last two decades. The history of two neighbouring ethnic groups became a subject of study of non-Georgians mainly because that authors were trying to purposely falsify the history. And falsification serves the only goal - to justify ungrounded claims to historical Georgian lands. Attempts of falsification reached its high ground after August 2008 Georgian-Russian war. Russian security services even involved clerics in this. We are talking about letter of Bishop Christopher of Orthodox Church of the Czech lands and Slovakia which was published in Czech and Russian languages and where Georgians were painted as aggressors, barbarians and appropriators of others' lands and cultural monuments. Real authors of such articles are anonymous and "creating" mainly takes place in Russian security bodies. It is undisputable that authors of such falsified articles are people who are well-acquainted with hisotry but are amoral at the same time. And among them is historian Mark Bliev.

We were able to publish our opinion on the book of Bliev in different publications. Before we discuss the book of this story-teller, falsifier and creator of mythologems we should note that in 2004 he published another book – "Russia and Gortsy of the Great Caucasus Range on the way to civilization". Insolence of this author has no boundaries and this was confirmed by the fact that he declared indigenous Vainakh people as ethnos that came later while Alan-Ossetians, ethno genesis of which happened in Central Asia was painted as local Caucasian tribe. It is natural that this is another order of the Russian security services to declared Chechens and Ingush, who are not very acceptable for them, of non-Caucasian descent and settled Ossetians as autochthons. And that will give Russians excuse to stand on the side of so-called historical justice if special circumstances arise.

We mentioned a title of the earlier book by Bliev in order to demonstrate what kind of people we are dealing with. In other words, he is a classic example of a typical falsifier and creator of myths and, most of all, Georgian-hater and instigator of hatred and hostility between ethnic groups. It is impossible to write a detailed response on Bliev's book as the biggest part of the book which refers to XIX-XX centuries is based on non-existent and distorted facts. In historical science evidence without sources and documents is worth nothing. And the author indeed refers to such "sources" and "documents" but from where he got them is not mentioned anywhere. Only a list of archive materials is given at the end of the book. There are manuscripts also mentioned in this list but where they are now is not clear there. Given the above it is obvious what kind of "scientist" we are dealing with. Indeed real scientists do not operate like this. But a goal of so-called scientists is something else - to teach population false history, to cram their heads with mythologems in order to make them fight with frenzy for appropriation of lands of others (by the way Russians are offering such false histories to its soldiers as well and an article of certain Troepolsky published in Voenno-Promishlenny Kurier newspaper will be enough to demonstrate this).

But despite all this we should say a few words about the falsified history of Mark Bliev.

1. The author writes that so-called South Ossetian territory was settled with representatives of Ossetian ethnos from ancient times and that Georgian feudals had always been attacking Ossetian ethnic territory and used to annex it. To proclaim Georgian feudals as enemies of Ossetians is not something new. Because during Soviet period it was not acceptable to write about confrontation between ethnic groups so emphasis were transferred on Georgian feudals. By the way these are the same Georgian feudals who used to invite North Caucasian settler – Ossetians and were settling them in their lands. There are plenty of documents confirming this. And the first publication claiming that Shida Kartli was not a Georgian land but Ossetian does not belong to Ossetian authors, by the way. The first author to falsify history was Russian cleric Vostorgov who in 1903 wrote that Shida Kartli territory was not primarily settled by Georgians. According to him it was settled by Ossetians who were later ousted by Georgians who themselves appeared there not long before that and pushed landowner Ossetians to north and south. The cleric by north meant mountainous part of Shida Kartli and by south he meant Borjomi gorge where at that time Ossetians had been living just for some 25 years. And they came there from upper areas of Upper Likhvi gorge. That's when and how ground was laid for falsification of history and Georgian-Ossetian confrontation.
2. Since arrival of Russians in Georgia Ossetians who lived in mountains of Shida Kartli were not obeying Russian authorities and used to organize rebellions (As they were used to free life in the mountains of the North Caucasus they could not obey state order. This was a reason for disobedience of Ossetians living in Georgian mountains that from time used to happen in the middle of XVII century. In 1804 not only Georgian mountaineers but also Tagaurian Ossetians rebelled against Russians). And in the entire first half of the XIX century Russian authorities used to send military expeditions to Shida Kartli one after another to subdue Ossetians. That was when Russian militaries destroyed significant monuments of Georgian culture in mountains of Shida Kartli – towers. We mentioned all this in order to demonstrate one big falsification that Bliev is engaged in. It is well-known that after the annexation and abolishing of the kingdom of Kartli and Kakheti Russian imperial authorities appointed Tsitsianov who was of Georgian descent as its official representative in order to pursue imperial goals. Bliev is "skillfully" using this fact. As though Tsitsianov who had nothing Georgian in himself other than his descent, allegedly had big plans - to create united Georgian state inside the Russian empire and revive it. A goal of Tsitsianov, allegedly, was to create "big Georgia". It is even uncomfortable to comment on such nonsense.
3. Mark Bliev does not know a thing about Georgian social system, Georgian Feudalism, which allegedly was "bandit" social system of Sefevid Shia Persia. And it was different from Russian feudalism which was of European type. And that was a reason for rebellions of Georgian nobility against Russia and, just imagine, even a reason for Russophobia. Neither these mad things deserve a comment. We just mention one thing about feudal systems. Everything was the opposite. Georgian feudal and social system was of European kind and Russian was completely the opposite and had many things in common with oriental one.
4. The author claims that allegedly by adding Georgian lands of Georgian nobility (note: not kingdoms and principalities!) to Russia southern districts of Ossetia were also dragged ( involved) into Georgian-Russian relations – southern districts of Ossetia that Russian administration gave a political and geographical name of "south Ossetia". Only one thing is true in all this. Indeed it were Russian officials that attached a name "South Ossetia" to Georgian land – territory of Shida Kartli (they used this name – South Ossetia - only three times in the XIX century). The biggest lie in this is that "South Ossetia" had political and geographical essence. It did not have this content either in the XX century, in the Soviet period. So-called South Ossetia only had administrative functions and not political ones. The Russian imperialism was not so foolish as to give political status to any people living on any territory. On the contrary, it used to remove this function from units that did have this political status. For the entire Middle Ages only Georgian territorial and administrative units (satavados) and not Ossetian ones existed on the territory of historical Shida Kartli.
5. This so-called historian tries in every way to lessen Georgians and the history of Georgia. One example of this is that according to him instead of the kingdom of Kartli and Kakheti there was "vilayet or khanate of Gurjistan" which in the south bordered South Ossetian community and which from time to time happened to be under influence of Georgian feudals. Allegedly Ossetians used to put up firm resistance against aggressor Georgians and their feudals. But it seems that they managed to retain their “independence” till 1864 despite all this. Ossetians only managed to breathe freely only when after the serf reform Russians freed them from total expansion of Georgian feudal. All this is pure nonsense. A scientist would not have stooped to comment on such nonsense if not for attempts of appropriation of one’s homeland.
6. Allegedly independent Georgia of 1918-1921 was a result of some kind of "feudal revolution” in charge of which were allegedly conservative nobility circles. Class approaches of traditional Marxist-Leninist science are highly characteristic of Bliev though even Bolshevik historians never wrote such nonsense. Here is another one: “… South Ossetia that as early as in the second half of the XIX century was given at the mercy of Georgian feudals in its turn declared political independence and appealed to be incorporated into Soviet Russia”. Just few words earlier this notorious author was saying that in 1864 Ossetians managed to overthrow yoke of Georgian feudals. Then how were Georgian feudals exploiting Ossetians if that was so? Was then the Russian imperialism in Georgia a fiction? In reality during Georgian independence we were dealing with terrorists that were hired by Bolshevik authorities of Russia whose aim was to undermine independent Georgia. It is degrading when some Bliev calls independent Georgia a result of “feudal revolution”. Thus he stresses that in the twenties of the XX century Georgia still lived n Middle Ages. This notion – “feudal revolution” is something that was created by Marxist-Leninist science and which was used while describing society passing from slave system into feudalism. But even then there were no such feudal revolutions then.
7. The author of the book that we are discussing often talks about russophobia of Georgians. Of course this is done purposely in order to convince uninformed reader, and first of all Russians, in hatred of Georgians towards Russians. Thank god that Georgians at least have one great quality – they have never hated anyone - either Russians, or Abkhazians and Ossetians (on the contrary, they experience a feeling of pity towards them).
8. Bliev’s lies have no limits. For example, allegedly a journalist of the Russian central TV channel broadcasted a material which, based on “Georgian sources" said that Ossetians settled in Georgia in Soviet times. This also is a purposeful lie. No Georgian would have said that. In documents issued in the second half of the XVIII century by Georgian king Irakli II Ossetians living in Georgia were called as “our Ossetians”. Ossetians settled in Georgia even earlier than that in the middle of the XVII century and territory of historical Georgia - Dvaleti that was cut from Georgia by the Tsarism on April 3rd 1858 was settled by Ossetians in XVI century. Ossetian scientists also know this very well but they still olden a date of their settlement. They even created a notion of “early Ossetians” which have never been confirmed in any of the sources or in reality. Ossetian "scientists” so distinguished themselves that they consider a starting point of the migration to be VII century BC when Iranian-language Scythes first appeared near plains of the north Caucasus. Yes, there are these kinds of historians as well and among them is, together with Bliev, Gagloity. Moreover, allegedly Koban culture dated by XVI-IX centuries BC was created by Indo-European tribes who are close ancestors of modern Ossetians. In reality, North Caucasian Koban culture is a variety of Colchian culture. Probably, soon they will announce Colchis plain as a land of tribe of Ossetian ancestors. But to say the truth, Bliev indeed has a claims to western Georgia. He considers an integrate part of Racha – Kudaro gorge where Ossetians only settled several generations ago and names of villages are only Georgian , declared as ancient Ossetian territory.
9. It is not really pleasant to talk about myths but we are forced to touch upon one of those in order to create a "scientific portrait” of Bliev. According to the latter Iberia that it was created in the IV century BC was a union of Georgian and Ossetian tribes which had forms of early statehood. Allegedly it, under a name of "Kingdom of Iberia", was formed on a territory of modern eastern Georgia and South Ossetia. An, allegedly according to Strabo the main part of Iberian population were of Scythian-Sarmatian descent. "Iberian kingdom" in modern Georgian literature is considered to be Georgian while in reality it allegedly always had Scythian-Sarmatian upper-class. And allegedly Saurmag sat on his throne thanks to Ossetians and relied on Ossetian part of the Iberian population. And that Saurmag got back its throne through Ossetian population. Is it worth a comment? Distortion of sources, creation of false history has no boundaries. Dzurdzuks mentioned in sources the author declares as Alans (Ossetians).
10. According to the author during the reign of Georgian king Vakhtang Gorgasali Transcaucasian Ossetians were in charge in Iberia. But, according to Bliev, due to the barrier of the Great Caucasian range North Caucasian Ossetians were unable to retain their authority in Iberia for such a long time. And allegedly a fight between Vakhtang Gorgasali and Ossetian-Bakatar (who is considered an ancestor of Ossetians) happened in South Ossetia – where "from one mountain flows both Georgian Aragvi and Ossetian Aradvi”. Bliev translates sources as he pleases and at that it is unknown which sources and translations are used by him. Additionally he does not even indicate a page. The exact route of Vakhtagn Gorgasali's trip to North Caucasus is indicated in Georgian manuscript “Kartlis Tskhovreba” and it says that he (Vakhtang Gorgasali) passed Dariali gate and had fight with Ossetian-Bakatar not in mountains of the North Caucasus but in the plains, by the way, according to Arab authors of the middle ages (for example according to X century author Ibn-Rusta) there was ten-days walk from Dariali to land of Alans.

26th February 2010

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