Who is who? : Actions of Ossetians of Shida Kartli in the twenties of the XX century (Part II)
23/07/2010 14:25
Vasil Kvirikashvili

(see part I)

Authors of the articles openly expressed their views and at the same time they were trying to find a way out of this situation. With this regard, particular interest is aroused by the article "Ossetian danger" published in the Sakhalkho Sakme newspaper by an author writing under a penname of Akhalgoreli. "What do we do with those people - the author asks - who enjoy all sorts of privileges in our country, do not pay state taxes, do not protect our territory, our republic, and are always ready to enter into an alliance with an external enemy of ours, shed blood of Georgian soldiers, arrange pogroms in our towns and cities, appropriate goods of our citizens?"This is not the first time we are faced with this issue, but, unfortunately, up till today we have not managed to resolve it the way as demanded by vital interests of our people, well-being of the republic and its security".

The author sees impunity of Ossetians as one of the main reasons for impossibility to resolve this challenging problem for the country. Therefore, the author quite justly posed the rhetorical question before the authorities: "How long will this situation last? How long Ossetians will hang over us like Damocles' sword? How long will the blood of sons of the Georgian people be shed? How long have our forces to be in combat readiness to repulse brazen Ossetian crowd? We must once and for all realize that the enemy should be treated as an enemy. We must make it clear to the Ossetians, that if they want to live on our land, they must assume responsibility before the motherland. We must make it clear to them that we cannot always forgive them". This outrage expressed in the form of a question was quite natural since in 1918-1920 Ossetians living in Georgia were engaged in anti-Georgian activities, carrying out anti-Georgian tasks ordered by Russian agents. This required finding of appropriate mechanisms for creation of security guarantees of Georgian statehood. The author of the article thought instant resolution of the Ossetian issue to be such mechanism. "We must once and for all get rid of the Ossetian danger - he wrote - if we want peaceful life."

This means that the leaders of the Georgian political thought associated quiet and peaceful life in the country with prevention of Ossetian danger. This point of view, mixed with radicalism, runs through most of the press publications of twenties of the XX century. Their authors have repeatedly stressed that Ossetians that lived in Georgia are just an extra burden for Georgia. In this sense the editorial, printed in the Sakhalkho Sakme newspaper under the headline" Enough!" should be especially mentioned. The author of the article based on an analysis of actions of Ossetians directed against the country and Georgian people during the period of independent Georgia, once again reminded the public that Georgia got nothing good from Ossetians, just damage while they cost the country a lot. "no gain from them just huge costs .... pays to teachers, doctors, nurses, spending on medical items ... it all falls on county communities of Gori. Who can count how much satisfaction of Ossetians costs Georgia. Please note that, thanks to Georgia, they are enjoying all achievements of the revolution. They were given a broad cultural autonomy, again at the expense of Georgia "- reads the article.

These facts are proof that Georgian people, even in a difficult period of their history had not forgotten about representatives of another nation that found shelter in Georgia. It continuously allotted funds from its meagre budget for cultural and economic development of Ossetians. This is confirmed by the shorthand record of the second all-Georgian congress of teachers (January 9, 1921). This paper shows that in this period there were 48 Ossetian schools in Georgia. And this was happening when Soviet Russia has not taken even a step in this direction in North Ossetia. Despite this, Ossetians expressed stunning ingratitude toward Georgians. With this regard an article "Ungratefuls" was published in the Mkhedari magazine and views expressed in it require attention. Its author, based on the relevant facts and against the background of Georgian hospitality addresses the issue of the Ossetians that found shelter in Georgia. "Families and society, as well as a state has their ungrateful members. Their hearts cannot be won, even if do everything for them, give them the entire house, become sweeter than honey, offer the last piece of bread, their raging appetite knows no bounds ... Shameless Ossetians have surpassed even Armenians and Azerbaijanis in their brazenness. Our country nurtured Ossetians. Our country settled Ossetians who came from a foreign country in its very heart, spared no care and protection, and gave them the best lands of Kartli. But having grown fat, they showed nothing but ingratitude. Democratic Republic of Georgia handed over best lands of Kartli to Ossetians, made them full-fledged citizens, put on the path of humanization, opened the way for cultural success, but as the saying goes, a leopard cannot change its spots and waits for a suitable moment to attack people ... "

Those who are familiar with criminal actions of Ossetians against the Georgian state and its population in the years of the existence of democratic Georgia, will agree with the above characteristics. When there is a compact settlement of such ethnic minority on the border strip of the state and in its very "heart" state authorities should develop appropriate policies in relation to them. Otherwise, any state will always be in the state of war. It is this circumstance that the author had in mind, when he wrote with regards to Ossetians: "Mercy of Georgians is limitless, but let the bastards feel that besides love and tenderness and care the Georgian state can be threatening and retaliate if those ungratefuls will not come to their senses in time and will not be worthy of care and kindness on the part of the democratic republic."

This meant that the authorities should have to abandon taking care of Ossetians - organizers of anarchy and traitors. They were supposed to act on the basis of national interests of the state and in accordance with the law, characteristic of a civilized state, and call all actions of Ossetians by its name. This position is shared in the article "Once again about Ossetians" published in the Ertoba newspaper. "People who for those two years have not fulfilled a duty before the republic want to take advantage of our attitude. Today, the republic must say" enough "and with all its force make a brazen crowd understand what it means to keep order in the republic and necessity to fulfil basic duties of a citizen. The government of the republic must once and for all curb traitors of the country, put an end to this Vendee. Those strict measures which the republic is compelled to resort to for the third time to rein in insurgent Ossetians would be an act of self-defence against an enemy who had invaded from the north. This will be a fight against attackers and villains to protect local residents, to save the republic and democracy".

Judging from this excerpt, any punitive measures were justified, at least for the simple reason that they served as protection from enemy invading from the north, restraining Ossetian population that supported them and safeguard security of the country. real danger that was forming at this time in Georgia, especially in the east (Azerbaijan) and in the north raised an issue of making principled decisions before the authorities. In this case double-standard policies were unacceptable, because it could have led the country to a disastrous situation. This danger was well-understood by representatives of political thought of the time. difficult situation that Georgia was in this period is well reflected in the report made by Noe Zhordania at the second congress of the Social-Democratic Labour Party of Georgia (13-19 June 1920). Noe Zhordania considered strengthening of foundations of the country's independence and rapid destruction of internal enemies as main objectives of the ruling political party and the legislative body. He believed internal enemies of democratic Georgia to be Bolsheviks, Russian Social-Democrats, the Russian Socialist-Revolutionaries, the Dashnaktsiutun party and Ossetians. According to him, Ossetians staged an uprising and unrest within Georgia for our country to have ceased its existence as an independent state and become a part of Russia.

"They intended to throw us into that raging sea, - said Noe Zhordania – that was previously and still is Russia. The fight with them is not finished yet ... though they lost they did not give up and continue to fight. Despite this, today they are not as dangerous as they were before, when foundations of our democracy were still weak".

Such a statement from the leader of the country pointed to change of tolerant attitude of the authorities in relation to the Ossetians with radicalism. To prevent the expected chaos at that stage was possible only by taking a pragmatic step that corresponded to the political situation. If we consider publications printed in the newspapers of the time, the focus will be article "Enough!" in the Ertoba newspaper. "Enough! Georgia cannot always have an armed traitor behind its back. A kind word means nothing to those who consider love of humans and mercy to be our weakness. We should deprive them of joy of betrayal for good. Not only our domestic tranquillity requires this but it is also needed to prevent external threat from the Roki pass. We have proved Ossetians and the whole country our compassion, love for a human being, ability to feel compassion and forgiveness. Our duty is to prove to everybody that we have ability to stand firm in defending the revolution and the republic, "- reads the article.

To be continued...

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