Russia's attitude towards Georgian independence (1918-1921) - part II
18/10/2010 14:26
Vasil Kvirikashvili

(see part I)

Georgian state had the defined policy with regards to an issue of sameness of political aspirations of Bolsheviks and Tsarist Russia. A great example of this is an editorial "About approach of the Red Army to the Caucasus" that was published in Ertoba newspaper.

The said article recognizes their sameness despite contradiction of ideological and political lines of the Tsarist and Soviet Russia. The newspaper names as one of examples of this their attitude towards so-called inarodtsi or foreigners. According to then, both Russias ignored wishes and aspirations of non-Russian nations and considered conduction of politics of conquest as acceptable. The said article reminded the society that "add whatever spices one wants to the Bolshevik policies, even if this spice is called "Communism", nations should still feel its bitterness as they did with the old Russian politics. Since it brings coercion, destruction and cultural degradation for the nation". The same newspaper names Russia's "middle eastern policies" as the second main argument and referred to its two-faced nature and Machiavellism. At the same time the newspaper, under the guise of "deepening of the social revolution", shifted its attention away from attempts to conceal the tsarist politics. "Russian empire – the newspaper wrote –came into Georgia under the slogan of "great Russia". It is possible that Soviet Russia under the slogan of "Communism" would want to bring the Red Army into our borders... Our people ... knows well that there is no difference which foreign army enters Georgia, whether it is that of old Russian or that of Soviet Russia".

Russian danger was indeed very real. Claims expressed against Georgia in the Russian media were discussed in details in the work "Communist Russia" that was published under the pen-name of "comrade". Its main assertions can be formed in the following way: a) Georgia is the strongest and most deadly enemy of Soviet Russia as Noe Zhordania "erected a wall" in Georgia and cut Russia off the east. And it prevented the Lenin government from bringing "fire of the revolution" into the east; b) Defeat of the Zhordania government will deprive the Russian Menshevizm of its source and quickens its complete elimination; c) Zhordania, Chkheidze and Ramishvili set the working class of the western Europe against Soviet Russia and through them "Russia is perceived as a country of savages in Europe".

As Georgia appeared in the role of "preventing barrier" of political aspirations of Soviet Russia a relevant plan of actions against it was devised in the highest ranks of the Soviet Russian government. In February 1920 Kalinin said at one of the sessions of the Central Executive Committee that "Tbilisi should play the role of Moscow in the east, it should become the second Moscow" and he raised an issue "to take Georgia if not by sword,
through their "willingness" at least. In case if Georgia did not "willingly" denounced its independence the Georgian border would go on the rivers Bzip and Choloki as it was shown on the maps of the borders of the Russian republic that were published by the general headquarters of Soviet Russia. The Soviet press explained this the following way: "We want Baku, we cannot go on without it and Baku is nothing without Batumi. Thus we should possess a key to it. And we do not interfere into your lives. You can be as independent as you wish". By the way, Denikin also thought so (Anton Denikin (1872-1939) commander-in-chief of armed forces of South Russia from April 1918; He fought against the Soviet authorities and was supported by the member-states of the Entente). "Gagra is mine, yours is the territory from the river Bzip and Batumi is Russia's of course". The Georgian-Russian border was marked on the above-mentioned map as Denikin wanted it to be. And this showed sameness of political courses of Denikin and that of authorities of Soviet Russia with regards to Georgia. In case Georgian authorities accepted the agreement proposed by Soviet Russia and chose one of opposing rival aggressors this step would have been tantamount to suicide for the Georgian state.

Facts presented by us confirm that the Transcaucasian region and Georgia among others were facing imminent danger. In this difficult situation the war actions that started between Armenia and Azerbaijan (March 1920) was a result of the fact that process that were taking place around the region had not been taken into account.

Naturally, Georgian politicians made the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan a subject of discussion of the 10th special session of the Founding Assembly of Georgia (April 8th 1920). The passed resolution declared the said conflict as very grave for independence of Transcaucasian states. For the purpose of maintain stability in the region it demanded disputed issues to be introduced into the agenda of the general Caucasian conference and called on both sides to resolve disputed issues by peacefully. This proposition was left without attention by Armenia and Azerbaijan. Politics of conquest and of mutual weakening had negative results for both countries. It resulted in establishment of Soviet government both in Armenia and Azerbaijan. As to attack of the Russian Army on Azerbaijan the Georgian government immediately reacted and took the relevant decision (April 27th 1920). The Georgian side would only comply with the requirement of the First clause of the military agreement between Georgia and Azerbaijan (June 16th 1919) on mutual assistance only if population of Azerbaijan would offer resistance to enemy and the government would officially ask the Georgian authorities for help. The Georgian side had not had to fulfil the above-mentioned agreement as events took another turn. Noe Zhordania spoke about this at the session of the Founding Assembly of April 30th 1920: "Bolsheviks arrived there in fast train... with small forces, - in two trains... Even small forces could repel them and capture their trains but as there was no such desire entry of Bolsheviks was turned into a mere stroll". And the Ertoba newspaper wrote: "There was no war there, no kind of defending; Bolsheviks arrived there from the north as ordinary passengers do by fast trains. They met no resistance; no troops were there to offer any resistance". All this demonstrates that the population of Azerbaijan and its government supported Sovietization of the country (April 28th 1920). Through this action Soviet Russia became a neighbour of Georgia from the east as well and thus putting Georgian independence in real danger...

To be continued


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