Georgia became a kingdom about 4 B.C. and Christianity was introduced in A.D. 337. During the reign of Queen Tamara (1184–1213), its territory included the whole of Transcaucasia. During the 13th century, Tamerlane and the Mongols decimated its population. From the 16th century on, the country was the scene of a struggle between Persia and Turkey. In the 18th century, it became a vassal to Russia in exchange for protection from the Turks and Persians.
Georgia joined Azerbaijan and Armenia in 1917 to establish the anti-Bolshevik Transcaucasian Federation and on its dissolution in 1918 proclaimed its independence. In 1922, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan were annexed by the USSR and formed the Transcaucasian Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1936, Georgia became a separate Soviet republic. Under Soviet rule it was transformed from an agrarian country to a largely industrial urban society.
Georgia proclaimed its independence from the USSR on April 6, 1991. In Jan. 1992, its leader, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, was sacked and later accused of dictatorial policies, the jailing of opposition leaders, human rights abuses, and clamping down on the media. A ruling military council was established by the opposition until a civilian authority could be restored. In 1992, Eduard Shevardnadze, the Soviet Union's foreign minister under Gorbachev, became president.
In 1992–1993, the government engaged in armed conflict with separatists in the breakaway province of Abkhazia. In 1994, Russia and Georgia signed a cooperation treaty that authorized Russia to keep three military bases in Georgia and allowed Russians to train and equip the Georgian army. In 1996, Georgia and its breakaway region of South Ossetia agreed to a cessation of hostilities in their six-year conflict. With little progress in resolving the Abkhazia situation, however, parliament in April 1997 voted overwhelmingly to threaten Russia with loss of its military bases, should it fail to extend Russian military control over the separatist region. In 1998, the U.S. and Britain began an operation to remove nuclear material from Georgia, dangerous remains from its Soviet years. A darling of the West since his days as the Soviet Union's foreign minister, Shevardnadze was viewed far less favorably by his own people, who were frustrated by unemployment, poverty, cronyism, and rampant corruption. In the 2000 presidential elections, Shevardnadze was reelected with 80% of the vote, though international observers determined the election was marred by irregularities.
In 2002, U.S. troops trained Georgia's military in antiterrorism measures in the hopes that Georgian troops would subdue Muslim rebels fighting in the country. Tensions between Georgia and Russia were strained over the Pankisi Gorge, a lawless region of Georgia that Russia said had become a haven for Islamic militants and Chechen rebels.
In May 2003, work began on the Georgian section of the enormously ambitious Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, which runs from Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey. The pipeline opened in July 2006.
Massive demonstrations began after the preliminary results of the Nov. 2003 parliamentary elections. The opposition party (and international monitors) claimed that the elections were rigged in favor of Shevardnadze and the political parties who supported him. After more than three weeks of massive protests, Shevardnadze resigned on Nov. 30. Georgians compared the turn of events to Czechoslovakia’s “velvet revolution.” In Jan. 2004 presidential elections, Mikhail Saakashvili, the key opposition leader, won in a landslide. The 36-year-old lawyer built his reputation as a reformer committed to ending corruption, and in his first two years as president, Saakashvili made significant progress in rooting out the country's endemic corruption. Saakashvili's ongoing difficulty has been reining in Georgia's two breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, both of which are strongly supported by neighboring Russia.
After the World War II, economy of Georgia in several years became higher than it was before the war. New enterprises, water power stations, mines, irrigating channels etc were arranged. But the government kept the society under the heavy ideological pressure. The new repression wave appeared again, which was ceased only after the death of Stalin (1953).
The new Soviet government, the leader of which was N. Khrushchov, softened the inner political regime. Besides, in the 30-40s Stalin was accused to every crime, committed by the government. Nothing was said about the Soviet system perversion. On the XX Communist Party Congress in February 1956, worshipping of Stalin was converted into the personal retaliations. Anti-Stalinist Company was tending to the opinion, that his repressive actions were conditioned by his Georgian origin.
Especially bitter was the critique of Stalin for Georgian youth, which was accustomed to the fanatical idolization of Stalin before by the official ideology. Besides, Georgian national feelings were offended. On March 3, 1956, separate manifestations took place in Tbilisi high educational schools, and on March 5, the situation in the city became unrulable. Demonstrations and meetings were held, where people required rehabilitation of Stalin, criticized the XX Congress solutions. Nothing was anti-Soviet in this action, but the government cruelly suppressed youth protest. On March 9, Soviet armies shot the participants of the meeting in the center of Tbilisi. More than 100 people died and about 300 people were wounded (the exact numbers are not known).
In fact, after the March tragedy, the wide layers of population of Georgia lost the Communist ideology belief. In the 60s, there began the period in Soviet Union, which was called "the Period of Motionlessness" afterwards. In spite of that, the great "Communism" reconstructions still were running, party and state functioners of different ranks reported to the higher authorities about new achievements, in fact, their words were far from reality. Corruption became of a total character as well. No one believed in official propaganda any more.
Falsity and dissimulation of the state politic level, morally corrupted the Soviet society. Since the 60s, in Georgia and other USS Republics, there widely set so-called "Shade Economic", which was the result of ignorance of the economical objective rules under administrational governance system.
The most radical expression of the progressive part of the society, opposed to the existing system, was the dissidential movement, which started since the 60s. Among the Georgian dissidents, the most devoted and spiritually strong person was Merab Kostava (1938-1989). He was arrested for several times by the state security committee and served his term in the far camps of Russia.
By the 80s, it became clear to everyone that the rotten Soviet regime had no future perspective. In 1985, the leader of the country, M. Gorbachov tried to overcome the crisis with cardinal reforms. The "Restructuring" ("Perestroika") began, but the liberalization and publicity, connected to this process, appeared the gin from the bottle for Soviet Union. Architects of the "Restructuring" ("Perestroika") didn’t know that the Soviet system built with blood and iron, had no "immunity" for democratic freedom, and as a result, the swift decomposition of this process began.
"Restructuring" in Georgia began with emphasizing national aspiration. In 1987, the first legal national political organization – Ilia Chavchavadze Society – was created. In a while, other similar organizations appeared as well. The leaders of the national movement, which became of a wide scale by 1988, were former prisoners, Georgian dissidents. Soon, the motto of Independence of Georgia was evidently shown. Soviet government, which in spite of the "Restructuring", periodically kept trying to hold forceful methods, used armies and armored technique towards the peaceful meeting participants in the center of Tbilisi. On April 9, 1989, at night, the meeting was attacked. 20 persons were killed; most of them were women. It must be notified that the April 9 tragedy happened on the same place, as March 9, 1956 bloodshed. But in 1989, the general situation in USSR was quite different. The bloody action on April 9 angered not only the whole Georgia, but the progressive society of Russia, which firmly rebelled against this fact. In those days in Georgia, there took place the national integrity. The government was forced to step back.
After April 9, the leadership of Georgian Communist Party lost its influence in the Republic. National movement became the main motive power for the political life of Georgia. Unfortunately, among the leaders of this movement there was not unanimity at all. M. Kostava, who tried to maintain the integrity of national powers, died in the accident. After his death, the powers, struggling for the independence, finally divided into two camps. The most popular in the public was the political block "The Round Table". The famous leader of this block was the former dissident, philologist, Zviad Gamsakhurdia (1938-1993). Exactly his personal popularity conditioned the victory (62% votes) of "The Round Table" after October 28, 1990 elections (the first many-partied elections in Georgia since 1921). Thus, it was a peaceful end of the Communist governance in Georgia.
Z. Gamsakhurdia soon became the president of the country, and during the period of his reign, the inner political situation in the Republic aggravated. Because of the inflexible, ambitious policy of Gamsakhurdia, the relations between the governing "The Round Table" and the rest opposite part, became bitter. The condition in Autonomies was strained too, especially in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Gamsakhurdia’s nationalistic phraseology disturbed the ethnic minorities. If in 1981 the partial compromise with Abkhazia was managed, the conflict with Ossetia became the armed opposition. The reason of this was the abolishment of Autonomous Region of Ossetia by the Parliament of Georgia. This solution was provoked by Ossetians, declaring the Autonomous Region as the Sovereign Republic. It must also be notified that in Georgia of this period, one of the reasons of existing ethnical conflicts (and also the split in Georgian national movement), except the local radical actions, was, as it seemed, the hidden activity of SSC of the Union, which used the tried imperial methods – "separate and dominate".
Gamsakhurdia was on the way to the independence of Georgia in the relations with the Soviet center. On April 9, 1991, the Parliament of Georgia adopted the Declaration of Independence but this Act, as declared from one side, wasn’t internationally recognized.
In autumn, 1991, opposition between the Presidential government and the opposite side reached the flammable level. The role of catalizator played the suppression of the non-sanction meeting of the opposition by the police in Tbilisi. The split appeared even in the closest encircling of Gamsakhurdia. President was denied by a large part of his main force structure - the National Guard. On December 22, 1991, military movements began between the rebelled guard and the guard of the Presidential Palace. "Tbilisi War" lasted till January 6 and ended with the flight of the President from Georgia. The armed fight, during which the rival sides used artillery and reactive projectiles, considerably damaged the central district of the city.
While the two wings of the national movement were busy with retaliations, there occurred the most important event in the world: Soviet Union was decomposed and the world recognized the independence of its republics de-facto and then de-eure.
Because of the tragic facts existing in Georgia, its juridical recognition was comparatively complicated. But after returning of the former Minister of Foreign Relations of Soviet Union, the worldwide famous politician, Edward Shevardnadze, the things broke through March, 1992. E. Shevardnadze was the first leader of Georgia in the first half of the 70-80s, and was well acquainted to the local situation. His return filled the large part of the population of Georgia with hope that the prolonged anarchy would end and the country would stand on the way to stabilization. Shevardnadze soon really managed to cease Georgian-Ossetian conflict, and passed the process in the politically regulated dimension. But the situation in Abkhazia and some Western regions, where the armed groups of the adherents of Gamsakhurdia acted, remained strained.
Return of Shevardnadze and coming of the temporary supreme governmental body of transitional period, State Council, into the supremacy became the signal for the world for juridical recognition of the state Independence. Already on March 23, 1992, Independence of Georgia was, recognized by the Euro-union countries. On July 31 of the same year, Georgia was adopted in the UN Organization as its 179th plenipotentiary member. Thus, Georgia again came into the list of liberal states. The dream of the best Georgian representatives of the XIX and XX cen. fulfilled.
by Dr. George Anchabadze
After occupation of Georgia by Lenin Russia, Communists began to depress the rival forces and to strengthen their power. Armed Forces of Democratic Republic, State and Elective Bodies and Non-Proletarian Parties were abolished. Privacy of lands was abolished as well, a whole industry, railways, fleet, banks etc. passed in the hands of the government. Punisher organizations held the massive shooting and exile on oppositionists of the regime and even suspected persons. Especially, former officers and representatives of nobility and intelligentsia. With the aim of setting atheism, Communists destroyed churches, exterminated clergymen; only in 1922-1923 1500 churches were destroyed in Georgia.
In spite of bloody terror, anti-communistic actions took place in Georgia in 1921-1924. But they were disconnected and government easily managed to localize and suppress them. The most important movement took place in 1924. Rebels had contacts with immigrated government. Simultaneous actions in different regions were planned, but Communists arrested several rebellion leaders. So, the rebellion was not organized and it was cruelly suppressed.
Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia (it was officially called so by that time), was considered as the independent state at first, but its territory was occupied by Russian Army, and Georgian Communists acted only under Moscow orders. The plan of further state construction of Soviet Georgia was made in Moscow as well, which would simplify its steps into Soviet political and economical system.
Georgian SSR, in fact, was a federal state. At the end of 1921 on the ground of the Alliance Agreement, Abkhazia SSR (Autonomous Republic since 1931) entered its structure. Besides, there was created Ajara Autonomous Republic on Georgia territory in 1921 and South Ossetia Autonomous Region in 1922. Georgia SSR itself with Azerbaijan and Armenia, by the proposal of Lenin in 1922, was in Transcaucasia Federation, which entered USSR, created at the end of the same year. In 1936 Transcaucasia Federation was abolished, and Georgia directly entered Soviet Union structure.
From the second half of the 20s, swift processes of industrialization and collectivization began in Soviet State, the real aim of which was maximal strengthening of existing regime. There were built a lot of factories, hydroelectric power stations and mines in Georgia. Coal and Manganese widely mined. Technical cultures, especially tea and citrus for the huge soviet market, were mastered in Agriculture. But enterprises, built in accelerated tempos were of a low quality. The sowing territories were widened after chopping woods. Setting monocultures in all regions lost the traditional light to Georgian many-sided agriculture.
Communist dogmatism in USSR considered industrialization and collectivization with the cultural revolution, as the main condition for socialism. So, in the 20-30s the amount of secondary and high educational institutions rose in Georgia. Science and Art developed. In 1940 there was established the Academy of Science of Georgia USSR. But from that very time the individual thinking abilities of the creative intelligentsia, literature and art representatives were reduced. Everything was obeyed to the Communist Dictatorship Ideology. With the aim of the final frightening and spiritual weakness of the several millionian population of Soviet Union, Stalin government ran the wide repressions in the second half of the 30s, which appeared in the first days of existence of the Communist Regime, but they became especially massive in 1937-1938. Georgia was one of those regions of SSR, where the repressing engine was particularly active. During those years, there were shot thousands of innocent people in Georgia, and even more were sent in "Gulag" camps, where the most of them found their oppressed death. Among repressed people there were the best representatives of intelligentsia, including such remarkable representatives of Georgian culture, as writer M. Javakhishvili, poets T. Tabidze and P. Iashvili, stage-manager S. Akhmeteli, scientist-philologist Gr. Tsereteli, conductor E. Mikeladze etc. Villages were involved in the massive repressions as well, where thousands of peasants died from the public collectivization, which ended in that period.
Political repressions of 30s took lives of the Soviet army and Military-industrial complex personnel, which caused the blow to the self-defencability of the country, but because of those very repressions, the fear, set in the society, strengthened the authoritative Stalin Regime and helped to mobilize all total forces of Soviet Union in the war against Germany, which started on June 22, 1941. There didn't actually take place military movements on Georgian territory (only in summer of 1942, Germans invaded Abkhazia and occupied one village), but the country sacrificed the maximum of its demographic and material resources in this war.
In Georgia, the population of which was 3612 thousand in 1940, there were mobiled and sent in the active army more than 700 thousand people, and more than 300 thousands haven't returned back. The part of the people from Georgia fought in the national Georgian divisions and majority in the other parts of many-national Soviet army.
Georgians fought in partisan groups, as on the SSR territory, so in the countries occupied by Nazis. Among Georgians there were people, who stood for Germany and fought under its flag. Most of them acted on the ground of belief that the victory of Germany would bring the liberation for Georgia. But the amount of those people was scanty in comparison with these legions, which fought for the liberty of USSR.
Most of Georgians who fought in Soviet army, sincerely believed that they protected the "Socialism Property", which was at the high value rank of the Communist Propaganda in that time. Besides, a Georgian soldier knew that any place he fought, in Moscow, Ukraina of on Volga, he was defending Georgia from the horrors of the war and from that slavery, which was caused by Hitler regime to the occupied countries.
The home front laborers were ruled by the same aims as well, which played a big role in the victory over the enemy. The whole economic of Georgia worked with maximal power for the front. In spite of the conscription of the large part of qualified laborers, the machine-building and metal-working factories redoubled their productivity. The place of the soldier laborers at their machines took their wives, sisters and daughters. The large amount of armament, military materials and uniforms was produced. 200 new enterprises were built. Soviet collective farms highly implemented agricultural and production plans. Georgia sheltered also many thousands of evacuated people from the territories, occupied by Nazis. In the famous resorts and medical institutions, wounded Soviet soldiers had courses of cure.
Thus, the population of Georgia played an important role in that great victory, which was got in the struggle against Fascism by Soviet people.
by Dr. George Anchabadze
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