•Kvirikashvili – Confrontation
There are relatively valuable data about Ossetia and Ossetians in written sources, scientific works or literary fiction. Most of these data informs us about ill-disposed attitude of Ossetians towards Georgian people which was noted for ruthlessness and hostile actions in most cases. Works of Vakhushti Bagrationi, German scientist of the Russian Imperial academy of Sciences Guldenstadt, Alexander kazbegi, Sofrom Mgaloblishvili, Kosta Khetagurov and other, as well as ethnographic and folk data.
It is not accidental that Alexander Kazbegi characterizes Ossetians negatively in all his novels and by showing their actions he demonstrates the situation which was similar to “Lekianoba” – in-raids of Lezgins and was called “Osianoba” – in-raids of Ossetians. This was a fight against Georgian people and involved robbing and capturing of people, and in case of resistance killing of those people.
“Traditions” of thieving, robbing and killing are especially expressive in ethnographic past of Ossetians. It is seen as across-nation thing which was elevated to the highest level. And facts of existence of gods of, on one hand, thieves and bandits and, on the other hand, of murderers in Ossetia confirms all the above. The cross of black horseman (Dzuar Saubarag in Ossetian) situated in a village of Bizi of the Alagir community is well known in whole Ossetia. It is a place of prayers where thieves and all kinds of nighttime adventurers and criminals were asking for protection. It remained the most popular sanctuary in the beginning of the XX century.
Saubarag is supported and in some way even surpassed by Parinji Dzuari – sanctuary of murderers that was known in a village of Panaigan by the end of the XIX century.
It is known from the history of Georgia that attitude of assertions were of two kinds in accordance with state politics. In some cases Ossetians army was hired to defend the country and that was happening, naturally, on the basis of a mutual agreement. And on the other side, there were their organized raid-ins that caused destruction of the country’s economy and monuments of culture, capture and harassment of population. According to Georgian historical sources the above-mentioned dual relationship was characteristic mainly prior to settlement of Ossetians on the territory of Georgia. After that situation changed drastically when fight of Ossetians that lived in Georgia against Georgian people became especially fierce inside of our country. Their fight had different forms. In certain cases they used to create armed units and used to organize in-raids. In other cases small armed groups and individual bandits were looting the country.
Digorian Ossetians often attacked villages of the Racha region with a purpose to rob them as they were situated near them. Sometimes they were successful, sometimes they returned to their “homeland” empty-handed.
In 1746 Ossetians that lived in saeristavo of Ksani invaded upper Kartli. King Irakli II was compelled to hire Lezgins. The latters were led by Machabeli and Iese son of Amilakhvari. United Georgian-Lezgin army defeated Ossetians.
The source says nothing as to what prompted Ossetians to withdraw. But it is obvious that they were encouraged by Ossetians living in the Caucasus. Yet still there was no calming of Ossetians living in saeristavos of Ksani and Aragvi. They were engaged in permanent attacks on Georgian population and robbery. They stopped paying tribute to eristavi and did not let their officials in Ossetian villages. United army of Kartli-Khakhetian Kings Teimuraz and Irakli attacked from two sides. King Teimuraz attacked from the side of Vanati while Irakli carried out his military operation from Ananuri direction. They took 40 fortified fortresses were captured. Many Ossetians were detained.
It seems that anti-Georgian uprising of Ossetians were quite organized. In opposite case it would have been impossible for Ossetians living in saeristavos of Ksani and Aragvi to start such aggression. They were supported and aided by North Caucasian Ossetians as well. When Ksani Ossetians were informed about the defeat of Aragvi Ossetians they came to Vanati and asked King Teimuraz for forgiveness. And they paid full tribute. After receiving the tribute Georgians did not march on Ossetians of Ksani. Although nobody knew when again Ossetians were going to declare disobedience.
There is a suggestion in historiography that Shanshe Eristavi was also involved in the Ossetian uprisings of the Ksani saeristavo.
German traveler Guldenstadt who visited Georgia in the seventies of the XVIII century noted that old stone church near which 40 years before the traveler came to the area there was a summer house of Machabeli, at that time just “served as a shelter for criminal Ossetians”.
Places of settlement of Ossetians that were against Georgian people were both upper reaches of the river Aragvi. In the second half of the XVIII century they were settled in both upper reaches of the river Aragvi that was over this side (Aragvi of Mtiuleti) – in the gorge of Gudi and in upper reaches of the Aragvi of over the other side (Terek) – Truso gorge. Ossetians of the two gorges joined forces and decided to raid Georgian population. The Georgian kingdom promptly assessed a danger and King Irakli II and Jimsher , Mouravi of Tushs marched on them and completely crushed evil intentions of Ossetians. According to Georgian historian Papuna Orbeliani Ossetians were ruthlessly killing eristavis. And an example of this was a killing of Bezhan Eristavi of Aragvi.
The victory of Georgians was followed by ruthless punishment that gave food for thought for Ossetians living in the Ksani saeristavo. The latter did not participate in the military actions but their support for the Ossetians of Aragvi was obvious. Thus their participation in the fight against Georgian people in certain moment was quite likely. That was confirmed by adulatory repentance. The reason they begged the king and undertook to pay the entire tribute was because they were trying to avoid possible punishment of the Kings’ authorities. A question arises. Why would Ossetians of the Ksani saertistavo need to adulate the king and promise to pay “full tribute” unless they were supporting Ossetians that were fighting against Georgian people?
Raiding gangs of Ossetians used to occupy narrow passages that lead into Georgia, namely the Dariali gorge. As they lived below this gorge – in the Tagauri gorge and were in a good position to engage in robbery in the Dariali gorge. In this case Ossetians were aided by the situation that in the entire area only Tagaurian Ossetians could make bridges that were essential for passage of travelers. And this was done by mutual agreement of the two sides but that sometimes used to become difficult due to disagreements about price.
At the same time Irakli II declared an uncompromising fight against banditries of Ossetians gangs. The king knew very well that relations with Ossetians were devastating for the country and their crimes were often becoming a matter of discussion. He ordered those obligations that should have been fulfilled according to the law and in accordance with social situation of the population. Punishments defined by the order mainly concerned low social class. As to the high social classes the decision did not concern them as “their blood has been flowing for a long time”.
The order also mentioned that revenge was not to be taken for Ossetians who died during stealing as well as for Georgians who died during stealing in the region of Ossetians i.e. stealing was qualified as equal crime no matter who committed it – Georgian or Ossetian.
Ossetian separatism was like a malign tumor for Georgia even in the times of the Russian empire. And it took various forms. One of them was expansion of Ossetian settlements on the territory of Georgia i.e. colonization and that was done by very crude methods – harassment of peaceful Georgian population, ruthless killings, kidnapping of people and thievery and banditry.
It is well-known that in the first half of the XIX century Russian generals many times mentioned raids on Georgian villages, robbery and killings of Georgians that were carried out by Ossetians. They believed that relevant measures should have been taken to eradicate those crimes. In 1809 General Tormasov sentenced five Ossetians to death by hanging. Later in 1824 General Khonev reported to General Ermolov that in order to stop attacks and robbery of Ossetians that they were carrying out towards Georgian population of Kartli should be given right to defend themselves with weapons from robbers as Kakhetians were defending with arms from Lezgins. As the general said therefore they should not pursue Georgians for killing a robber; that imperial authorities should make understand both landowners and population of Kartli that they would be blamed for killing of criminals and bandits; that they should only oblige Georgians to report each of such cases to local authorities that certain Ossetian is killed during the attack and robbery.
It seems that Ossetians were so engaged in killing, abduction and robbery of people in the Gori district that General Akhverdov sent General Tormasov a report where the former expressed his belief that it was necessary for Ossetians who wished to go to Georgians villages and especially, Georgian village of Tskhinvali, to get special pass.
In the beginning of the XX century practice of using woods used to cause certain confrontations between Georgians and Ossetians. For example, Ossetians that lived in a village of Avlevi and who were refugees could make use of forests for free. Aboriginal population – Georgian peasants were deprived of such rights. With a purpose of finding money that was necessary for taking care and preservation of forests in summer of 1917 executive committee of a village determined that each Georgian family had to pay five rubles for using forest (foe example, cutting wood) while Ossetians as they were registered as refugees were exempted from this fee. And that was happening when even landowners did not have advantage when it came to using forests. Protests of Georgians did not have any positive results as majority in the village executive committee was held by Ossetians.
The situation deteriorated even further with return of soldiers from the war (from January 1918). They formed armed units that consisted of 300 men who were mainly Ossetians and which under the pretense of “establishment of order” but with a purpose of looting started to attack landowner families and generally, Georgians. This fact was recognized by the first session of the national council of “South Ossetia” that took place on March 3-4th 1918.
Cruelties that they were carried out against Georgians are horrifying. Famous public figure and journalist Shalva Amirejibi named called everything its name and published an article “Front of Tskhinvali” in newspaper “Sakaratvelo”. He wrote: “Tskhinvali can become a fatal front for Georgia. There is a real war there using all kinds of weapons and we have information that Ossetian’ fight will become more intense…”. In journalist’s opinion “our governing circles do not yet understand that after the revolution balance of power has shifted in both the Caucasus and the entire empire…” and that “they were putting social reforms ahead other things when the rest of the Caucasian peoples were pursuing nationalist politics…; That Ossetians that came to Georgia as refugees are trying to use this moment… politics of seizure– that’s what is today’s motto and Ossetians who came to Georgia from north seeking shelter unashamedly announced: Tskhinvali is ours and mountainous part of Georgia is Ossetia!. At the time of this anarchy and destruction that is reigning here there is nothing easier for such small and uncultured nation as Ossetians to be nurtured with unrealizable dreams. And an idea of creation of independent and autonomous Ossetia in the heart of Georgia emerged in their “patriotic” heads”…
After this Shalva Amirejibi asks a question whether this is a political idea or nationalist strive. And he answers himself that he thought that it was not that. Even in our times there would be hard to find more treacherous idea as there is no more Georgian place in Georgia as the one where today Ossetians are settled. It is Georgia’s back, its backbone… We have heard numerous political fantasies but not quite like that one – Ossetian state in Georgia. It is possible that this small and uncultured nation thought it easy to carry this burden and got involved in this adventure. If nothing comes out of this we will be convicted as common criminals and if our attempts are successful then – glory to free Ossetia!.. Events of Tskhinvali is a dangerous omen for future of Georgia and it requires not only elimination on the state level but strictness in order to prevent its repetition” – says the journalist.
Certain Dil describes in the April 5th 1918 issue of Alioni newspaper an episode of massacre of Georgians by Ossetians that he himself witnessed. “… Bodies of treacherously killed Machabeli, Ketskhoveli and other guards were brought to a headquarters… I went to see it. When they were telling me how mutilated they were I could not believe, I though they were exaggerating… It was a terrible, horrifying sight… Machabeli was shot in knees and cut with a dagger all over the body, his scull was almost removed with the use of dagger above the temples…. I cannot understand how a human being can sink to committing such inhuman acts. Ketskhoveli had a bullet put through its stomach from the right side and it probably caused his death. But later those savages cut his head off but not from the neck but from his chest off/ from chest above. And his scull was smashed. One cannot see anything other than his beard in his face. They say after his killing the body was thrown in the street and carriages were driving over it…”.
Even Soviet historiography avoids mentioning facts of savagery and sadism of the Tskhinvali events. One can understand this. Remembering bad things is not good for co-existence of two peoples. But such attitude when history becomes only an addition to politics has other side. Ossetians were left in darkness with regards to truth about events that happened in Shida Kartli. Revealing these facts will help us to understand and explain cruelties (burning of Ossetians villages) that Georgians carried out much later (in 1920) in response.
Flagships of the Communist propaganda were paying special attention to mood of Ossetians that lived in Georgia and who at instigation of Soviet Russia became opposed to the government of the Georgian democratic republic. Pravda newspaper wrote: “At the end of May forum of Ossetian people – mainly those of South Ossetia – took place in Java (Tbilisi province). There nobody expressed its support for Georgian independence… Despite the fact that no resolution was passed it was still stated that people do not want orientation towards Germany and Turkey”.
Izvestia newspaper wrote in its July 5th 1918 article “From the history of activities of Mensheviks in the Caucasus”: “Especially insupportable situation is in Gori district. Here Menshevik commissars are presenting interests of landowners and that caused peasants’ uprising. It spread over 18 km. Peasants demanded representatives of Menshevik authorities to be handed over to them. When they received refusal they captured Tskhinvali. Heads of Mensheviks – Machabeli, Ketskhoveli and Kiziev were killed. Many villages were burned by armed groups that were sent from Tbilisi. Rebels were forced to find refuge in mountains. Around 150 women and children were killed”.
This information published in the Russian press does not correspond to the real situation and they unilaterally blamed Georgians in barbaric acts towards Ossetian population. “Georgians newspapers gave completely opposite assessments: “Ossetians attacked Tskhinvali … And tortured and killed Ketskhoveli .. Besides him Ossetians killed Liashvili, Kapanadze, Koziashvili and others. Ossetians are gaining strength… They say that they would drive Georgians out and settle themselves in their lands… Ossetians that attacked Tskhinvali were several thousands and they have connections with the North Caucasus… Raids of Ossetians are headed by warrant officer Kharebov…who killed the entire nobility of the Gori district”.
On march 31st 1918 Sakartvelo newspaper reported: “yesterday units returned from Tskhinvali that was sent to squash the rebellion… After capturing mountains our units had an opportunity to destroy villages that were situated at the foothills of the mountains but they never attacked any of the villages”; “there were head of Bolsheviks Pilipe Makjharadze, Giorgi Chkheidze, Sikharulidze and Ter-Akopov in the java district… They weaved webs of Bolshevik organizations in the entire area… They were spreading information as though Mensheviks invited Turks and Germans against Bolsheviks and neither will they give land and freedom to peasants. They were calling on Ossetians not to betray Russia and stay with them all the more that their brothers – Ossetians of the North Caucasus – were staying in Russia. They were promising Ossetians plenitude of lands in North Caucasus, bread and socialist system”.
Such was objective reality. Anti-government, pro-Russian demonstrations and incidents of Abkhazians and Ossetians were anti-Georgians and were endangering Georgian independence. The same did peasant uprisings in Mingrelia, Lechkhumi, Kvemo Kartli and other regions that were instigated by Bolsheviks. It was necessary to use arms and force to calm them. At that moment, naturally, there would have been incidents that are characteristic of civil war – bloodsheds, raids, extreme violence, arrests and others.
On October 23rd 1919 Ossetians started a new rebellion in Roki area which soon spread to Ateni, Mejvriskhevi, Okoni and other areas. Ossetians were declaring socialist governments in the captured villages and were forming peasant councils. The Georgian government suppressed this rebellion as well. The Soviet historiography used to present this matter as though Ossetian uprisings were more progressive as its goal was to establish soviet authority and capture Georgians lands. While response of the government was reactionary as the government of Georgia was social democratic (Menshevik)…
Ossetians rebelled again in November 1919. The rebellion was headed by Znaur Aidarov and they captured a village of Khtsisi, declared soviet authority and elected peasants council with Znaur Aidarov as its chairman. Naturally, this was instigated by Bolshevik Russia that was led by Caucasian regional committee of Russian Communist party (B). Soviet historiography considered this act of Ossetians as progressive while defending of Georgian land by the Georgian authorities was considered as a display of bourjeois-menshevism”.
By orders of the government of the democratic republic Georgian units defeated the opposition. According to Professor Togoshvili Georgian “Mensheviks were denying a right of self-determination of non-Georgians and clearly stand on chauvinistic positions of oppression of ethnic minorities”.
It is interesting on whose territories were Ossetians and others trying to self-determine? It was indeed that very Bolshevik politics of self-determination on the Georgian soil that brought so many misfortunes for Georgian nation. In spring 1920 Ossetians started another even bigger rebellion that was led by revolutionary committee of so-called South Ossetia which consisted of S. Gagloev, A. Jatiev and L. Sanakoev.
On May 6th a meeting of the military-revolutionary council and representatives of local party officials took place in a village of Roki. It decided to establish the soviet government, to join Soviet Russia and to inform Moscow and Georgian governments about this.
And indeed, on May 8th 1920 Ossetians declared Soviet government in a village of Roki and “Soviet Ossetia” as part of the RSFSR. Ossetian armed units came from North Ossetia to help the rebelled. The Georgian government sent its armed forces headed by V. Jugeli against the rebelled Ossetians. The first clash between Georgians government forces and Ossetians happened near a village of Koshki on May 15th 1920. With this regard Jatiev informed South Ossetian RevCom the following: “Three units of Mensheviks attacked our guard post near a village of Koshki.. Thus the Georgian government is violating part of Russia (!). We are asking you to inform authorities about this and that starting from today we are in a state of war”. Their patron and supporter – Soviet Russia was also informed about this…
Entry of Georgian army into the Tskhinvali region was responded by People’s Commissar of foreign affairs of the Russian government Chicherin with a protest note: “… we are concerned to learn that infantry troops had been sent to South Ossetia where soviet republic was declared with a goal to eliminate this government. If this is correct we firmly demand that you withdraw your troops from Ossetia as we believe that Ossetia should have whatever authority it wants to have. Interference of Georgia into affairs of Ossetia would be completely unjustifiable interference into affairs of foreign country”. And that was happening when Russia by the Russian-Georgian agreement of May 7th 1920 officially recognized the Democratic Republic of Georgia, its territorial integrity and undertook obligation of non-interference in internal affairs.
It is impossible to imagine greater cynicism! The reply of the Georgian authorities was sent to Chicherin on May 20th of the same year. The response stated: “The Georgian government is extremely surprised by the part of your letter that talks about intention of the Georgian government to suppress South Ossetian soviet republic with use of force. We felt obliged to pay our attention to a circumstance that there is no South Ossetia within the borders of Georgia. There are only Ossetian villages that are situated in the Gori district of Tbilisi province. These villages are indisputable Georgian territory… and that this territory according to the agreement is within the borders of Georgia and existence of other government other than that of the Democratic Republic of Georgia is unacceptable”.
At the same time, the rebellion was suppressed with great severity. Part of the Ossetian population, mainly those who were members of the Bolshevik party and participants of armed units, fled to North Ossetia. In this period Georgian public opinion was satisfied with steps taken by the government. Ertoba newspaper wrote: “we were always indulging residents of java but we never managed to win their hearts. They were always muttering, arranging rebellions against us… and Georgian troops were no longer able to take any more of this permanent treason and poured its anger on their heads”.
“This is the forth time when Ossetians treacherously rebelled against the democratic government of Georgia – wrote June 26th 1920 issue of Samuslimano Sakartvelo newspaper – Their rebellion always happens when Georgia is in a dire straits. And it was this misfortune when Ossetians tried to put a knife in the back of Georgian democracy. When Denikin was in charge in the North Caucasus they having acquired blessings from troops of Denikin invaded Tskhinvali. When Denikin was replaced by Bolsheviks they were engaged in robbery and attacks together with Bolsheviks. Ossetians who formerly served as tsarist officials now were trying their best to destroy the Democratic republic of Georgia. But Georgia always managed to fight back more dangerous enemies than Ossetians. It is notable that Georgia had already forgiven Ossetians three-times. When Ossetians saw force they pretended that they were sorry and were asking for forgiveness and the government of the democratic republic was nobly forgiving them. But treacherousness of Ossetians had no end. When Georgian troops were fighting off divisions of Bolsheviks that were coming from Azerbaijan Ossetians again put a knife into the Georgian republic. And Georgian troops then turned to Ossetians and put them in such a state that these Ossetians would never forget what their treacherousness brought on them. The Georgian troops cleansed Ossetians from treacherousness’ and captured mountainous passes. So Georgian troops are completely free right now and Georgia can redeploy these free troops wherever they are needed”.
Opposition parties also had positive attitude towards measures taken by the Georgian government. “Georgia is a democratic country. It will treat small nations with relevant respect but it will not open northern gates for anybody… This should be understood by everybody who supports declaration of the java gorge as a separate state” – wrote Sakhalkho Sakme newspaper.
We should say that a goal of Bolshevik organizers of the May-June 1920 rebellion of so-called South Ossetia was national self-determination of so-called South Ossetia, establishment of Soviet authority and incorporation of the mentioned territory into Russia. Moreover, they already considered “South Ossetia” as an integral part of Soviet Russia. They took arms in their hands to achieve their goals, asked for additional forces from other countries and practically declared a war against Georgia. How would any self-respecting independent country in this case? No doubt in the same way as it was done by the Democratic Republic of Georgia – would have defended its independence with arms in hand.
It is also worth attention that anti-Georgian movement of Ossetians was always linked with weakening of Georgia. During strong Georgia they were armed with complaisant and “adjusting” politics and were waiting for a suitable moment to thrust a sharp knife into the back of weakened Georgia. This was happening in the course of the entire period of the history. Unfortunately, Soviet historiography, as we mentioned above, used to hide all this and treacherous actions of Ossetians used to present in lighter forms and against the background of good-neighbourly relations between Georgians and Ossetians.
Such distortion of history not only did not benefit later process of development of normal relations between Georgians and Ossetians but it harmed it. Justice demands to note that in 1918-1920 – such small period of time – was marked with constant rebellions of Ossetians aimed at overthrowing the democratic Georgian government. Therefore it should not be surprising that those criminal acts were followed by juridically justified punitive measures of local authorities. It is confirmed by documental materials that these events were used by Georgian Bolsheviks for ideological work and declared national government of Georgia as enemies of Ossetian people and rebellions that were organized by Ossetians against local authorities as national-liberation movement of Ossetians. This agitation played a significant role in formation of hatred of Ossetian people towards local authorities which later turned into confrontation with Georgian people. Establishment of such damaging tendency was helped by unilateral and biased assessments of historical events. In 1918-1920 Bolshevik Russia who was still engaged in civil war could not render act ice support to separatists. It needed time and this time was approaching. Georgia was nearing to “fatal” February of 1921.
As it is known the main part in annexation of Georgia by Soviet Russia was played by the 11th Army. It is notable that part of the annexing army was so-called first revolutionary unit of Digorian Ossetians. The Ossetian unit which was headed by Etzeev first entered Georgian territory in 1919. Ossetians came to a village of Rekhvati of the Chiori community in Racha. The unit consisted of Ossetian communists: Dzandor, Simon and Daniel Takoevs, Butaev, Gardanti, Abaev, Kesaev, Bokukaev, Digurov and others. Despite the fact that they were hosted by similar-minded Georgian Bolsheviks Ossetians were compelled by their fear of authorities of democratic Georgia to return to their homeland in October of the same year.
In 1921 Ossetian unit took active part in annexation of Georgia. On March 10th 1921 fighters of the 98th rifle brigade of the Red Army and the first revolutionary unit of Digori captured Kutaisi after joint attack. The Georgian government that was sheltered there after they left Tbilisi had to leave for Batumi as soon as the Red Army appeared. Fighters of the 98th rifle brigade of the Red Army and the first revolutionary unit of Digori met in Kutaisi with units of the 9th and 11th Armies and together with them continued their march on Batumi and Sukhumi.
The abovementioned political situation was creating tensions between Georgians and Ossetians which later became one of the reasons for confrontation. Ossetians were capturing cattle that, in their opinion, that were left to Georgians after quelling the Ossetian rebellion of June 1920 and after the participants of rebellion left for North Ossetia seeking for shelter. In spring 1921 only in Tskhinvali up to 80 Georgian houses were burned down, furniture and harvest captured. 32 Georgians were killed. Some of them were burnt alive and many of them were beaten to death. Ossetians were raping women and children… residents of Georgian villages: Sveri, Kemerti, Mindiani, Katlani, Kasrani and Monasteri became refugees from February to April 1921 i.e. for the whole three months. “…We urge you – residents of the villages noted in their joint letter – to give us weapons in order to protect ourselves and return to our homes, or send us Georgian troops that would stand on the border as we are unable to live there any more as there are constant raids, they are taking whatever is left in our destroyed villages, are destroying our houses and are taking to Ossetians”.
It is notable that Georgians immediately blamed RevCom of Georgia for being passive and aggravating the situation: “… We hereby should say that probably this RevCom is also involved otherwise why are not they taking steps to stop this?” – were asking they and as it is mentioned above were asking to deploy Georgian army in the area, only Georgian army and not of any other “well-wishing” nations. Yes, they knew a price of such assistance. Here is what we read in this letter: “The army that is stationed now in Tskhinvali is troubling us. They are coming to our homes and bothering us. They are demanding food, cattle, are destroying harvest and vineyards and we do not sleep calmly at night. Raids always take place at night. At that we always keep cattle in our houses as we are afraid they would be taken away.. If we take them out to pastures they are coming and taking those as they are not afraid to do this”. A reader would understand which army is meant here. This is units of “liberation” Red Army that entered Tskhinvali region immediately after Sovietization. But then it is clear whose interests were they defending under the guise of “conciliatory judges”.
Such violence even more aggravated pain of Georgian people that was caused by the annexation of Georgia. In the beginning relations between Georgians and Ossetians became unmanageable. It became necessary to send special units from the capital. In opinion of Commissariat of Foreign Affairs it was necessary to take immediate measures, in particular, sending 200 policemen to villages around Tskhinvali region.
In March 1921, 18 armed Ossetian bandits attacked a village of Sveri and robbed Georgians. Twelve Russian soldiers of the 11th Army stationed in the village of Dzartsemi captured robbers but the latters were released by orders of the Ossetians RevCom. There were plenty of similar facts. Ossetians who killed Georgians were released in similar fashion. In May of the same year a certain Jatin Kokoev went from Gori district to Dusheti district with his 15 armed men, raided Georgian population and declared himself as a head of the Dusheti district. At the same time he forcefully removed and unauthorizedly removed from posts representatives of the local authorities and spread word that Dusheti district as well as other Georgian territories was handed over to North Ossetia
Strengthening of Ossetians and their becoming insolent was aided by the Georgian RevCom that at the session of March 13th 1921 determined to put aside one billion rubles and appropriate construction materials for restoration of so-called South Ossetia which according to the RevCom “was destroyed by the Menshevik troops during the rebellion”. It was the day when it was decided to create South Ossetian RevCom which would include only ethnic Ossetian representatives. And it was also decided to introduce a representative of Ossetians into the RevCom of the Gori district…
After this it was not accidental that in June 1922 an intense clash took place between Ossetians and Georgians. Ossetians authorities of “South Ossetia” were in every way harassing population of Georgian villages Dvani, Shindisi, Lower Kheta, Upper and lower Nikozi, Ditsi, Plavismani and Mereti. They were trying to take away arms from Georgian population in order to make it easier for Ossetian extremists to deal with local population. We should mention here that only in 1922 damage that Ossetians did to Georgian population of the Tskhinvali district amounted to two billion twenty seven million four hundred thousand rubles (at the rate of the time). It is important to mention that we are talking about just 87 Georgian families.
Ossetians from a village of Tedereti were attacking population of the village of Perevi of the Chala community in Sachkhere district with animal brutality. They were robbing Georgians and were not letting them live peacefully. The situation was becoming tense. A big bloody confrontation was expected between Ossetians and Georgians.
On night of May 9th 1923 a group of armed Ossetians attacked the village of Kudaro (Java district in the Gori region). They abducted cattle and other assets. Five Georgian policemen followed and caught up with them in the village of Kotinako of the Java district. Shooting happened between Ossetians and the Georgian police that lasted for two and a half hours. This situation was calmly observed by local police and executive committee of the Ossetian community but they rendered no assistance to Georgians in arresting the robbers. Practically Ossetian party officials were supporting Ossetian population in robbing Georgian villages.
After the defeat in August 1924 the rebellion Ossetians that were dressed in uniforms of the Red Army burnt villages of Khevsureti region, they tied to a post 80 year-old Khevisberi (elder) and Gaga Gogochuri only because that they gave shelter to Kakutsa Cholokashvili.
Ossetians were also opposed ethnic minorities living in Georgia. For example, Ossetians citizens, even workers of law enforcement agencies, maltreated Tskhinvali Jews. There were cases that Ossetians bakers did not even sell bread to Jews. In 1929 lands were taken away from Jewish population absolutely unlawfully. Their relations became very strained and grew into hostility.
After the beginning of so-called Perestroika in the Soviet Union one of the strong factors for aggravation of relations between peoples became the politics of the centre of setting soviet republics and their autonomies against each other by recognizing the latters as units of the union. It was done under the pretext of taking care of small nations and without taking into account what real ground were there for this in an autonomy.
In the beginning of 1990 situation became especially tense in Shida Kartli and it reached a critical stage. Insolent Ossetian extremists were carrying out the horrible actions against Georgian population (verbal abuse, rape, shooting, killing, banditism). On January 3rd during one of the raids on Georgian villages Ossetians committed unbelievable crime in the village of Prisi they killed nine months-old baby with a gun. On January 4th large representation – around 150 men, women, young and old – from villages Prisi, Eredvi, Kurta, Kemerti and others went to Tbilisi in search of justice. At the meeting with the media villagers of Shida Kartli recounted about hard times for Georgians: that Ossetian policemen participated in attacks against Georgians; Georgians were afraid to go to Tskhinvali; People were unable to get products from there as everything was going to Ossetian villages; Georgians there would have died of hunger if not for the help from Gori district; Ossetians armed with guns and machineguns were roaming around Georgian villages in groups. In the beginning of January Kekhvi, Kurta, Dzartsemi and other Georgian villages were almost under the siege.
During the period of preparation for the elections separatist movement intensified even more in the Ossetian population of Shida Kartli. Extremist leaders of Adamon Nikhas being instigated by Russian reactionary circles were intensifying anti-Georgian agitation and were demanding turning district into republic. They were openly supported by the central soviet media that were painting Ossetians as “an oppressed side”. As to extremist organization Adamon Nikhas it was first formed in 1979 in the form of an informal organization. Its activities became especially active after the opening of the Roki tunnel in winter 1986 when communication with North Ossetia became easier. An issue of joining of “two Ossetia” was again put on the agenda. It was already symptomatic that Georgians inscriptions were being erased one after another, especially in the Java district.
In the beginning of 1988 one part of Ossetian intelligentsia (Chichoev, Tskhovrebov, Abaeva, Jigaev and others) started to really organize informal politicized movement Adamon Nikhas. This process was headed by Alan Chochiev and the organization at the time already was raising demands that are so well known to all of us. In June 1989 Adamon Nikhas managed to significantly increase its provocative actions for destabilization of the situation. According to 1988 data it was thanks to this informal chauvinistic organization that 85 members out of total 140 members f the bureaucratic apparatus of the political leadership of the former district was ethnic Ossetians , only 34 were Georgians while out of 227 members of the executive authorities176 were Ossetians and 43 were only Georgians.
Interesting to note that leading posts often were given to those Georgians that were not known for their high moral principles and national pride and who were just executors of the will of others. Such persons often used to unlawfully make decisions with regards to Georgians in order to please Ossetian leadership. Intellectual core of Ossetian population were those who were educated in Russian-Ossetian bilingualism and that conditioned orientation of significant part of Ossetian population towards North Ossetia as an integral part of the Russian state.
On December 23rd, 1989 one of the ideologists of this organization, corresponding member of the Georgian Academy of Science Napi Jusoiti who before that had been acting in disguise, announced at the second session of people’s deputies in Moscow that Georgians were harassing Ossetians and himself just managed to escape from Tskhinvali. This was categorically denied by Interior Minister of the USSR Bakatin himself who said that according to operational data no such cases were ever recorded. Bakatin voiced what was indeed true. After December 23rd soon the situation in “South Ossetia” became significantly tenser. It should be also noted that majority of writers and scientific workers in Tskhinvali region were members of the anti-Georgian organization Adamon Nikhas.
Together with the collapse of the Soviet Union and approaching restoration of long-wished sovereignty separatists of the South Ossetian Autonomous District who were governed from the Kremlin again betrayed Georgian under the pretext of “staying in the brotherly family of the Soviet people”. On September 20th at the XIV session of the XX call of the Congress of People’s Deputies of South Ossetia they approved an anti-constitutional declaration on transformation of “South Ossetian Autonomous District” into South Ossetians Soviet Democratic Republic which was annulled on September 21st by the session of the supreme council of the Georgian republic. But on October 16th of the same year XV session of the XX call of the local soviet once again confirmed non-changeability of its unlawful decision. It also elected executive committee of the “republic”, passed temporary election terms and formed a central election committee after which on December 9th 1990 it conducted “elections of the supreme council of South Ossetian democratic republic”. And on December 11th it organized a session of “the supreme council”. In response, on the same day December 11th the Supreme Council of the Georgian republic passed a law on abolition of self-declared South Ossetian unit and that was followed by bloody anti-Georgian incidents in Tskhinvali (December 12th 1990).
On March 7th 1991, at eight in the morning an armed group of 100 Ossetians attacked Georgian villages of the Tskhinvali district – Upper Achabeti and Monasteri. Bandits fired rockets, bombs and bullets at civilian population. They killed local resident Tariel Khetagashvili. Their attack continued till 12 pm and was stopped only by efforts of Georgian police and village residents. One rocket, self-made rocket launchers and rifles were found on the place of the attack of the Ossetian extremists.
All this was followed by long conflict between Georgians and Ossetians that did not seize even after the restoration of Georgian independence (April 9, 1991) and the collapse of the Soviet Union (December 1991) and it still continues …