Published by ‘SOVIET ANALYST’
(Editor and Publisher Christopher Story), Vol. 21, N. 9-10, 1993:
‘Zviad Gamsakhurdia, the Legally Elected and Legitimate President of Georgia,
Describes the Evil Revenge of KGB & the Nomenklatura’
Preface of ‘Soviet Analyst’
In the following exclusive dispatch to SOVIET ANALYST, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, the freely elected and legitimate President of Georgia, explains how the long arm of Moscow intervened in the affairs of Georgia and prevented the realization of the people’s wish to be fully politically independent. He describes in anguished detail how this plot was implemented, and the key role played in it by Eduard Shevardnadze, in response to the requirements of Yevgeniy Pnimakov, head of the so-called Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, a manifestation of the KGB. The first sentence of this remarkable report is of exceptional importance to understanding events in Georgia, and also more broadly throughout the USSR. Gamsakhurdia writes: ‘From 1987 onwards, through out the Soviet Union, ‘democratic’ and national liberation movements were activated’. The last two words reveal that, as Anatoliy Golitsin has explained in this service and in unpublished Memoranda seen by the Editor of this service, the ‘democratic’ and national liberation movements were not spontaneous, but controlled – via the Komsomol and the KGB – by the Soviet authorities. At least, that was the intention. In two of the Soviet Republics – Lithuania and Georgia – there rose to positions of leadership genuine anti-Communists and patriots. In both countries, the Communist/Nomenklatura networks have been restored. The West has cynically collaborated with Moscow in confining Georgia’s fate, to which this issue is specially devoted.
National liberation movement, ‘liberalization’ and ‘perestroika’
From 1987 onwards, throughout the Soviet Union, ‘democratic’ and national liberation movements were activated. The rulers of the USSR, realizing the impossibility of continuing with the Cold War, yet not deviating from their intention to retain their Communist Empire, embarked upon a period of apparent changes and ‘liberalization’ under the label ‘perestroika’.
Simultaneously, despite the freeing of political prisoners, they continued their bloody repressions against the national liberation movements, especially in Vilnius, Tbilisi, Baku and in other centers. But in the face of the pressure exerted by the peoples’ will and by world public opinion, they were forced to permit non-Communist elections to take place in certain Republics – a step which led to Declarations of Independence by these Republics and subsequently to the total disintegration of the USSR.
In Georgia, the national liberation and democratic movement achieved its ultimate triumph on 28th October 1990, when the country’s first multi-party democratic elections were held. This was truly a bloodless revolution – in which Communists were obliged to hand power over to the democratically elected Parliament and Government. For the first time in 70 years, Georgia began to enjoy all the normal democratic freedom – a free press, political freedom, and religious freedom.
It is a serious error to imagine, as some still do, that the Soviet Government based in the Kremlin, and their local Communist associates, surrendered in Tbilisi without a struggle. Following the drastic, punitive measures of repression they had taken on 9th April 1989 against the national movement, they realized that their efforts had been in vain; so they lost no time in organizing a fake opposition – buttressed by powerful groups of armed criminals (the so called ‘Mkhedrioni’ gangs) which had been legalized by the Communists for emergency use.
They ‘legitimized’ this opposition by means of the creation of a so-called ‘ national congress’, the members of which were ‘elected’ by means of false elections, and which was brought into existence for the sole purpose of replacing the true opposition, conducting political warfare, and committing acts of terrorism against the true national movement. In parallel with these measures, the Communists activated criminal extremists in so-called ‘South Ossetia’, who embarked upon a campaign of repression and terrorism against the local Georgian population, ruled directly from Moscow by the KGB and the Politburo.
By activating these forces, the Communists’ intention had been to prevent truly democratic elections taking place in Georgia. However a combination of civil disobedience, mass popular demonstrations, protest actions by students and, finally a railway strike, compelled the Communist authorities to permit proper elections, in which the Communist Party participated.
Following the defeat of the Communists’ cynical efforts to prevent elections taking place, the Communists suffered a humiliating defeat in the elections themselves, which were overwhelmingly won by State the ‘Round Table/Free Georgia’ grouping under my leadership. Faced with this outcome, the Moscow-based Communists and their associates in Tbilisi immediately set about preparing to reverse the course of events, enlisting the assistance of the mass media for this purpose.
With effect from the very day of my election as Speaker of the Georgian Parliament on 14th November 1990, groups of criminal ‘Mkhedrioni’ gangs embarked upon a campaign of attacks on police stations and atrocities all over Georgia, while the fake ‘national congress’ tried to organize acts of protest against my legally elected Government. In Moscow, a group led by Shevardnadze, Popkhadse, Mgeladse and other renegade Communists formed a special staff dedicated to the task of overthrowing the legally elected, legitimate Government of Georgia – organizing for the purpose an unprecedented propaganda campaign directed from Moscow and carried throughout the entire world for the purpose of discrediting it.
The US Administration generally – and the US President, George Bush, and his Secretary of State, James Baker, with whom Shevardnadze had direct relationships, personally- strongly supported this cynical disinformation campaign against the legally elected authorities of Georgia, which had every intention of seceding from the Soviet Union and had as its main objective the establishment of an independent democratic state.
For its part, the Western mass media repeated in full the elaborate lies of Soviet propaganda – including the propagation of an image of myself as a cruel dictator of Georgia, a kind of Saddam Hussein of the Caucasus, who was engaged in the outright suppression of all personal freedoms, the arrest of political opponents, the wholesale violation of human rights, the oppression of national minorities, and the waging of ‘fascist war’ against them under the slogan ‘Georgia for the Georgians’.
The reality was the exact opposite of the evil picture painted by this Soviet propaganda. A total of 25 newspapers in Georgia systematically criticized and slandered the President and Parliament, an activity for which they were not persecuted (unlike the treatment they would have received under the Communists). The so-called ‘opposition’ was granted an ‘alternative hour’ on State Television, and my Government even offered these people the possibility of opening an independent TV channel. Since absolute political freedom was permitted under my leadership, parties and organizations which professed hostility to the Government were allowed to hold their incessant demonstrations and protest rallies, supported by their own newspapers and armed groups.
People were arrested while I was in power only for specific crimes and violence, not for their political views or for propaganda purposes. My Government insisted at all times upon the rights of the national minorities in Georgia being considered equal to those of the Georgian population. As for the abolition of South Ossetia’s so-called autonomy, this was brought about by the Parliament of South Ossetia itself, which proclaimed the establishment of an independent Republic; and the relevant decree promulgated by the Georgian Parliament merely recognized this fact. The violence and disorder which followed in South Ossetia was provoked by extremist forces directed from Moscow. The political slogan ‘Georgia for the Georgians’ was never proclaimed by me at all: it was a cynical invention of Moscow’s propaganda machine.
Referendum on independence and Presidential elections
A referendum on Georgian independence was held on 31st March 1991, at which more than 90% of the population voted for political secession and independence. Following this result, the Georgian Supreme Council in Tbilisi proclaimed Georgia’s independence on 9th April 1991. On 26th May, Georgia held its first presidential elections, and I was elected Georgia’s first President.
Shortly after my election, a total political and economic blockade on Georgia was enforced, while every conceivable destructive measure was taken against the legally elected Georgian Government. Despite our Declaration of Independence, Gorbachev invited me to Novo-Ogarevo to sign the Union Treaty. It was following my explicit refusal to do so, that the Kremlin elaborated a concrete plan to overthrow Georgia’s constitutional Government.
President Bush contributed personally to this persecution of Georgia when he visited the Soviet Union in the summer of 1991 and persuaded Ukraine to stay within the USSR – denouncing me as a ‘man who has been swimming against the tide’. Subsequently, his Secretary of State, James Baker, announced the existence of an authoritarian regime in Georgia that would never receive any assistance from the US Administration. This statement was the signal for the armed ‘opposition’ to begin its lethal activity. As a Member of the Parliament, Mr. J. Afanasieff, has recently stated, Gorbachev and Shevardnadze diverted 65 million pre-hyper-inflation rubles for the purpose of financing the coup d’etat in Georgia.
Certain members of the legally elected Georgian Government, and also of the Parliament, who maintained dose contact with Shevardnadze in Moscow, took part in this conspiracy against the Georgian authorities. I refer in particular to the Prime Minister, T. Sigua, and to the Chief of the National Guard, T. Kitovani; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, G. Khostaria; the Speaker of the Parliament, A. Asiatiani; and V. Adamia, N. Natadse, and T. Paatashvili, Members of Parliament, together with others.
Sigua and Kitovani led an agitation campaign within the national guard, which had in fact been set up under my direction, seeking to persuade its members that I had supported the ‘August coup’ in Moscow. One of the methods they used was to state that I had supported Yanayev [Janaev], and to promise to show members of the National Guard some documents to prove it, resulting from the interrogation of Yanayev. None of these documents have been forthcoming to this day.
The charge was ludicrous because in fact I was the first President to appeal to Western countries on the second day of the Moscow ‘coup’ (20th August), to recognize that all elected presidents and parliaments in the region must be supported. I added that the organizers of the putsch represented ‘reactionary forces’. My appeal was published in the Russian-language Tbilisi newspaper ‘Swobodnaya Grusia’, and was transmitted to news agencies world-wide.
Another technique used to win over the support of the National Guard was to persuade young, in-experienced recruits that I was planning to dismantle and disarm the National Guard (despite the fact that I had caused it to be established), basing this lie upon a decree I had issued, in which I had laid down that the National Guard was subordinate to the Interior Ministry of which it formed a part, and that this arrangement was necessary in order to protect the National Guard from Moscow’s machinations.
By such unworthy means, the Moscow- directed plotters succeeded in enticing onto their side a significant proportion of the National Guard – establishing a new military camp on the outskirts of Tbilisi. This camp was hostile to me personally and to the Parliament, and became a base for disparate members of the so-called ‘opposition’, including specially released criminals, drug addicts and black marketers. These groups received financing from Moscow and the local Mafia. The Transcaucasian Military District of the Soviet Army (ZAKWO) supplied these formations with arms and armored vehicles, communications equipment, and military instructors.
The Moscow-directed ‘opposition’ to Georgia’s legitimate Government, the Parliament and my Presidency, also received strong support from the Communist intelligentsia, which had enjoyed exceptional privileges under Soviet Communism, and the members of which had lost those privileges following the democratic revolution in Georgia, and were dreaming about a return to the years of rule by Shevardnadze.
Among the most shameless lies put about by the Moscow propagandists at that time was an accusation that I was seeking to isolate Georgia along Albanian lines – whereas of course the truth of the matter was that the authorities in Moscow had isolated Georgia through their own deliberate actions, slandering Georgia as a ‘fascist state’ groaning under ‘totalitarian rule’. The upheavals and disorders in the country were so grave that I had been prevented from traveling to Western countries.
For instance, I had been unable to fulfill my plans to travel to Davos, Switzerland, in January, to visit Denmark in September in response to an invitation from the Danish Parliament, or to address the American Congress in response to its invitation. My inability to take up these invitations was falsely presented to the world as confirmation of my isolationist intentions, and thus proof of my ‘anti-European’ and ‘anti-American’ policies.
With effect from September, this coalition of officials who had defected, criminal and Mafia elements, and the so-called ‘street opposition’, were sufficiently organized to be able to intensify their campaign against the Government – demanding the resignation of the President, the creation of a new ‘coalition government’, and fresh parliamentary elections. On several occasions, these elements attacked the Parliament building, causing bloody incidents and disorder. They occupied the national television building and attacked the central electricity generating station in Tbilisi. I addressed the armed opposition on several occasions, calling for political dialogue – but without any result.
Following the collapse of Gorbachev’s Novo-Ogarevo process, and recognizing the inevitability of the Soviet Union’s disintegration, the Soviet leadership decided to create a new Empire model, the so-called C.I.S., which was to be established at a meeting planned for 21st December 1991 in Alma-Ata, when the leaders of the Soviet Republics were to sign an agreement establishing the new political entity. My refusal to attend this meeting was the development which triggered Moscow’s decision to overthrow Georgia’s legally elected Government. And no time was lost.
On that very day, 21st December, when the attention of the world was focused on the meeting in Alma-Ata, rallies began outside Tbilisi’s Parliament building. One rally was attended by supporters of the legal Government, and another consisted of the armed so-called ‘opposition’, infiltrated by officers of the Russian Army. Armored cars and military vehicles appeared on the streets. The anti-government forces began to shoot at unarmed supporters of my Presidency, and several people were killed.
Thus the ‘opposition’ had embarked upon the final phase of its agitation to overthrow ‘dictatorship’ and to establish ‘democracy’ by violence, in accordance with the well-known prescription of Lenin. By means of this deceptive plan, supported by Moscow and the Soviet military, a group of putschists, led by the former Soviet Foreign Minister, KGB-General Shevardnadze, set out to overthrow Georgia’s legal government, and to usurp power in Tbilisi. I openly and repeatedly warned the Georgian people and the world’s governments about this dangerous intention, but unfortunately my warnings went unheeded.
On the following day, 22nd December 199l, the so-called ‘opposition’ occupied the Hotel ‘Tbi1isi’ and the Kashweti church in front of the Parliament building, and started shooting and bombing Parliament using artillery, missiles and snipers on the roofs of nearby buildings. The Parliament building was defended by elements of the National Guard who had not been deceived by Shevardnadze and his associates, and remained loyal to the President, but who lacked artillery, missiles, or heavy armour. In the course of their attack on the Parliament complex, the putschists burned down and destroyed all the surrounding buildings – including the Art Gallery, the Painting School, the City’s leading college (formerly the aristocrats’ gymnasium), and other establishments.
The City’s central Rustaveli Avenue was reduced to ruins. My own house, where my wife and two children lived, was surrounded and bombed. Attempts were made to seize my family as hostages, but they were saved by members of the National Guard, by now called the President’s Guard, and conveyed by armored car to the Parliament building. After they left, my house was stripped bare by criminal elements, no doubt with ‘opposition’ consent, and burned to the ground.
The siege of Tbilisi’s Parliament building which continued for 16 days, was noteworthy for inhumanity and barbarism. Snipers shot anyone approaching the building, including the vehicles of First Aid workers, and fire engines which were therefore unable to quench the fires. Many houses were razed to the ground, and hundreds of people were left homeless. People who had been defending the Parliament building were killed in cold blood in Tbilisi’s hospitals by members of the ‘opposition’, these putschists fighting for ‘democracy’.
At the end of December, the Russian Armed Forces reinforced the armed ‘opposition’. After the Presidential Guard had managed to burn several armored vehicles and tanks operated by the ‘opposition’, new vehicles suddenly appeared. Their main base, the Institute of Marxism-Leninism, was heavily re-supplied by lorries, loaded with arms and ammunition. The accuracy with which shells, mortars and missiles were used was so great, that there can be no doubt that Soviet military specialists participated with the ‘opposition’ putschists. Moreover, drivers and troops from the Soviet Army were found dead in some of the armored vehicles which the Parliament’s defenders had managed to hit.
On 27th December 1991, members of the Presidential Guard who were defending the television station under the command of B. Kutateladse, betrayed the President and yielded the television tower to the ‘opposition’. On 2nd January 1992, these forces formed a ‘Military council’ and a ‘Provisional Government’, consisting of T. Sigua, T. Kitovani and D. Ioseliani – who was freed from jail for the purpose and linked up with the putchists and his former criminal associates. In parallel with these developments and Ioseliani’s release, about 4,000 convicted criminals were also released from the prisons, given arms, and instructed to join the ‘army of fighters for democracy’.
Recognizing that this war against the putschists, blatantly supported by the Soviet military, could not fail to result in further bloodshed, and might end up totally destroying our capital city, I and a group of my armed supporters left the Parliament building on 6th January 1992 under a hail of bullets. We traveled first to Azerbaijan, then on to Armenia, and finally to the Chechen Republic, where the President, Dshohar Dudaev, gave us temporary shelter. From Grozny, the capital of the Chechen Republic, I disseminated the following appeal to the United Nations and to all peoples and governments of the world:
Appeal to the peoples and the
governments of the World.
To all peoples of goodwill.
To the United Nations
‘I, popularly elected president of the Republic of Georgia, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, address all the people who value the ideals of democracy, human rights and freedoms and are not indifferent to the fate of the whole nation, which became a victim of a major disaster.
In Georgia in January 1992, the military junta of political adventurers and the local Mafia carried out a coup d’etat in Tbilisi, having forcibly usurped power and started a war against the constitutionally elected government and the President, which led to the deaths of hundreds of people. The capital Tbilisi was partially burned down and historic monuments were destroyed on the main avenue of the city.
In order to put an end to bloodshed, I, the President of the Republic of Georgia, left Tbilisi together with the members of my family, who also were under the threat of physical extermination. The putschists burned down the Parliament building, looted my house, which at the same time is a memorial estate of my father – the well-known Georgian writer Konstantine Gamsakhurdia.
The junta formed a self-appointed government and is committing unspeakable crimes against the people who put up resistance to lawlessness and tyranny. They systematically shoot at peaceful rallies, arresting innocent people including MPs. Their armed forces rob and terrorize citizens. The people have launched a campaign of civil disobedience. Strikes are being carried out at the enterprises, railways and ports. The country’s energy and food crisis has reached alarming proportions.
I appeal to the United Nations, to the peoples and governments of the whole world, to issue a denunciation of the gross violations of human rights [committed] in Georgia by the junta, to demand the restoration of the constitutionally elected government and also to offer the Georgian people all the help they need to recover from this disaster, caused by the adventurous actions of the military junta’.
President of the republic of Georgia,
Georgia, 27th january 1992.
But regrettably, bloodshed continued in Tbilisi and all over Georgia. After seizing power on 6th January 1992, the junta embarked upon systematic repression and a reign of terror, executing supporters of the legally chosen President, killing several hundred of them in Tbilisi alone, and in the countryside to the west of the capital. Near the village of Ninotsminda (Agaiani), murderous gangs were permitted to rob and kill people engaged in peaceful protests in support of my Government. In Tbilisi, hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated, protesting against the banning of the legally elected President and Parliament; and similar scenes were repeated in other towns throughout the country. During these manifestations, about a hundred of my supporters were assassinated, and many hundreds were wounded and detained.
It was always clear that the bulk of the forces of the armed so-called ‘opposition’ consisted of criminal elements – a fact which was even admitted by the junta’s self-appointed so-called Prosecutor General, Vakhtang Rasmadse. His admission appeared later in the newspaper ‘Sakartvelos Respublika’ dated 25th February 1992.
Thus the notorious gangster Dzhaba Ioseliani, who had been convicted on several counts of murder, robbery and for other crimes, was suddenly elevated to membership of the new self-appointed ‘government’. Tengiz Kitovani, another member of the junta, has several past convictions for various offenses committed under Communism. Ioseliani openly authorized, on television, all the atrocities being committed by his controlled gangs of thugs, and threatened all attending demonstrations and protest meetings with shooting and other forms of execution. The influence of this criminal junta on young people is deeply corrupting, given its repulsive use of money, drugs and weapons as enticements.
By day, the junta attacks peaceful protest demonstrations, and by night it terrorizes and robs the population. It imposed a State of Emergency and curfews in Tbilisi and in Georgia’s five other main cities, in violation of Article 4 of the Georgian Constitution, which lays down that only the legitimately elected Government and Parliament have the right to announce a State of Emergency.
Later on the illegal junta and its forces commenced punitive operations in various cities and towns, where the protest movement against the overthrow of the legal Government has continued. Many reports, published in unofficial Georgian newspapers such as ‘Kartuli Azri’, ‘Agdgoma’ and ‘Sakartvelos tsis kvesh’, have described acts of ruthless terror and barbarian behavior committed by the illegal junta’s forces.
In Easter Georgia, demonstrations and protests took place in Gurdshaani, Telavi, Akhmeta and Kareli. However, after punitive operations conducted by the junta’s forces, these demonstrations ceased. By contrast, in western Georgia, where the junta was able to deploy fewer forces, active resistance has continued to this day.
The junta’s version of events is that because I am a west Georgian, the people in that part of the country support me more than they do elsewhere. In reality, the electorate in both western and eastern Georgia cast their votes for me in equal proportions; and I received particularly strong support from Georgians in Sagaredsho (‘South Ossetia’), Kartli, Kakheti, Meskheti, etc.
The actual reason for the imbalance in the protest movement is the imperfect distribution of the junta’s forces of repression, which are mainly concentrated in Tbilisi, Sagaredsho and in other regions of Kakheti, which they are able to control the most effectively. But the junta has launched several punitive expeditions into west Georgia, against the ‘disobedient’ populations in the towns of Zugdidi, Tsalendzhikha, Senaki, Martvili, and Khobi. Intelligence concerning the resulting brutalities, vandalism, terror, robbery and violence, and about the hundreds of victims among the peaceful populations in those locations, was published in the news- paper ‘Sakartvelos tsis kvesh’ (which means ‘Under the Sky of Georgia’), issue number 37, dated 16th August 1992, printed in the Chechen Republic.
In February 1992, the former US Secretary of State, Mr. James A Baker, visited Moscow and met Shevardnadze and the head of the so-called ‘Provisional Government’ of Georgia, T. Sigua. The unofficial meetings and negotiations which then took place prepared the ground for the return of Shevardnadze, the former hated Communist dictator of Georgia, to Tbilisi for the stated purpose of guaranteeing ‘political and economic stabilization, peace and democratic elections’. During his visit to Tbilisi, I sent a telegram of protest to Secretary of State Baker in the following terms:
‘I express my protest against your intention to visit Georgia, which means support of the most illegal, anti-democratic, criminal and terrorist regime in the world, which has overthrown the legal authorities [who were] elected by the people, which wages war against its own people, rudely violates human rights and fundamental freedoms, chastening and shooting at peaceful meetings and demonstrations, has imposed a monopoly over the entire mass media, and collaborates with and stimulates the activities of, the underworld and the Mafia.
In seven towns and cities of Georgia including Tbilisi, there is still a curfew. Real power is in the hands of the notorious criminal and gangster Ioseliani. The criminal junta misappropriates all humanitarian aid received from the West and resells it on the black market at sky-high prices, while the people receive nothing. The economic situation is catastrophic; hunger, chaos and total destabilization are increasing; there is a great lack of foodstuffs and medicines; many people are dying of hunger and various diseases every day, especially old people and children.
Shevardnadze is reviving Stalinism in Georgia, has begun mass repressions and tortures; innocent citizens are arrested every day in large numbers because of their part in organizing protest actions; meetings, demonstrations, hunger strikes, strikes and protests are prohibited; and there is strict censorship throughout the country.
In such a situation, all possibility of free and honest elections is excluded. The situation [prevailing] in Georgia will soon come to resemble that in Somalia and Ethiopia. The United States’ Government’s actions in supporting this criminal totalitarian regime and establishing diplomatic relations with it, amount to a rude violation of all the democratic principles upon which American society is based, a violation of the [principles of the Helsinki Final Act, of the Charter of Paris, and of international law – a state of affairs which has induced indignation among the Georgian people, which is aware of the United States’ positions vis-?is Cuba, Venezuela and Haiti.
As a result [of the position adopted by the United States], anti-American feelings are increasing. I demand from the US Administration that it should cease its [open] support of state terrorism in Georgia, and that it should establish contacts only with the legal authorities of Georgia, who are now in exile’.
It was not long before Shevardnadze himself arrived at Tbilisi airport, where he was met by a group of ‘Mkhedrioni’ gangsters, militiamen and some Nomenklatura intellectuals – his supporters. He saluted these intellectuals from the Nomenklatura, “who had taken up arms and fought for the establishment of ‘democracy'”. Then he went first to the Sioni church, simulating piety, where he was welcomed by the local ‘Patriarch’, a long-term agent of the KGB, before proceeding to ‘Government House’, where he was there and then ‘elected’ as head of the new anti-constitutional body – the so-called ‘State Council’, which was in fact the same as the Military Council, but broadened and disguised.
Following his arrival on the scene, Shevardnadze presided over increased mass repression and a heightened reign of terror against his innumerable political opponents, who had continued to hold meetings and demonstrations, now against his arrival and his blatant usurpation of power. Punitive operations were carried out and repeated several times in western Georgia, with greater brutality and ruthlessness than before. Meanwhile the scale of assistance to the junta and its terrorist formations provided by the Russian military was stepped up, with supplies of armaments, technological equipment for warfare, and specialists.
Soon after Shevardnadze’s arrival in Tbilisi, his gangs again attacked, robbed and burned my home at 19, Gali Street, which also served, as I have mentioned, as a memorial and museum to the memory of my father, the well-known writer Konstantine Gamsakhurdia. My house remains a burnt-out ruin to this day, in exactly the same condition as after these attacks, in spite of public remarks by Shevardnadze about his ‘friendship’ with Konstantine Gamsakhurdia. To make matters even worse, my house has been repeatedly defiled by members of the junta’s mobs.
Western politicians, and most of the mass media in the West, kept silent about the reign of terror, the repression and the barbarian vandalism unleashed in Georgia following the illegal seizure of power by the junta. The exceptions were the press in Finland and newspapers in Switzerland, which described the truth about the newly installed terror regime and the crimes it was committing. The United Nations, the CSCE, the Red Cross and most human rights organizations refused to investigate the facts about state terrorism and the human rights violations being suffered by the Georgian people – the exceptions here being IGFM, the International Society of Human Rights (based in Frankfurt), and the Finnish Helsinki Group. Both of these organizations manifested deep concern about these tragic events in Georgia.
Western cynicism and hypocrisy reached unheard-of levels with the further visit paid by Mr. James Baker to Georgia, on the anniversary of our independence, 26th May 1992. While Mr. Baker congratulated Shevardnadze and his boorish supporters gathered in the Square of the Republic in front of the Hotel ‘Iveria’, and spoke about democracy, about 200 meters from where Mr. Baker was speaking, a large force of ‘Mkhedrioni’ chastisers and police with dogs were busily engaged in dispersing another meeting of my supporters, shooting at the crowd, and beating people without mercy. Baker overheard this shooting in the streets, but made no comment, carrying on with his speech.
The CSCE’s biannual summit meeting took place in Helsinki in early July. As the President of Georgia, and founder of the first Helsinki Group in 1975, I was invited to attend by the Georgia group in the Finnish Parliament. Mr. Heikki Riihijavi, the leader of that group, made three unsuccessful applications to the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in an attempt to obtain a visa for me to attend the CSCE Summit. The Ministry informed Mr. Riihijavi and the Chairman of the Finland-Georgia Society, Mrs. Aila Niinimaa-Keppo, that I would only be allowed to arrive in Finland after the conclusion of the Helsinki Summit. No explanation was given to the Finnish Parliamentary Group concerning this delay to my visit; and nor was any explanation forthcoming about the fact that members of the ‘Mkhedrioni’ gangster formations and officers from the KGB were allowed to enter Finland, whereas I was not.
Faced with this situation, Mr. Riihijavi complained, with justification [see ABN Correspondence, May-June 1992, Number 3, Volume XLIII]:
‘This goes against the rules of the CSCE, which is based upon respect for legality, democracy and access to information and freedom to travel within the territories of the CSCE member states. How can the CSCE stop Gamsakhurdia from coming to Finland, while heartily welcoming Shevardnadze, who was involved in last year’s putch and who masterminded the illegal takeover in Georgia? The CSCE was meant to protect nations against criminal leaders like Shevardnadze’.
I sent a similar letter of protest directly to the CSCE, but without any result. Meanwhile, Shevardnadze had taken part in the Helsinki Summit as a messenger of peace and democracy. By this illegal behavior, the CSCE violated its very own document, drawn up at the Moscow meeting of the participating states at their meeting lasting between 10th September and 4th October 1991. Specifically, the CSCE violated Article 17.2 of that document, which declares:
‘If in any participating state an attempt is made to overthrow, or the overthrow takes place of, the democratically elected government by undemocratic methods, the participating states will support the legal bodies of the state concerned, in accordance with the United Nations Charter’.
In Georgia’s case, this solemn stipulation was reversed. After receiving the blessing and approval of the CSCE – amounting, as one Finnish newspaper put it, to ‘a license to kill’ – Shevardnadze’s bloody regime redoubled the intensity of its reign of terror all over Georgia. It did so, too, in the knowledge that it had the tacit support of the United Nations, as well as of the CSCE. Faced with this further onslaught, people in western Georgia have organized themselves to conduct guerrilla warfare against the marauding gangs and formations dispatched by the junta, which have been invading towns and villages. Many partisans have been tortured and executed by Shevardnadze’s junta.
As reported by SOVIET ANALYST, on 24th June 1992, Shevardnadze’s secret services feigned a ‘coup attempt’, when some of my unarmed supporters were lured into the TV building by officers from the Ministry of Interior’s troops, with the promise of an opportunity to broadcast their appeals to the Georgian people, without charge. When they accepted this offer, they were arrested and tortured. Shevardnadze’s junta announced that an ‘unsuccessful coup d’etat had taken place; and to dramatize the situation, provocateurs under the control of Ioseliani carried out terrorist atrocities, in the course of which several people were killed. The provocateurs then ‘confessed’ on television that they had received instructions from myself to commit these acts of terrorism. In response to this episode, I sent a telegram to Shevardnadze, in which I accused him of trying to discredit me using the methods of Stalin and Beriya.
War in Abkhazia
Turning now to Shevardnadze’s policy concerning national minorities. In his propaganda, Shevardnadze accused me of being a ‘fascist’, a ‘nationalist’ and an ‘enemy of the national minorities’. Now, however, he is visiting upon them direct violence and genocide – depriving them not merely of their autonomy, but also of even the right to live and exist. On 11th August 1992, troops of the ‘State Council’ embarked upon an extensive punitive campaign in the Abkhazian Autonomous Republic. Shevardnadze and his ‘State Council’ insisted that this invasion was necessary for the purpose of sustaining public order in this region, especially along railway lines. But the fact is that, following this invasion, the region has experienced, and continues to suffer, wholesale public disorder, anarchy, genocide, and total destruction and burning of entire towns and villages. In reality, Shevardnadze’s objective was to overthrow the authorities in the Autonomous Republic.
What irritated Shevardnadze was that the authorities of this Autonomous Republic had not been persecuting my supporters, and had refused to introduce totalitarian rule, as practiced by the junta, in Abkhazia. There had been no reign of terror or repression of my supporters in Abkhazia, where the people had continued to enjoy political freedom, were able to publish their own newspaper ‘Agdgoma’, and were free to speak out on local television.
It is evident that the main purpose of the Abkhazian war is to establish in this region Shevardnadze’s dictatorship and the rule of his junta and Mafia. The war in Abkhazia, which had already cost 4,000 lives by the end of last year, seems to be without end [culminating recently in the virtual flattening of Sukhumi: -Ed.]. The most descriptive expression to date of the true objectives of this war of oppression in Abkhazia, and of Shevardnadze’s approach to the question of solving the problems of the minorities, came from Shevardnadze’s Commander-in-Chief, ‘general’ G. Karkarashvili, who explained on a national television programme [25th August 1992]:
‘If Abkhazia does not cease its resistance, my troops will kill all 97,000 Abkhazians’.
In other words, Shevardnadze and his murderers are prepared to liquidate the entire nation [- a process which appears to be well advanced: – Ed.]. For this purpose, too, Shevardnadze and Karkarashvili are evidently prepared to sacrifice approximately 100,000 Georgians, as well.
This, then, is the nature of the policies of Shevardnadze – former Communist dictator of Georgia, KGB General, promoter of terror, robbery, rape and genocide of national minorities and of his political opponents.
On 29th October 1992, the Defense minister, Kitovani, stated on Moscow Television that that autonomous regions are to be liquidated in Georgia, and that the matter of the autonomous regions will be resolved by military force. This statement, alone, makes it abundantly clear that, despite ‘democratic elections’ [see below] in Georgia, the country remains a terror dictatorship ruled by a criminal junta – and that all talk by Shevardnadze about ‘civilian rule’ prevailing in Georgia are lies. Furthermore, by involving the north Caucasian peoples in his Abkhazian war, Shevardnadze and his junta are preparing the ground for a new Yugoslavia in the Caucasus. Western Georgia, including Abkhazia, is simply in ruins, with thousands of refugees fleeing these regions daily.
Concerning the elections, which Shevardnadze promised to hold in Georgia ‘in accordance with all the standards adopted in democratic countries’, I would like to ask the democratic world whether, in any democratic country of the West, the following behavior is normal:
‘Elections’ are ‘called’, not by an elected body, president, or parliament, but by some illegal, self-proclaimed gathering called a ‘State Council’ which possesses no legitimacy and imposed itself upon the country by force.
The ‘election’ organizers fail to identify the electors by name and address, omitting to carry out the preparations necessary to ensure absolutely fair voting.
The people are subjected to intensified terror and repression ahead of the ‘election’, and are forced in many cases to provide written undertakings that they will vote for a single candidate for the post of Speaker of Parliament – the top post in Georgia.
The position of Speaker of Parliament is decided not by the votes of MPs, but in fact by ‘public voting’.
‘Elections’ take place against a background of civil war, anarchy, and curfews in many towns and cities.
‘Elections’ take place without secret voting in most districts.
However, in a few districts of the capital, electoral arrangements, ballot boxes and booths for ‘secret voting’ are rigged up for the benefit of intentional observers, who are misled into deducing that the ballot boxes and booths for secret voting are replicated throughout the city and the country.
Moreover, the international observers are steered away from all other polling stations (where the voting arrangements are decidedly not secret).
At most polling stations, the ‘elections’ are conducted under the control of gunmen, who watch the voters as they place their votes, and check for whom they have voted. If they have not voted in accordance with the gunmen’s ‘preferences’.
… the gunmen visit such ‘disobedient’ voters with ballot boxes, and force them under threat of death to ‘amend’ their previous vote, and to place their vote in accordance with the ‘party line’.
Armored vehicles pursue ‘electors’ in the streets and drive them to the polling stations by force – a practice observed in the west Georgian town of Martvili.
Noticing that the number of ballot- papers cast is hopelessly insufficient for the authorities’ purposes, the ‘Election Commission’ removes the boxes and replaces them with new ones – an activity observed, for instance, in the town of Vani.
People are seen stuffing ballot-boxes with 100-200 ballot papers.
Local ‘Election Commissions’ consist of carefully selected people loyal to the illegal government, without any involvement by the opposition.
So-called ‘democratic elections’ take place without any involvement on the part of opposition parties or individuals.
Was it not quite natural that, following such ‘elections’, the dictator Shevardnadze was ‘elected’ by 96% of the ‘electorate’? Elections like these were of course standard under the Communists; and it is no coincidence that Communism has been revived in Georgia under Shevardnadze with great success, incorporating many of the ‘innovations’ introduced when Shevardnadze was in power earlier.
Shevardnadze has since boasted that he presides over a ‘democratically elected’ parliament in Georgia. It is curious, therefore, that 15 days after the elections, only a proportion of the parliamentary lists had been published – although even among the names published to date, the distribution of forces was remarkably favorable to Shevardnadze. Among these names were very well- known nomenklatura-plutocrats, including notorious accomplices of the events of 9th April 1989, and Mafia bosses – all of whom had unaccountably emerged with huge majorities in the new ‘parliament’.
The rest of the new parliamentary lists were published after a long delay, due to the fact that there erupted a great struggle among ‘candidates’ for inclusion within the favored Nomenklatura ‘parliament’, and a burning desire among their number for the opportunity of proving by their words (and deeds) their undying fidelity to the ‘Speaker’.
But all of a sudden, Shevardnadze announced, on 21st October 1992, that the first session of the new ‘parliament’ had been delayed for an indeterminate period, due to the ‘complicated situation’ prevailing in Georgia. In actual fact, the real reason for this delay was a political struggle between the ‘deputies’ and a growing, indeed acute, danger from Kitovani, who threatened a fresh putsch, should he be removed from the position of power he had usurped.
As for Shevardnadze’s boasts about the introduction of the market economy and the country’s prosperity, the economic situation in Georgia is in fact catastrophic. The Russian Federation has allotted Georgia credits in the sum of 20 billion rubles [source: the Moscow-based newspaper ‘Kuranti’, October 1992, No. 38 ], while the United States and Turkey have assisted Georgia with several million dollars. All these credits,, as well as the humanitarian aid, are being systematically misappropriated by officials – applied for personal profit and for the financing of the Abkhazian war and punitive expeditions in west Georgia (Megrelia).
Privatization in favor of the Nomenklatura, is implemented on the orders of the junta members Ioseliani and Kitovani, and by others – with all national property and sources of valuable production distributed among the Nomenklatura/Mafia bosses.
Not surprisingly, most of the Georgian population, especially in the towns and cities, is on the verge of abject poverty and starvation. The agricultural sector has been totally paralyzed, especially in western Georgia. The main reasons for this breakdown are the civil war, a lack of fuel, an absence of agricultural equipment and technology, and the absolute chaos which has accompanied the privatization in favor of the Nomenklatura (known as ‘Nomenklatura-privatization) of the land, which has been taking place without any legislative basis, in the absence of any law governing land and property, and in the midst of endless conflicts among landowners as they struggle against the former state farms for property, and production, while having to contend with banditry and robbery, and with the wholesale misappropriation of assets.
Even the illegal government’s media has admitted that in Tbilisi alone between three and five men die of hunger every day – a figure dismissed by our sources as a gross understatement of the position, which is that dozens are dying every day from lack of food to eat.
In conclusion, I need to add that Shevardnadze’s criminal regime is in the habit of repeatedly violating the Charter of the United Nations, the Declaration of Human rights, all principles of intentional law including the Helsinki agreement and the Paris Charter, and all declarations, pacts and conventions on Human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The regime operates by means of ruthless terror and violence, which are the main principles and instruments of state policy in Georgia.
It has no right to represent Georgia at the United Nations and in the forum of the CSCE, and it must be thrown out of these organizations. This heinous regime, which has brought Georgia to a state of political and economic catastrophe, is in the process of creating great dangers of destabilization and warfare throughout the Caucasus region, with the possibility of the war spreading even into Russia, and further fueling the basis for the emerging world crisis.
I, the legally and democratically elected President of Georgia-in-Exile, therefore appeal to the United Nations, to the governments and parliaments of the world, to the mass media, to all international political and religious organizations, and to all men and women of goodwill, to help Georgia in the midst of its terrible disaster, to condemn the state terrorism practiced by Shevardnadze’s regime, to impose a total boycott on it, and to help restore the legal Parliament and Government.
Unless this happens, there can be no peace, stabilization or democratic development in Georgia, and throughout the whole of the region of the Caucasus.
Published by ‘SOVIET ANALYST’