Georgian newspaper Alia released in its November 13-19, 2017 edition a Facebook post by Bakur Svanidze, author of pro-Russian online portal Geworld.ge, where he claims that mainly those persons fell victims to Stalin’s repressions of 1937-1938, who were themselves arresting and shooting, torturing and destructing other innocent people earlier in 1933-1934.
According to the data released by Russian human rights center Memorial, over 7-8 million people were arrested and over 1.5 million shot throughout the Soviet Union in 1936-1938. Most charges were fabricated. It is one of the components of Russian propaganda to hush up the crimes committed by the Soviet regime.
About 63 000 people were arrested in Georgia in 1937-1938 with 20 000 being shot. The Soviet regime mainly struggled against its enemies, or those, whom it deemed “enemies.” People were persecuted based on their social origin or activities. Among them were the nobility, clergy, wealthy merchants, public officials and militaries of Russian Empire and independent Georgia, as well as their descendants. A lot of innocent people fell victims to mass repressions.
Myth Detector would like to offer you four stories about those innocent people, who fell victims to “the Great Purge.”
1. Archimandrite who was executed for baptizing children. Archimandrite Pimen Dashniani was shot on November 27, 1937 for “mass baptism” of children in the Tsageri district and Kvemo Svaneti villages. According to the prosecution’s files stored in the Interior Ministry archives, Dashniani violated public order by secretly baptizing children. He baptized 120 children in a month. The Archimandrite’s files contain a column about his workplace and position, containing the following wording: undercover priest.
2. An old shoemaker was shot for sticking a needle into a newspaper. In 1937 people were arrested and executed on absurd and unbelievable charges. An old shoemaker stuck a needle into a newspaper while working and unintentionally made a hole in Stalin’s photo printed in the newspaper. The citizen for whom the old shoemaker was making footwear notified the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD) about the fact. The old man was charged with plotting a terrorist act against Stalin and later executed.
3. A factory worker was shot for dissolving less amount of gas in Borjomi mineral water. The duties of a factory worker involved dissolving gas under pressure into the bottles full of mineral water. The investigation found out that the worker was intentionally dissolving less amount of gas in some bottles that was evaluated as an attempt to weaken the Soviet economy. He was executed for plotting sabotage.
4. Georgian microbiologist Giorgi Eliava was shot on September 7, 1937 on groundless charges of espionage and plotting a terrorist act against Lavrenti Beria. Giorgi Eliava was arrested upon Beria’s instructions. Eliava took an important place in the scheme of repressions, because hundreds of innocent people were arrested in Georgia based on his confession. The investigation claimed that Professor Eliava polluted the Mtkvari River with deadly bacteria released from the Institute of Bacteriophages located near the river bank with the purpose of mass poisoning of the population.
Hushing up the facts about the victims of the Soviet regime
On November, 2017, the White House released a statement in connection with the National Day for the Victims of Communism, according to which over the past century, communist totalitarian regimes around the world have killed more than 100 million people.
The Washington-based Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC) says that the White House assessment about the number of victims of communism is accurate as it is based on scrutinizing archival materials and judicial records. Number of communism victims reaching 100 million in the late 1990s necessitated the creation of the book “The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression” – a joint research of eight academics from various European countries, documenting a history of repressions, both political and civilian, by Communist states.
Prepared on the basis of materials from Soviet Past Research Laboratory (SOVLAB) and GPB’s documentary “The Year 1937.”
Prepared by Lalita Alexandria
Myth Detector Laboratory