On October 22-23, 2020 online media outlet News Front Georgia and Facebook page “სტალინი” (Stalin) published Givi Berdzenishvili’s interview about Stalin’s achievements for Georgia. According to his statement, Sochi was never a part of Georgia, whereas there was no such thing as Stalin’s repressions, and the Georgian population amounted to 5,5 million under Stalin’s rule.
Givi Berdzenishvili’s interview comprises 3 pieces of disinformation: 1. Sochi was never a part of Georgian territory. 2. There was no such thing as Stalin’s repressions and 3. Georgian population amounted to 5.5 million under his rule. In reality, 1. Sochi was under the control of the Democratic Republic of Georgia in 1918-1919. 2. In 1936-1938 750 000 people were victims of Stalin’s repressions, more than 1 million people were deported to Gulags. 3. Population of Georgia reached 5,5 million only in 1989.
Fact 1 – Sochi was under the control of the Democratic Republic of Georgia in 1918-1919
Even though Sochi was a historical territory of Georgia, it became part of Black Sea Gubernia (county) per order of Nicholas II in 1896 during the Russian Empire and was stranded from Georgia. It should be mentioned that the aforesaid situation continued until 1917. After Georgia gained independence, it wanted to claim back the territory, but at that time Georgia was contended by Bolsheviks and General Denikin’s White Forces.
It’s noteworthy that on June 24, 1918, the Abkhaz People’s Council’s resolution on “Necessity of Occupying Sochi and Tuapse city districts” was followed by the liberation of Sochi and Tuapse in July. Cities were liberated under the leadership of General Giorgi Mazniashvili and their (Sochi Citizens Public Assembly and Sochi Council of Workers’ Deputies) desire to join Georgia was also confirmed.
Despite what Givi Berdzenishvili claims, at that time Georgia retook control over Sochi and Tuapse territories, which lasted until February 1919. As mentioned above, General Denikin’s white forces also contended over the cities. Their troops entered the territories in 1919 and locals sent a telegram to the Democratic Republic of Georgia asking for help:
- The council makes a special request to immediately repulse the volunteer army from the borders of Sochi county and set measures to prevent such invasion in the future.
- Georgian army can be withdrawn from Sochi if sufficient forces remain in the populated areas to maintain order from the presence of non-resident reactionary forces.
- Georgian democracy with its’ government saved the district from two types of danger: Anarchy and military dictatorship. With their vigorous actions, city life was aligned with public order, true democracy, and public governance.
In February Denikin took over Sochi in accordance with British forces that were on a mission in South Caucasia at that time. The Democratic Republic of Georgia couldn’t take back control over Sochi and fully focused on the Gagra District. On June 11, 1919, per the decision of the Triple Entente Council, new borders were established that handed Sochi over to Denikin. It’s worth mentioning that Denikin’s army couldn’t combat Bolshevik’s offensive and Soviet Russia took over Sochi.
Fact 2 – In 1936-1938, 750 000 people were victims of Stalin’s repressions, more than 1 million people were deported to Gulags
The number of people who fell victim to Stalin is quite large not only all over the Soviet Union but in Georgia as well. Stalin’s repressions known as the Great Purge executed 750,000 victims approximately in 2 years (1936-1938), whereas more than 1 million people were deported to Gulags.
In Georgia, during these years more than 3600 people have been executed under Stalin’s repressions. 3100 of them were condemned to shooting. Stalin’s list comprises all the people who were sentenced for various reasons during these years including representatives of Georgian intelligence.
One of the lists of the “Great Purge” with Stalin’s signature
Stalin’s terrors took place in various forms in each country, albeit mostly comprised of shootings and deportation to forced labor camps.
Stalin’s repressions were also ethnic-defined and particularly aimed at certain nations. In the case of Poland, ethnic-defined great terror was one of the greatest, during which 150,000 people were arrested, 110,000 of whom were shot.
Exhibition of the victims of Stalinism, Moscow 1988, source: Dmitry Borko
Fact 3 – 2,666,494 people lived in Georgia in 1926
The first general population census in the Soviet Union was conducted in 1926. According to the said census, the Georgian population amounted to 2,666,494.
It’s also noteworthy that we can use the 1917 General Population Census depicting population distribution per region to determine the population of Georgia before the Soviet Union and Stalin’s rule. The results of the 1917 General Population Census show that the population of Georgia amounted to approximately 2,466,630 people.
The results of the 1917 General Population Census, source: geostat.ge
It’s worth mentioning that the population of Georgia reached 5,500,000 only in 1989 and not at the end of Stalin’s rule.