From Sharpeville Massacre to the Soviet Guilt

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Reading Time: 4 minutes


On April 7, 2020, Georgia and the World published an article titled “Free World Supported Apartheid”. Georgia and the World, through interpreting various events, claims that when the West was supporting racial discrimination, the Soviet Union was condemning apartheid. The author of the article also disregards the fact that the free world celebrates the International Day against Racial Discrimination, celebrated on March 21, as if the West has forgotten about racism in 1960s. The article is based on Vladimir Kornilov’s article published on Ria Novosti with an identical title “How the Free World Supported Apartheid”. Geworld indicates the source, but without providing a link to access the original article.


Sharpeville Massacre

In 1960, South African police carried out a massacre in Sharpeville. People protesting racial segregation fell victim to the violence. In 1998, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa described the extent of the human rights violations by police during these events. This act caused controversy in other countries. On march 20, 1960, Nana Mahomo and Peter Molotsi crossed the Bechuanaland border, which was then controlled by the United Kingdom, to raise awareness of this event.

Reaction of the international society:

  • In April 1960, the United Nations adopted a Resolution #134 calling on South Africa to end the racial discrimination policy;
  • A Special Committee on the Policies of Apartheid was created in 1963 that issued a Resolution #181, banning other countries from providing military aid to South Africa. Several days after issuing this Resolution, England and the United States stopped providing arms to South Africa;
  • To honor the memory of those deceased in the 1966 Sharpeville Massacre, the United Nations made March 21 an International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
  • In 1989, the African National Congress published a Cultural Boycott Policy document which read that cultural representatives, artists, and academics should not be permitted to travel to South Africa.
  • The Pope John Paul II decried the apartheid and made a speech at the International Court of Justice in 1985.
  • In 1993, member states of the Council of Europe formed a European Commission against Racism and Intolerance


Unlike the free world, contemporary Russia does not acknowledge the crimes committed by the USSR and does not re-assess the history. On the contrary, the Kremlin continues the Soviet heritage of propaganda and embarks on a path of denying historical facts and the revision of history.

Georgia and the World compares the West and the Soviet Union. According to the edition, there was no racism and oppression in the latter. However, the USSR had a strong nationalist policy and the mass deportations of ethnic minorities were carried out that took many lives. By conducting russification policy, the USSR was putting local cultures and traditions under threat. Myth Detector offers an incomplete list of crimes committed by the USSR.

  • Genocide and deportation of Chechen and Ingush people during Stalin’s rule on February 23, 1944. Stalin’s regime accused Chechens (and Ingush people) of collaborating with Nazi Germany and ordered their deportation to different parts of the USSR.
  • The Great Purge of Stalin’s era (1936-1938) that targeted writers, cultural representatives, and other individuals that the regime considered to be enemies of the state.
  •  Approximately 14 million people were sent to gulags between 1929-1953. More than 1.6 million of them died. Labor-correctional camps and colonies were a part of the Soviet Union’s system of punitive policies where prisoners were forced to work (mostly physically) in parallel with serving a sentence. This work was often taking place under bad or nearly unbearable conditions.
  • Deportation and persecution of various ethnic minorities; the first group of 7,000-9,000 Finns was deported on ethnic grounds from Lembovo and Nikoulias districts in the Leningrad region in 1935. The Soviet Union accused them of treason and deported them to secure the Soviet borders. In 1936, about 35,700 Polish, who lived close to the Ukrainian border, as well as approximately 20,000 Finnish farmers were deported to Kazakhstan precisely for that reason. In 1937, the first wide-scale deportation operation took place in the Far East of the Soviet Union. About 175,000 Koreans who lived along the borders with China and Korea, were forcedly deported to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. They were accused of collaborating with Japan. After the deportation, the Koreans were living in the harshest conditions. In 1940, when the Red Army annexed the eastern territories of Poland, approximately 250,000 Polish and thousands of Ukrainians and Belarussians were deported in three main waves to Siberia, as well as Central Asia and the Far East.
  • Great famine (Holodomor) made by Stalin in Ukraine. Mass famine that covered most of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in the first half of 1933 and took between 2.2-10 million lives, according to various reports.
  • Massacre of Polish intelligentsia, Polish military organization members, refugees, political emigrants, and former members of the Polish Socialist Party in accordance with the NKVD Order #00485 from August 11, 1937. The Soviet Union accused them of treason, espionage, and close collaboration with Nazi Germany.
  • Repressions of 1937-1938 and the “Kulak Operation” that saw a lot of people deported and shot. Among the plenty of bloody operations carried out by the Soviet Union, the largest was the so-called “Kulak Operation” that was carried out based on NKVD’s secret operational order #000447. This order, signed on July 30, 1937 by Nikolai Yezhov, the People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs, became the ground for these repressive actions. The “Kulak Operation” was a process against wealthy farmers and other “anti-Soviet” groups and individuals. In the framework of the “Kulak Operation”, about 800,000 people were convicted in the USSR. Out of them, nearly a half was ordered to be shot. In Georgia, a total of 21,107 people were convicted in the framework of the operation. From them, 10,563 were shot and 10,544 were deported. More data is available on
  • Sandarmokh clearing was the burial ground of nearly 3,000 Ukrainian painters, writers, and public figures, killed during the Great Purge in 1937-1938. Sandarmokh is a forest 12 km away from Medvezhyegorsk, Republic of Karelia where most of the killed Ukrainians were buried. Together with the Ukrainians, burials of 58 people of other nationalities were found.

Storymap prepared by Goga Katalandze

Prepared by Goga Katalandze
Myth Detector Lab

Topic: History
Violation: Manipulation
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