On February 3, 2017, “Saqartvelo da Msoflio” (Georgia and the World) published on its website an article by political analyst Irakli Ubilava “Unipolar world is at an end.What to expect for Georgia? “. The article uses an interview given by Alexander Chachia in 2006, in which he accuses the US of destroying cultural and historical identity of small nations.
Alexander Chachia, political analyst: “The United States is a leader in the globalization process, which means, above all, the unification of nations, by the loss of their unique cultural-historical identity, which deprives them of the right for independent national development. Russia should act as a defender of the natural rights of nations, which includes the right to lead a nationalistic state life”. (“Politikuri Klasi”(Political class), pp. 20/01. 02. 2006).
At the same time Alexander Chachia, who is a frequent interlocutor of anti-Western platforms (newspaper “Asaval-Dasavali”, internet portals “Saqinform”, “Saqartvelo da Msoflio”),wants to present Russia as the sole guarantor of preserving Georgia and small nations alike.
The following is the actual content presenting on one hand, Russian policy against Georgian culture, and on the other hand, the projects supported by the US government, which intends the preservation of the Georgian cultural heritage.
Russia’s policy against the Georgian culture
- 1790-1881 years – intensified persecution of the Georgian language. Kirill Yanovsky, head of the Caucasus school district decreed in 1881 for all types of schools, Russian to be taught from primary years, Georgian language teaching in schools to become optional.
- In 1811 after the abolition of Georgian orthodox church autocephally, Georgian Church service is replaced by Russian as well as polyphonic Georgian chants.
- By the decree of the Russian Church hierarchy the facades and frescoes of Alaverdi, Svetitskhoveli, Manglisi, Bichvinta, Katskhi, Blue Monastery, and others were grinded and whitened. During the Tsarist period Svetitskoveli, Alaverdi and Ikorti gates were destroyed.
- In the second decade of the 20th century, the Bolsheviks shut down more than a thousand churches and abolished church services. During 1921-1953, 1 305 churches were closed, function of one part was changed, the other part was destroyed. Churches were massively remodeled as houses, warehouses or village lodges.
- In 1922 a complex structure was created, which regulated literary publications and performances scenarios. This structure also administered the singing repertoire of forementioned village lodges.
- Also in 1922, a decree for the removal of treasury from churches was issued. In the same year the church goods and property were taken from 600 churches.
- Many Georgian cultural figures were victims of political repression in 1930-ies. Among them were Mikheil Javakhishvili, Titsian Tabidze, Vakhtang Kotetishvili, Sandro Axmeteli and Evgeni Mikeladze. Paolo Iashvili commited suicide due to the amount of pressure placed upon him.
- In the 1940-ies Soviet regime tightened censorship in all areas. Soviet censorship administered every field of the arts.
- In 1978 the Georgian language became threatened, when the Soviet leadership wanted to remove from the Constitution the notion of official state language.
- The Russian government is still continuing in the occupied territories willing destruction of existing cultural heritage and historical monuments.
- In 2010 in an effort to mask Georgian traces, in Russian occupied Abkhazia, upon the 11th century Ilori church a Russian style dome was placed, and Georgian inscriptions were rendered imperceptible with white paint.
- In 2012 – Abkhazia, In the Temple of Bedia the only frescoe of king Bagrat III was intentionally ruined.
- In 2013 – Abkhazia, Dranda temple baptismal font was demolished and a small pool installed in its stead.
- In 2017 – in order to install firing ground for its troops in village Tsebelda an VIII century church and settlement was destructed.
US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation
In more than 100 countries of the world, the US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation sponsors the protection and preservation of cultural monuments, sites and traditional cultural expression of various forms.
Projects financed by the Fund in Georgia:
- In 2001 -Georgian folk songs of the period 1928-1939 collection and maintenance. Funded by $15 000.
- 2003-2008 -Gelati Monastery complex restoration. The program began in 2003 and included conservation and restoration of different parts in the monatic complex, including the safekeeping of medieval frescoes. US Ambassador’s Fund allocated $ 600 000 for the restoration of the monastery.
- In 2004 –Atenis Sioni 7th century wall paintings upkeep. The US embassy funded the project with $ 29 929.
- In 2005 – Digitalisation of about 300 manuscripts of XI-XVI centuries, as historical sources. The project was funded $ 20491.
- In 2006 – Sustenance of the embroidery collection in Shalva Amiranashvili Museum of Fine Arts.
- In 2008 -Early Christian frescoes perpetuation in Tetri Udabno monastery. Funded by $ 13 665.
- In 2008 – $ 18 887 has been allocated for the conservation of classic and middle-age tombs and settlements in Khovle village.
- In 2009 – The protection and preservation of Svaneti History and Ethnography Museum ethnographic artifacts, manuscripts and icons of the Middle Ages. The project was financed with $ 29 100.
- In 2010 – For the conservation of 4th century BC archaeological monument near Mtskheta. The project included the study of Armazi ruins and Sepulchere, its conservation and the creation of tourist paths. Funded with $ 42 846.
- In 2011 – Preventive conservation of Khakhuli triptychwas financed by $18 000. The latter triptych is one of the finest works of Georgian culture. In 1860, the General Governor of Kutaisi, Levashov stole the Khakhuli triptych that was safeguarded in Gelati Monastery, with the help and protection of a Russian archbishop Evsevs (Ilinsk).
- In 2014- the diagnostic and conservation of XI-XIII century ancient Georgian plated monuments – financed by $25 000 and encompassed/ included/ provided the study of ancient printed covers of manuscripts that were preserved in K. Kekelidze National Center of Manuscripts.
- 2014-2015 – Drafting of the architectural project regarding the rehabilitation/ restoration of Ekaterine Dadiani Palace.
The idea of Moscow as a third Rome
The idea of Moscow as the protector of smaller nations isn’t new. The feeling/ presentation of Russia’s exclusivity andmessianism begins with the fall of Constantinople, or “the second Rome”. A new feeling appeared in the Russian elite, that Russia, as a Third Rome, had to protect Orthodoxy from “unfaithful” and “savages”. A Russian philosopher/intellect, Konstantin Leontiev developped the latter idea as a new anti-Western ideology – Byzantinism, which represented a form of a realisation of monarchism, was considered as an antidote of the depravity originating from the West. In 1920’s, the ideas of Leontiev spread throughout Russian intellects in the form of Eurasianism. Although, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Eurasianism erupted once again and, with the support of Aleksandr Dugin, became a popular ideology within modern Russia’s political thinking. Eurasianism is depicted as a counterweight of Western ideas of multiculturalism, secularism and liberalism.
About Alexander Chachia:
Alexander Chachia was awarded by Vladimir Putin in July 2008 for “his efforts contribution to cooperate and maintain a friendship with Russia”. Based on research by Damoukidebloba.com, Chachia is a member of the Public Council of “Historical Heritage”, an organisation that founded “Georgia and the World”. Additionally, he is the Head of “Moscow’s M. V Lomonosov State University Alumni Association of Georgia” and a Board Member of the “Research Center for the Problems of Globalisation”. In 2015, Chachia participated in the “The Great Victory Obtained by Unity” ceremony in Russia that was dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the victory obtained in the Second World War. Alexander Chachia, as well as the online publication “Georgia and the World” often appear in researches carried out by the Media Development Fund, as sources of Anti-Western propaganda.
Prepared by Sopo Gelava