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Georgia: "We have removed all red"

Now, the house of death itself dies. The classic façade erupts,
      the door gapes. In the staircase twilight and garbage. Downstairs debris and radio music.
      Truly, people live in the former torture and shooting cellars of the Cheka. An old
      Man appears.
            Is the history of your house troubling you?
            No. The state.
            Tbilisi, Pavle-Ingorokva Street 22: Until 1921, the Ministry of Agriculture of the short-lived Georgian Republic resided here. After their death, the Soviet secret service moved in. No signpost leads to the murder center, just a special city map that also marks Stalin's house, the apartment of Sergo Ordzhonikidze, who forced Georgia under Soviet rule, and the residence of intelligence chief Lavrenti Beria, now the seat of the National Olympic Committee. This topography of terror has created the Soviet Past Research Laboratory, a NGO alliance of Georgian historians. They are exploring the past that one does not like to discuss in Stalin's homeland but prefer to exorcise it: to Moscow.
            Demanding blow in Tbilisi EU and NATO flags. Georgia is pushing for "Christian Europe"; Russia likes to be struck by Asia, hence barbarism. However, according to surveys, almost half of the 3.7 million Georgians worship the mass murderer Josef Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili as a big man. With Stalin in the West? So asked the Federal Foundation for the processing of the SED dictatorship and invited to the study trip. Two dozen GDR informed Enlightenment activists went on a post-soviet search, led by SovLab activists. Irakli Khwadagiani, Tamar Gurtschiani, Davit Jischkariani and Anna Margwelaschwili led through the historic paradise between the Black Sea and the white battlements of the Caucasus, in archives, memorials, depopulated "Swabians" villages and death forests. Of course to Gori, to Stalinist Bethlehem.
            Outwardly, Georgia has cleaned rustic. In 2011, a "Freedom Charter" removed all Soviet insignia from public space. This national hygiene decree was part of the anti-Russian policy of President Mikhail Saakashvili (2004-2013). Georgia's Soviet era he banished to Tbilisi National Museum, Department Occupation.
        There is the history of state ideology: Russia was and remains an aggressor, Georgia is always a victim, but created in 1918 the first Social Democratic-ruled Republic in the world. Their president, Noe Jordania, appealed: "What do we offer to European nations? 2000 years of national culture, democracy, national wealth, Soviet Russia strives east, west we call the Russian Bolsheviks, turn west, form a contemporary European nation!" It came differently. The invasion of the Red Army in 1921 enabled Stalin's rise. In his Menshevik homeland he had been nothing, foreigners in Lenin's revolutionary state – until Georgia fell back to Moscow. Nobility and intelligence were slaughtered. We see piles of corpses and extermination weapons, the execution car, the firing cell. In an endless loop flickering executions – who? when? Where? -, contrasts with Soviet parades and grinning Bolsheviks. By 1942, the museum accounts for 72,000 Georgians shot dead and 200,000 deported, "repressed by the mountain people in the Kremlin, the servant, the spoiler of souls and peasant slaughterers," said Ossip Mandelstam
        against Stalin, who cost the poet 1938 his life.
            This exhibition is more for the feeling, says the museum guide. It was made very fast in 2006, by artists, not by historians. President Saakashvili had seen the occupation museums in the Baltic States, so he wanted one immediately.
            How can you dismiss seventy years of the Soviet system as foreign rule? Georgia was privileged, twenty percent of the higher KGB officers were Georgians, today's elites were already rising in Stalinism.
            You know, we are a small country. Everyone knows about each other, families and clans are more important than parties. It's hard to talk about collaboration.
            But should not a democratic state work honestly?
            That must come from the people. History is written by the people, the state is a part of the people.
            The so-called people rose on April 14, 1978, in Tbilisi. Moscow operated the linguistic Gleichschaltung of all Soviet republics. Georgia's chief Communist Eduard Shevardnadze proclaimed that Georgian state language remained. As a result, he earned the reputation that made him president in 1995. Anti-Soviet resistance witnesses the occupation museum until 9 April 1989, the massacre of 21 opposition demonstrators, which ultimately led to independence. Dissidence served the national identity, not democratic citizenship.

This article is from TIME no. 38/2018. Here you can read the entire issue.

Georgia's recent history is not very sovereign. The first freely elected, 1992 weggewputschte president Swiad Gamsakhurdia wanted in the polyethnic country "never again Turks" – Muslims – tolerate and let shoot at demonstrators. George Owaschwili's feature film
        Before the spring,
        Recently also started in Germany, tells of the grotesque downfall of the national fanatic. This was followed by Abkhazia, South Ossetia and civil war, kleptocratic oligarchy, almighty corruption. The latter was the promise of Shevardnadze's victor Mikhail Saakashvili. The hero of the "Rose Revolution" of 2003 has shaped Tbilisi. The one-and-a-half-million-metropolis nestles on the slopes of the Mtkwari River, with ancient verandas, millennial fortified churches, mythological monuments and postmodern glass palaces, which Saakashvili has made a symbol of his transparent politics. But the neoliberal government was educating without democratization. He privatized rabidly. He was padding infrastructure. Press freedom paralyzed military spending. Saakashvili's America idolization culminated in the 2008 disastrous attack on Russia, which is fueling Georgia's breakaway territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Did the gambler think he could force NATO to intervene? And Georgia into the Western Alliance?


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