The Tskhinvali Truth

Op-Ed

The occupied Tskhinvali has resumed discussions on uniting with the Russian Federation. The so-called president of the occupied regime, Anatoly Bibilov, says that he can’t imagine Ossetian people living in two separate states: “In such circumstances, Ossetian people won’t see any development,” he said at a press conference held on the 11th anniversary of the August 2008 war. Instead of the war, a large part of the conference was dedicated to the discussion of a period in recent history, the one that Russian President Putin addressed a few weeks ago when he offered the world his version of Georgian history.

Everything started on July 9, when, though the country was waiting for a new economic embargo from Putin, surprisingly he started talking about the 1920s, for some reason, discussing the developments that took place in Tskhinvali during a military operation and recalling the death of Ossetians at the time: “Such actions are called genocide these days,” explained Putin. It seems this talk served as an inspiration not only for Bibilov, but for the MPs of the Russian Duma and, in one of the upcoming sessions, Russians are set to discuss a statement sent them from the occupied Tskhinvali. The statement apparently repeats word by word what President Putin described in his public statement broadcasted on TV on July 9. Chairman of the Federal Assembly of Russia, Vyacheslav Volodin, declared that the letter received from Tskhinvali has been accepted and that it will soon be discussed in the Committee. “We have carefully considered the issue of recognizing the genocide that the Georgian government organized against the Ossetians in the 1920s. And during the next committee session comprised of Duma officials, the chairmen of all fractions and committees, we will discuss this statement,” Volodin told the media.

Yes, it is truly hard to believe that the Russian Duma is attempting to falsify Georgian history on the legislative level, even more so as it was a participant in that event. In the 1920s, an agreement has been signed between Russia and Georgia. On May 7th, Soviet Russia, the predecessor of today’s Duma, signed a document which recognized the independence of Georgia and its territorial sovereignty. The document does not contain a word about the Ossetian people, nor South Ossetia as such. So, what actually happened in the 1920s that so caught the attention of President Putin, then the occupied government of Tskhinvali and finally the Russian Duma?

On March 23, 1920 a regional assembly of the Bolsheviks of Caucasus took place, headed by Sergo Orjonikidze. The assembly discussed a single issue: the plan to overthrow the Independent Republic of Georgia through a Bolshevik rebellion that was to start in Tskhinvali. In line with this, the 11th Army of Bolsheviks had to cross the Georgian-Azerbaijani border and head towards Tbilisi. As planned, the Bolshevik’s did cross the border, and so the rebellion of Tskhinvali began. The Ossetian Bolshevik’s expelled the government representatives of the first republic and declared Bokshevik rule covering the territory from Oni to Dusheti. The rebels held their positions in Tskhinvali, awaiting the attack of the 11th Army against Tbilisi. The government at the time evaluated the attempt as an anti-governmental action, rather than a rebellion organized by an ethnic minority group and initiated appropriate measures. At the time, a few smaller scale Bolshevik demonstrations took place in other regions of Georgia, but the fate of the Tskhinvali rebels was decided in Poland. The Bolsheviks were brutally defeated at the Polish front and lost half of the Ukrainian territory.

Both the 11th Army attack and the rebellion of the Ossetian Bolsheviks failed. As the Russian government is wont to do, here too it left the rebels that had been incited in the first place by the Kremlin, to the hands of fate. Moreover, it signed an agreement with the opponent party, in this case the Government of Georgia, and recognized its sovereignty. Afterwards, the government of the first republic, headed by Valiko Jugheli, suppressed the Bolshevik rebellion across the whole of Georgia, including Tkhinvali region. And it was those very Ossetian Bolshevik rebels who died during this incident, that President Putin mentioned in his speech. And it is in fact the political stance of the group that Putin wants to falsely show as an ethnic problem in his attempt to blame Georgia for the “ethnic cleansing” and “crime against humanity.”

That same “genocide” card was what Putin wanted but failed to “play” during the 2008 August war. 3000 peaceful Ossetian civilians that he declares died during the war have yet to be identified by any international organization, not to mention that “large scale violent murder on the grounds of ethnic cleansing.” As opposed to that number, the statistics voiced by Bibilov during his last press-conference mention 500 people, adding that this loss is fairly high for a small nation of Ossetians. Clearly, what Kremlin failed to declare as genocide in 2008, it is now trying to do using the events of 1920, all in its attempt to offer the international community a legislative argument for the current occupation.

By Zaza Jgarkava

Image source: futbolgrad.com

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