After February, 1917 revolution democratic changes took place in Russia. One of the results of those changes in Georgia was revival of independence of the orthodox church (March, 1917). But the temporary government of Russia couldn't decide those cardinal issues, which especially bothered the wide layers of population: pax issues (country kept participating in the World War), land issues etc. This condition was well used by Bolsheviks (Communists) with the leadership of Lenin and in October, 1917 they overthrew the temporary government. Transcaucasian political parties and organizations didn't acknowledge the legacy of these changes. On November 15, 1917 they created their own government - Transcaucasian Commissariat, which consisted mainly of local parties. In fact, the process of separation of Transcaucasia from Russia, began.
This process juridically ended on April 9 (22), 1918, when the creation of independent Transcaucasia federation was declared, with the center in Tbilisi. The supreme state body of new-created republic was represented by many-partied Same , the chairman of which was elected Georgian social-democrat, N. Chkheidze. The deputy-chairmen were the representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan.
One of the most important problems, which stood in front of Transcaucasian government, was the questions of arrangement the situation with Turkey, because the War was lasting, the Russian army, which fought against Turkey, was decomposed, soldiers left their positions and returned at home, and new-established Georgian-Armenian groups couldn't stop the Turkish army. Azerbaijan refused to struggle against Turkey, which was of the same religion and ethnically related.
During the Pax negotiations with Turkey, there appeared the truth, how unreliable was the unifying of Transcaucasia. Between the Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijanian deputations of Same, there existed the permanent discord. Azerbaijanian politicians were on the side of Turkey, which declared its territorial requirements to Transcaucasia . Georgia and Armenia were oriented towards Germany, to have the influence on its ally. And, with the help of interfering from Germany, Georgia avoided Turkish occupati on. Turks occupied only South-West part with Batumi.
Life showed that Transcaucasia Republic was not a perspective creature. It didn't exist longer than two months and was destroyed after the inner resistances. On May 26, 1918 on the last meeting, Same officially declared the abolishment of Federation. In the evening of the same day, the sitting of "the national council" of Georgia was held, on which Georgia was declared as the Sovereign-democratic Republic. During the next two days Armenia and Azerbaijan declared their independence too.
Thus, on May 26, 1918 Georgian State, abolished 117 years ago, was revived. Georgian people accepted this fact with celebration. This historical event was the crown result of the national and social-liberating actions of XIX-XXs Georgia. This day, May 26 is celebrated as the national independence day in today's Georgia as well.
The first government of the Republic of Georgia was coalitional, though it consisted mainly of social-democrats. Social-democratic party was the strongest in Georgia. The leader of the party, Noe Zhordania (1868-1953) became the chairman of the government of Georgia.
The young republic stood in front of the hard economical problems. The World War caused the important damage to the economy, and the situation was hardened by the ceasing of economical relations with Russia and other countries. Industry and transportat ions were out of actions, there was a lack of food. And the government had no any capital in the stable currency, while declaring the independence.
Germany recognized the independence of Georgia on May 28. But after the defeat of the central states in the World War I, the question of international recognition became actual again. Government of Georgia appealed with this question to the Paris Peaceful Conference. In 1920, after Turkey, Germany and Argentina, Georgia was recognized as de-facto by the Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan. And after May 7, 1920, when Soviet Russia confessed the Independence of Georgia, the republic was recognized as de-jure by Antanta countries and other states.
The establishment of Georgian democratic republic was running in the most difficult political condition. At first, the country was not recognized by Russian "White Action", which had a motto of "Entire and Indivisible" Russia. Issues, concerning border s between Transcaucasian Republics were not arranged as well. In particular, Georgia had a territorial quarrel with Azerbaijan about Zakatala district. And Armenian Republic had a claim on South regions of Georgia, where the large part of population was of Armenian origin . In December, 1918 Armenian armies imprudently invaded Georgia but they were defeated. Military actions in Transcaucasia were ceased by the interference of English captainship.
In the South part of the disputable region, there was created so-called "Neutral Zone", with Georgian-Armenian administration. The entire jurisdiction of Georgia revived in this region only in November, 1920. In 1918-1920 there were local military move ments in South-West Georgia as well, in Abkhazia, on the territories inhabited by Southerner Osetians and in other regions, where armed actions took place. The important part of those actions were caused by the agitation of Communists.
In spite of these facts, the first hardest steps in creation the State, were overcome. At the end of 1920, the marks of economical and political stabilization in the republic were noticeable. Georgia got back Batumi region, which was occupied by English after the defeat of Turkey in the World War. Science and culture began to revive. The high-educational organizations - the University and the Conservatoire, appeared in Tbilisi. And if not the new intervention and annexation, Georgia could get rid of the crisis and stand on the way to the independent development. But the things turned on the contrary. In 1920, the main counterrevolutionary forces in Russia were exterminated, and the process of re-annexation of every domain of the Empire, began. In the same year, Azerbaijan and Armenia were forced to accept the Soviet regime. So, by the beginning of 1921, Georgia with 78 per cents of perimeter of its land borders, was in the Soviet siege. From South-West part, the neighbor was the young Turkish Republic.
As it was mentioned above, between Georgia and Soviet Russia, there existed May 7, 1920 Agreement, according to which, Russia acknowledged the State independence of Georgia. In return, Georgia pledged the free local activity for Communists on its territory. But soon it became clear, that Russia needed this Agreement only to weaken Georgian sobriety and to create working conditions for its agents in Georgia. Moscow was preparing for military intervention and making the last independent Transcaucasian republics Soviet. It should be denoted , that the negative role for Georgia in this action, was played by the high-rank Georgian communists - I. Stalin, S. Orjonikidze etc.
On February 12, 1921, in the region, contiguous to Armenia, communists arranged the peasant rebellion imitation, and on February 16, on the ground of the aid to the "rebels", Russian armies invaded Georgia. The main grouping of the rival side - the Eleventh Army, advanced Tbilisi from the territories of Armenia and Azerbaijan. Besides, the separate formations and subdivisions advanced Abkhazia and central Caucasia passes. After the bitter struggles near Tbilisi on February 25, 1921, the capital of Georgia fell. Georgian armies receded. Social-democratic government couldn't manage to organize the real public-general resistance. The situation aggravated on Turkey borders as well. On February 21, the government of Ankara required from Georgia to discharge t he cities: Artvin and Ardahan. This requirement was accomplished, but Turks didn't stop and soon came to Batumi and Akhaltsikhe. On March 18, government of Georgia migrated abroad, and the Georgian military groups, left in Batumi, struggled with Turks and maintained the city. After Turks receded, Batumi was occupied by Russia. By March 19 in all the main centers of Georgia there was established the Soviet government. And before that, on March 16, in Moscow, between Russia and Turkey there was made the agreement, accor ding to which Artvin, Ardahan and some other territories were passed to Turkey.
Thus, Soviet Russia, from one side, violated the May 7, 1920 Agreement and implemented the actual annexation of Georgia. There was established the Communistic dictatorship in the country.
by Dr. George Anchabadze
From the 30-50s of the XIX cen. there was mainly the stabile situation in Georgia. Agriculture, trade and industry were developed. The number of population arose, as because of the natural increase, also because of the colonisational policy of the king government, which for the reason of strengthening its social support, was widely running the settlement of Russian and foreigner colonists in Georgia.
In this period, decomposition of feudal natural farming and increasing the monetary-productive relations were intensively developing. The owners of industrial enterprises of Georgia mainly were Russian and foreigner capitalists. But the resistance of development of capitalism was self-ownership in Georgia. In the 30-40s of the XIX cen. these vicious reminders were even strengthened, as Russian government supported the rights of Georgian landlords for the reason of enticing them on its side. Thus, the rights of Georgian nobility were made equal to the Russian ones. The form of government changed in Transcaucasia too. From 1840 there were adopted the same administrative and court organizations, as were in the inner provinces of Russia. The limited cultur al autonomy (Georgian newspapers and magazines, Georgian theater) was permitted. With such policy the government reached the complete devotion of Georgian nobility to Russia from the 40s. Georgian aristocrats were searching for the careers, first of all in military service. They served as in the regular army of Russia, also in the Georgian militia, which played the active role in the Caucasian wars of Russia during the whole XIX cen.
In the second half of the 50s, the crisis of the serf regime in Russia was strengthened. This fact spread in Georgia too. The peasants were rebelling against their owners (especially the large rebellion happened in Megrelia in 1857). This forced the government to hold the peasant reforms in Georgia too. In 1864-1871 the serfdom was abolished in Georgia.
The 60-70s of the XIX was the period of changes in the history of Georgia. After the reforms, capitalism was rapidly developed. The factories and enterprises were built, minerals (coal and manganese) were acquired, cities - Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Poti, Batum i etc. were developed, the railway station was constructed. Inspite of these things Georgia remained the agrarian country, though development of capitalistic relations was in the high process.
Annexation with Russia brought the knowledge of European culture to Georgia, which played the positive role in the further development of Georgian culture. In the 60-70s there appeared the new progressive-democratic generation on the path of literature and society, the education of which was from the Russian Universities, and had a critical opinion about the colonial regime and feudal reminders in Georgia. The leader of this generation was the writer, social and political body, Ilia Chavchavadze (1837- 1907). The open movement under his leadership was the new peaceful form of the national-liberating action, which changed the local armed rebellions in the first half of the XIX cen.
After the assassination of the Russian Emperor in 1881, Alexander II, the political reaction occupied the country. The government stood on the way to oppression and russification of the people, inhabiting the Empire and Georgians among. The publishing of Georgian books, newspapers and magazines was extremely limited. There was abolished Georgian language in schools. The word "Georgia" was even erased from the official documents, and put the "Tbilisi province" and "Kutaisi province" instead. This policy was excused by the wrong theory that the time of small nations was over and they were historically doomed for the assimilation with the larger nations.
In such conditions Ilia Chavchavadze and his adherents bravely strived against the national-colonial oppression. They strived for deepening the consolidation of Georgian nation and its national self-consciousness. The government couldn't cluntch these actions. On the contrary, this movement was strengthened and widened afterwards, though it didn't accept the shape of political rebellion.
In the 90s, there began the process of Marxism propaganda in Georgia. Georgia was one of the important centers of the revolutionary struggles during the revolution in Russia in 1905-1907. Peasants and workers were rebelling. There happened barricade st ruggles in Tbilisi, also there began the armed rebellions in the villages of West Georgia. The punishing armies, sent by the government exterminated several villages.
The big part of Georgian revolutionaries was calling the social slogans in 1905-1907 but they were striving against the national oppression too. Besides, there existed the second branch in the revolutionary-democratic stream, which considered the liber ation of Georgia as priority question. Some of them required the entire separation from Russia, most of them were for the autonomous feudal union with democratic Russia after victory of revolution
So, the revolutionary movement in Georgia in the beginning of the XX cen. was the next stage of the national-liberating action.
National motive was of stronger shape in Georgia during the period of new revolutionary revival, which began from 1912 in Russia too. But the beginning of the World War I temporarily retarded this process. The continuous wars in Georgia and in Russia c aused the farming decomposition. Already in the first year of the war, some industrial spheres of Georgia diminished the producing for 40-50 per cents. In the next years the condition was harder. The important part of workers (200 thous. people) was in ac tive army. Georgia became the war-coast country after involving Turkey in the war against Russia. The crisis after the war caused the increase of revolutionary characters in Russia again, the end of which was the 1917 February revolution, which ended the existence of monarchy in the country.
by Dr. George Anchabadze
Annexation of East Georgia by Russia and adopting new forms of governing caused the discontent of wide layers of population. The important part of nobility was displeased by annulment of the kingdom and limitation of old feudal rights, and on the back o f Georgian peasants besides the heavy taxes lay the fate of national oppression. Colonial regime was of a military-police character. There was an absolute unlawfulness in the country. Russian military-men and statesmen were robbing the people and those who expressed even the lest protest, were cruelly punished. This fact caused the several anti-Russian armed actions in East Georgia in 1804-1812 and 1813. The leaders of these actions were the single representatives of the Georgian royal family, which hoped to revive the monarchy. It took the extreme forces for Russian armies to suppress the rebellions, but the experience forced the Russian government to soften its policy towards Georgia and to abolish the unlimited license of Russian executioners. Also, the members of Kartl-Kakheti Kingdom were exiled in Russia.
After beginning the domination in East Georgia, Russia started to extend its dominions in Transcaucasia. As the result of two wars with Iran, Russia occupied North Azerbaijan and East Armenia. As for West Georgia, the annexation was implemented by two stages: at first, Russia took under its protection the local political bodies (1803-Megrelia Princedom; 1804-Imereti Kingdom; 1810-Guria and Abkhazia Princedoms; 1833-Svaneti Princedom), and then gradually abolished them by the complete annexation of their territories (Imereti-1810; Guria-1828; Megrelia-1857; Svaneti-1858; Abkhazia-1864).
Abolition of Imereti Kingdom Russia managed only after the direct military aggression. The last king of Imereti Solomon II (1789-1810) was forced to escape to Osman Empire, where he died in 1815.
The policy of Tsarism, to abolish the independence of Georgian Church, caused a large rebellion in Imereti and Guria in 1819-1820, but the rebels were defeated in the struggle with Russians. Their villages were exterminated and burnt. Inspite of this, there happened another antirussian rebellion in Guria in 1841 but it was also cruelly suppressed.
There were permanent armed actions in Abkhazia too (in 1821, 1824, 1840-1842, 1866, 1877). Besides, North-West Abkhazian tribes haven't obeyed Russia at all, they were permanently striving and after their defeat (1864) they escaped and settled in Osman Empire. After the suppression of 1866 and 1877 rebellions, Abkhazian native population was massively exiled in Turkey.
As a result of the Russia-Turkey wars Russia Empire annexed (and thus Georgia got back) the territories, conquered by Turks in the previous centuries: Samtskhe-Javaketi with its chief town Akhaltsikhe (1829), Ajara and several regions with t. Batumi (1878). This was some kind of positive fact for Georgia, attended by negative facts too. Thousands of Georgian Muslim population inhabiting the annexed territories escaped and settled in the inner regions of Osman Empire. The main reason of their escape was unwillingness to live under Russian administration.
Thus, in 1801-1878 Georgia was almost completely annexed with Russia Empire. Afterwards, only the extreme South-West part of Georgia remained outside the borders of Russia.
by Dr. George Anchabadze
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