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February 25, 1921 - Soviet Occupation of Georgia Began

  • February251921SovietOccupationofGeorgiaBegan

    February 25, 1921, Soviet Occupation of Georgia Began


TBILISI (FNI) - On February 25, Georgia marks the Day of Soviet Occupation. This is a sad date, dedicated to the invasion to Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, the troops of the Red Army. On that day, after more than a week of resistance, Tbilisi was captured by the Red Army.

A few years before, after the collapse of the Russian empire, the Georgian Democratic Republic appeared on the map, which did not quite suit the northern neighbor.

The ‘Sovietization’ of Georgia was accompanied by a number of armed conflicts : Georgian Bolsheviks and parts of the 11th and 9th Kuban armies of the RSFSR participated from one side, on the other, armed units of the Georgian Democratic Republic (with the support of the French fleet), the People's Guard (party detachments of Georgian Social Democrats – ‘Mensheviks’) and the militia.

In the spring of 1920, Soviet troops occupied Azerbaijan and proclaimed Soviet power in it. However, a number of factors prevented their intentions to advance into Georgia: the Bolshevik uprising in Georgia was quickly suppressed by the Menshevik government with the support of the Entente, while at the same time the position of the Bolsheviks became more complicated on the Polish front. The world with Georgia was also necessary for the Bolsheviks in order to establish relations with Britain, thereby breaking through the international isolation of Soviet Russia. In connection with all this, Soviet troops were withdrawn from the borders of Georgia.

May 7, 1920 in Moscow was concluded a peace treaty between the RSFSR and the Georgian Democratic Republic. Under its conditions, Soviet Russia was to recognize the independence of Georgia and promised not to interfere in its internal affairs, and Georgia, particularly, legalized the position of the Communist Party. The sides exchanged diplomatic representatives (S. Kirov became the Soviet ambassador in Georgia).

Autumn 1920 as a result of the Armenian-Turkish war Armenia was ‘Sovietized’. Thus, Georgia was surrounded. Meanwhile, Kirov and Ordzhonikidze led a campaign in the Soviet leadership for the ‘Sovietization’ of Georgia. Thus, on December 12, in a message to Lenin and Stalin, Ordzhonikidze states: “The Georgian situation is such that we will easily put an end to it: insurrections in Borchalinsky district, Abkhazia, Ajaria, Dushetsky district will be held. Once again I bring this to your attention and ask for instructions. “

However, he did not wait for these instructions, and already on December 15, the Caucasian Bureau of the CPSU (B) ordered the 11th Army to cross the Georgian border. However, two days later, December 17, the Plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU (B) Confirmed the “decision of the Central Committee on the peaceful direction of the policy of the RSFSR in the Caucasus,”’ and the operation was abolished. Ordzhonikidze and Kirov on behalf of the Caucasian Bureau again appealed to Moscow with a proposal to seize Georgia: “All the counter-revolutionary conspiracies discovered in the North Caucasus invariably open a connection with Georgia. To firmly ensure the North Caucasus (bread and oil) for us, it is necessary to ‘sovetize’ Georgia. “January 12, 1921 Plenum of the Central Committee again rejected the proposal of the Bureau. Lenin continued to oppose the operation, doubting its prospects, whereas Stalin and Trotsky managed to win over its organizers to their side. On February 6, a group of troops of the Caucasian front Commander Gittis under the command of M. Velikanova consisting of several rifle and cavalry divisions and a tank detachment. On the same day Ordzhonikidze sends Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky another telegram:

“Georgia finally turned into the headquarters of the world counter-revolution in the Middle East. Here the French are in command, here the British are operating, and here Kazim Bey is in charge - the representative of the Angora government. In the mountains millions of gold are thrown, the predatory gangs attacking our border posts are being created in the border strip with us...

I consider it necessary to emphasize once again the mortal danger looming in the Baku region, which can only be prevented by immediate concentration of sufficient forces for the sovietization of Georgia. “However, at the suggestion of Lenin, the Politburo decided to continue peaceful negotiations with the Menshevik’s government of Georgia. Ordzhonikidze responded to this by saying that on the night of February 12, 1921, in Borchalinsky and Akhalkalaksky districts of Georgia, local communists raised an uprising coordinated with the command of the 11th Army.

Bolsheviks were occupied by Gori, Dushet and the entire Borchalinsky district. Seeing this success, on February 15, Lenin orders the staff of the Caucasian Front: “We expect 11 active and swift actions which do not stop before Tiflis.”

On February 16, 1921, the Revolutionary Committee of Georgia, Headed by F. Makharadze, proclaimed the ‘Georgian Soviet Republic’ and applied for military assistance to the government of the RSFSR. To the beginning of the conflict, Georgian AF, including regular units (party detachments of the Social Democrats), consisted of 16 infantry battalions (1 army division and regiment of the People's guard), 1 engineer battalion, 5 field artillery units (52 guns in all), 2 cavalry regiments (legions), as many auto squadrons with 2 teams of armored vehicles, squadron and 4 armored trains. In all, 21,000 people were on the payroll, not counting headquarters, offices, non-combat units, and serf regiments.

It should be noted that there were no privates in the Georgian army, and all army ranks started with the captain. On February 16, 1921, Soviet troops crossed the southern border of Georgia and occupied the Red Bridge across the Khrami River and Shulaveri village. Here they were resisted by volunteer squads of kakhetians under the command of Stefan Akhmeteli. Then the Bolsheviks moved north to Tbilisi. On February 19-20, near the village of Tabakhmela, on the approaches to Tbilisi, parts of the 11th Army encountered fierce resistance of Junkers - students of the military school (510 fighters, 4 cannons, 6 machine guns, commanded by Colonel A. Chkheidze). The village remained under the Georgian Junkers, but the Reds bypassed it and continued the offensive.

On February 24, the government of N. Jordania was evacuated to Kutaisi. In village Tabakhmela continued to keep the cadets, who were by then about 290 people. The Georgian forces were ordered to retreat; In order to avoid victims among civilians, their leadership decided to abandon Tbilisi. The Georgian Army was to gain a foothold near the city of Mtskheta, but after the surrender of Tbilisi the combat spirit of the soldiers fell sharply, and the organized resistance of the Georgian armed forces ceased. On February 25, 1921, parts of the 11th Army entered Tbilisi without a fight. Thus, throughout the entire road - from the Georgian-Azerbaijani border to Tbilisi - the expeditionary forces of the Red Army met only two centers of resistance, and went all the way in just 9 days. The Georgian Revolutionary Committee arrived in Tbilisi, which was reorganized the same day in the SNC of the Georgian SSR. Meanwhile, on February 18, in the rear of the Bolsheviks, the 7,500-strong Dashnaks army has suddenly taken Yerevan.

In parallel, the forces of the 9th Kuban Army under the command of V. Chernyshev led an attack in Abkhazia, where on Feb. 17 the Revolutionary Committee was established. Here success was variable (for example, on February 28, Georgian troops, with fire support of the French fleet, drove out Soviet units from Gagry, but the next day the Bolsheviks again occupied it).

On March 4, 1921, parts of the 31st Infantry Division of the 9th Army occupied Sukhumi, where the Abkhazian SSR was proclaimed. March 9 Zugdidi was occupied , March 14 - Poti.

The Georgian government and the army, demoralized by the loss of Tbilisi, tried to organize the defense of Kutaisi, but the unexpected advance of the Red Army from the North Caucasus, through the pass of Mamisoni considered impassable, did not give them such an opportunity. On March 10, the Bolsheviks entered the abandoned Kutaisi. Part of the Georgian forces went to the mountains and continued to fight, but the main units of the army and the people's guards, as well as the government retreated to the important Black Sea port of Batumi.

On February 23, Kazym Karabekir, Commanded of Turkish troops in Western Armenia, declared an ultimatum to Georgia, demanding that the cities of Ardahan and Artvin must be left. Caught under fire from both sides, the Georgian government was forced to retreat, and the Turks entered Georgia, occupying the border areas and finding them near the Batumi remaining in the hands of the Georgians, to which the 18th Cavalry Division of the Red Army was approaching. The possibility of a military clash was created. Hoping to use this circumstance, Georgians reached an oral agreement with Karabekir on March 7, according to which Turkish troops could enter the city, retaining control over the civil administration over the Georgian authorities. On March 8 Turks under the command of Kazim Bey took defensive positions around the city, which led to a crisis in their relations with Soviet Russia. People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs Chicherin handed a note of protest to the Turkish representative in Moscow; he responded in two notes, stating that the Turkish army only ensures the safety of the local Muslim population threatened by the Soviet military operation. While fighting in difficult military conditions in the Caucasus (Armenia, Dagestan, the continuation of resistance in Georgia) to cease hostilities, Lenin stated the need compromise with the Georgian Mensheviks.

On March 8, the Georgian Revolutionary Committee asked them to create a coalition government, but the Social Democrats refused to do so. However, when the Turkish authorities announced on March 16 about the annexation of Batumi, the Georgian government was forced to make a choice. The hope for a French or British intervention has already disappeared; moreover, on March 16, a trade agreement was signed between Great Britain and the RSFSR, according to which The British promised to abstain from any anti-Soviet activities throughout the territory of the former Russian Empire. On the same day, a friendship treaty was signed in Moscow between Soviet Russia and the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, headed by Kemal Ataturk. Under this agreement, Ardahan and Artvin moved to the Turks, who, in turn, refused to claim Batumi. However, the Turks did not leave the city. The Georgian leaders preferred the power of the Bolsheviks to the Turkish occupation, and to prevent the final loss of Georgia by Batumi, they went to negotiations with the Revolutionary Committee. Part of the territory of the Georgian Democratic Republic, however, went to Turkey.

Subsequently, in 1945 - 1953, the USSR put forward territorial claims to Turkey regarding the Armenian and Georgian territories that had withdrawn to it in 1921, but then abandoned these claims.

March 17 in Kutaisi Georgian Defense Minister Grigol Lordkipanidze and Plenipotentiary of the Soviet side Abel Yenukidze concluded a truce, and on March 18 - an agreement allowing the Red Army to occupy Batumi.

The peacekeeping with the Georgian Mensheviks allowed the Bolsheviks to act indirectly. Soviet-Turkish consultations continued in Moscow, and meanwhile on the outskirts of Batumi stood several thousand soldiers of the Georgian army and the people's guards, ready to fight for the city. On March 18, Georgians under the command of General Georgi Mazniashvili started street fighting with the Turkish garrison. Meanwhile, the Menshevik government plunged into an Italian ship and left the country under the escort of French warships. The fighting ended on March 19, when the port and most of the city were in the hands of Georgians. On the same day, Mazniashvili surrendered Batumi to the Revolutionary Committee, the Red cavalry entered it, and Soviet power was established there.

Front News International


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