Monthly Archives: April 2013

story about Soviet Georgia

I would like to make some quotes from the book I am reading now.

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On publishing this book, I did not consider its relevance in today’s current political climate, rather, I naively believed that after the USSR disintegration, the Soviet past of Georgia would become nothing but a bitter memory. I was wrong. As it turned out, the past can come back to haunt you, especially if we ourselves cannot move from it.

The space pioneer superpower failed to produce such a simple piece of clothing as jeans. What can be more innocent than a pair of jeans? But because they couldn’t produce them, they just banned them.
The banned jeans became sweeter than the forbidden fruit.

In those days every pair of jeans was believed to be American, and as the Soviet propaganda was particularly set to destroying American values, many thought the happiness lay where jeans were abundant.
There was a grain of truth in such a belief because the Soviet state denied its citizens the basic civil rights, the right of property among them. One could truly be free only in one’s grave or rather, the authorities stopped worrying about your freedom and rights when you were safely put under the earth…. … There might have been other reasons, but the fact is that a grave was the only property people owed. Such political attitude marked the start of altering Georgian taste for the worse. For centuries, the traditional Georgian graveyards were simple and modest, while in the Soviet times the graves became ovely decorated, adorned with marble tables and benches, statues, bikes and even cars. The Soviet Georgians were confident in one thing only – the grave belonged to them, so they were taken care of and zealosly protected. People built and decorated them as they’d do if they had real estate property. The authorities turned a blind eye to the graveyard eccentricities. The Soviet regime principles didn’t extend to the Georgian graveyards.

The Georgian authorities demonstrated more respect to the dead than to the living. However, there was one prerequisite for a guaranteed grave – one had to die ones’ natural death. If one was executed for crime, the dead convict would certainly be buried but he or she wouldn’t have a proper grave. Starting from 1920s, thousands of executed convicts found their eternal resting place in various unmarked stretches of land across the country. Very often the diggers assigned to the job of preparing a deep hole (not a grave) weren’t able to identify with certainty the places, especially that there were no landmarks to guide them and the work was usually done in the small hours, in complete darkness.

When the men opened the coffin lid, Gega’s mother turned away, waiting for their reaction. The men, deeply stunned, looked at the corpse which was difficult to identify due to the lapsed time. But it was Natia Megrelishvili who said with conviction: ‘This isn’t Gega. This is Soso, it’s his jeans, there’s the sun drawn on them.’ The others looked at the open coffin again and only now discovered the deceased was wearing the jeans, unaffected by the time and the soil. The jeans looked new and there was a shining sun drawn above the right knee.

In the 1960′s and 70′s they didn’t execute professors and scientists anymore, but in return for their lives, they forced them to cooperate with the Soviet authorities. Most of them did cooperate with the government, since otherwise none of them would have been able to travel abroad and attend a single scientific conference. Such cooperation with authorities, at first glance, was nothing special, and sometimes nothing was requested in return for their foreign trips, but this was only at first glance. In reality the main thing was taken away from them – freedom of speech and the right to have their own opinion. They couldn’t express their political views openly and had to support the government in all crucial cases (in every single one, for that matter). That’s what really happened – together with the Soviet government most Soviet scientists obediently created one big Soviet lie. Of course there also were exceptions – those who didn’t want privileges, apartments and cars given by the government (or the government didn’t with to encourage them). But there were very few of them – mostly they sat in the kitchens of their council flats. They would work, eat and drink and express negative opinions regarding the Soviet #regime only there, in the safety of their tiny kitchens. True, some – including academics – were in jail (and not kitchen), but those were known as dissidents.

Thanks to his provincial zeal, in the beginning of the 1970′s, Shevarnadze became the top person in Soviet Georgia (after beating his local competitors) and very soon, very easily, managed to charm the Soviet Georgian intelligentsia. However, the latter was more an “accomplishment” of the Soviet intelligentsia rather than that of the First Secretary, since for dozens of years, the intellectual abilities of the Soviet intelligentsia had also been deteriorating (alongside the morals).

und so weiter