IDFI - Classified Document on Georgia's Independence

News | Research | Memory and Disinformation Studies | Publications 27 May 2016

IDFI congratulates every citizen and supporter of Georgia with the Independence Day. To mark this occasion, we decided to publish a formerly classified document kept in the archives of the USA. This document is an analytical report on the events taking place in Georgia on 24 April 1990, at an early stage of the Georgian independence movement, prepared by the US Directorate of Intelligence.


One of our areas of activity is ensuring openness of state archives and access to documentary materials. To this end, we cooperate with world’s leading research institutions and scientific organizations. Several years ago, we asked our partner organization - National Security Archive at George Washington University to request documents concerning April 9, 1989 events in Georgia. We strongly believe that objective study and rethinking of the past is necessary for making informed decisions about the future.


The document titled Georgia: Independence Drive Accelerating (April 24, 1990) states that the brutal dispersal of April 9, 1989 demonstration in Tbilisi has increased the pursuit of independence, which was lost back in 1921. However, differences exist between those who favor a tough approach to Moscow and demand independence quickly, and others who favor a more moderate, gradual approach. According to the report, a number of ethnic minorities in the country, feeling oppressed by the Georgians, oppose Georgia’s independence, creating a risk of confrontation. The authors of memorandum note that Moscow will attempt to avoid military intervention in the republic’s internal conflicts, but will have a tough response to the demands of independence.


The document also points to increased anti-Soviet feelings among Georgians. Demonstrators have destroyed the statues of Lenin and other symbols of Soviet power. Demonstrations of varying size take place in Tbilisi each Friday evening at 6:00 with demands for secession from the Soviet Union. Only the Georgian national and Orthodox Church flags fly from buildings. A new language law makes Georgian the state language and all schools are teaching Georgian history. According to the authors, the Georgian Orthodox Church is an important source of inspiration for Georgian nationalism. Citizens openly attend church services. The authors believe that Georgians are returning to the church for two reasons: 1. it is no longer forbidden to openly participate in religious activities; and 2. it is a way for Georgians to express their ethnic identity.


According to the assessment of the analysts, Moscow fears that anti-Russian elements of Georgian nationalism will become more pronounced if Georgians are not allowed more independence. If Russians were to become the targets of violence, Moscow would feel compelled to intervene, probably through airlifting non-Georgians out of the republic or economic sanctions. Moscow would still be reluctant to use force or military coercion, however. Gorbachev’s reaction to the Lithuanian situation will have different implications to different groups of Georgian nationalists. The moderates are likely to see his hard line as further evidence that independence should be achieved gradually through negotiations, while radicals may perceive these events as proof that Moscow will never willingly allow a republic to secede and the only solution is radical action.




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