A century has passed since 25 February 1921 when the Russian 11th Army invaded the Democratic Republic of Georgia. 100 years ago, the occupation of Georgia was preceded by the battles for defending the independence of the country, which continued even after 25 February. The unequal war has sacrificed the lives of many people. Occupier Russia violated the agreement and the international obligation – Red Army ended the three-year independence of the country and Georgia became a part of Soviet Russia for the next 70 years. The legal authority of the Democratic Republic of Georgia was forced to go into exile and continue their struggle for the independence of the country abroad. In Georgia, the mass repressions started. Many individuals who fought for the independence of the country were arrested and shot dead. With regard to this one of the most tragic dates in the recent history of Georgia, the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), in collaboration with its partners, held several events, aimed at raising public awareness about the Soviet occupation, representing the individuals fighting for Georgia’s independence and commemorating the victims of the repressive regime.
On 22 and 23 February, IDFI, in collaboration with the American Corners Batumi held two public online lectures for school students. On 22 February, the Analyst of Memory and Disinformation Studies direction at IDFI, Megi Kartsivadze talked about the objectives, strategy and results of the Russian information war in the post-Soviet space. On 23 February, the Head of Memory and Disinformation Studies direction at IDFI, Anton Vatcharadze held a lecture about the invasion of the Red Army in Georgia in 1921 and the tragic developments that followed. During the lectures, students had an opportunity to ask questions to IDFI’s representatives and engage in the discussion.
Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), IDFI held an exhibition dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Soviet occupation of Georgia in the Maro Makashvili park at the National Library. Archival documents and photos about the Soviet occupation, personal stories of the people who fell victim to the totalitarian regime, documents about the Junkers, Ivane Javakhishvili’s address to the students and other materials were represented at the exhibition. Informative texts created by the researcher of the First Republic, Salome Tchanturidze, were attached to these materials. The Executive Director of IDFI, Giorgi Kldiashvili, Director General of the National Library, Giorgi Kekelidze, Deputy Director, Mirian Khositashvili, Sida’s representative, Kakha Khimshiashvili, Salome Tchanturidze and Anton Vatcharadze addressed the attendants of the exhibition. Considering the pandemic, IDFI uploaded the exhibition materials on the website as well, so that they can be viewed online. Additionally, since 1 March, those who are interested will be able to view the materials at the 26 May Hall in the Second Building of the Library.
At the exhibition, the award ceremony for the essay competition “Soviet Occupation in the Memory of Georgia” and the illustrations competition “Soviet Occupation – After 100 years” was held. The competitions were aimed at enhancing and popularizing Soviet studies among the youth and raising public awareness about the Soviet occupation. Three essays and two illustrations were selected as winners.
Winners of the essay competition:
I place- Irakli Leonidze, “Thought about the State Affiliation of Muslim Georgia”
II place – Leila Chachkhiani, “The 1921 Occupation and the Georgia Newspapers of the Perestroika Era”
III place – Nino Chanadiri “Narrative about the Soviet Occupation within the Frame of Contemporary Russo-Georgian Relations: Politics, Memory and Identity”.
Winners of the illustrations competition:
I place – Mariam Chagelishvili
II place – Meki Giorgadze
Author: Mariam Chagelishvili Author: Meki Giorgadze
On 26 February, with IDFI’s organization and Sida’s financial support, famous artists, Lia Ukleba painted graffiti related to the Soviet occupation on the façade of the National Library building on Nikea street in Kutaisi.
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