In this report, IDFI discussed the memory politics of independent Georgia since 1991, achievements and challenges in the three basic directions – legal dimension, institutional dimension and memorial dimension. Based on the report, it can be argued that there are challenges in the three directions.
First of all, one of the most important challenges is that 80% of KGB documents were destroyed during the Tbilisi Civil War, which makes the full-scale lustration almost impossible in Georgia. Moreover, the assumptions that the part of the archives may still be preserved in Russia should be considered. This could posses particular threats for Georgia within the context of tense relations between Russia and Georgia. The existence of such documents in the hands of the Russian government can be an effective weapon for interfering in Georgia’s internal political affairs. Also, according to the information requested and received by IDFI, it can be said that the work of the “Freedom Charter” Commission is relatively vague and its effectiveness should also be questioned. an important issue. According to the information requested and received by IDFI, it can be argued that the activities of the Commission are relatively vague. Moreover, although the law foresees the participation of the members of the Parliament in the Commission, the engagement of MPs is significantly low.
Moreover, there are challenges in the direction of preventing the re-emergence of totalitarian ideologies and the spread of totalitarian symbolics in the countries. First of all, it is necessary to create a mechanism which would enable the Freedom Charter Committee at the State Security Service to reveal and abolish totalitarian symbolics in public space more effectively and timely. Also, holding active information campaigns and discussions is necessary, which would facilitate a consensus in the society based on which the totalitarian symbolic will be abolished and/or replaced.
State’s activities in the direction of commemoration and rehabilitation of the victims of Soviet repressions is especially important. IDFI considers it necessary the rights of the repressed individuals and their heirs to apply to the court and receive financial compensation abolished since January 1st, 2018, to be renewed and the amount of compensation to be increased from 1,000 GEL to 2,000 GEL. The increase of monthly subsidy for the repressed individuals from 7 GEL to 44 GEL is also important, for which IDFI continues its active campaign. Moreover, the state should ensure a full waiver of utility fees for repressed individuals and those who do not own residential property should be given a monthly allowance in the amount of full or partial rental fee. It is important that repressed individuals have access to public transport benefits. And finally, social benefit and household assistance should be based on the realistic calculation of monthly expenses and should enable the beneficiaries to meet their daily needs.
As for the institutional dimension, the past experience has shown that the commissions established for researching the Soviet repression, served more to the explanation and framing of the contemporary developments between Russia and Georgia in light of the historical background than to the reassessment of the past events and the rehabilitation of victims of the totalitarian regime. Therefore, it is necessary for the state to enhance Soviet Studies research in the country, which is essential for raising public awareness about the Soviet terror and the prevention of re-emergence of similar totalitarian regimes in the future. Although there are some civic organizations in Georgia working on the Soviet past and related research, their number is not big. Often, the issues advocated by these organizations such as the openness of archives, effective memory politics and the rehabilitation of victims are neglected by the state. Therefore, it is necessary to enhance cooperation between the civic organization, researching the Soviet past, and the state in order to ensure the implementation of effective memory politics in the country.
For the memorial dimension, IDFI considers that the site of the mass graves of the victims of Soviet repressions discovered near Batumi is the most challenging issue because while in many other countries on the places of shooting and burial sites of the victims of repressions memorial complexes are erected, through the governmental support, different educational and other types of events are held and research in this direction is enhanced, such places practically do not exist in Georgia.
In 2019, IDFI sent a letter to the Government of Adjara and then to the Prime Minister of Georgia and called for taking rapid and effective measures toward studying the remains and burying and commemorating the victims of the Soviet repressions. However, event after a year of the discovery, the graves remain underresearched, the preparation for the erection of the memorial at the place has not started and the educational or the other types of activities have not been initiated. Most importantly, the decision on the identification of the bodies and returning them to their families has not been made. Regardless of IDFI’s numerous calls, even after a year of the discovery, the graves remain underresearched, the preparation for the erection of the memorial at the place has not started and the educational or the other types of activities have not been initiated. Most importantly, the decision on the identification of the bodies and returning them to their families has not been made. IDFI still actively calls the state to consider IDFI’s recommendations and start working in this direction.
The creation of museums, focused on the research of the Soviet past and commemoration of its victims, is still a challenge for Georgia. For this, first of all, the reconstruction of Stalin’s birth-house museum and changing its concept is necessary, which should be carried out in parallel with the dialogue with the local population. Also, it is important, the research component to be integrated into the Museum of Soviet Occupation and young researchers to get involved in its development and expansion. IDFI expresses its readiness to collaborate in this direction with the state as well as the representatives of specific museums.
This material has been financed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sida nad the Open Society Institute Budapest Foundation (OSI).
Responsibility for the content rests entirely with the creator.Sida and the Open Society Institute Budapest Foundation (OSI) do not necessarily share the expressed views and interpretations.
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