Friday, April 10, 2009

MEDIA: Georgia recalls Soviet crackdown (

By Steven Eke BBC Russian Affairs Analyst

"Like a scene from a medieval battle," is how one of the Soviet soldiers involved remembers the dawn hours of 9 April 1989.
He was referring to the violent clashes between troops and protesters on the main square in front of the Georgian government building, on Rustaveli Avenue, in the heart of the Georgian capital, Tbilisi.
The clashes left 20 people dead, mainly young women.
It was one of the defining moments of late Soviet history.
It was also the first time since 1962 that large-scale fatalities had resulted from the deployment of troops and security forces against Soviet civilians.
The events of 9 April 1989 were the culmination of weeks of demonstrations for Georgian independence and against separatism in the Georgian Black Sea region of Abkhazia.
At times, these two separate demands seemed to merge.
The demonstrations included hunger strikes, but were overwhelmingly peaceful. At their peak, about 10,000 people are estimated to have been present.
The request to send Soviet interior ministry troops came from the First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party, Jumber Pastiashvili.
The troops were commanded by Colonel General Igor Radionov.
In the hours before the attack, the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church made an impassioned address to the crowd, beseeching the demonstrators to leave the square. They refused.
Minutes before 4am on 9 April, Gen Radionov told his troops to clear the square by all means available.

full article with two videos >>>

1. Video: Tbilisi's main square was strewn with the dead and injured after Soviet troops crushed a popular protest
2. Video: Georgian film-maker and opposition leader Georgi Khaindrava returns to the square and recalls the events

1 comment:

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