Victims of Communist Repression – Sandro Akhmeteli (Part One)
24 February, 2011

Sandro Akhmeteli’s case was much more complicated than others. Stalin’s hatred for the Akhmeteli family had far deeper roots and latent motivations than one can imagine.
Professor Simon Maskharashvili has more.
GJ – The fortune would have it that one of the most talented Georgian theatrical directors Sandro Akhmeteli became a victim of the 1937 Stalinist-Bolshevik repressions. Although the Bolsheviks did not usually need a lot of grounds and investigation for a person to be apprehended, I am still inclined to ask you a question about the reasons of the Stalinist administration’s serious resentment against Sandro Akhmeteli.
SM – As long as Sandro Akhmeteli is concerned personally, his case was much more complicated than others. Stalin’s hatred for the Akhmeteli family had far deeper roots and latent motivations than one can imagine.
GJ – Did Stalin personally hate the Akhmeteli family? 
SM – Yes, he did! He personally hated Sandro and his entire family. This was a family which had produced four successful and well-known persons. There were two brothers Stephaneh and Simon Akhmeteli, and their cousins Sandro and Data Akhmeteli, also brothers. They practically grew up in the same extended family. Stephane was the general of the Russian army since the Tsarists times. He was a Georgian who had achieved a considerable success among the Russian military. Simon and Data Akhmeteli used to be one of the first Georgian professional veterinarians. They were educated at the Tartu (Estonia) University which was then known as one of the most prestigious schools around. Stephane was executed by the Bolsheviks a little earlier as a ‘white’ General’ because he had served in the Russian White Guard – the famous stern fighters against Bolshevism. Data and Simon were badly hit by the 1937 communist repressions. The trial against Data Akhmeteli became a real cause celebre. He was one of the chief ‘culprits’ of the so called ‘case of Veterinarians’.
GJ – Unless my memory is failing me, he occupied a very high position.  
SM – He used to be the head of the South Caucasus Veterinary Service. You know, in the situation where the three members of the same family were politically repressed, the fate of the fourth one (Sandro Akhmeteli) seemed to be practically decided. He was the youngest among them. The most mind-boggling part of the Akhmeteli family tragedy was the coincidence of several facts. The Akhmeteli family resided in one of the houses in the Kote Apkhazi Street of Tbilisi. Theirs was the house in the corner of which a local shoemaker, certain Vano Tskhonebuli ran a small workshop.
GJ – Vano Tskhonebuli? I have never heard of such a family name in Georgia . . .  
SM – Presumably, that was his nickname, but nobody had ever mentioned him by any other name. Vano Tskhonebuli was a famous homosexual in Tbilisi. Stalin’s father Beso (Besarion) was a shoemaker too. At some point in time, the little Soso (Joseph Stalin) was assigned by his dad to Vano’s workshop as an apprentice. Vano Tskhonebuli was known for breeding the ‘Kinto’ by means of corrupting the young boys, turning them into homosexuals. The ‘Kinto’ was a mail homosexual person which at that time was considered a notoriously derogatory behavior. 
GJ – Are you trying to say that Stalin was too the victim of Vano Tskhonebuli?
SM – The research into Stalin’s sexual orientation is not the subject of our conversation. Neither have I wanted to say anything hurriedly or sound inconsiderate in connection with this subject, but the fact was that Stalin had spent time in the workshop of Vano Tskhonebuli, and because of this he was referred to by part of the Georgian elite by the name of ‘Kinto’. This happened when young Stalin’s first poem was published in the Georgian press. In reality, he was not a ‘Kinto’. People just made reference to the fact that the boy had had a certain adventure in the workshop of Vano Tskhonebuli. I would like to reiterate that the fact of having spent some time in Vano’s abode did not mean at all that Stalin had changed his sexual orientation. It is a weird thing though that society at times is not at all interested to consider the details of the situation in question. (To be continued in the next article on the same page.)