The Mishandled Situation
03 November, 2011

Patiashvili should have appeared in front of the people and talked to them. He should have explained to his fellow citizens that there was an impending danger looming out there, but he never did this, which had created an utterly hysterical situation in the country. Professor Simon Maskharashvili has more.

 

GJ – Why was secretary Patiashvili at such a big loss?

SM – There was a Georgia’s communist party central committee bureau meeting a while before this, during which secretary Nugzar Popkhadze made a statement that tanks would move onto the crowd in the Rustaveli Avenue if they did not disperse peacefully. That was the meeting of the bureau, during which the decision to let the tanks into Tbilisi was signed. Patiashvili bewared of Popkhadze because he knew that Pokhadze was in close relationships with Shevardnadze. Patiashvili was concerned about Shevardnadze’s clout. So he was left alone in the entire process of then recent developments.

GJ – What was Patiashvili to do in the best case scenario?

SM – Had he come out and talked to people, the situation could have taken a totally different twist. I think he had mishandled the whole thing.

GJ – What makes you say so? Why do you think the people in the street, electrified by the idea of Georgia’s national liberation and independence would have listened to a communist party boss?

SM – In spite of the lately developed processes, instigated by the idea of national liberation and independence, an actual leader still was the party first secretary Jumber Patiashvili, not the Patriarch or Gamsakhurdia and Kostava, or any leader of any informal association. According to the polls of 1988 about the popularity of a political leader, the runners-up were Gamsakhurdia and Akaki (Kako) Bakradze. The Patriarch and Merab Kostave could not even make it among the first three. The undisputed winner was Jumber Patiashvili. This is why I think he should have appeared in front of the people and talked to them. He should have explained to his fellow citizens that there was an impending danger looming out there, but he never did this, which had created an utterly hysterical situation in the country. Meanwhile the soviet security troops were being accumulated in Georgia and they were getting ready to spill the Georgian blood. The people thought that it was the Soviet Army unit. Out of the 23 hundred troops which had dispersed and beaten the meeting participants in the Rustaveli Avenue in Tbilisi on the 9th of April, 1900 were the Dzerzhinsky Division goons. Only 1000 of the used troops were under the control of the South Caucasian Military District commander Rodionov.

GJ – Let us follow up the development of events, shall we?

SM – At 3.30 in the morning of April 9, 1989 the situation became extremely taut. The Georgian state security did its job by having asked the Patriarch to appear before the meeting participants to make a warning statement. Let’s not forget that the situation was taking place in the still-soviet Georgia, so the statement had to be made not by the Patriarch but by a communist party boss because the decision maker in the country was not the Patriarch of Georgia but the secretary of the communist party central committee. In political matters, the party boss was more competent and authoritative than anybody else. On top of everything, the Patriarch’s words were not even heard well enough to understand exactly what he was saying. What he did was something like calling on the crowd to enter the Kashueti Church to pray and thank God for having saved us. We the people understood his words like a message to flee and find a shelter in the church to thank God for having escaped a serious beating by the troops.