Russian State Duma to Mull over Recognition of “South Ossetians’ Genocide”


Chairman of the Russian State Duma, Viacheslav Volodin told reporters on August 1 that the State Duma has become familiar with the appeal of “the South Ossetian Parliament on recognition of the genocide of South Ossetians by Georgia in 1920.”

Volodin said that “the Council of the State Duma, which consists of the leadership of the State Duma, heads of all political factions and committee chairs, will discuss the appeal at its upcoming session.”

In its appeal released on July 31, the Parliament of occupied Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia noted that in June 2020, the so-called South Ossetia will mark “the 100th anniversary of genocide.”

In connection with “the anniversary of South Ossetia’s national tragedy,” the legislature of the occupied region offered the Russian State Duma and the Federation Council to receive the South Ossetian parliamentary delegation and hold consultations over “political and legal steps of genocide recognition.”

“Not only recognition of the fact of genocide, including by Georgia in the long run, would promote restoration of historical justice, but it would become an effective deterrence against Georgia’s new aggression in both South Ossetia and Abkhazia,” the appeal reads.

The Parliament of the occupied South Ossetia approved the text of the appeal on July 19. The July 9 statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin, in which he accused Georgia of “Abkhazia’s occupation” and “Ossetian people’s genocide” in 1918-1920, prompted the South Ossetian lawmakers to start working on the appeal.

Amid ongoing chaos following the October Revolution of 1917, Bolsheviks attempted several revolts in South Caucasus, including Georgia, where rebellions took place in Kakheti, Imereti, Samegrelo, Lechkhumi and Eastern Georgian mountain areas, as well as in Abkhazia and north-central areas around Java district heavily populated by ethnic Ossetians. Georgian bolsheviks, including Alexandre Gegechkori, Philipe Makharadze and others also participated in the revolts.

Largely determined by agrarian issues, including scarcity of land resources, Ossetians in Georgia’s mountainous Java district and its surroundings, backed by the Bolsheviks, staged several uprisings first against Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic, later against Georgian Democratic Republic, led by the Social-Democratic Party (Mensheviks – fierce ideological rivals to Bolsheviks).

In 1920, as Bolsheviks became victorious in Russia’s Civil War against Denikin’s White Russia, communists overtook the North Caucasus. In spring 1920, Bolshevik Russia occupied Baku and subsequently Azerbaijan, that was followed by Russia’s attempt to invade Georgia.

Following failed invasion of Georgia in May 1920, Ossetians in Java district backed by Bolsheviks staged revolts in summer 1920 against the central Georgian government that was severely suppressed by the Georgian National Guard. Many Ossetians of Java fled to the north. The government of Georgia was strongly criticized by the opposition as well for its harsh handling of the uprising.

It is however hard to evaluate suppression of the uprising as an ethnic cleansing against Ossetian people, first because of ideological, rather than ethnic nature of the uprising itself, and second, harsh measures were experienced by Java residents only, who were systematically revolting against the central government. Ossetians in lower areas, in Tskhinvali zone villages, as well as Ossetians from the rest of Democratic Republic of Georgia faced no discrimination or repressions on ethnic grounds.

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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