The Guardian: “Georgia under Russian domination – archive”

Ward Price and Henry Nevinson, two war correspondents who witnessed the evacuation of Suvla Bay during World War One, circa 1915. Photo: Popperfoto, Jul 23, 2016, Tbilisi, Georgia

One of Britain's leading newspapers The Guardian is publishing a historic letter about Georgia, dated by July 22, 1921.

The author of the letter is war correspondent Henry Nevinson who writes to the editor of the Manchester Guardian to voice his concerns about Georgia as the country, he believes, is still greatly dominated by Russia.

"My information shows that the present treatment of Georgia is much the same as under the Tsars. Except that it affects the great body of the country people more intimately,” Nevinson writes.

"It is militarist and imperialist. Government is maintained by a close bureaucracy of Russians and Armenians. Many of the officials are the same "hooligans” who served as spies and secret police under the Tsar, but now call themselves Bolsheviks.”

The author says that Georgians are everywhere dismissed. All centres along the railway line from Batoum to Baku are held by Russian soldiers and the officials mock at Georgian claims to nationality and independence.

"There is nothing new in this; it has always been the Russian way of governing subjugated nations, as all who travelled in Russian territory knew in the past,” Nevinson says.

He describes what he has seen in Georgia.

"After the Georgian attempt to regain freedom in 1905-6 I myself saw the greater part of Western Georgia burnt and devastated by the Tsar’s troops with the usual military abominations,” he says. 

"What is new is the deliberate pillage of the whole country. Russian soldiers roam from village to village devouring all that the peasants have produced; and Georgia besides being the most beautiful country I have seen, is by nature one of the most fertile.”

Nevinson also mentions that all Georgian books are destroyed and no one is allowed to keep more than 300 books of any kind.

"And the Georgians are an intellectual and highly-educated people,” he adds.

At the end of the letter the author says that the Georgians themselves believe that their future depends upon the attitude of the Bratain towards Germany and Central Europe.

"If we admit Central Europe again into the fold of Western civilisation they may hope. If not, they foresee violent reaction in Germany, followed by violent reaction (perhaps clerical) in Russia, a powerful alliance between the two and the absolute annihilation of Georgia and other small races,” he says.

Read the full letter here: