Georgia marks anniversary of historic 1991 memorandum on independence

March 31 marks the anniversary of the referendum that led to Georgia’s regaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Photo from National Archives of Georgia, 31 Mar 2023 - 12:03, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian institutions and citizens on Friday marked the 32nd anniversary of the referendum that led to the country regaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. 

The anniversary marks the date when a vast majority of Georgian citizens, including those currently living in the Russian-occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) regions, cast their ballots to legally confirm their support for restoration of the country’s independence after seven decades of Soviet rule.

In remarks on the date, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili called it “exemplary” in the country’s contemporary history for showing “civil unanimity”. 

Exactly 32 years ago, the entire population of Georgia told the world they supported the restoration of the country’s independence, which came following the March 31 referendum that became the basis for the adoption of the Independence Act by the country's Supreme Council on April 9, 1991”, said the PM. 

He stressed the day also marked the birthday of the country’s late first President Zviad Gamsakhurdia. 

March 31 is remarkable for another reason - today is the 84th birthday of [late] President Zviad Gamsakhurdia, who had inspired the referendum and became a symbol of the struggle for Georgia's independence”, the head of the Government noted. 

He stressed the referendum would remain in the country’s history as an event that had “laid a solid foundation for the building of an independent, modern, European state, moving towards the goal that unites all generations of Georgians”. 

The country first declared its independence on May 26, 1918, but the three-year democratic republic turned out to be short-lived as the Red Army invasion in early 1921 led to the annexation and Sovietisation of the country.