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SOUTH OSSETIA — TIMELINE: 1917-1987

Uprising, Then Soviet Repression

1917. Vladimir Lenin leads the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and replaces  an autocratic monarchy (the Tsars) with a Soviet communist government. Civil  war ensues.

1918. The Soviet Russian government signs the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk which disengages Russia from WWI, but at the cost of giving up Poland, Latvia,  Estonia and Lithuania, Finland, Ukraine and parts of the Caucasus region. Georgia,  Armenia and Azerbaijan join together into a short-lived independent Transcaucasus  Federation. Georgia declares itself to be an independent country, the Democratic  Republic of Georgia.

The territory of South Ossetia is  contained within Georgia’s borders at this time.

The Ossetian minority carries out a series of uprisings demanding  its own independence from the new Democratic Republic of Georgia, but is crushed  by Georgia’s military. Thousands of Ossetians are killed and tens of thousands  displaced from their homes. Georgia accuses Russia of  exacerbating, if not instigating, these uprisings in an attempt to exploit the  Ossetians’ separatist desires and to re-absorb the Georgian territory into  Russia’s borders.

1920Lenin
Vladimir Lenin

1919-1920. Russia recognizes the independent Democratic Republic of Georgia  in the Treaty of Moscow, but  invades Azerbaijan and Armenia and establishes  Soviet republics there.) Soviet republics are independently established in  Belorussia and Ukraine. MAP

1921. Major Western powers recognize the new Democratic Republic of  Georgia; however ,Soviet Russia invades the  Democratic Republic of Georgia and re-incorporates it into Russian territory,  this time as the Georgia Soviet Socialist Soviet Republic (SSSR). Georgian put up a  strong resistance. Georgia accuses its Ossetian population of supporting Russia  during the invasion.

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Flag of Georgia 1918-1921

1922. Russia becomes the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Administratively, republics are administratively divided into provinces  or ‘oblasts’ and some are special ‘autonomous oblasts’ reflecting distinct  ethnic groups.

The Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan Republics  with the USSR are merged into the one Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Socialist  Republic. Moscow forces Georgia to cede some of its territory to Turkey,  Azerbaijan and Armenia.

The South Ossetia Autonomous Oblast is one  of the administrative regions within the Georgian Republic’s boundaries. The North  Ossetia Autonomous Region is part of the Russian Republic. The two Ossetian  regions border each other. (As an “autonomous region,” North Ossetia has great  autonomy than the South Ossetia “autonomous oblast.”) The official languages of the Georgian  Republic are Russian and Georgian, but children  at schools in South Ossetia are taught in the Ossetian language.

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Georgia SSRC Coat of Arms 1922

1924. After two years of resistance, the Russia succeeds in crushing the  Georgian independence movement; thousands have been killed or wounded in the  two year struggle.                   Joseph Stalin, a native Georgian, becomes  leader of the Soviet Union. Georgia, like other parts of the Soviet Union, is  subjected to the repressive totalitarian rule of the Soviet regime, including  ‘purges’ of its intelligencia and dissenting voices. For the most part, overt  expressions of Georgian nationalism disappear.

1936. The Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic is divided  into three separate Republics – Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. South Ossetia  remains within Georgia.

1953. Stalin dies and Nikita Krushchev becomes the leader of the Soviet Union. Khrushchev  initiates a decentralisation program which is exploited by Georgian Communist Party officials to build their own  regional power base. Georgia is one of the most economically successful Soviet  republics.

1956. In Stalin’s native Georgia, students protest against Khruschev’s policy of de-Stalinization.  Approximately 100 demonstrators are killed.

1964. Leonid Brezhnev succeeds Khrushchev as leader of the Soviet Union.

1972. In Georgia, Eduard  Shevardnadze is appointed First Secretary, leader of the Georgian  Republic.

1977. Georgian nationalism  re-emerges. The KGB (secret police) suppresses opposition and Shevardnadze’s government imprisons some  prominent Georgian dissidents, including Zviad Gamsakhurdia (who later becomes President  of an independent Georgia).

1978. The Soviet Government attempts to change the official language of the  Georgian Republic from Georgian to Russian, resulting in mass protests. Shevardnadze  wins an unprecedented concession from the central authorities in deference to the  Georgian nationalist movement as the Georgian language retains its constitutional  status.

1985. The Soviet Union’s new leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, appoints Shevardnadze  as the USSR’s  Minister of Foreign Affairs. Jumber  Patiashvili becomes the new leader of the Georgian Republic.

CONTINUE: Under Russian Rule (1774-1917)
1945StalinatYalta
Joseph Stalin