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25 Feb, 2009 16:38

Georgia marks Sovietization Day

On February 25, Georgia marks ‘Sovietization Day’. Introduced in the early 1990s, the holiday has recently acquired a slightly different sense.

Originally on this day Georgia remembers its early Soviet times period, which the Georgian leadership regards as one of the ‘gloomiest’ in the country’s history.

However, this year the Georgian leadership has attached more political significance the date.

They have supported a number of ideas to add an anti-Russian flavor to the day. For instance, the Tbilisi City Hall proposed that all drivers start honking at one time to commemorate 30 Georgian cadets “who died during the Red Army's invasion of Georgia” in 1921. The mob took place at 10:00 Moscow time.

Tbilisi and Batumi city authorities also decided to rename 15 streets, which had earlier been named after prominent Bolsheviks, to commemorate “Georgian heroes, who died during the Russian aggression last August.”

Managers of Georgian media outlets also supported an idea by the radical youth organization RE-Action to ban all Georgian TV channels and radio stations from showing movies and broadcasting songs in the Russian language. This happened for the first time on Georgia’s Day of Sovietization.

Natiya Khuroshvili, editor of the ‘Fortuna’ radio information service, explains the radio station’s decision not to broadcast songs in Russian on this day:

“We join this event to dedicate at least one day to the memory of the Russian aggressive policy victims,” she said.

“But this one day when no Russian song will be on air doesn’t mean that we are against Russian culture”.

Khuroshvili added that Russian culture will always be acceptable in Georgia and the country’s citizens will listen to Russian music and read Russian books.

“But today is occupation day, and tomorrow we will again remember the Russian aggression victims in Georgia,” she said.

History of the Sovetization Day

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Georgia declared independence on May 26, 1918, in the midst of the Russian Civil War. The pro-Menshevik Georgian Social-Democratic Party won the parliamentary election and its leader became prime minister of the independent republic.

Early in 1921 Georgia was attacked by the Red Army. The Georgian army was defeated and the Social-Democratic government fled the country. On February 25, 1921, the Red Army entered the capital Tbilisi and installed a Moscow directed communist government, led by Georgian Bolshevik Filipp Makharadze.

The date was marked as the Soviet Georgia Day during the soviet times, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union the holiday changed its name to the Sovietization Day. The holiday’s undertone changed as well.

However, Sovietization Day 2009 is the first one since 1992 to be marked with a distinct anti-Russian flavor.