Declaration of the Genocide of 1920 in South Ossetia

Under all internationally recognized norms extermination of individual population groups on racial, national, ethnic or religious grounds as well as creating living conditions calculated to bring about destruction, in whole or in part, of these groups or imposing on the groups measures intended to prevent births within the groups, is considered as one of the most heinous crimes against humanity and is defined as genocide.

In this case a purposeful extermination of the people of South Ossetia is at work, committed by the government of Georgia in 1918 – 1920 which brought about most negative consequences for the Ossetians in South Ossetia.

The pictures of the brutal, nazi reprisals over the peaceful peasantry of South Ossetia are horrifying even against those hard and tragic first years of the revolutionary developments. What was committed in South Osssetia is beyond human comprehension.

Seventy years have passed, but nothing changed, it seems. The ‘particular’ attitude to South Ossetia as regards its constitutional rights within Georgia really requires an open and professional investigation. The same can be said about the role of the media in this area.

Proceeding from the principles of democracy, humanism and freedom it is necessary to state that:

1. The revolutionary movement in South Ossetia was by no means an act of reprisal against anyone, neither was it directed against Georgia.
2. The demands put forward by the leaders of the national movement in South Ossetia were of a particularly democratic character directed at the attainment of the lawful right of the 100 thousand men strong peasantry to self-determination, which implies:
a) having the form of a political system in South Ossetia acceptable for the local population, i. e. the Soviets.
b) having the right to remain within the political system the population of South Ossetia has the right to choose, i. e. within the Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic together with the other part of Ossetia – North Ossetia.
3. the Georgian regular forces’ invasion of South Ossetia was a manifestation of an imperial aggression aimed at the extermination of the Ossetian people, at driving them off their own age old territory and at populating South Ossetia with Georgians. This is Genocide.
4. After the termination of the political leadership of the revolutionary movement (execution of 13 Communards, suppression of the uprisings in Java and in Tskhinval in June1920), the punitive squads in South Ossetia acted apparently pursuing an-all-to-a-man destruction principle of the peaceful population of South Ossetia. The mass-scale brutal destruction methods used against the Ossetian villagers were sanctioned by the government of Georgia which was openly trying to clean South Ossetia of Ossetians.
5. The Georgian mensheviks carried out an all-to-a-man destruction of Ossetians, brutally murdering women, children an old people, seizing their property, driving away their cattle and ruining their crops, bringing the people to hunger, to typhus and cholera epidemics. Besides, populating of Ossetian villages with Georgian migrants from mountain and other regions of the republic was carried out on a mass scale. Under all internationally accepted legal acts all this is none other than Genocide.
6. The destruction of the Ossetians in South Ossetia on a mass scale sanctioned by the so-called ‘democratic’ government of N. Zhordania was carried out under the menshevic banner (cherry- and black and white coloured) which was anew announced to be a symbol of democracy by the present Georgian government. The Ossetian people just can’t tolerate it being regarded as a symbol of Georgian statehood on the Ossetian territory.
7. To disguise the barbarous extermination (of thousands of peaceful citizens in South Ossetia – old people, women and children) as a class struggle – is Genocide!
8. We appeal to all the democratic organizations of the world, to all authorities and leaders in the governments of the USSR and the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic to support the lawful and just demands of the people of South Ossetia:
1). To recognize the destruction of Ossetians in 1920 as a genocide and require to recover the damages of 5 mln rubles in gold.
2) To recognize the right of the South Ossetian people
– to national self-identification;
– to having the political system the people of South Ossetia choose in accordance with the Constitution of the USSR;
– to independent choice of entry into one or another state organization up to establishing their own national-governmental unit.

Adopted at the 14-th Session
of the Oblast Soviet of People’s Deputies
of the Republic of South Ossetia
of the 20-th convocation
20 September 1990

The Resolution of the Parliament of the Republic of South Ossetia
On the Political Assessment of the 1918-1920 events

The Parliament of the Republic of South Ossetia Resolves:
1. To adopt the political assessment of the 1918-1920 events.
2. To take into consideration the Resolution adopted of 20 September1990 by the South Ossetian Oblast Soviet of People’s Deputies at their 14-th Session of 20-th convocation ‘On the Rehabilitation of
3. the Peoples Subjected to Repression, and the Genocide of the South Ossetians in 1920 (enclosed).
4. To appeal to the heads of the democratic states with a request of recognizing the South Ossetians’ genocide in 1920.
5. To transmit the adopted document to the media for publication.
6. The present Resolution enters into force from the day of its publication.

The Chairman of the Parliament
of the Republic of South Ossetia Gassiev Z. N.
13 October 2006

The history of South Ossetia as an ethno-geographical territorial unit numbers over two thousand years. The data provided by the antique, old Georgian and old Armenian narrative sources are an unequivocal testimony of Ossetian (Scytian-Sarmatian) origin of the ancient and medieval population, which inhabited the southern slopes of the Central Caucasus. For example, the ‘Armenian Geography’ of the VII c. testifies that the above mentioned territory was a part of the early medieval Alania.

During its centuries old history South Ossetia has for the most part been independent of external supremacy though it was more than once invaded by the Kartalinian (east-Georgian) rulers. By the time of the establishment of Russian administration in the Caucasus, at the turn of the XVII-XVIII centuries Ossetia was practically independent in the north as well as in the south. Ossetia legally entered the Russian Empire in the 70-ies of the XVIII century, though several dozens of years more had passed before the Russian administration was finally settled here. With the establishment of the Soviet power South Ossetia was included in the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic, contrary to the clearly expressed will of the indigenous population.

After the collapse of the Russian Empire on 26 May 1918, Georgia proclaimed its independence, immediately laying claims on South Ossetia. By that time a lawfully elected National Soviet began functioning in South Ossetia, whose first congress was held on 6-9 June 1917 in the Java settlement. The National Soviet of South Ossetia consisted of representatives of different political trends (socialist revolutionaries, mensheviks, bolsheviks and others). The National Soviet, in its resolution on the national question supported granting ‘the right to self-determination’ to the South Ossetians. From that moment on the menshevic Georgia’s policy was aimed at an armed suppression of any attempts of South Ossetians to attain their ethnic self-identification and political self-determination.

In the summer of 1920, in response to the aggressive actions of the menshevic leadership of Georgia, an armed resistance was put up by South Ossetians striving for their national self-identification. The rebels, having destroyed the menshevic units, occupied Tskhinval on 8 June 1920. The Decree of the Revkom of South Ossetia (Revolutionary Committee) issued in this connection proclaimed the Soviet power in South Ossetia ‘from Oni to Doosheti’ and its ‘joining to Soviet Russia’.

The proclamation of the Soviet power served as a formal ground for the Georgian authorities to start a full-scale armed invasion of South Ossetia and to physical destruction of Ossetians though the preparation for it had begun long before. Apparent persecution of Ossetians was started as far back as 1918. They were declared ‘highwaymen’, ‘anarchists’ and the blame was put on them for all the misfortunes that befell the Georgians. One of the leaders of the Georgian punitive squads, colonel Kasishvili said at a meeting in the village of Eredvi: ‘It is already 118 years that Russia has subjugated Georgia and deprived it of freedom. We have suffered this age-long torture through the fault of Ossetians.’ The same Kasishvili declared in another place: ‘I am a dictator and I have the right to kill twelve men a day’.

The Georgian press was very active in providing an ideological support by the broad public of the mass reprisals against Ossetians. The ‘Democratic’ government published an appeal to ‘the Georgian warriors, defenders of the home hearth’ urging them ‘not to spare the traitors, the poisonous snakes and their young who must be exterminated. This is necessary for the wellbeing of the Georgian people. The firm will of the Georgian people and the unbending determination of this government to cleanse the breeding ground of traitors and remove, with red-hot iron, from our national body the abscesses and boils, which are threatening all our organism with poisoning and death’ (The newspaper ‘Ertoba’(Unity), 20 June 1920).

Commander of the Georgian punitive expedition colonel Chkhaidze obtained permission by the Georgian government to burn down all the villages of South Ossetia. Starting from 17 June 1920, the Georgian troops with fire and sword went all through South Ossetia. Practically all South Ossetian villages were burned down and looted, great masses of the Ossetian population, most of them women, children and elderly people, were massacred. In Ossetinskaya street of Tskhinval the Georgian mensheviks exterminated all the male citizens after making a round of all their houses.

One of the leaders of the Georgian troops Valiko Joogheli gave a colourful picture of the destruction of the peaceful villages: ‘Villages here are situated very high up in the mountains. The Ossetians must have thought they are beyond our reach. But now there are these fires burning everywhere… Burning and burning… The ominous fires! What terrible, cruel and enchanting beauty… And, seeing these bright fires burning in the night, an old companion of mine said sadly: “Now I begin to understand Neronus and the Great Fire of Rome”.

This is what F. I. Makharadze wrote about the same events: ‘ We are not going to dwell here on the description of the atrocities and savageries inflicted on the population of South Ossetia by the menshevic troops and the Guard under the command of the executioner Joogheli. They made no distinction between young and old, between men and women or between armed people and unarmed ones. They killed all indiscriminately, destroying and burning down everything on their way. The Georgian menshevics were aiming at a complete extermination of South Ossetia and they almost succeeded in achieving their aim. There was no going any further.’ The description runs as follows: ‘it is without doubt that the nationalistic and chauvinistic principles of the Georgian mensheviks were at work and the hatred they had always manifested towards all national minorities inhabiting Georgia.’
The surviving South Ossetians were forced to flee to North Ossetia. Through almost impassable mountain passes, over fifty thousand of them fled (i.e. 75 % of the population of South Ossetia), most of them perished of hunger, cold, typhus and cholera on their way.

A Georgian governmental Commission was established on 17 May 1920 to deal with the ousting of the remaining Ossetians and distributing their property among the Georgian migrants from various regions of Georgia, basically from the Doosheti and Kazbeghi regions.

Thus, in 1920 the Georgian authorities carried into life their cherished dream of destroying the non-Georgian element of the population of Georgia. It was their state policy. This is what the governmental newspaper said: ‘Our republic is trying to drive Ossetians away to where they have always striven – to the Socialist paradise’.
Here are the figures illustrating the losses and damages inflicted on South Ossetia during the Georgian invasion of 1920.

1. Persons killed (men)…………… 387
total : 669
2. Persons perished during their escape:
(men)…………….. 1206
total 4143
The total number of people perished is 4812 (5279 – according to other data).
3. Number of women raped………….62.
4. Burned down residential and utility structures……..1268034 rubles worth.
5. Household things and agricultural stock taken away
……………………...190200 rubles worth.
6. Public buildings burned down (schools and others)
………………………30, 15000 rubles worth.
7. Number of livestock driven away:
Cattle…………….. 19764 head – 988200 rubles worth.
Small cattle……………………… 46428 head – 234140 rubles worth.
8. Number of livestock lost:
Cattle ……………………………..4077 head – 234140 rubles worth.
Small cattle ………………………………… – 32653 rubles worth.
9. Cattle sold for next to nothing ……. 6527 head – 177100 rubles worth.
10. A year’s yield lost in 1920 …………………… – 167706 rubles worth.
Total losses incurred ……………………………... – 3317506 rubles worth.

The number of Ossetians perished in 1920 made 6-8 % of the total population of South Ossetia.
Only in 1921, after the establishment of the Soviet power could the South Ossetians, driven away by the Georgians, return to their burned down homes. A part of the South Ossetians settled down in North Ossetia, forming separate villages.

* * *
The atrocities of the Georgian mensheviks regarding the peaceful population of South Ossetia left no one indifferent. This is what F.I. Makharadze wrote: ‘Not one reactionary government has ever committed atrocities similar to those the Georgian mensheviks have regarding the peasantry of South Ossetia’.

At its Session of 20 September 1920, the Oblast Soviet of People’s Deputies of South Ossetia defined the 1920 events as the genocide of the Ossetian people.

The genocide inflicted on South Ossetia in 1920 by the authorities of the Georgian Republic was later reflected in the Ossetian fiction. The tragic fate of the people robbed and driven out of their homeland, ruined and burned down, made a mournful topic of the works of the classical writers of Ossetian literature such as Arsen Kotsoev, Tsomak Gadiev, Chermen Bedjizati, Sozrooko Koolaev and Koodzag Dzesov.

Their works are a true testimony of eye-witnesses and people directly involved in the tragic events of the bloody year of 1920, the year of the first genocide of the South Ossetians on whom the then fascistizing government imposed the destructive war.

Proceeding from the above stated the Parliament of the Republic of South Ossetia resolves:
1.To recognize the events of 1918-1920 as a national-liberation struggle of the people of South Ossetia.
2. To consider the actions of the authorities of the ‘Democratic’ Georgia against the Ossetian people in 1920 as genocide.