How is memory about Stalin kept in contemporary Georgia?
On May 12, 2019, the Joseph Stalin museum hosted a public lecture in his hometown, Gori, dedicated to the “Day of Georgia’s Allotment to the Virgin Mary”, a holiday that the parliament of Georgia minted into the calendar a week prior in special session. Rather than a scene from a postmodern farce or satire, this is Georgian reality. In that reality, memory is bifurcated. As Nutsa Batiashvili has argued, this bifurcation in collective memory presents Georgia as glorious or heroic and wrong or inadequate at the same time. Memory of the legacy of Joseph Stalin in Georgia is no exception to this broader pattern, and the Stalin Museum in Gori is a clear manifestation of this.
The fact that a Georgian became one of the most powerful people in the world awoke national pride in Soviet Georgia. In the peak of his power, in 1937, the house where Stalin was born was turned into a memorial museum. Later, but still during Stalin’s lifetime, next to the memorial house, construction started on a new building, which would become the museum. The building was finished in 1957, four years after Stalin’s death.
Today, the two-floor building is considered a monument of cultural heritage. The museum has kept its Soviet aesthetic. The first thing a visitor sees in the gigantic hall of the building, built in the best practises of Stalinist architecture, is a white statue of Stalin. The size of the hall gives the impression that you are visiting a Soviet bureaucracy with red carpets and old wallpaper. Inside are artefacts related to Stalin’s life, including childhood and family photos, materials from his school days and the revolution, his works and his poems.
As one of the most influential political figures of the 20th century and a leader of the Soviet Union, Stalin is considered a national hero and saviour of the country from Nazism. At the same time, he is perceived as a bloody dictator. A survey that CRRC Georgia conducted in 2012 showed that nearly 45% of Georgians had positive attitudes (respect, sympathy, or admiration) towards Stalin, while 20% reported having negative feelings (antipathy, irritation, fear, disgust, or hatred). The same study showed that while half of Georgians (53%) agree that Stalin was a cruel tyrant, responsible for the deaths of millions, a significantly higher percentage (68%) perceive Stalin as a wise leader who brought power and prosperity to the Soviet Union.
The Stalin Museum, as a storehouse of memory of Stalin, is a vivid manifestation of the bifurcation of memory in Georgia. In it, the official soviet iconography of Stalin and contemporary attempts to show the horrors of Stalin’s rule co-exist in one space. When entering the museum, a wise and powerful portrayal of Stalin in Soviet style greets the entrant. Though, not many things have changed in the permanent exhibitions to reflect recent Georgian history, the museum added two small exhibits dedicated to victims of the Great Purge of the 1930s and the 2008 Russian-Georgian military conflict, during which Gori was largely affected. These small exhibits are meant to emphasize the Soviet Union’s and Russia’s destructive side. However, the image of Stalin overshadows these minor updates.
The subject matter of the museum is sometimes challenging. During field visits within the CHIEF project, one of the museum’s staff noted that visitors are divided in their assessment of Stalin’s legacy and arguments and debates occur regularly among visitors. Guides try to remain neutral to avoid arguments with visitors. However, they find it difficult to talk objectively about Stalin’s deeds in a quasi-temple of the “Father of Nations”.
Today, as a local hero in his hometown, many schools organise field trips to the Stalin Museum. Interviews conducted with school children near the Stalin Museum indicate that young people frequently visit the Museum with their school. These young people noted that they respect Stalin, as he was a strong man and a local, who remains a source of pride in the community.
The notion of Stalin as a sort of local hero is clearly illustrated in a study Alexi Gugushvili and a number of collaborators published in 2016. It shows that there are clear links between people’s attitudes and where they live in Georgia. In settlements around his birthplace and locations in Georgia where he usually spent his holidays attitudes are more positive.
Another 2016 study Peter Kabachnik and colleagues published argues that positive attitudes toward Stalin among young people relates to the process of socialization in schools and families. They argue that “while parents in families cannot be prevented from transmitting positive attitudes toward Stalin to their offspring, schools and universities are public spaces in which positive indoctrination about Stalin can be prevented by way of governmental policy and the crafting of national curricula.
What efforts there have been to erase Stalin from Georgian public life have achieved limited success. A study Carnegie Endowment published in 2013 suggests that the de-Stalinization process in Georgia was superficial and that attitudes toward the leader remained positive. More recently, in 2008, Georgian authorities tried to revise Stalin’s place in the public discourse through removing a bronze statue of Stalin from the central square in Gori. The move angered the Gori public as, the government removed the statue without consulting them. Since 2012, following the loss of power of the government that removed the Gori statue, new Stalin monuments were raised in other villages, towns, and cities.
Politicians and civil society groups have proposed different policies on the Stalin museum since independence. In the book The Stalin Puzzle, Lasha Bakradze, the director of the Georgian State Museum of Literature, together with Maria Lipman and Lev Gudkov, discuss two proposals. In 1995, then Georgian president (and former Communist Party leader), Eduard Shevardnadze proposed transforming the museum into a “centre to study the ‘phenomenon’ of Stalin.” Civil society groups in the mid-2010s advocated for it to be renamed the “Museum of Stalinism”. However, neither of these proposals gained traction.
Efforts to erase Stalin are unlikely to work. Therefore, rather than making Stalin “disappear”, it would likely be more effective to start addressing the issue by providing more information about the consequences of Stalin’s legacy in schools and educational centres. The Stalin museum as an education oriented institution could play a role in this process, given its status as a storehouse of memory about Stalin and his legacy.
Interview by Dustin Gilbreath
By: Dustin Gilbreath
CRRC’s third annual Methodological Conference: Transformations in the South Caucasus and its Neighbourhood
შიდა მიგრაცია საქართველოში: რა ვიცით მის შესახებ CRRC-ის კავკასიის ბარომეტრის მონაცემების საფუძვლეზე?არსებული შეფასებების თანახმად, მსოფლიო მასშტაბით შიდა მიგრანტთა რაოდენობა ბევრად აღემატება საერთაშორისო მიგრანტთა რაოდენობას. სამწუხაროდ, საქართველოში ძალიან ცოტა მონაცემი არსებობს შიდა მიგრანტების რაოდენობისა და მათი გეოგრაფიული განაწილების შესახებ. საქართველოს სტატისტიკის ეროვნული სამსახურის შინამეურნეობების ინტეგრირებული გამოკვლევები რეგულარულად აგროვებს ინფორმაციას ქვეყანაში შიდა მიგრაციის შესახებ. სახელმწიფო სერვისების განვითარების სააგენტო კოორდინაციას უწევს მოსახლეობის რეგისტრაციას საცხოვრებელი ადგილის მიხედვით.
By Till Bruckner
By Nino Zubashvili
By Dustin Gilbreath
In terms of the business findings, CRRC's Media Survey (undertaken in September/October 2009) generated extensive data that is available to help media make good business decisions. One recent presentation, summarized here, focused on showing the diversity of data that is available.
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Visa liberalization: How much do people in Georgia know about the conditions of visa-free travel to the EU?
CRRC’s previous blog posts have shown that the population of Georgia had rather moderate expectations of the recent visa liberalization with the Schengen zone countries, especially when it comes to the question of how much ordinary people will benefit from it. Europe Foundation’s latest survey on Knowledge of and Attitudes towards the European Union in Georgia, conducted in May 2017, provides a more nuanced understanding on how people in Georgia feel about this process and to what extent they are familiar with the conditions of visa liberalization.
Visa liberalization: How much do people in Georgia know about the conditions of visa-free travel to the EU?CRRC’s previous blog posts have shown that the population of Georgia had rather moderate expectations of the recent visa liberalization with the Schengen zone countries, especially when it comes to the question of how much ordinary people will benefit from it. Europe Foundation’s latest survey on Knowledge of and Attitudes towards the European Union in Georgia, conducted in May 2017, provides a more nuanced understanding on how people in Georgia feel about this process and to what extent they are familiar with the conditions of visa liberalization.
Taking partly free voters seriously: autocratic response to voter preferences in Armenia and GeorgiaDo voters in less than democratic contexts matter or are elections simply facades used to create a veneer of democratic accountability for domestic and international actors? Within the Autocratic Response to Voter Preferences in Armenia and Georgia project, funded by Academic Swiss Caucasus Net, CRRC-Georgia and CRRC-Armenia aimed to help answer this question, at least for Georgia and Armenia. On October 27, Caucasus Survey published the results of the project in a special issue, available here.
What are young people’s values and how are these different from older generations’ values in Georgia?As Georgian society is going through social and cultural changes, it is important to understand people’s beliefs and values. Comparing the values of young people to those of the older generations is also important. This blog post summarizes the findings of a study that examined the values of young people aged 18 to 25, and analysed how these values are different from the values of older people in Georgia, based on both quantitative (World Values Survey, 2014) and qualitative data (40 in-depth interviews conducted in 2016). The study looked at values, perceptions, attitudes and tolerance towards different minority groups in Georgia. It concludes that in many cases, the younger generation shares more modern views and values, while the older generations are more inclined to support traditional values and hold conservative points of view.
In the December 2017 CRRC/NDI survey, pollution was the second most commonly named “infrastructural” issue, with 23% of the population choosing it in the respective show card. Only roads were named more often, by 33%. Approximately equal shares of men and women named pollution: 25% of women and 20% of men; similarly, there was no difference in the frequency of naming this issue by age.
The Caucasus Barometer survey regularly asks people, “Which of the following statements do you agree with: “‘People are like children; the government should take care of them like a parent’ or ‘Government is like an employee; the people should be the bosses who control the government.’” Approximately half of the population of Georgia (52%) agreed in 2017 with the former statement and 40% with the latter. Responses to this question have fluctuated to some extent over time, but overall, attitudes are nearly equally split.
But what do people want?
Georgians are enthusiastic in supporting the country’s accession to the European Union. Since 2012, when the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and CRRC-Georgia started tracking attitudes, three quarters of Georgians approved of the government’s goal of joining the EU, on average. What motivates Georgians to support the Union, or alternatively, to abandon support? A survey experiment included in the latest CRRC/NDI poll suggests potential economic burdens have a modest yet significant effect on support for membership. Results do not support the common belief that a potential military threat from Russia dampens Georgians’ support for the EU.
While many things could divide the public, what do the people think and which groups report more and fewer sources of division? The April 2019 NDI-CRRC poll suggests that there are fewer perceived reasons for division in rural areas and among ethnic minorities.
უვიზო მიმოსვლის ამოქმედების შემდეგ საქართველოს მოსახლეობაში შემცირდა ცოდნა უვიზო მიმოსვლის მოთხოვნების შესახებუკვე სამი წელიწადია, რაც საქართველოს მოქალაქეებს შენგენის ზონაში უვიზოდ მიმოსვლა შეუძლიათ, რაც რამდენიმეწლიანი დიალოგისა და პოლიტიკის რეფორმის შედეგია. მიუხედავად გასული დროისა და ევროკავშირის მიერ დაფინანსებული საინფორმაციო კამპანიის ჩატარებისა, ამ პროგრამის ამოქმედების შემდეგ საზოგადოების ცოდნა ევროკავშირში უვიზო მიმოსვლის მოთხოვნების შესახებ დაეცა. ამას მოწმობს 2019 წელს CRRC-საქართველოს მიერ ჩატარებული კვლევა ევროკავშირის მიმართ დამოკიდებულებებისა და ცოდნის შეფასების შესახებ. ამავე პერიოდში გაიზარდა საქართველოს მოქალაქეთა რიცხვი, ვინც ევროკავშირის ქვეყნებში არ შეუშვეს. მხოლოდ 2018 წელს ოთხ ათასზე მეტი ასეთი შემთხვევა დაფიქსირდა, რაც 2017 წლის მონაცემებს აღემატება.
In Georgia, having a boy has traditionally been desirable as sons are often considered the main successors in the family line, and they stay at home to take care of their parents as they age in contrast to women who traditionally move in with their husband’s family.
The long-fought-over electoral reform was a compromise which represents two steps forward after three steps had been taken back.
The findings reflect broader global trends which have seen dramatic decreases in air pollution levels in China, Italy, and the United Kingdom.
უზენაესი სასამართლოს მოსამართლეების დანიშვნა: რა იცის საქართველოს მოსახლეობამ და რა დამოკიდებულება აქვს ამ პროცესის მიმართ
2019 წელს, სექტემბრის დასაწყისში, იუსტიციის უმაღლესმა საბჭომ საქართველოს პარლამენტს უზენაესი სასამართლოს მოსამართლეობის კანდიდატების 20-კაციანი სია წარუდგინა დასამტკიცებლად. 2019 წლის სექტემბრიდან ნოემბრამდე პარლამენტმა კანდიდატებთან გასაუბრებები ჩაატარა და 12 დეკემბერს 14 კანდიდატი უზენაეს სასამართლოში მოსამართლედ დაამტკიცა. ქართული მედია ვრცლად აშუქებდა ამ პროცესს.
Without trust in the messages of public health officials, measures aimed at preventing the spread of the virus are less likely to be complied with, exacerbating the spread of the virus.
2020 წლის 4-დან 23 მარტამდე პერიოდში CRRC-საქართველომ სატელეფონო გამოკითხვა ჩაატარა იმისათვის, რომ გაეგო საქართველოს მოსახლეობის დამოკიდებულება პროკურატურის მიმართ და ასევე დაედგინა, მოსახლეობის რა ნაწილმა ნახა „სტუდია მონიტორისა“ და „რადიო თავისუფლების“ ფილმი. გამოკითხვაში ყურადღება გამახვილებული იყო შემდეგ საკითხებზე:
- რამდენად ენდობა ან არ ენდობა ხალხი პროკურატურას,
- მოსახლეობის აზრით, რამდენად ხშირია საქართველოში პროკურორების მიერ ძალაუფლების ბოროტად გამოყენება და მოსამართლეებთან გარიგება მათთვის სასარგებლო გადაწყვეტილების მისაღებად,
- რამდენად მოახერხა მთავრობამ სამართლიანობის აღდგენა ჩამორთმეულ ქონებებთან დაკავშირებით.