Author: Jeremy Smith


The dispute over Georgia in the latter part of 1922 was a critical episode in early Soviet history, which may have contributed to a major rift between Lenin and Stalin and could have influenced the whole structure of the Soviet Union. The content of this dispute, involving as it did fundamental principles of a key area of policy and a clear rift between national organizations and their superiors, was serious enough in its own right; but the same could be said for a number of contentious disagreements at the highest levels of the Bolshevik party, those over Poland and over the trade unions, for example. What has attracted particular attention to the Georgian affair, however, is its timing, coinciding as it did with the political decline of Lenin through illness and the beginnings of a power straggle between his putative successors as leader of the communist movement not just in Russia but the world. It was this affair which inspired Lenin's last major writings, and which also cast a shadow over the proceedings of the XII Congress of the Russian Communist Party, the first without Lenin, in April 1923.

As a result, the main accounts of this episode have been heavily influenced by the more general context and therefore lack balance. This is true of both of the most influential accounts, both written over 30 years ago, by Richard Pipes (1) and Moshe Lewin (2). Pipes' The Formation of the Soviet Union is devoted to proving that the Bolsheviks had no genuine nationality policy other than the desire to conquer all the regions of the former Russian Empire, and it is in this context that his account views the affair as evidence of the bankruptcy of whatever solutions to the national question the Bolsheviks, and particularly Lenin, espoused. By contrast Lewin's Lenin's Last Struggle barely questions Lenin's national policy, treating the affair mainly in terms of the power struggle which accompanied Lenin's physical decline. Thus there is an emphasis on the different personalities involved and their position in the broader picture of the Communist Party structure. Isaac Deutscher takes a similarly restricted view of the affair (3).

Such narrow approaches are perhaps inevitable given the lack of detailed information available previously. Thus, while it has been apparent what issues were in dispute, the precise content and actual arguments deployed by either side have not been clear. It has therefore been impossible to evaluate the charges of a 'nationalist deviation' levelled against one side and that of 'Great Russian chauvinism' against the other, and as a consequence these accusations have been regarded as a pretext when perhaps they should have been taken more seriously. Since the opening of the Soviet archives it has become clear that the affair was far more complex than has earlier been described. Two collections in particular provide comprehensive primary documentation of the affair. Firstly, there is the compilation of documents and a detailed written report ordered by Lenin himself from his sick-bed and diligently put together by his secretaries at the beginning of 1923, now kept in the Russian Center for the Preservation and Study of Documents of Recent History (RTsKhIDNI); secondly a collection of secret minutes, letters, telegrams and speeches garnered from various parts of the archives was published in lzvestiya TsK KPSS in 1989-90 (4). These sources, taken together with previously published memoirs and official documents, show that the progress and outcome of the Georgian affair were decided by a combination of genuine and significant policy disagreements, the personal characteristics of the main protagonists, and those small accidents of history whose significance is often ignored. This article, based largely on archive material, aims to provide a more detailed account, in a neutral context, of the course of events and thereby to highlight the diverse factors which influenced their outcome.

None of the earlier accounts provide much in the way of background to the dispute. Three points are of particular significance and deserve some discussion: firstly, the character of the leading protagonists, which undoubtedly influenced events; second, the dispute did not erupt out of the blue over the formation of a Transcaucasian federation, but was the culmination of a long history of conflicts; and third, that the policy of 'concessions' to Georgian nationalism promulgated by Lenin and the Central Committee of the RCP was a significant policy development which differentiated Georgia from other republics, but which was open to different interpretations and thereby contributed to conflict.

The role of individual personalities in history will always be a contentious subject. There is good reason to suppose, however, that in the early Soviet context individuals had a disproportionately significant effect when compared with other periods. Following the Revolution and Civil War, the classes which had previously been the main historical actors had become exhausted and reduced to a fraction of their former selves through the destruction of industry and the restrictions on cultural and political life. The only force capable of filling this vacuum was the Communist Party, which ruled largely through the delegation of power on behalf of the workers' state to a number of regional organs supplemented by 'plenipotentiaries' appointed from the center whose influence on events could, therefore, be enormous.

While there were a number of disagreements between the highest authorities in Moscow and regional bodies, the most serious intra-party conflicts both before and after the sovietisation of Georgia were between the Central Committee (CC) of the Communist Party of Georgia, led by Filipp Makharadze and Budu Mdivani, and the Caucasian Bureau of the Russian Communist Party (Kavbyuro). One particular source of friction was the character, temperament and political outlook of the man given enormous power over the whole of Transcaucasia, the head of the Kavbyuro, Sergo Ordzhonikidze. The latter has generally been viewed as little more than a tool of Stalin in Transcaucasia, but the effect of the complex character of this individual deserves closer attention. Trotsky later described the deficiencies of Ordzhonikidze's character:

Ordzhonikidze, who was decidedly gifted with forcefulness, courage and firmness of character, was essentially a man of little culture, irascible and utterly incapable of self-control. As long as he was a revolutionist, his daring and his resolute self-sacrifice predominated. But when he became a high official, his uncouthness and crudity overshadowed his other qualities (5).

Throughout the Soviet Union before effective control from the center was in place, the Bolshevik Central Committee delegated a great deal of authority, appointing a number of permanent or emergency plenipotentiaries with sweeping powers. Khristian Rakovsky, Mikhail Frunze, Valerian Kuibyshev, Adolf Ioffe and Grigorii Sokol'nikov were among those who were deployed in one role or another and at various times in Ukraine, Belorussia and Central Asia; their briefs may have been specific or more general, but their power on the spot was almost unlimited. It was not so much the personal qualities of these individuals which led the Bolsheviks to entrust them with such a degree of authority as the firm conviction that the power of Marxist ideas, as embodied in their persons, would ensure the prosecution of a correct and impartial strategy in the interests of the workers and peasants of the particular region. But whereas the likes of Rakovsky and Frunze were sensitive to local feelings, constantly consulting with the regional soviet and communist organs, and can be said to have justified the faith that was placed in them, in other cases the infallibility of the Bolshevik plenipotentiary proved shaky. In Turkestan in 1921 a major political crisis was provoked by the uncompromising stance of the leading member of the party Turkbyuro, Georgi Safarov, in a dispute with the then head of the Turkbyuro, Tomsky (6). In this case, both protagonists were promptly removed from the region.

Although there were clear dangers involved in entrusting supreme authority in the region to an individual whose qualities as a peacetime leader were untried, Ordzhonikidze retained the most senior position in Transcaucasia in spite of the fact that, whether through temperament or political conviction, he rarely consulted beyond the inner circles of the Kavbyuro and had little time for the feelings or opinions of those people he regarded as his direct subordinates in the Transcaucasian republics. As well as arousing the mistrust of leading Bolsheviks, notably Trotsky, Ordzhonikidze was unpopular locally. According to the memoirs of A. I. Mikoyan, Ordzhonikidze came close to losing his seat on the Central Committee at the X Congress in March 1921:
Several military delegates from the North Caucasus unexpectedly shouted their objections to Ordzhonikidze's candidacy from their seats. These delegates sat in the last row and made noise which was heard throughout the hall. One of them rose to the podium and began to say that Ordzhonikidze yells at everyone, orders everyone around him, ignores the opinions of local party members, and therefore should not be on the Central Committee. This demagogic outburst influenced the mood of the delegates, many of whom did not even know Ordzhonikidze (7).

On this occasion, Ordzhonikidze was saved by the vigorous intervention of Lenin and Stalin, but he was clearly unpopular among sections of the party long before the Georgian affair erupted. His temperament continued to cause problems. By his own admission a few years later, his temper was hard to control:
What can I do? I'm a hot-tempered man - maybe when I turn fifty I'll mellow a bit, but in the meantime I can't do anything about it (8).
As well as ignoring the opinions of all but his closest subordinates, Ordzhonikidze acted relatively independently of his superiors in Moscow. While the minutes of meetings of the Politburo and Central Committee of the RCP are full of matters referred to them by the head of the Ukrainian government and party, Khristian Rakovsky, Ordzhonikidze by contrast consulted the center only when absolutely required or instructed to do so. The assumption that Ordzhonikidze acted in the Caucasus as Stalin's 'henchman' or 'sidekick' seems dubious, given the number of times that the party leadership appears to have been taken by surprise by the former's actions. Oleg Khlevniuk's recent biography suggests that Ordzhonikidze was far from viewing himself as Stalin's creature, and indeed that in 1923 Ordzhonikidze had sided with Zinoviev and Kamenev in an attempt to reduce Stalin's powers (9).

It may be that Trotsky was correct in his assessment that the personal qualities which made for an effective revolutionary leader were inappropriate in a peacetime administrator. But Ordzhonikidze's temperament ran up against an equally single-minded opposition in Georgia itself, led by Makharadze and Mdivani. Filipp Makharadze had been a leading organizer and theorist of the Social-Democratic movement in Georgia since the 1890s and enjoyed the utmost respect in both the region and Moscow. His past association with the Menshevik leader Zhordanya perhaps made him more indulgent to the Bolsheviks' political opponents than was Ordzhonikidze (10), but he had previously opposed national self-determination and appears to have based his current policy on his own tactical evaluation of the situation in Georgia. Budu Mdivani was to prove a troublesome if inconsistent defender of Georgian national sentiment, whose ambiguous stance combined with a certain naivete when it came to political debate laid him wide open to the charge of 'nationalist deviance' which was later to be thrown at him (11).

Pipes, as might be expected, focuses on the issue of power in the relationships between these individuals: 'the main issue was one of authority: What was the power of the Kavbyuro, as an agency of the Russian Central Committee, over the Central Committees of the republican Communist parties?' (12). But it is wrong to dwell exclusively on the question of personalities. At stake were genuine political differences, particularly over the attitude towards the national question, which can be traced back to the opposing principles that had existed for many years amidst the Marxist movement generally and the Bolsheviks in particular. On the one hand the 'Luxemburgists' viewed nationalism in all its manifestations as a dangerous distraction for the working class which should be ruthlessly opposed at all times; on the other hand the 'Leninists', starting from the same premises, concluded that the nationalism of oppressed nations and national minorities could in certain circumstances prove a progressive force and demanded a conciliatory, if critical, attitude. While Lenin's principle of 'the Right of Nations to Self-Determination' was official party policy, it is doubtful whether it ever commanded the support of a majority of the RCP. The splits within the party over national self-determination were reflected much more broadly in a number of disputes over the national question, of which the Georgian affair was the most virulent and damaging.

These differences of both personality and policy combined with a particular set of circumstances to produce a series of conflicts. Three years of independence under the rule of local Mensheviks had already given rise to a number of serious disputes over Georgia. In April 1920, for example, Moscow conducted negotiations with the Georgian government of Noi Zhordanya, whereby Georgian independence was recognized in return for the legalization of Bolshevik organizations and a commitment not to allow foreign troops on Georgian soil. An agreement was reached without any involvement on the part of the communists inside Georgia, who were left, in Zhordanya's words, 'confused and disturbed', by a decision of which they had no knowledge until it was published by the Georgian government (13). The sovietisation of Georgia itself was the cause of a much more serious rift in the party over the region. According to Deutscher, the Bolsheviks' intention had been to leave Georgia alone until the Menshevik government collapsed under the weight of its own unpopularity and the attraction of the Soviet Caucasus (14). This would have both satisfied the principles of the Bolsheviks' program and given the obvious practical advantages of winning power through a popular rising rather than armed conquest. On the other hand, the Communist Party of Georgia was weak, numbering 15 000 members, of whom only 13% were workers (15), while the ruling Mensheviks claimed a backbone of workers among their 75 000 members (16), and their government seemed far from collapse. This led to the emergence in Moscow of a faction in favour of an invasion which, according to Zhordanya's memoirs, embraced both Stalin and Trotsky, while Lenin still preferred a peaceful approach to Georgia (17).

Yet it was, above all, Ordzhonikidze who was champing at the bit in his eagerness to unite Georgia with the Transcaucasian Soviet republics of Azerbaidzhan and Armenia, which had been set up in April and November 1920 respectively. The Soviet archives provide details of the controversial decision to invade Georgia, confirming Ordzhonikidze's long-standing impatience to advance with the Red Army, and the opposition on this point from the Russian CC, including Stalin. Shortly after the establishment of Soviet Azerbaidzhan, the Politburo was forced to send an urgent telegram to Ordzhonikidze absolutely forbidding him from 'self-determining Georgia' (18). The peaceful policy towards Georgia was confirmed by the Politburo on 18 November (19) and again by the full Central Committee on 17 December, in response to further demands by Ordzhonikidze (20). On 12 January 1921 the CC rejected once again a request by the Kavbyuro to help in the sovietisation of Georgia, impatiently instructing them to 'conform to the decisions already taken by the CC on this question' (21). But a fortnight later it was clear that the tide was turning; the Central Committee confirmed it would try to prevent a rift, but at the same time Soviet forces in the Caucasus were put on alert in readiness for an all-out war with Georgia (22).

According to a later Soviet source, relations with Georgia had deteriorated over alleged violations of the peace treaty, obstructiveness to the passage of convoys passing through to Armenia, and a strong suspicion that Georgia was aiding armed rebels in the North Caucasus (23). Zhordanya later claimed that he had known for some time from the Bolsheviks' military attache in Tiflis of an invasion plan (24). But the Central Committee minutes contradict this, unless this plan was known only to the Kavbyuro and the XI Army. It seems most likely that while the majority of the CC were opposed for the whole of 1920, a growing faction supported the idea of a Red Army invasion early in 1921 as the expected collapse of Menshevik power failed to materialize. The persistence of the Kavbyuro, combined with a growing uneasiness, however warranted or not, over Georgia's intentions, tilted the balance. On 14 February 1921 the Politburo again considered Ordzhonikidze's request, this time intimating that assent would be given if certain conditions were met, and the following day approved the invasion (25). The rising which was to be the pretext for the invasion, however, had already started on 11 February (26), suggesting that Ordzhonikidze had arranged things in order to force the Politburo's hand. Even so, the decision to support the invasion was not unanimous and was opposed in the Politburo by Kari Radek. The Commissar for War, Trotsky, was absent in the Urals, but was so incensed by the news of the invasion and Ordzhonikidze's role in engineering it that on his return to Moscow he demanded, unsuccessfully, the creation of a party commission to investigate the events (27). The position of the Georgian communists was summed up by Makharadze later in the year, when he complained that the Bolshevik organization in Georgia at the time was in no state to exercise power. Makharadze also complained that when the advance of the Red forces started, about the aims and intentions of that attack not one [Communist Party] cell, indeed not a single party member in Georgia, suspected or knew absolutely anything (28).

Even the rising within Georgia, which was to serve as the pretext for the invasion, was entrusted not to the Georgian Central Committee, but to Ordzhonikidze's close ally on the Kavbyuro, Mamya Orakhelashvili.

Ordzhonikidze's role in the invasion of Georgia was typical of his later handling of Caucasian affairs; he paid no attention to the opinions of his subordinates, while persistently presenting Moscow with his own demands (as opposed to seeking guidance) and, where this failed, he would present a fait accompli. The way in which the invasion had been prepared and executed had already placed a major strain on relations between the Kavbyuro and the leaders of the Georgian Communist Party. Early experiences did nothing to reduce this tension. Already at the end of 1921 Makharadze complained in a letter to the Georgian representative in Moscow, M. G. Tskhakaya, that the Kavbyuro was ignoring party policy, was acting over the heads of the national governments, and continued to employ the methods of War Communism:
In the composition of the Kavbyuro, there are actually such comrades as, even now, do not recognize the formal existence of separate Transcaucasian republics, but rather see them as provinces of the RSFSR (29).

While institutional rivalries played a part in this conflict, the most significant political factor behind the Georgian affair was the policy of 'special concessions' to Georgian nationalism. While the Bolsheviks had already embarked on a policy of recruiting local left-wing nationalists in other regions to the ranks of communism, a policy which necessarily involved indulging certain nationalist demands, for the most part these demands did not contradict to any excessive degree the policies that the Bolsheviks were anyway pursuing towards national minorities at the time. In Georgia, however, concessions were to be stretched to the point where they put considerable strain on traditional Marxist theories of nationalism. On 2 March 1921, shortly after the conquest of Georgia, Lenin wrote to Ordzhonikidze demanding of him a special policy of concessions in relation to the Georgian intelligentsia and small traders ... It is hugely important to seek an acceptable compromise for a bloc with Zhordanya or Georgian Mensheviks like him, who even before the rising were not absolutely hostile to the idea of Soviet construction in Georgia on certain conditions. I ask you to understand that both the internal and international aspects of Georgia demand that the Georgian communists do not apply the Russian pattern, but that they skillfully and flexibly create a particular tactic based on greater concessions to all kind of petit-bourgeois elements (30).

A month later Lenin wrote to the communists of Transcaucasia and the North Caucasus elaborating these differences from the Russian model and concluding that what was needed in the Caucasian republics was 'a slower, more cautious, more systematic transition to socialism' than in Russia, including all kinds of concessions to the peasantry, intelligentsia and petite bourgeoisie (31).

The reasoning behind this special policy was clear: whereas in the rest of Russia the Bolsheviks had a significant base of support among at least sections of the workers and soldiers and their power was legitimized by the local soviets, Georgia had blatantly been invaded after three years as an independent national state, had a tiny working class and had always proved infertile territory for Bolshevik activists. The proposal to form a bloc with the Mensheviks did not last long; indeed by the end of the year Trotsky was instructed by the Politburo to write a pamphlet detailing the evils of the Menshevik regime in Georgia (32). But the general policy of concessions to Georgian nationalism remained in force and was repeatedly stressed by both Lenin and Stalin.

The later charge of the Kavbyuro against the Georgian communists was that they had taken this policy of special concessions, which was intended as a temporary tactic, and made of it a fetish, to the extent that they themselves became infected with nationalism and were acting in the tradition of Menshevism. The Kavbyuro's accusations were to some extent justified by Makharadze's interpretation of this policy as one of defending publicly the independence of Georgia, which seems to have gone beyond what Lenin had called for (33). The Georgians, in turn, accused Ordzhonikidze and the Kavbyuro of Great Russian chauvinism and of attempting to impose unification from above with no preparatory work or consultation, and thus with no regard for the effects of such reforms on the ground. Both sides could make a good case for their actions, both in practical and theoretical terms, and to some extent both could claim to be following Lenin's policies. The Kavbyuro employed all the classic Marxist principles for the economic, political and military benefits of closer union and centralization, and could point to Lenin's arguments that national peace in an ethnically complex region could best be achieved by closer unity. The Georgians on the other hand saw the Kavbyuro's activities as a violation of the right to self-determination and of Lenin's instruction to follow a policy of special concessions in Georgia. In this case it is clear that the issue was one of principle, between the supporters of self-determination, albeit in a limited form, and its opponents. It should be pointed out, however, that these positions were flexible; Makharadze was previously on record as an opponent of Lenin's theory of the right of national self-determination (34).

Ordzhonikidze claimed not to have a problem with the policy of special concessions in Georgia as such. On 3 March 1921 he assured Lenin that 'everything possible is being done to promote contact and mutual understanding with the Georgian intelligentsia', that approaches were being made to members of the former Menshevik government, and that wide concessions were being made to small traders (35). He was, however, obsessed with the economic and military arguments for the unification of Transcaucasia, to be followed by forging closer ties with Soviet Russia. This preference for larger states was shared by Marxists of every sort at the time but, like many Bolsheviks, Ordzhonikidze found this difficult to reconcile with Lenin's principle of the right to national self-determination. He argued that it was 'the class principle, not the national one which led to the separation of the borderlands from Russia' - in other words, separation was achieved in the interests of the capitalists and the petite bourgeoisie, and ran counter to the interests of the workers and poorer peasants. Recognizing the need, nevertheless, to accept that separation was a reaction to tsarist oppression, he promised that 'we have no intentions whatsoever of encroaching on the national independence of the republics', and went on to immediately contradict this promise: 'we will decisively fight with all nationalistic survivals which interfere with the close union of the Transcaucasian republics with Russia' (36).

This approach contrasted sharply with that of Lenin and the Georgian leaders. In Suny's words, for moderates like Makharadze their task as laid out by Lenin was to secure for Soviet power a broad base of support, beginning with the intelligentsia. This precluded an assault on Georgian national institutions, the extirpation by force of Menshevik influence, or any hint that Georgian sovereignty was to be compromised by Soviet Russia and its agents ... For Communists like Ordzhonikidze and Stalin the task of Soviet power was quite different. They were most concerned about the twin dangers of economic collapse and ethnic particularism ... (37)

By the end of the year, Ordzhonikidze's toleration of nationalism and concessions had completely worn away. In front of a meeting of Tiflis communists on 22 November 1921 he stated:
In Transcaucasia we consider the first, immediate task of our party, of Soviet power, to wage a merciless struggle with the remains of the shameful past, with red-hot irons, in Stalin's words, to burn down the remains of nationalism (38).

In spite of the reference to Stalin, this attitude was sharply at odds with the policy of the center at this time, which saw Great Russian chauvinism as the principle enemy. To Ordzhonikidze, however, Georgian nationalism was as bad as Russian chauvinism, as the treatment of Abkhazians and Ossetians by the Menshevik government had testified: 'Georgians in Georgia - that is the same as Russians in Russia' (39). So uncomfortable was he with Georgia's right to self-determination that at the same November meeting he came up with an entirely novel interpretation of national independence:
We understand the independence of these republics as absolute independence from counterrevolution, but we also consider absolutely impossible the independence of Soviet republics from each other and from the world revolution (40).

Ordzhonikidze's political conviction that the unity of Transcaucasia overrode other considerations, and his strong aversion to all manifestations of nationalism, combined with his arrogant disposition and short temper to contribute to the crisis in Georgia.
Pipes's comment that what was at stake was the question of authority is insufficient to explain the series of disputes between the Central Committee of the Georgian Communist party and the Kavbyuro which followed the sovietisation of Georgia in February 1921, most of which were referred to the Central Committee of the RCP. The precise nature of these disputes can now be recorded from the report on the affair later prepared by Lenin's secretaries and stored in the archives in Moscow, and the details show that the charges made on both sides held some justification. The report lists a number of disputes and their outcomes:
(1) In 1921 the Kavbyuro unified the Transcaucasian railways by means of a central directive, and the Georgians objected, in vain, that no preparatory work had been done and that the unification should be carried out in the names of the separate republics.
(2) The Georgians objected to a Kavbyuro move to unite the republican Cheka and appoint a plenipotentiary in Georgia. In this case Stalin ruled in the Georgians' favour and the separate departments were retained.
(3) The Georgians objected to the creation of a single economic organ for Transcaucasia, a move designed to further the economic union of the region. Here the Russian Central Committee refused to intervene and the dispute ended in a compromise by which a unified economic organ was created but the separate economic commissariats were preserved.
(4) At the end of 1921 and beginning of 1922 the Kavbyuro decided on and published a project for the federal union of Transcaucasia without consulting the Georgian CC. At this point the Georgians did not object in principle, but demanded more time for a preparatory campaign and in this were supported by the Russian Central Committee.
(5) In the summer and autumn of 1922 the Georgians presented similar arguments against the immediate monetary union of Transcaucasia, again arguing that the move was premature rather than objecting in principle. The Russian CC approved the transitional moves towards monetary union while preserving separate commissariats of finance.
(6) Throughout 1921 and 1922 the status of the Georgian Red Army was a matter of dispute. In the end, with the support of the Russian CC, the Kavbyuro formed a Georgian brigade entirely subordinate to the central command structure, rather than a Georgian Red Army which would only be subordinate to OKA in purely operational respects, which the Georgians had wanted.
(7) In 1922 the Georgians wanted all the Georgian trade unions to be united under the Georgian Council of Unions, which would link directly to the All-Russian Central Council of Trade Unions, while the Kavbyuro backed the Transcaucasian Council of Trade Unions which wanted all Georgian unions directly subordinate to itself. The Russian CC supported the Kavbyuro.
(8) In September Ordzhonikidze carried out a purge of the Georgian trade unions in accordance with an instruction of the Orgburo, a task which the Georgian CC saw as rightfully theirs, and the result of which was to remove the union movement completely from the control of the Georgian CC.
(9) Finally, there was the question of the entry of Georgia into the USSR at the end of 1922 (41).

In all of these disputes the Kavbyuro was pushing towards maximum unification while the Georgians held on for formal independence, although it must be noted that they rarely opposed such measures in principle, objecting instead to their timing and their method of introduction. This suggests in part annoyance at the failure of Ordzhonikidze and the Kavbyuro to involve the Georgians in the decision-making process to the extent to which they felt they were entitled, but also a genuine fear of how the Georgian people might react to further moves against Georgia's sovereignty by what was already widely regarded as an occupying power. This explains why the apparently secondary question of Georgia's entry into the USSR via the Transcaucasian federation took on such enormous symbolic importance. There is considerable evidence, however, that the Georgians were also motivated by the desire to promote the interests of Georgia above the overall needs of the Soviet republics, a motive which lends some justification to the charges of nationalism against them.

This is most clear in the case of the dispute over monetary unification, details of which are recorded elsewhere in the archives. The Georgians argued against abolishing a stable Georgian currency and replacing it with a Transcaucasian currency pegged to the Russian ruble on the basis that this would disadvantage Georgia vis-a-vis the other republics. At the same time they boasted that real wages in the army in Georgia were twice the level in Russia, while in industry real wages were 50% higher. The successful battle of the Georgian government against price inflation would be immediately undermined by monetary union (42). The underlying sense of these arguments was that the Georgian economy was currently more stable than the economy in the other Transcaucasian republics, and far more so than in the RSFSR, thanks largely to the efforts of the Georgian Central Committee, and it would be unfair to undermine all this good work by exposing it to unification with less stable economies. However reasonable this argument appears in general, for a communist to take such a line which did not put the needs of the revolution as a whole in first place left him wide open to the charge of nationalism. However much the Georgians protested that their objections were over the timing of monetary reform or particular technical matters, the Kavbyuro was justified in concluding in its reply to the Georgians that 'in reality the Georgian argument ought to have been directed against the general proposal for financial union with the RSFSR' (43).

The Georgian government displayed further disregard for the spirit of internationalism by setting up cordons on the border and charging for permits issued to non-citizens for the right to enter and stay in Georgia (44). Further, the Georgian Sovnarkom issued strict instructions, based principally on ethnic criteria, on qualifications for Georgian citizenship (45). These moves went way beyond the policy of concessions to national sentiment.

In their turn, the members of the Kavbyuro laid themselves open to several charges of 'abuses of a true-Russian character', listed by the same commission:
(1) Where the Georgian armed forces had worn the traditional Georgian headgear, tushinki for the infantry and svaiki for the cavalry, they were suddenly ordered to don the Red Army's budenovki. According to Aginashvili, 'that provided strong material for the development of chauvinism ... indeed, under tsarism the national brigades were allowed to wear national costumes'.
(2) After the unification of the Transcaucasian railways in October 1921, large numbers of Georgian railway workers were sacked, supposedly to reduce unnecessary staff costs. But, according to the Georgians, in November the head of the Transcaucasian railways, Mironov, telegraphed to the authorities in Rostov asking, 'in view of the extreme necessity', for them to send 12 000-14 000 (Russian) railway workers.
(3) Kote Tsintsadze testified to the systematic maltreatment of local Georgian elements in the Transcaucasian Cheka, leading to large-scale desertions, and charged Ivanovsky with recruiting 1345 Russians from Samara with the intention of replacing all Georgians in the Cheka.
(4) Tsintsadze also claimed that all the clerical work in the unified Transcaucasian commissariats was being conducted in Russian, and Russian had been introduced as the official language on the railways and in many other institutions in Tiflis. Meanwhile the old tsarist bureaucracy was being allowed to run affairs in Georgia on the basis that Georgia would soon be reintegrated into the one and indivisible Russia.
(5) There was a string of complaints from the Georgians that the Transcaucasian institutions were constantly overriding the decisions of sovereign republican bodies, that the highest organs of the Transcaucasian Union were being convened and run without reference to the republican organs and were demanding that all major decisions be promulgated in Georgia under the auspices of the Federation, not of the Georgian authorities, that instructions were being sent to the Georgian government without the legally required signatures and so on (46). Some of the complaints of the Georgians were certainly petty but others, such as the deliberate discrimination against Georgians in government employment, were serious enough to warrant severe disciplinary measures if substantiated.

The most significant of these disputes was over the formation of a Transcaucasian Federation from the three republics of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaidzhan. It has now come to light that such a move, to be followed by the entry of Transcaucasia into the Russian Federation, had been mooted as early as 1 March 1921 by the Azerbaidzhani official B. Shakhtakhtinsky, who wrote to Lenin recommending this as the most practical resolution of the territorial disputes between the three republics (47). Shakhtakhtinsky's proposals were discussed by the Central Committee of the RCP the same month (48), and in July Stalin visited Tiflis to prepare the ground for the creation of a federation (49).

On 2 or 3 November 1921 the Kavbyuro formally resolved on the necessity of forming a Transcaucasian Federation. According to both Pipes and Lewin, this move was taken on the urging of Moscow (50). But the archives suggest a different picture. On 8 November Ordzhonikidze telegrammed Stalin announcing the Kavbyuro's decision and asking for the Russian Central Committee's reaction. Just in case the CC should raise any objections, he added that 'a campaign along these lines has started successfully' (51). The Central Committee seems to have been taken aback by this decision, which it clearly had not initiated or sanctioned. On 17 November the Politburo telegraphed the Kavbyuro, demanding that they immediately advise us as to exactly what you have decided on the question of forming a Transcaucasian Federation and how you envisage the relationship of the Union Soviet of the Transcaucasian Federation to the RSFSR. The conclusion of the Central Committee will be made on receipt of this material.

At the same meeting, the Politburo discussed concluding a military convention with the three Transcaucasian republics separately, indicating that it was not yet ready to deal with the new federation (52). On 28 November 1921, in a memo to Stalin, Lenin signaled his agreement in principle with a federation, but cautioned that its 'immediate practical realization must be regarded as premature', and called for a preparatory period of propaganda orchestrated by the central committees of the three republican parties (53). The next day the Politburo passed a resolution in much the same tone (54). On 26 November, however, a plenipotentiary conference of representatives of all three republics had already concluded a preliminary union agreement which guaranteed the independence of all three republics but passed supreme authority in Transcaucasia to a plenipotentiary conference elected in equal number by each of the republics.(55) Thus it seems to be the case that the Kavbyuro was pushing ahead with the formation of the federation largely on its own initiative, and without preliminary consultations either with Moscow or the republics. This incident contradicts the picture usually presented, whereby the Kavbyuro was acting hand in hand with the Russian CC, if not on Stalin's direct orders.

On the other hand, the Georgians' claims that the Kavbyuro had acted entirely without preparation and in breach of party discipline were dishonest;(56) the idea had been in the pipeline at least since March 1921, and Stalin himself raised the matter with the Georgian communists during a visit in July. Lewin suggests that in the dispute over the Transcaucasian Federation 'Stalin and Ordzhonikidze were pursuing a personal vendetta' against the Georgian communists,(57) but the whole premise for closer ties between the three republics lay deeply embedded in Marxist theory and should have been the object of dispute only over the timing and form of such a union.

The objections of the Georgians and the hesitancy of the center delayed the formation of the Transcaucasian Federation for the time being. But a significant point which has previously been overlooked is that the Georgian CC was not necessarily representative of opinion in the Georgian Communist Party as a whole, where Ordzhonikidze was able to exploit impatience with Georgian nationalism. Thus the Georgian Central Committee's objections to federation were overruled by the First Congress of the Communist Party of Georgia, which met at the end of January 1922.(58) On 12 March 1922 a formal treaty creating the Federal Union of Soviet Socialist Republics of Transcaucasia was signed by representatives of the three republics. This treaty formally maintained the independence of the three republics, but granted sweeping powers to the Union Soviet and in particular to a Supreme Economic Council, which left the three republics with less independence in economic matters than was formally accorded to the autonomous republics and regions of the RSFSR.(59) In spite of the decision of the Georgian party congress, the Georgian leadership, and also some Azerbaidzhani communists, continued to be obstructive towards the federation, prompting the Russian Central Committee to intervene. On 5 April the CC came down firmly against the Georgian opposition, stating its belief that the struggle in Georgia was 'based entirely on motives of a personal character on the part of various comrades', threatening expulsions on the basis of the party's decisions against factional struggle, and reducing the Georgian Central Committee from 25 members to 15.(60) (Also at this time, the Kavbyuro was.renamed the Transcaucasian Regional Committee of the Russian Communist Party - Zakkraikom.)

Even though the Russian Central Committee at this stage had plenty of evidence that Ordzhonikidze was a maverick in his handling of Transcaucasian affairs and that Lenin's strict instructions on the sensitive handling of Georgia were being ignored, they continued to support the Zakkraikom decisions retrospectively just as they had, with the exception of Trotsky, over the invasion of Georgia in 1921. By implication, the CC was accusing highly respected Bolsheviks such as Makharadze and Mdivani of allowing 'motives of a personal character' to interfere in Transcaucasia. But the Bolsheviks could not allow any dissent on Georgia to come out into the open. Ever since the Bolshevik invasion, Georgia had become a cause celebre for anti-Bolshevik Social Democratic parties throughout Europe, and the Bolsheviks were initiating a massive continent-wide propaganda effort which was to culminate in making Georgia the focus of May Day celebrations and included the widespread translation and distribution of books by Chaikin and Trotsky.(61) Any suggestion by the leadership of communist Georgia that all was not rosy in the Georgian garden or that the nation's fate was being decided against the wishes of its population would undermine the international appeal of the Bolshevik revolution at a time when the Bolsheviks were still pinning their hopes on further revolutions in the West. A united front was now the priority, and for the time being it was the Zakkraikom which set the agenda and Moscow could brook no public dissent from Georgian communists.

Although the Georgians continued to raise objections to specific centralizing measures, such as the currency reform, the Central Committee directive effectively silenced open opposition to the Transcaucasian Federation for the time being. The question of Georgia's relationship to Transcaucasia and the other Soviet Republics came to the fore again with the circulation of Stalin's so-called 'autonomisation project' in September 1923. Under this scheme, the formally independent republics would be incorporated into the RSFSR as autonomous republics. Once again, the Georgians did not reject the proposal in principle, but argued instead that such a move was 'premature'.(62) In the second draft of the proposal, which included some of Lenin's amendments to Stalin's project, Ukraine and Belorussia would now enter into a Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on an equal footing with Russia. But Georgia, Azerbaidzhan and Armenia would enter as a single unit, the Transcaucasian Federation. Although Mdivani was present as a guest at the session of the Central Committee which approved this draft,(63) and apparently raised no specific objections to the entry of Georgia into the USSR via the Transcaucasian Federation,(64) this caused a storm in the Georgian Central Committee, which had already voiced its opposition to the formation of a Union and now saw this move as a further diminution of Georgian statehood. Their protests to Moscow were met by successive rejections by Stalin, Kamenev, Bukharin, and finally Lenin, who sent a stem telegram to Georgia on 21 October, accusing the protesters of unseemly conduct and breach of party procedures.(65)

Shortly afterwards, the Zakkraikom went on the offensive by trying to remove a number of Georgian oppositionists from Tiflis. This prompted the mass resignation of nine out of the 11 members of the Georgian Central Committee on 22 October 1922, citing the 'factual mistrust of the Zakkraikom towards the Central Committee of Georgia and its systematic persecution of almost all the members of the Central Committee'.(66) Although the Zakkraikom swiftly accepted the resignation and appointed a new Central Committee, the course of events could not be ignored in Moscow. The matter took a further turn when one of the members of the former Georgian Central Committee, M. Okudzhava, wrote to Lenin detailing threatening and abusive behaviour by Ordzhonikidze against Georgian communists.(67) Details of this behaviour can now be obtained from Okudzhava's later account, according to which Ordzhonikidze had wielded a marble paperweight and a knife at him, and threatened to have him shot.(68) This charge, although it was denied by Ordzhonikidze, prompted the Secretariat of the Russian Central Committee on 24 November to send a three-man commission headed by Dzerzhinsky to Tiflis to investigate the matter. Dzerzhinsky and the other members of the commission, Mitskevich-Kapsukas and Manuil'sky, were never going to be sympathetic to complaints against centralism, and significantly Zinoviev is reported as having stated that the commission had reached its main conclusions even before it had left Moscow.(69) By now, the Central Committee was used to supporting the Zakkraikom and viewing the Georgians as troublemakers, and in the main probably saw the commission as a formality. Significantly, however, Enukidze later reported that Lenin himself had made anxious enquiries about the composition of the commission, and he abstained from the vote of the Politburo confirming its make-up.(71) Shortly afterwards Lenin, mistrusting Dzerzhinsky's impartiality, also sent Rykov to Tiflis to keep an eye on affairs.

At this time a further incident gave more fuel to the charges against Ordzhonikidze. This notorious event can now be reconstructed from Rykov's own account, according to which he arranged to meet his former comrade-in-arms from Siberian exile Akaki Kabakhidze, a supporter of the Georgian oppositionists, in Ordzhonikidze's flat in Tiflis where Rykov was staying while carrying out his mission for Lenin. At this purely social gathering the discussion inevitably moved on to Georgian politics. Kabakhidze complained about the fact that leading communists were enjoying great material privileges, and in particular that Ordzhonikidze had been flaunting a fine horse which was being cared for at public expense. A fierce quarrel then erupted, in the course of which Ordzhonikidze struck Kabakhidze, and Rykov and his wife had to intervene to keep the two apart. Subsequently Ordzhonikidze suffered an attack of hysterics.(72)

While what became known in party circles as 'the incident' was no more than an argument which got out of hand, quite possibly under the influence of alcohol, it confirmed many of the accusations against Ordzhonikidze's high-handed methods and was to leave a particular impression on Lenin. Nor was this an entirely isolated incident. In addition to Okudzhava's accusations mentioned above, other charges were recorded by Lenin's secretaries. On another occasion A. A. Gegechkori, a supporter of Ordzhonikidze on the Georgian Sovnarkom, struck two party workers associated with the Georgian opposition.(73) In November 1922, one Kakabadze further charged that Ordzhonikidze had approached him and asked him to organize a malicious campaign of slander 'to discredit Mdivani in the eyes of the masses'.(74) While Ordzhonikidze flatly denied the accusations of Okudzhava and Kakabadze,(75) dismissed the Kabakhidze incident as a personal quarrel and was not implicated in the Gegechkori assault, there was enough smoke to suggest a distinctly un-Bolshevik fire had been burning. While the methods of the Bolsheviks were often brutal in dealing with political opponents, the resort to slander and physical abuse against fellow party members was a most serious misdemeanor.

The written conclusions of Dzerzhinsky's commission submitted later to the Politburo completely exonerated Ordzhonikidze and the Zakkraikom: the Zakkraikom had consistently followed the line of the Central Committee of the RCP, including making concessions to the nationalist mood of the masses and the intelligentsia. The Georgian communists, however, in pursuing this policy themselves succumbed to the pressure of petit-bourgeois nationalism and made a fetish of concessions; the Georgian Central Committee was entirely to blame for the conflicts with the Zakkraikom, which had always followed correct party procedures and campaigned properly for all its decisions; charges against the Zakkraikom of Great Russian tendencies were dismissed, while the Georgian opposition was charged with a range of offences including deliberate obstructiveness against policies it had formally approved, irregularities in carrying out important tasks, including land reform, nepotism in party and soviet institutions and lack of security with regard to the Mensheviks.(76) Many of these conclusions clearly flew in the face of the facts, while the commission also chose to ignore many important charges, including those concerning Ordzhonikidze's personal behavior. The commission gave its full backing to the continuing work of the Zakkraikom and the new Georgian Central Committee, and recommended that the leading oppositionists Makharadze, Kavtaradze, Mdivani and Tsintadze be sent to work in Russia.

At some point between 21 October 1922, when he had sent his rebuke to the Georgians, and the end of December, Lenin underwent a change in attitude to the Georgian affair, and more generally towards the whole progress of the Soviet system he had played the leading role in building and the individuals who led it. The precise reasons for this apparent U-turn are still not clear. According to Deutscher, 'in all probability, the change was not caused by any single incident but by a coincidence of many', in particular those connected with the Georgian affair, but also by an increasing awareness of the growing bureaucracy by which he was surrounded.(77) Pipes ascribes Lenin's change of heart to the information he received from Rykov and Dzerzhinsky on their return to Moscow, on 9 and 12 December respectively,(78) and this is supported by Foteva.(79) Foteva also indicates that in October Lenin had listened with some sympathy to the complaints of the Georgians, while condemning them for nationalism, and had also announced his intention to 'declare war on Great Russian chauvinism'.(80) The archives do not shed any more light on this apparent reversal, but they do show that Lenin had misgivings about Dzerzhinsky's commission at an early stage, as indicated above. While Lenin had come out against the Georgians early on, their complaints had accumulated sufficiently to lead him eventually to reappraise the situation, as Deutscher surmised. As Lenin was poised to act, however, his health deteriorated severely on the night of 15-16 December and he was henceforward confined to his quarters. Nevertheless, he managed to dictate his 'Testament' and, on 30 and 31 December, his 'Notes on the Question of Nationalities or "Autonomisation"'.

These notes indicate that Lenin had been deeply disturbed by the Kabakhidze incident, and that this incident in itself was enough to lead him to question the whole process of what he continued to refer to as 'autonomisation'.(81) While accepting the need for a closer union of the Soviet Republics, Lenin returns to a favourite theme, the position of Russia as the oppressor nation, and dwells particularly on 'that same Russian apparatus which ... we took over from tsarism and slightly anointed with Soviet oil'. It was impossible to deal with the national question in the abstract, and it was particularly this 'bourgeois and tsarist botchporch' of an apparatus which demanded caution in creating an otherwise desirable Union. Therefore the strictest rules needed to be enforced over the use of the national language in the non-Russian republics, and the Bolsheviks should even be prepared if necessary to 'take a step backward at the next Congress of Soviets, i.e, retain the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics only for military and diplomatic affairs, and in all other respects restore full independence to the individual People's Commissariats'. Ordzhonikidze comes in for particular blame for the conflict in Georgia. Dzerzhinsky also 'distinguished himself by his truly Russian frame of mind' in whitewashing Ordzhonikidze. He and Stalin shared the political responsibility for events in Georgia, and 'Stalin's haste and his infatuation with pure administration, together with his spite against the notorious "nationalist-socialism", played a fatal role here'.(82)

Pipes views Lenin's change of heart as evidence of the complete failure of his national program: 'In the end, Lenin's national program reduced itself to a matter of personal behavior: it depended for the solution of the complex problems of a multinational empire upon the tact and good will of communist officials'. While there is much truth in this, Pipes goes on to argue that 'Lenin's expectations were quite unfounded', given the rejection of Lenin's national policy by the majority of Bolshevik leaders and the overwhelmingly Russian composition of the supreme authority in the land, the RCP. While Lenin condemned the Great Russian attitudes of Ordzhonikidze and Dzerzhinsky in the affair, he saw the root of the problem not in the behavior of individual communists but in the surviving influence of the tsarist, bourgeois, Great Russian bureaucracy. For Pipes on the other hand, it was psychologically as well as administratively contradictory to strive for the supremacy of the proletariat, and at the same time to demand that this proletariat, which was largely Russian, place itself in a morally defensive position regarding the minorities.(83)

The predominance of Russian officials in the regions had certainly presented a problem, which had led to crises in Bashkiria, Turkestan and elsewhere. But in those other cases three factors had weighed against Russian abuses; firstly, the energetic intervention of the People's Commissariat for Nationality Affairs (Narkomnats), the Soviet of People's Commissars (Sovnarkom) and the Central Committee of the RCP on the side of the national minorities; secondly, precisely that 'personal behavior', the 'tact and good will' of the Bolshevik plenipotentiaries entrusted with sorting out national disputes; and thirdly, the largely successful co-optation of nationalist leaders and their satisfaction with the autonomous rights granted to the non-Russians. These were the factors which had ensured the relative success of the Bolshevik national policy in the RSFSR. In Georgia, however, the nationalists were not co-opted, as had been originally intended, but their position was taken up by Georgian Old Bolsheviks who turned out to be more obstructive in their nationalism than many of those leaders who elsewhere had been nationalists first, communists second. On the other side, the behavior of Ordzhonikidze and the Zakkraikom contrasted sharply with that of, say, Frunze or Ioffe and the Muslim communists on the Turkbyuro. In fact Pipes' contention that Lenin's expectations of the behavior of Russian communist officials were unfounded is in general incorrect; Ordzhonikidze (a Georgian) was the exception to the rule that the most trusted communists could be relied on not to demonstrate Russian chauvinism.
Pipes also ignores, as does Lewin, the contradictory attitude taken by the Russian Central Committee in the case. The CC, like the People's Commissariat of Nationality Affairs, whose authority did not extend to Georgia, had a good record of backing the national minorities, including the Georgians, up until the end of 1922. Now, however, all the members of the Politburo apart from Lenin followed Dzerzhinsky's line. Thus on 25 January 1923 the Politburo fully endorsed the findings of Dzerzhinsky's commission, including the removal of the four leading Georgian communists from Georgia. While there is no record of dissent from this decision, the presence of Rakovsky at the session suggests there must have been at least some debate. Trotsky too was present but there is no evidence that he took up the Georgian cause, concerning himself more with military matters in Transcaucasia, which were also discussed at the same session.(84)

A national policy which had previously operated on a largely ad hoc basis in favor of the national minorities was now turning in the opposite direction. Lenin's solution was to provide more concrete guarantees than had hitherto been in place, particularly in the sphere of language, and to take exemplary measures against those he regarded as politically responsible for the new turn of events: Ordzhonikidze, Dzerzhinsky and now Stalin. Pipes dismisses these remedies as entirely inadequate and illustrative of Lenin's 'fundamental misinterpretation of the entire national problem'.(85) This cynicism is typical of Pipes and underestimates Lenin's evaluation of the deeper problems at work: pervading his writings at this time, not just in the theses on the national question, but in his 'Testament' and his statements on the Workers' and Peasants' Inspectorate, is a mistrust of the growing influence of the state bureaucracy. Lenin sees this danger mostly in the remnants of tsarism and the absence of proletarians in the apparatus, but he was also increasingly aware of a further, more immediate dimension to the Georgian conflict. It was not simply the tsarist and opportunist elements in the apparatus asserting themselves, but a change in attitude at the very highest levels of the party that was manifesting itself.

The pivotal figure in this process must have been Stalin. Throughout 1922 he had been publicly addressing more and more invective against nationalism in general, where before he had stressed the dangers of Great Russian chauvinism. His current obsession with the formal centralization of the Soviet Republics may have been based on sound principles,(86) but was now overriding his previously supportive attitude to the non-Russians. His pet project of uniting the Soviet republics, which he had undoubtedly hoped to present as fulfilling the wishes of the independent republics, was now being threatened by the Georgians. He had already expressed his irritation at Lenin's intervention in September 1922, and now, in an exchange of notes with Kamenev, he went so far as to accuse Lenin of coming under the influence of Georgian Mensheviks.(87) He also did his best to obstruct the work of Lenin's commission of enquiry (discussed below). The inner-party situation was certainly a factor here, though by no means the only one: Stalin was at this time trying not only to effect a reorganization of the Soviet state, but also to consolidate his own position in the party, given Lenin's increasing retirement from active political life. The growing hostility between Lenin and Stalin, as evidenced in the 'Testament' and the row over Stalin's treatment of Krupskaya, reflect a change in attitude on Stalin's part, which was clearly expressed in his approach to the national question.

Lewin puts this maneuvering on Stalin's part at the heart of his interpretation, viewing the conflict in the party over the creation of the USSR as one between the two types of Bolshevik leader:
The first of these were the intellectuals and idealists, sensitive to doctrinal requirements and deeply attached to their vision of socialism ... The second group were primarily executives, men of action, practitioners of the revolution, more concerned with day-to-day realities.(88)

In the former category, he lists Rakovsky, Krestinsky, Serebryakov, Preobrazhensky, Makharadze and Trotsky; in the latter belong Ordzhonikidze, Kaganovich, Molotov, Kuibyshev and Stalin. Such a distinction, also followed by Deutscher,(89) is too simplistic. The 'men of action' had a theoretical programme driving their actions and were, moreover, backed by some of the party's leading theoreticians, such as Bukharin and Pyatakov; of the 'intellectuals', Trotsky had distinguished himself in the Civil War by the ruthlessness of his practical application to the military tasks entrusted to him; Frunze is another who springs to mind as a successful and pragmatic leader with a strong idealist streak. The course of events, and the ideological confusion thrust upon the Bolsheviks by their continued global isolation, had forced them to admit quite openly from the beginning of 1921 onwards that their primary task for now was to hold onto power at all costs, and this pressure was having an effect on the likes of Ordzhonikidze and Stalin in both their beliefs and their personal ambitions. But the pressures could work either way, and at the same time Makharadze was drifting towards an equally unmarxist position, that of outright nationalism. Lewin's work Lenin's Last Struggle is, as the title suggests, primarily concerned to show that Lenin was acutely concerned about the direction the Soviet state was taking and devoted his last days to a struggle against these tendencies, as manifested particularly in the person of Stalin. Such a project leads Lewin to view the leading personalities of the day in clear-cut terms, as good guys or bad guys, and thus to miss some of the complexities involved and the sometimes accidental nature of the course of events.

On 24 January 1923 Lenin asked Foteva, together with his other secretaries Glasser and Gorbunov, to gather together all the material of the Dzerzhinsky commission and to prepare their own report. The proceedings of this work are recorded by Foteva in her memoirs, compiled later from official diaries. Exactly what aspects of the affair most concerned him are shown by the list of questions he also gave his secretaries:
(1) On what grounds were the old Central Committee of the Communist Party of Georgia accused of deviation?

(2) For what were they charged with a breach of discipline?

(3) What else did the Zakkraikom accuse the CC of the Communist Party of Georgia of?

(4) Physical methods of repression.

(5) The line of the CC of the Russian Communist Party in Lenin's absence and in his presence.

(6) The attitude of the commission. Did it look only at the charges against the CC CP of Georgia or also at those against the Zakkraikom?

(7) The current position.(90)

From this list it is clear that Lenin was now coming to suspect not only that there had been political mistakes made in relation to Georgia but that there had been a deliberate cover-up on the part of Dzerzhinsky's commission, and even that there had been a conspiracy by the Central Committee to mislead him over its attitude to the national question. Lenin constantly harried his secretaries over the progress of this work, indicating his acute concern to discover the truth behind the affair.(91)

On 3 March 1923 Foteva presented Lenin with the completed report. In their conclusions, the secretaries unequivocally take the side of the Georgians and refute blow by blow the conclusions of Dzerzhinsky's commission.(92) This report, which was unavailable to Pipes or Lewin, is notable for one significant omission. While the secretaries pull no punches in their criticisms of both Ordzhonikidze and Dzerzhinsky, their report contains not a single criticism of Stalin. Lenin had not asked for any information on Stalin's role in his original questions to the secretaries, and his criticisms against Stalin in the 'Testament' had been directed against his unsuitability as General Secretary, not his handling of nationality affairs. He talks of Stalin's political responsibility in his December notes on the national question, but that is not enough to suggest that Lenin considered Stalin to be heavily involved on Ordzhonikidze's side. The idea that Stalin was behind everything Ordzhonikidze did, even if true,(93) had clearly not occurred to Lenin.

However, Lenin's suspicions that the Central Committee had been deceptive in its treatment of the Georgian affair necessarily implicated Stalin. Now, as more information came in, it seems that Lenin came to suspect him of orchestrating a cover-up of the Georgian affair. On 14 February Lenin submitted further questions to his commission of enquiry: 'Did Stalin know (of the incident)? Why didn't he do something about it?'(94) In spite of Lenin's growing suspicions and the new instructions to his secretaries, Stalin escaped serious censure in the report. He may have been saved by the fact that, as Robert Service has pointed out, the secretaries to whom Lenin entrusted the compilation of this report held Stalin in the greatest respect and awe.(95) Another possibility is that in truth Stalin had little to do with Ordzhonikidze's handling of Georgia at the time. This was not sufficient, however, to shield Stalin completely from Lenin's wrath.

On the same day as he issued further instructions to his secretaries, Lenin signaled his readiness to take on the Central Committee by instructing Foteva to inform Sol'ts, the CC secretary, that he considered the CC approach to the national question in general incorrect.(96) By early March he was convinced that any display of nationalism on the part of the Georgians was insignificant compared to the bullying, great power attitude of the Kavbyuro and the Central Committee. On 6 March he wrote to Mdivani and Makharadze: 'I am with you in this matter with all my heart. I am outraged at the rudeness of Ordzhonikidze and the connivance of Stalin and Dzerzhinsky. I am preparing for you notes and a speech'.(97) At the same time he signaled a final disillusionment with Stalin by breaking off personal relations with him over an incident involving Lenin's wife, Krupskaya.(98)

But Lenin was too ill to undertake the defense of the Georgians, and he turned to Trotsky, who alone of the Politburo he felt he could trust and who could be expected to support Lenin's position. Lenin wrote to Trotsky on 5 March:
I earnestly ask you to undertake the defense of the Georgian affair at the Central Committee of the party. That affair is now under 'prosecution' at the hands of Stalin and Dzerzhinsky and I cannot rely on their impartiality. Indeed quite the contrary!(99)

From this point of the story on, until the opening of access to the Soviet archives, historians have had to rely mostly on the partial account and a limited selection of documents provided by Trotsky,(100) combined with a fair amount of guesswork based on certain general assumptions concerning the relationship between the leading figures in the Politburo at this time, many of which turn out to be wrong. Thus, for example, both Lewin and Deutscher assume, incorrectly, that Trotsky must have agreed to Lenin's request to take up the defense of the Georgians.(101) It is clear from the archive material that our understanding of these relationships is in need of substantial revision, and while this is a major task beyond the scope of the present article, it is at least possible to correct a number of errors and provide a fuller and more accurate account of the aftermath of the affair. In particular, Trotsky's attitude to the whole affair can be clarified, and the fate of Lenin's notes leading up to the XII Congress is of particular interest.

As it turns out, in a telephone call to Lenin's secretary Volodicheva the same day he received the notes, Trotsky complained that he himself was too ill to take on such a responsibility at a time when he could not even be sure of presenting the economic report to the XII Congress. Anyway, having spoken to Makharadze, Mdivani and Ordzhonikidze, he was confident that any aberrations on Ordzhonikidze's part were isolated errors.(102) For Trotsky, the Georgian affair was clearly not such a major issue, certainly not important enough for him to pit himself against the rest of the Politburo.

The Politburo and Zakkraikom had, in the meantime, been making conciliatory gestures in an attempt to smooth things over in Georgia and avoid a damaging row at the XII Congress. The Politburo decision of 25 January concerning the removal of Mdivani et al. from Georgia represented a conclusive victory for Ordzhonikidze and his backers. But on the very same day another incident caused Stalin's secretariat to adopt a more even-handed approach. Apparently a number of high security documents, including telegrams from Lenin and Stalin and a secret report by Makharadze, had fallen into the hands of the Mensheviks in Tiflis. Lack of security and leaks to the Mensheviks had been one of the principal charges of the Zakkraikom against the former Georgian Central Committee, and now Stalin moved swiftly, pinning the blame on the new secretary of the Georgian CC, Sabashvili, who was immediately dismissed from his post.(103) Possibly this embarrassment spurred on the moves to conciliation in Georgia, but the Politburo must also have been keen to put an end to a matter which was not only tearing apart the party in Georgia but was also the subject of unhealthy interest in the party as a whole. So much so that on 5 January the Central Committee felt obliged to send out a special circular to all regional committees (gubkomy and obkomy) of the party explaining the events in Georgia. While exonerating the Zakkraikom entirely, the letter was not as harsh on the Georgians as might have been expected.(104)

The immediate cause of the conciliation, however, was the supportive note Lenin had written to the Georgians on 6 March. On 7 March Stalin wrote to Ordzhonikidze warning him of the contents of this note and advising him to reach a compromise with the opposition.(105) In March 1923 Kamenev and Kuibyshev traveled to Georgia to attend the Georgian Party Congress and on 14 March a secret party agreement was duly signed by Mdivani, Makharadze, Okudzhava, Kamenev, Kuibyshev, Elyava (head of the Georgian Sovnarkom), Ordzhonikidze and Myasnikov. In this the Georgians agreed to the need for a Transcaucasian Federation, while in return the party was committed to a 'decisive and systematic struggle' against any Great Russian tendencies in the apparatus, to sensitivity towards national feelings, especially in Georgia, and to cultural and educational measures to overcome national animosities.(106) In return for signing this agreement and submitting to party discipline, the oppositionists were to be allowed a number of places to form a minority in the Georgian Central Committee.(107) Makharadze, Mdivani and Okudzhava signed a separate statement, however, making it clear that they believed that only they, who would now be a minority on the Georgian CC, would in fact be capable of putting these policies into practice, and that they were only signing the agreement out of regard for the unity of the RCP and, in particular, so as to avoid causing further distress to Lenin in his current state of ill health.(108) Ordzhonikidze also informed Stalin that Mdivani had demanded the reorganization of the Zakkraikom and the removal of Ordzhonikidze from the Caucasus, but then agreed to leave the matter of the Zakkraikom to a later date.(109) On 19 March Ordzhonikidze accordingly proposed a list for the new Georgian Central Committee drawn up by Kamenev and Kuibyshev to the Georgian Party Congress. So far had the tide flowed against the Georgian opposition, however, that this list was defeated in favor of a list which excluded Mdivani and Tsintadze but did include eight 'deviationists' out of 25 places, headed by Makharadze.(110)

The moves to conciliation in Georgia which are clearly revealed in the archives contradict the common picture of Stalin and Ordzhonikidze being in complete control at this time. The conciliatory mood is further confirmed by the fact that Trotsky, in spite of his negative reply to Lenin, did take some measures to aid the Georgians, and was able to win certain concessions, though he did not get everything he called for. On 6 March he wrote to the Politburo suggesting some amendments to the theses on the national question Stalin had prepared for the XII Congress, stressing the dangers of Great Power chauvinism and, almost in the exact words of Lenin's articles, arguing that it might be necessary in the future to dismantle some of the unified commissariats.(111) Stalin, who may not have been aware at this stage of Lenin's articles,(112) nevertheless accepted Trotsky's suggestions, which were of substantial significance. On 23 March Trotsky tried to persuade the Politburo to remove Ordzhonikidze from his post and have the label 'deviationist' removed from the Georgian oppositionists, but was only able to muster one vote in his support (probably Bukharin). He then took the same proposal to the full Central Committee on the 31 March but still got only one vote in support.(113) Having been comprehensively defeated, he appears to have given up the struggle. Mdivani and company were now powerless, but Ordzhonikidze also appears to have moderated his behaviour. The Politburo, Stalin in particular, had what they wanted, which was a trouble-free progress towards a united Soviet state.

As regards the fate of Lenin's December notes on the national question, on 5 March 1923 Trotsky had received a copy of the notes along with the report of Lenin's secretaries. Outside Lenin's closest circle there is no evidence that anybody else apart from Kamenev even knew of the existence of the notes until 16 April, the eve of the XII Congress, when Foteva wrote to Kamenev asking what she should do with these notes, as Lenin had indicated that he had wanted them published but had not left final instructions.(114) Kamenev in turn passed the matter to the Central Committee, indicating that he was in favor of publication.(115) Stalin now took charge of the matter, and a flurry of notes passed back and forth on the same day. Foteva informed Stalin that Lenin had been very clear that he had wanted to publish the notes at some point in the future, and that in her personal opinion their content was so important that they ought to be known to the party.(116) Later, however, she reported to Stalin that Lenin's sister, Marya Il'ichna, was against publication on the basis that Lenin had left no clear instructions, and Foteva added that Lenin had not considered the article complete.(117) Trotsky again did his best to withdraw from the fray. He wrote to Stalin explaining that although he had seen the notes, he felt that previously it had been up to Lenin how to use them. Now that Lenin was unable to be involved, Trotsky felt it his duty to report the notes as a valuable contribution on the national question. But if nobody else on the Central Committee was to bring them up, he would take that as a silent decision 'which relieves me of personal responsibility for the given article in relation to the party congress'.(118)

Stalin had the last word, however. On the same day he wrote to the Central Committee members:
I am absolutely astounded that Lenin's articles, whose import is unquestionably of great significance in principle, were received by Trotsky as early as 5 March, and yet Trotsky has managed to hide them under a bushel for more than a month ... rumours and myths about them are circulating amongst delegates [to the XII Congress], people who have nothing to do with the Central Committee know about them; members of the Central Committee themselves must have nourished these rumours and myths, and the Central Committee ought above all to be informed about their content. I think that Lenin's articles ought to be published publicly. I can only regret, then, that as it turns out from Foteva's letter, it is clearly impossible to publish them as they have not yet been revised by Lenin.(119)

Stalin must have felt threatened by Lenin's articles, but the cheek and arrogance of this letter suggest he also considered that he was sufficiently in control to limit the potential damage and would get an easy ride at the XII Congress. Crucially, the passive compliance of the other members of the Politburo at this point may have saved his skin. Of more concern to them than the quarrels in Georgia at that time was what would happen after Lenin's death. In this context, a public continuation of the row over Georgia would not have helped anyone. Stalin had orchestrated the Transcaucasian compromise, and he had most to gain by it. By presenting the creation of the USSR at the congress unopposed, his own grand design, he would enormously enhance his reputation in the party. Trotsky's failure to take up the cause of the Georgians shows that he still did not attach sufficient importance to the Georgian affair, nor did he consider that enough could be gained by crushing Stalin to risk any confrontation. Of the leading figures, only Bukharin was prepared to take issue at the full sessions of the congress. It was now apparently only the incapacitated Lenin who could stand in Stalin's way.

The Congress Presidium agreed to make the contents of Lenin's notes known to the delegates to the XII Congress, which met on 17-25 April 1923, while banning reference to them from the debate.(120) While this ban was frequently violated, not just by the Georgians,(121) the exchanges on the conference floor resulted in the comprehensive defeat of the Georgians, in spite of a rousing speech on their side by Bukharin.(122) But the stenographic reports of the separate sectional meeting of the XII Congress and of the secret special meeting on the national question held in June 1923 (the so-called 'Sultan-Galiev affair'), both recently published and previously unavailable,(123) show that the denouement of the Georgian affair was far from resolving disputes over the national question or confirming the absolute predominance of the Stalin faction. On both occasions Stalin suffered a stormy ride. At the congress's sectional meeting he was assailed by representatives of both the separate and autonomous national republics over his plans for the future structure of the USSR, forcing him to retract or compromise on a number of points, which are reflected in a number of amendments to his original theses being accepted by the congress.(124) Further damage was avoided by the supportive presence at Stalin's side of Trotsky, who claimed to fulfil his obligations to Lenin by weakly defending the Georgians' 1921 policy of sealing off the borders.(125) At the June meeting Stalin was again under attack, this time from the left of the party, who accused him of showing excessive indulgence to the national communists and failing to take a firm enough line against Sultan-Galiev himself.

At both meetings the delegates were divided between those who regarded the national question as a distraction and those who recognized the need to exercise special policies with regard to the national minorities. In essence this was the practical expression of the theoretical dispute over self-determination which had taken up so much time at previous party congresses and conferences; while the strict implementation of this principle as laid down in the Party Program was never put to the test, it informed the underlying attitudes to national policies throughout the 1920s.

Trotsky later claimed that Lenin had stated that he was preparing a 'bomb' against Stalin over the Georgian affair.(126) It is in this vein that historians have viewed the affair as the most critical moment in the struggle for the succession to Lenin, the point at which Trotsky let slip the possibility to destroy Stalin politically at the XII Congress; instead, in Pipes' words, The Twelfth Congress, the last at which the national question was discussed in an atmosphere of relatively free expression, ended in the complete triumph of Stalin. The issue of self-rule versus centralism on the administrative level was decided in favor of the latter.(127)

Neither proposition contains much truth. It is clear from the archive material that there were no real victors in the Georgian affair. Even if Lenin had recovered sufficiently, or Trotsky had taken his request more seriously, it is unlikely that Stalin's position would have been under real threat. There was little evidence to implicate him in the mishandling of Georgia, while the tide had already turned decisively in his favor in the central party apparatus; but it was to take him several more years and wide-ranging purges to impose his will decisively on the republican organizations. Ordzhonikidze, who perhaps had most to lose, defeated his rivals but came out of the affair with his reputation tarnished and was soon removed from the Caucasus in any case. The affair certainly held back the career of Makharadze, and curtailed that of Mdivani. But in general, it would not be true to say that the outcome of the affair marked an immediate turn towards centralization; in its aftermath, as part of the damage limitation exercise, the republics were conceded more rights than had originally been envisaged under the plan for the Union.

What a detailed examination of the affair shows is that it was not simply an episode in a power struggle, either in Transcaucasia or in Moscow, nor was it an inevitable crisis arising from an incoherent or empty national policy. The archives show a far more complex picture, in which the character of the leading figures, especially Ordzhonikidze, played no small role. But the differing interpretations of Bolshevik nationality policies, and especially those specific to Georgia, were equally important. Study of the content of the particular disputes shows that both sides had made serious political errors from the point of view of Marxist theory. The affair was certainly an important episode in the power struggle surrounding the sick Lenin; but it developed under its own impetus and should be regarded as an episode which sheds light on that power struggle rather than being viewed solely from that point of view. Further study of the archives will no doubt tell us more about the complexity of relationships between Lenin, Stalin, Ordzhonikidze, Trotsky, Kamenev and company, but they also enable us to explore the internal dynamics of particular episodes which were not always dependant on the broader context.


1. Richard Pipes, The Formation of the Soviet Union; Communism and Nationalism, 1917-1923 (2nd edn, Cambridge, MA, 1964).

2. Moshe Lewin, Lenin's Last Struggle (Pluto, London, 1975).

3. Isaac Deutscher, The Prophet Armed, 1879-1921 (Oxford, 1970), pp. 49-93.

4. I have seen many of these documents in the archives and can confirm the accuracy of the published versions. I have usually provided references to Izvestiya TsK KPSS even where the archive reference would have been available, as the former is more accessible to most researchers.

5. L. D. Trotsky, Stalin (London, 1947), p. 348.

6. K. Khasanov, V.I. Lenin i Turkbyuro TsK RKP(b) (Tashkent, 1969), pp. 63-65.

7. Quoted in Oleg V. Khlevniuk, In Stalin's Shadow - the Career of 'Sergo' Ordzhonikidze (Armonk, NY, 1995), p. 14.

8. Khlevniuk, pp. 19-20.

9. Khlevniuk, pp, 17-20.

10. Ronald Grigor Suny, The Making of the Georgian Nation (London, 1989), pp. 157-158.

11. See, for instance, his performance at the XII Congress of the RCP(b), Dvenadtsatyi si"ezd RKP(b), 17-25 aprelya goda 1923 - stenograficheskii otchet (Moscow, 1968), pp. 495-501.

12. Pipes, p. 266.

13. Noi Zhordanya, Moya Zhizn' (Stanford, 1968), p. 108.

14. Deutscher, p. 474.

15. Suny, p. 214.

16. Stephen Jones, 'The Establishment of Soviet Power in Transcaucasia: the case of Georgia 1921-1928', Soviet Studies, 40, 4, October 1988, pp. 620-621.

17. Zhordanya, p. 109.

18. RTsKhIDNI, f. 17, op. 3, d. 74, 1. 3.

19. RTsKhIDNI, f. 17, op. 3, d. 122, 1. 2.

20. RTsKhIDNI, f. 17, op. 2, d. 46, 1. 3.

21. RTsKhIDNI, f. 17, op. 2, d. 55, 1. 5.

22. RTsKhIDNI, f. 17, op. 2, d. 56, 1. 1.

23. N. B. Makharadze, Pobeda sotsialisticheskoi revolyutsii v Gruzil (Tbilisi, 1965), pp. 420-423.

24. Zhordanya, p. 111.

25. RTsKhIDNI, f. 17, op. 3, d. 132, 1. 2; d. 133, 1. 1; Pipes, pp. 237-238.

26. Zhordanya, p. 112.

27. RTsKhIDNI, f. 17, op. 2, d. 60, 1. 2.

28. RTsKhIDNI, f. 157, op. 1/c, d. 14, 1. 1.

29. Ibid. 11. 2-5.

30. V. I. Lenin, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii (5th edn, Moscow, 1958-1965), vol. XLII, p. 367.

31. Lenin, vol. XLIII, pp. 198-200.

32. RTsKhIDNI, f. 17, op. 3, d. 247, 1. 3; L. D. Trotsky, Between Red and White: a Study of some Fundamental Questions of Revolution, with Particular Reference to Georgia (London, 1922).

33. RTsKhIDNI, f. 157, op. 1/c, d. 14, 1. 2.

34. Lewin, p. 45.

35. G. K. Ordzhonikidze, Stat'i i rechi (Moscow, 1956), vol. I, p. 172.

36. Ordzhonikidze, vol. 1, pp. 183-184.

37. Suny, p. 212.

38. RTsKhIDNI, f. 5, op. 2, d. 32, 1. 6; Ordzhonikidze, vol. 1, p. 216.

39. Ordzhonikidze, Vol. 1, p. 226.

40. Ordzhonikidze, Vol. 1, p. 214.

41. RTsKhIDNI, f. 5, op. 2, d. 32, 11. 55-57.

42. RTsKhIDNI, f. 17, op. 2, d. 83, 11. 9-10.

43. RTsKhIDNI, f. 17, op. 2, d. 83, 1. 11.

44. L. A. Foteva, Iz zhizni V.I. Lenina (Moscow, 1967), p. 291; RTsKhIDNI, f. 64, op. 1, d. 61, 1. 28.

45. RTsKhIDNI, f. 64, op. 1, d. 75, 1. 251.

46. RTsKhIDNI, f. 5, op. 2, d. 32, 1. 61.

47. RTsKhIDNI, f. 5, op. 1, d. 2796, 1. 3.

48. RTsKhIDNI, f. 17, op. 2, d. 62, 1.2.

49. I. V. Stalin, Sochineniya (Moscow, 1946 ff.), vol. V, p. 88 ff.

50. Pipes, p. 267; Lewin, p. 44.

51. Ordzhonikidze, vol. 1, p. 208.

52. RTsKhIDNI, f. 17, op. 2, d. 231, 1. 2.

53. Lenin, vol. XLIV, p. 255.

54. RTsKhIDNI, f. 64, op. 3, d. 237, 1. 2.

55. RTsKhIDNI, f. 17, op. 1, d. 61, 1. 16.

56. Foteva, p. 289.

57. Lewin, p. 54.

58. Suny, pp. 214-215; Ordzhonikidze, vol. 1, p. 226 ff.

59. W. R. Batsell, Soviet Rule in Russia (New York, 1929), pp. 401-406; Suny, p. 215.

60. RTsKhIDNI, f. 64, op. 1, d. 61, 1. 9.

61. RTsKhIDNI, f. 17, op. 3, d. 288, 1. 13.

62. RTsKhIDNI, f. 5, op. 2, d. 28, 1. 5.

63. RTsKhIDNI, f. 17, op. 2, d. 84, 1. 1.

64. Foteva, p. 290.

65. Lenin, vol. XLIV, pp. 299-300; Pipes, p. 274.

66. RTsKhIDNI, f. 5, op. 2, d. 32, 1. 57; Foteva, p. 290.

67. Pipes, p. 281.

68. RTsKhIDNI, f. 5, op. 2, d. 32, 11. 49-50.

69. RTsKhIDNI, f. 5, op. 2, d. 32, 1. 54.

70. Dvenadtsatyi s"ezd RKP(b), p. 590.

71. Foteva, p. 290.

72. RTsKhIDNI, f. 5, op. 2, d. 32, 11. 42-43.

73. RTsKhIDNI, f. 5, op. 2, d. 32, 1. 60.

74. RTsKhIDNI, f. 5, op. 2, d. 32, 1. 50.

75. RTsKhIDNI, f. 5, op. 2, d. 32, 11. 59-60.

76. RTsKhIDNI, f. 5, op. 2, d. 30, 11. 1-2.

77. Isaac Deutscher, Stalin - a Political Biography (Pelican, 1986), pp. 249-250.

78. Pipes, pp. 281-282.

79. Foteva, pp. 291-292.

80. Ibid., p. 273.

81. Even though Stalin had long since dropped his proposal that the separate Soviet Republics should be incorporated into Russia as autonomous units in favour of Lenin's plan for a federation.

82. Lenin, vol. XLV, pp. 356-362.

83. Pipes, pp. 276-281.

84. RTsKhIDNI, f. 17, op. 3, d. 331, 1. 1.

85. Pipes, p. 287.

86. As is clear from Stalin's unpublished letter to Lenin on 22 September 1922; RTsKhIDNI, f. 5, op. 2, d. 28, 11. 19-21.

87. Foteva, p. 302; Izvestiya TsK KPSS, 1989, 9, pp. 208-209; Lewin, pp. 51-52. Foteva dates these notes 1 February 1923, but Izvestiya TsK KPSS and Lewin place it at the end of September 1922. I have been unable to locate the document, but the contents of the notes as a whole would seem to support Foteva's date.

88. Lewin, p. 59.

89. Isaac Deutscher, The Prophet Unarmed: Trotsky: 1921-1929 (Oxford, 1970), p. 73.

90. Foteva, p. 303.

91. Ibid., pp. 304-307.

92. RTsKhIDNI, f. 5, op. 2, d. 32, 11. 69-73.

93. See above, p. 524.

94. Lewin, p. 96.

95. Robert Service, Lenin: a Political Life, vol. 3, The Iron Ring (London, 1995), pp. 290, 305.

96. Foteva, p. 313.

97. L. D. Trotsky, Stalinskaya shkola fal'sifikatsii (Berlin, 1932), p. 81.

98. Lewin, pp. 100-101.

99. RTsKhIDNI, f. 5, op. 2, d. 34, 1. 15.

100. Trotsky, Stalinskaya shkola ..., pp. 77-83.

101. Lewin, pp. 155-156, Deutscher, pp. 90-91.

102. RTsKhIDNI, f. 5, op. 2, d. 34, 1. 3.

103. RTsKhIDNI, f. 5, op. 2, d. 31, 1. 1.

104. RTsKhIDNI, f. 5, op. 2, d. 32, 11. 5-17.

105. Izvestiya TsK KPSS, 1990, 9, pp. 151-152.

106. RTsKhIDNI, f. 5, op. 2, d. 31, 11. 6-7.

107. RTsKhIDNI, f. 5, op. 2, d. 31, 1. 5.

108. RTsKhIDNI, f. 5, op. 2, d. 31, 1. 8.

109. RTsKhIDNI, f. 5, op. 2, d. 31, 1. 11.

110. RTsKhIDNI, f. 5, op. 2, d. 31, 1. 9.

111. Izvestiya TsK KPSS, 1991, 5, p. 154.

112. The documentary evidence, such as Stalin's note to Ordzhonikidze cited above, and Trotsky's letter to Stalin quoted below, suggests that Stalin remained ignorant of Lenin's notes until April. On the other hand. Trotsky had shown the articles to Kamenev who, together with any one of Lenin's secretaries, might have been expected to inform Stalin.

113. Izvestiya TsK KPSS, 1990, 9, pp. 152-154.

114. RTsKhIDNI, f. 5, op. 2, d. 34, 1. 16.

115. Ibid.

116. RTsKhIDNI, f. 5, op. 2, d. 34, 11. 20-21.

117. RTsKhIDNI, f. 5, op. 2, d. 34, 1. 18.

118. RTsKhIDNI, f. 5, op. 2, d. 34, 1. 6.

119. RTsKhIDNI, f. 5, op. 2, d. 34, 1. 19.

120. Izvestiya TsK KPSS, 1990, 9, p. 162.

121. E.g. Khristian Rakovsky's speech, Dvenadtsatyi s"ezd RKP(b), p. 171.

122. Ibid., pp. 479-619.

123. 'XII s"ezd RKP(b) - Stenogramma zasedaniya sektsii s"ezda po natsional'nomu voprosu 25 aprelya 1923 goda', Izvestiya TsK KPSS, 1991, 3, pp. 169-182; 1991, 4, pp. 158-176; 1991, 5, pp. 154-176. Tainy natsional'noi politiki TsK RKP - stenograficheskii otchet sekretnogo IV soveshchaniya TsK RKP, 1923 g. (Moscow, 1992).

124. Dvenadtsaatyi s" ezd ... pp. 649-661.

125. 'XII s"ezd RKP(b) ...' Izvestiya TsK KPSS, 1991, 4, pp. 168-169.

126. Trotsky, Stalinskaya shkola ..., p. 87.

127. Pipes, p. 293.


The essay "The Georgian affair of 1922 - policy failure, personality clash or power struggle?"
© Autor: Jeremy Smith
Issue May, 1998
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