Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Stalin Worried about Public Opinion ‘in His Own Way,’ Georgian Party Official’s Son Recalls

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 26 – It is a commonplace that Stalin did what he wanted without regard to public opinion and used repression and propaganda to maintain his image as infallible.  But a new memoir about Kandid Charkviani, first secretary of the CPSU Central Committee in Georgia from 1938 to 1952, suggest that on occasion, he did care – or at least said he did.

            In an interview with his son Gela posted on the Kavkaz-Uzel site, there is the following story that deserves to be noted as an exception to what most assume was the universal rule. “When Stalin was in Georgia in 1951,” Gela Charkviani says, “he went from Borzhomi to Khashuri but didn’t go to his native Gori” (kavkaz-uzel.eu/blogs/83781/posts/35469).

            “It was said that he wanted to go but thought better of it. Charkviani [senior] asked him to come to Tbilisi but [Stalin] said that if he were to go to Tbilisi, then people would say, ‘why didn’t you go to Tbilisi or Baku?’  He in his own way was afraid of public opinion,” Charkviani junior says.

            The memoirist relates another example of this “fear.”  “When the first volume of his collected works was published, it was issued in Russian. Charkviani [senior] asked to make one in Georgian, but [Stalin] refused, saying that ‘then all the republics would ask to put it out in their languages, in Uzbek or Armenian, for example.”

            According to Charkviani [junior], “Stalin tried not to show any particular favoritism to the Georgians” lest he offend other nation or force them to try to compete.

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