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In mid-March 2017, when the Crimea was preparing to celebrate the day of “reunification” with Russia, one of the Kerch Internet resources was outraged that on the eve of the “holiday” not only that the city is not cleaned, but the churches are overwhelmed garbage. “Even in Yakutia, this significant day will be celebrated with deer races, and in Kerch, right in front of the Georgian church of St. Nino, piles of garbage – boxes, bushes and household waste – have been piled up. This eloquently testifies to the level of “owners” and utilities of the city, “- said the author of the review, adding the relevant photos. The recorded landscapes are no longer a surprise for Crimea, which for almost three years has consistently led to “high standards” of the Russian hinterland. However, the attention was drawn to the smallest church in the Caucasian style, which had not been heard of before.
In memory of compatriots
The Kerch church in honor of St. Nina, a Christian educator in Georgia, belongs to the Georgian Orthodox Church (GOC), whose parish in Kerch is apparently the only one on the peninsula. Nearby is the House of the Georgian Diaspora, built earlier. On May 9, 2012, the church, the construction of which was once blessed by the Patriarch of the GOC Elijah II, was consecrated by Metropolitan of Borjomi and Bakuriani GOC Seraphim (Jojua). The church was built on donations from the Georgian community of Ukraine and, in particular, the Crimea in memory of compatriots who died during World War II. Apparently, it is no coincidence that the temple-monument is located on the street named after the participant of the Kerch-Eltigen operation, Captain Andriy Miroshnyk, a native of Chernihiv region, who died in battle in January 1944 and was buried on the other bank of the Kerch region. straits.
In the early 1940s, 700,000 people were mobilized from Georgia, half of whom did not return home. In the battles for Kerch, when national military formations were created on the initiative of the High Command to raise the fighting spirit among the “non-Russian peoples” (this is exactly the wording used), every third Georgian soldier was found dead or missing. According to memoirs from that time, Soviet military commanders sent fighters to the Crimea completely unprepared.
On June 13, 1992, on the day of remembrance of the killed, a monument to the soldiers of the Georgian division was unveiled in the village of Glazivka near Kerch at the burial place of those killed during the war. Near Sapun Mountain, not far from Sevastopol, in 1961 a majestic necropolis was erected in memory of the heroes of the 414th Georgian Rifle Division who died during the liberation of the city in May 1944.
Famous Georgian artist Vakhtang Kikabidze visited the Kerch Memorial a few years before the Russian occupation of Crimea. It was in those areas that his father, Junior Lieutenant Konstantin Kikabidze, a journalist and descendant of a noble family, disappeared in 1942. “In 2008, Russia decided to award me the Order of Friendship of Peoples. And at that time I saw the tanks that were part of Georgia, just closed off from everyone and cried. Of course, I refused the award, saying that my feet will not be in Russia, “said a prominent artist, who was honored with the title of People’s Artist of Ukraine. He then canceled concerts in Moscow on the occasion of his 70th birthday, and he still keeps his word.
In an interview in 2014, Mr. Kikabidze regretted that he could not spend several decades to take part in the Revolution of Dignity in Kyiv and the anti-terrorist operation in Donbas, otherwise he would have supported Ukraine in its struggle for freedom. At the same time, it is impossible not to mention those Crimean people – participants in modern Ukrainian national liberation struggles, who are deprived of the opportunity to visit the graves of their relatives at home, and those who have found eternal peace outside their homeland…
It is not known exactly when the Georgians appeared in the Crimea. Already after the Russian intervention in Crimea in 2014, Alexander Muzychko, Candidate of Historical Sciences, Associate Professor of ONU, told about the history of this people on the peninsula. The expert states that the history of the Georgians of Crimea has hardly been studied either fragmentarily or comprehensively, and notes that chronicle and archeological data indicate the establishment of relations between Crimea and Georgia since ancient times. In the XVIII century. Georgians fleeing from Crimean captivity joined the Cossacks of the Zaporozhian Sich. Ethnographer Oleksandr Rybalko notes that Georgians were among the Christian part of the Crimean population deported to the Northern Priazovye in 1778-1780: according to Oleksandr Muzychko, more than two hundred Georgians were deported from Crimea at that time.
At various stages of Crimean history, prominent personalities of Georgian origin left their mark on it. In 1833-1850 the mayor of Kerch was a soldier, Prince Zachary Herheulidze. In 1906-1916, the mayor of Yalta was Ivan Dumbadze, who became famous as a monarchist, a Black Hundred, a persecutor of the opposition – in modern parlance, as a radical Russian nationalist. At the end of the XIX century. Engineer Mikhail Gersevanishvili took an active part in the construction of ports in Kerch, Yalta and Feodosia. The bishop and later archbishop of Tavria from 1912 until the conquest of Crimea by the Bolsheviks was Dimitri (in peace David, in the great scheme Anthony) Abashidze, a descendant of the Georgian noble family: in the 1930s he headed the Kiev group of the catacomb church during the German occupation of Kiev died and was buried in the Ukrainian capital, and in 2011was canonized as a local revered saint of the Kyiv eparchy of the UOC-MP. It is also worth mentioning that the participant in the victorious campaign of the UPR Army in the Crimea in April 1918 was the commander of the Zaporozhian Corps, General Zurab Natiev (Natiev, real name – Natishvili; in some sources the name Alexander), Adjara by origin.
Crimean Georgian community
Alexander Muzychko provides detailed data on the share of Georgians in the demographic picture of Crimea. According to the 1897 census of the Russian Empire, 266 Georgians lived in the Tavriya province: 125 of them in Sevastopol, 58 in Kerch, and only 11 in Simferopol. In the registers of the Soviet period, Georgians fell into the category of “Other nationalities”. According to the first All-Union census of 1926, 201 Georgians lived in the Crimea, in 1939 – 509, in 1970 – 1112; according to the All-Ukrainian census in 2001 – about 1800 (O. Muzychko specifies – 1774).
During the years of Ukraine’s independence, one of the four Georgian national and cultural societies of the country operated in the Crimea (the others were in the Lviv and Odesa regions). From 2002 to 2011, the Honorary Consulate of Georgia operated in Yalta: it was headed by Elguja Kepuladze, an honorary citizen of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Yalta, a cultural figure who once organized the pro-Ukrainian music festivals Lesina Autumn, Magic Necklace, and cultural events. anniversary of Ukraine’s Independence and the 160th anniversary of the first edition of Shevchenko’s Kobzar.
In 1990-1993, the Crimean Georgian community was formed, which at the time of official registration in early 1993 numbered 740 people and had branches in Kerch, Feodosia and other cities of the peninsula. On June 14, 1995, the Ertoba (Unity) organization was registered in Yevpatoria, and in March 2014 its leadership called for a boycott of the Crimean separatist-initiated “referendum” on the status of the peninsula. Georgian children studied at the Ukrainian gymnasium in Simferopol together with Ukrainian, Russian, Crimean Tatar and Armenian children, – recalls its former director Natalia Rudenko.
After the occupation of Crimea, some Georgians left the peninsula for mainland Ukraine. In October 2014, the Russian census in Crimea recorded 1571 Georgians. At present, the news of the existence of the Georgian community in Crimea does not reach Greater Ukraine, just as the voices of many other ethnic communities on the peninsula are not heard.
Photos from open sources
Serhiy Konashevych, “Crimean Room” № 18, 2017