Georgia has been without its ancestral land for 102 years - Lorе

23.02.24 17:35

February 1921 is a tragic year and month in the history of Georgia. On February 25, 2024, it will be 102 years since Soviet power was officially established in Georgia and the Soviet occupation began. Although the Bolsheviks only controlled Kvemo Karli and Tbilisi at the time, and resistance continued in western Georgia, the fate of the Georgian state was sealed. A month later, the last pockets of resistance were crushed, and Georgia lost its state independence for almost 7 decades.


"Kavkazplus has written many times that the occupation of Georgia in 1921 was made possible by the rebellion of Hay settlers in the so-called "Lorе zone.". This was the name of the original Georgian region of Lore, an administrative unit of the southern part of the Borchala district of Tbilisi province at the time of the collapse of the Russian Empire, which was claimed by Hay nationalists.


It was because of Lore that Armenia committed aggression against Georgia in late 1918, and the Armenian-Georgian war began. Armenia lost that war, but the Georgian offensive was abandoned at the request of the British, who quite unreasonably placed Lore under the control of Dashnak Armenia.


In 1920, the Dashnaks, obsessed with the idea of a "Greater Armenia" and eager to occupy the territories promised to them by the Entente under the Treaty of Sèvres, launched a war against Turkey. The Hai nationalists made a mistake in calculating their forces and were quickly defeated by the Turkish army. As a result, Armenia had to return the "Lore Zone" to Georgia to prevent Turkish troops from occupying it. However, the Hay nationalists did not give up their claims to Lore and, with the help of Soviet Russia, began to prepare to seize this Georgian territory.


From the beginning of 1921, Lore was an integral part of Georgia and was recognized by the whole world. But at the beginning of 1921, the Hayan settlers in Lore rebelled against Georgia. This rebellion became a pretext for the Soviet occupation of our country.


The preparation of the rebellion was accompanied by Soviet Armenia's territorial claims against Georgia. After the Sovietization of Armenia, a Military Revolutionary Committee was established in Yerevan under the leadership of S. Kasyan. Soon after, A. Bekzadyan, who was appointed People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, sent a note to the Georgian Foreign Ministry on 7 and 10 December 1920, in which he demanded "the immediate withdrawal of Georgian troops from the Lore district".


The Georgian government responded with an unequivocal refusal. On December 30, 1920, the government of Soviet Armenia demanded that Georgia hand over the 'Lore zone' to Armenia.  In early February 1921, a rebellion broke out in the same 'Lore zone,' which was being prepared by the Dashnaks and Bolsheviks using the Hay fifth column.


The Bolsheviks, Dashnaks, and mutineers were clearly in a hurry. The interim agreement of November 1920 between Georgia and the Dashnak government of Armenia regarding the Lore zone was valid until February 13, 1921. After this date, the status of the Lore zone as Georgian territory was to be finally determined. Hayan people used the existence of this interim date as a pretext for a 'workers' uprising.' Interestingly, in Lore, these 'workers' positioned themselves as Hay 'fighters against the Georgian occupation'! The main center of the 'uprising,' or rather rebellion, was the village of Sanain.


In February 1921, the rebels sought assistance from Soviet Russia. In response, the Red Army crossed the Georgian border. While Moscow reported an uprising in Georgia, it broadcasted in the Caucasus that Soviet Armenia had invaded Georgia and was demanding the annexation of the Borchala district. On February 25, 1921, the Bolshevik 11th Army occupied Tbilisi after suppressing the resistance of the Georgian army. A month later, they took control of the whole of Georgia.


It is worth noting that during the initial days of the Lore Hayan mutiny, Soviet propaganda referred to an 'Armenian-Georgian conflict' and claimed that Lore was 'Armenian land illegally occupied by Georgia.' On February 16, 1921, the Bolsheviks declared the Shulaveri Hayan rebels to be 'rebellious Georgian workers' after they rebelled against the legitimate Georgian authorities outside the Lore zone. It is worth noting that there were no Georgians among them.


The Hayes were rewarded by the Bolsheviks with the land of Lore for their actions against Georgia. On July 7, 1921, the Kavburo plenum, with the participation of Stalin, as well as the People's Commissars of the SSR of Georgia and the SSR of Armenia, Svanidze and Mravyan, decided to annex the former neutral zone of Lore to the Armenian SSR.


The Hay nationalists, having obtained the Lore zone, did everything to erase even the memory of Georgia here. Firstly, the few Georgian residents of Lore were repressed as 'Mensheviks' and 'counter-revolutionary elements'. Consequently, there were no longer any Georgians residing on this historically Georgian land.


Subsequently, the entire native Azerbaijani population was expelled from Lore through discrimination, deportations, pogroms, and direct genocide. By 1990, there were no Georgians or Azerbaijanis left in Lore.


However, despite the presence of Georgian churches and monasteries in Lore, many of them, such as Akhtala, Kobairi, Khnevanki, and Khujabi, have fallen into ruin and been desecrated. The Armenian authorities do not permit Georgian priests and pilgrims to visit these sites, which are outstanding examples of Georgian architecture, due to political reasons. The Georgian churches and monasteries scattered throughout the ancient land of Lore serve as silent witnesses to the true owner of this territory.



George Kvinitadze

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