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"Russia in the Caucasus will remain forever": Volunteer army and independent Georgia (1918-1919)


S.V. Karpenko



In August, 1919, winning the North Caucasus as base, the Volunteer army cleaned from red the western part of Kuban and the North of the Black Sea province. Having taken the 13th Novorossiysk, parts of volunteers moved to Tuapse. There they were inevitably waited by a meeting with troops of the independent Georgian democratic republic.

Generals M.V. Alekseev and A.I. Denikin laid special hopes on Georgia: in its territory during world war, huge stocks of the Caucasian front were stored. Their cost was estimated at billions of rubles, and at their expense the Volunteer army could be supplied many months with weapon, ammunition, regimentals, equipment, engineering and other military property.

Hoping to receive all this it is gratuitous, they allowed also a possibility of barter. It was well known: Georgia is in great need in flour and food which before war were delivered from Kuban. It extracts coal near Poti and has oil products which were brought before on the pipeline and the railroad from Baku to Batum, and from there by steamships - to the southern Russian provinces. The trade ports of Novorossiysk, Taganrog, Batum and Poti which is perfectly equipped divide small distances. At last, in Georgia and in the south of Russia - the set of the old trading companies having wide experience of export-import transactions in this area and also the steamship companies and their vessels, are a lot of years of the Black and Azov seas making flights between ports.

All this allowed generals to hope for the fast organization of exchange - the Kuban grain and food on military materials, oil products and coal.

The socialist physiognomy of the government headed by N. Zhordaniya, the leader of the Georgian Mensheviks guarded, however. And some of his ministers were included into the government of "the hysterical woman and the talker" Kerensky. But the hostility of the Georgian followers of Kerensky to Lenin and Trotsky was as obvious as also need of the Georgian population in the Kuban bread. Therefore Georgia initially was considered "as the EU -

* The real essay - a fragment from the book by S.V. Karpenko "White generals and a red distemper" published by Veche publishing house in 2008

the testvenny ally" in fight against "Sovietdom", favorable trade partner.

Having disappeared from Russia, Georgia became completely dependent on Germany. At the end of May beginning of June, having recognized the government of Georgia and having landed a landing in Poti, Germans imposed it enslaving contracts, sent troops in Tiflis, placed on the cities garrisons (all - to 30 thousand) and "rented" Batum. Invaders hurried to appropriate mining of coal and manganese, the oils and oil products arriving from Baku. They undertook to help formation of young Georgian army, from their permission it was supplied from warehouses of the former Caucasian front.

The government headed at that time by N. Ramishvili hurried too: relying on support of Germans - "to kill" to "Great Georgia" a part of the Black Sea province and to get the general border with the Kuban region from where to adjust receiving bread in exchange for oil products. The Black Sea province was a part of the Kubano-Chernomorsky Soviet republic. Having used derivation of its forces on fight against Volunteer army, for June-July the Georgian troops, having disseminated weak krasnogvardeysky groups, occupied the Sukhumi district (Abkhazia), the Sochi district and the coast to Tuapse inclusive inhabited generally Russian.

The occupational authorities started dismantling of the railroad and the industrial enterprises, export to Georgia and a sale of the railway equipment, engines, machines, agricultural machinery, the breeding cattle at once.

And now the Georgian government was afraid, kind of the Volunteer army did not intrude "unintentionally" in Georgia and would not take ee1. In the war eyes at fear are big as anywhere and never: Denikin had for this purpose neither excess bayonets, nor ammunition.

For Russians - and on the part of the Black Sea province occupied by Georgians, and in Georgia - dark days came. Having proclaimed the slogan "Georgia for Georgians", the government started a campaign for oppression of Russians, etching of the Russian culture, school, language. Numerous Russian institutions were liquidated, tens of thousands of Russian officials and officers jumped out on the street and appeared without piece of bread. In local institutions and public organizations, on the railroad and mail of Russians replaced with Georgians. Russians were squeezed out from the places of residence, requisitioned their property. Georgian socialist newspapers

contemptuously called Russians "velikoderzhavnik", threw mud at all Russian.

At once the Russians deprived of former wellbeing returned the favor, having christened the newborn state "The corn republic". Angrily sneered and over the government - "talking shop" it is similar kerensky, over its presmykaniye before Germans, over the embezzlement of public funds and plundering of everyone and everything which violently blossomed in Georgia.

The government began to release temporary paper rubles (checks), but allowed circulation of rubles of all former releases because the treasury was replenished with the large sums taken in the former Russian institutions in addition the population had many rubles. The rate of checks fell quicker than a course "Raman", "Duma" and "kerenkas" because of their mass production by counterfeiters. False bonds (and all Tiflis knew about it) were issued, in one of the best tipolitografiya on Golovinsky Avenue and appeared in the market for day before governmental.

The Russians who were especially arriving from the Caucasian front officers appeared on the verge of hunger and poverty soon: reserves of the grain which is bought up by Germans and sent by the sea to Germany were exhausted, the prices promptly grew. On tiflissky streets there were more and more beggars in the torn-off regimentals with officer shoulder straps. However they could not leave to Russia: on the Georgian Military Road, robbers mountaineers managed, the shipping company across the Black Sea stood even at the beginning of world war, the railroads in many places were razrusheny2.

Right after capture of Novorossiysk the headquarters of Volunteer army received data that near Tuapse there is the advanced Georgian part: it conducts fighting against red near the railroad Tuapse-Armavir and helps the risen Kuban villages weapon and ammunition. Having established connection with Tuapse, investigation really found small Georgian group under supervision of the general Mr. Mazniyev (Mazniashvili). At it 6 hundred Kuban Cossacks running from the Maykop department consisted.

Alekseev disposed to send to group food, and Mazniye-va on August 16 sent the letter. Having expressed joy on the fact that "the destiny made us allies", he suggested to begin mutually advantageous barter: "... I will widely make advances the Georgian government in satisfaction of its food needs, expecting, as it will share the stocks and first of all rifles and cartridges". For discussion of conditions of barter he asked to send representatives of the government to Ekaterinodar.

Between volunteers and Mazniyev's group cooperation, but the Soviet Tamanskaya receding out of Novorossiysk was already established

the army under command of the sailor sailor of the Black Sea Fleet I.I. Matveev beat out Georgians from the district of Tuapse to Sochi. When the voluntary horse regiment pursuing tamanets occupied on August 26 Tuapse, it was found unexpected: to the southeast from it Georgians concentrated up to 5 thousand infantry, hastily construct at Sochi and Adler the defensive line the front on the North - against Volunteer army, and the general Mazniyev is replaced by the general Koniyev.

Having accepted representatives of volunteers, Koniyev in plain terms said that so sharp change in the attitude towards them - result of indications of the German command. To his words weighty confirmation was immediately found: on strengthening of the Georgian troops at Dagomys and Adler two landing groups of Germans landed.

The headquarters of Volunteer army regarded it as threat to Novorossiysk.

If before the headquarters assumed that Germans intend to use the Georgian parts against the English troops on Asian theater, then now it was necessary to reckon also with other assumption: perhaps, and against volunteers in the North Caucasus. There was something terrible: huge Russian military stocks on which counts command can be used not for supply of Volunteer army, and for war against it.

At the same time by the first steamships arriving from Poti, Sochi and Sukhum to Novorossiysk the Russian refugees rushed. They reported the exciting details about ruthless persecutions against Russians, begged to save the Sochi and Sukhumi districts from Georgians. The Georgian newspapers brought by them were full of charges of Volunteer army of "old limitation", her chiefs were called as "Black Hundreds".

a conclusion Arose with

>: the relative economic wellbeing of Georgia is based only on assignment of the Russian state property (first of all the military) and on robbery of the Russian population. All this together with a socialist physiognomy of the government, the German presence and newspaper attacks to army did not adjust voluntary generals on the kind attitude towards Tiflis.

However the need for military materials was so big, desire to get rid of humiliating dependence on Ukraine and Don in military supply that they decided to invite representatives of the Georgian government in Ekaterinodar to negotiations with the purpose, first of all to establish with it "the tolerable relations" and that to secure the back, to avoid a parcel to border with Georgia of troops which are extremely necessary at the front, and, above all - to convince the Georgian authorities to donate armies at least a part of weapon, ammunition, regimentals and other property from warehouses of the former Caucasian front as "belonging to the Russian state" was so strong. If it is not possible - to interest in exchange for the Kuban bread.

Having received the invitation, Zhordaniya's government sent to Ekaterinodar delegation headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Menshevik E. Gegechkori. At once after arrival, September 12, it said that the delegation arrived for negotiations on barter and establishment of "the friendly relations" between Georgia and Volunteer army and also as he especially noted, Kuban.

Negotiations began immediately - evening of the same day. The volunteer army was represented by Alekseev, Denikin, A.M. Dragomi-rov, A.S. Lukomsky, I.P. Romanovsky, V.A. Stepanov and the famous publicist V.V. Shulgin who started in Ekaterinodar the edition of the Great Russia newspaper; The Kuban army - the ataman A.P. Filimonov, the head of the government L.L. Bych and N.I. Vorobyov, the member of the government for health care.

Alekseev was abandoned by the last forces - he was hardly roused and did not accept anybody any more, but, having collected will in a fist, made toilet, dressed a uniform... He was ready to make "all possible concessions if only to establish the tolerable relations". His authority and ability to reach compromise as nothing else could help to receive so desired military materials from Georgia.

Opening a meeting, Alekseev welcomed "representatives of friendly and independent Georgia". Having wished to negotiations of "satisfactory results", he assured the Georgian delegation: "From our party no feeble efforts on independence of Georgia will exist - in this regard Georgia can consider itself provided". "But having given such providing... - it passed to the main thing, - we have to expect the equivalent relation from the Georgian government to us". And then with bitterness began to list the facts of oppression of the Russian population and plunder of state property, to expostulate Georgians for occupation of the Black Sea province by means of Germans. To especially diplomatnichat and select expressions the old general considered excessive.

Having exchanged views after his short speech, three delegations agreed about the questions which are subject to discussion. And at once the obstinacy of Georgians in the question called by Alekseev "stumbling block" was found - about the Sochi district. the 37-year-old Georgian minister firmly defended a position of the government: the district has to be a part of Georgia.

Negotiations continued on September 13.

The first discussed the relation of the Georgian government to Volunteer army and its enemies - to Bolsheviks and Germans. With habitual meeting pathos of Gegechkori said: "Fight against Bolsheviks is a question of our life and death". But immediately efficiently specified: to fight with

Georgia will only be them "on the Black Sea coast" and with Volunteer army for fight against Bolsheviks in scales of all Russia will not enter into alliance as, however, and into the union with Germany - for fight against Volunteer army. Generals had to accept the "sad" truth: in war against "Sovietdom" it is not necessary to count on Georgia.

Rejected all data on oppression of Russians of Gegechkori resolutely, having called them rumors. He was supported by Bych: like, Kuban residents that return from Georgia, "did not complain of the nasty relations to themselves".

Stocks of the former Caucasian front, Gegechkori said, the government considers as belonging to nowadays Georgian republic. It can give a part of their Volunteer army, but only in exchange for the bread and other products necessary to Georgia. Bych supported him also here. It became obvious to volunteers: Georgians will not leave the multi-billion military property which came the way of them "occasionally", good. And Bych, they suspected, sided with Tiflis precisely in calculation to receive then all necessary for independent Kuban army.

That it is more important than steel for them of a guarantee that at recovery of trade the Russian bread will go to really Georgian population, but not to Germany. Gegechkori admitted the obvious facts: Germans buy foodgrain in Georgia and take out on the vessels to Constanta - for supply of troops on the Western front and already starving population in Germany. But immediately began to assure that the Kuban and Stavropol bread will go into the disposal of the government it will give a guarantee that it will not be comprehended by the same fate. Such guarantee, volunteers considered, little costs: most likely the Russian bread will go to Georgians instead of their own which will be bought up and will taken out by Germans.

On all these questions compromise could be anyway reached. But "stumbling block" did not manage to be removed in any way from a way which conducted to the arrangement on barter.

Alekseev said resolutely: command cannot agree with "the partition of purely Russian Black Sea province". Demanding to return the Sochi district, the voluntary delegation proceeded from obvious: from its 50 settlements of 36 Russians, 13 - with the mixed population and only 1 - Georgian, the share of Georgians hardly exceeds 10%, all district "was turned by millions of Russian national money from the wild waste ground into the blossoming, cultural health resort".

The dispute erupted hot, sharp - it occupied the most part of two-day negotiations.

Gegechkori in good time prepared the calculations: 22% - a share of Georgians in the population of the district. And to them, he said, violence from Bolsheviks from Russia threatens. His main argument consisted in other: "On what basis the Volunteer army acts as the defender of this population?. You represent not the Russian State which only and could -

the Leningrad Region to apply for it... Volunteer army - the organization private".

Time Georgia considers itself the independent republic, generals objected the socialist, let her "do not interpose in others, Russian matter" and will provide to Russians to judge, Volunteer army - the "private" organization or state. And also "let will provide also to Abkhazia to have judgment of the destiny".

Having brought up a question of Abkhazia which is violently attached by Georgians to the to "the democratic republic", but without having imposed concerning it any requirements, volunteers in fact offered a compromise: recognition of inclusion of Abkhazia in structure of Georgia in exchange for return of the Sochi district. But Gegechkori persistently repeated: "We insist on temporary leaving of the Sochi district within the Georgian republic".

This obstinacy was "unclear" for generals, did not keep within their heads: defeat of their army will lead Bolsheviks to borders of Georgia. Alekseev tried to bring to reason the Georgian delegation: if the Volunteer army does not leave the winner fight against "Sovietdom", then "sooner or later Georgia will be crushed by Bolsheviks", and therefore she has to be interested in the allied relations with army, has to help her supply.

Did not help and it is an argument.

Naturally, there was a suspicion whether there are no Germans behind this obstinacy. Asked Gegechkori the question formulated very transparently: Whether "You are connected in your decision by someone?" That not without pride replied: "We are connected only by the own decision".

Negotiations came to a standstill. The intolerance of Georgians was cast by Alekseeva into the most gloomy presentiments of rather future relations between army and the Georgian government, possible following negotiations which participant to him any more not to be... Closing a meeting, he with bitterness dropped: "There has to be sense of justice, sense of proportion..."

Generals explained themselves unexpected hostility of the Georgian government in a military way rationally: it, of course, "works on a pointer of Germans", kind of Gegechkori denied it, and the Sochi district is necessary to Georgia as the buffer zone separating the Sukhumi district inhabited by Abkhazians from the territory occupied by army. It was obvious to them: "the freedom-loving and aggressive Abkhazian people, not the person interested to obey to Georgia", hardly Sochi district will be a part of the Russian Black Sea province, will inevitably use such neighbourhood and will be stirred to action; then Georgia will lose Abkhazia, and with it and ports in the Black Sea.

After departure of the Georgian delegation Denikin, having conferred with Romanovsky, decided to take a waiting attitude because immediate ope-

the radio set on occupation of the Sochi district threatened with collision with Germans and excessive two-front war. And the close victory of allies over Germans and Turks promised favorable permission of "the Georgian question".

It was limited to the fact that ordered to Seaside group to occupy Lazarevskoye and to close overland border with Georgia for transportation of goods, as was immediately ispolneno3, in fact entered economic blockade of Georgia and all Transcaucasia.


opened Only two months later the main reason of obstinacy of Gegechkori: publicly told Bych of it.

From his performances at a meeting Regional are glad Denikin, as well as all voluntary headquarters, learned: behind their back the head of the Kuban government and Gegechkori conducted negotiations "concerning barter". And probably, Tiflis's messenger, having listened to Bycha, concluded that position of Volunteer army in Kuban is fragile and it is necessary to agree upon all questions not with Alekseev and Denikin soon, and with Bych. And in a rush of allied appreciation promised Bychu that the Sochi district will be transferred not to Volunteer army, but Kubani4.

Not everything was told by Bych from Rada's tribune. But that intimate that he had on mind, already broke from languages of the hottest and talkative "Black Sea" politicians and journalists. Namely: if Sovnar-komiya is approved in the "Russian" provinces for a long time, then "independent" Kuban will manage "to equip with modern conveniences" economically only at free export of agricultural raw materials and food, when importing fuel and manufactured goods. But to gain an access to the world market - "to soul the occasional office" to catch Novorossiysk port and the general border with Gruziyey5.

Therefore Bych also did not support the requirement of voluntary generals to return the Sochi district: he cherished hope that it will be possible to divide "in an allied way" the Black Sea province between Kuban and Georgia soon. And Gegechkori perfectly understood him. Business remained behind small: to remove Volunteer army from the Black Sea coast of the Caucasus far away somewhere, to Stavropol.

After the victory of the Entente in world war Denikin and his headquarters expected disembarkation of British in Novorossiysk, but those hurried to occupy Transcaucasia - the territory for Volunteer army in the strategic relation minor. 4 on November (17) they occupied Baku, 10 on December (23) - Batum. The commander of the British troops in Transcaucasia general J. Forestyer-Walker placed the headquarters in Tiflis.

The occupational government was supported by claims of Transcaucasian "new growths" for separation from Russia, established complete control over the Baku oil fields and navigation across the Caspian Sea. The headquarters concluded: behind support of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia the intention of British as long as possible to keep areas of production and export of oil under the control is.

Denikin sent to Forestyer-Walker protests against plunder by the Georgian authorities of the Russian property and oppressions of the Russian population in the Sochi district, however that kept silence. At the beginning of December, without having informed Denikin, the British general demanded from the Georgian government to withdraw troops from the Sochi district. Having proclaimed the district neutral, he obviously wanted to turn it into a buffer zone controlled by Great Britain between "voluntary" Russia and independent Georgia.

On December 9 absolutely unexpectedly for the headquarters of Volunteer army the Georgian parts began evacuation from the Sochi district. Denikin immediately ordered to the general A.P. Kolosovsky, the chief of Seaside group, without engaging with Georgians, to move ahead and occupy the district. On December 16 the Georgian parts were fixed on the small river of Loo which became new "border".

On January 9 through the British mission the headquarters of the commander-in-chief of Armed forces in the south of Russia (VSYuR) received the notice from Fo-restyer-Walker: it is entrusted to it "to support by the British government Georgians", and therefore further advance of voluntary parts in the Sochi district "should not take place".

But when in the district the revolt of the Armenian population against the Georgian authorities began, those answered with defeat of the Armenian villages. And Denikin under the pretext of protection of Armenians ordered to Kolosovsky to occupy Sochi the district. On January 24 the Seaside group entered Sochi, and then in four days cleared the territory of all district of the Georgian troops and stopped on the small river Bzyb.

The British colonel Whyte who is hastily sent by Forestyer-Walker from Tiflis to Sochi demanded to bring parts out of the city immediately. The answer followed clear and categorical: "The Sochi district will not be cleaned".

The general F. Pool, the chief of the British military mission in the south of Russia, was called by the general J. Milne, the commander-in-chief of the British army in the Balkans, to Constantinople for "obtaining instructions". It did not return to Ekaterinodar any more. Denikin interpreted the reason of his response simply: did not manage to prevent classes volunteers of Sochi.

At the end of January to replace the Pool to the South of Russia there arrived the general Ch. Brigz. When Denikin returned to Ekaterinodar, Brigz transferred it fairly late Milne's letter written in day of capture by volunteers of Sochi: "I received the instruction of the Ministry of Defence to offer you immediately

to stop operations against Sochi". For the first time the requirement of the British government had categorical character: "if the general Denikin not to agree to expect" the decision of the Parisian peace conference on borders of Georgia, it "can be the weapon forced to detain (or to cancel) the help, equipment and clothes".

British meanwhile were fixed in the Caucasus.

In February they seized the vessels of the Caspian flotilla standing in Baku, transferred to the government of Azerbaijan the Russian plants and the railroads. Denikin sent to London a protest against distribution of the Russian state property to "the small accidental governments" that "it is equivalent to the partition of Russia".

In reply to the British military mission the telegram came from the Ministry of Defence. Brigza was ordered "to explain" to Denikin that he should take, first, for granted temporary presence of the British troops in Transcaucasia and to give in their charge the Caspian Sea as they "provide it from attack from the back". Secondly, not to complicate the relations with "Georgians and other Caucasians" for which preservation of a neutrality the British representatives "will use the best efforts". Thirdly to concentrate all efforts on that "to strike a resolute blow to the Bolshevism together with the admiral Kolchak".

These requirements were again supported with threat, in case of their non-performance, to stop military deliveries.

Denikin considered that British support Georgians, and Zhordaniya's government, in return, constantly showed to the English military leaders of a claim concerning underestimation of danger by them which is constituted for Transcaucasia by Denikin's army, accused them of indulgence of "the Russian reaction". And British appeared between the devil and the deep sea. And the Georgian socialists criticized them much more sharply, than the Russian generals.

At the end of March the investigation of VSYuR established: the Georgian troops finished preparation for approach. On April 3 Denikin received Milne's telegram with prevention: Georgians intend to attack, though are informed that these actions will be considered as hostile to Great Britain. And Brigz advised not to engage with Georgians and "to withdraw troops to the North as it is possible further".

On April 4, having freely passed the line of the English posts and the river Bzyb supported "green" - the peasants insurgents acting in the white back, the Georgian parts attacked the advanced regiment, compelled it to withdrawal and took Adler. Three days later the reserves tightened from Sochi put counterstroke, disseminated "green", recaptured Adler, but Georgians managed

to be fixed on the Mekhadyr River, having reserved a part of the Sochi district.

Denikin ordered to take the offensive and to beat out the Georgian parts from the Sochi district, and also from Sukhumi. But Milne who hasty arrived on April 9 in Ekaterinodar assured it that Georgians according to its requirement will depart for Bzyb, and convinced to postpone approach. He sent Brigz to Batum and Tiflis - to settle the relations between VSYuR and Georgia.

Brigz met Zhordaniya, conducted negotiations with representatives of his government twice. He warned them: it is impossible to ignore the interests of Russia in the Caucasus because "British will leave, and Russia will remain forever". However those, having shown extreme obstinacy, refused to withdraw troops for Bzyb: the belief that borders of Georgia will be established Parisian peace konferentsiyey6 was so firm. Brigz, by his own words, "having in vain wasted time", on May 12 returned to Ekaterinodar.

As a result the possibility of receiving weapon and ammunition from warehouses of the former Caucasian front for VSYuR was lost, and "border" between "voluntary" Russia and independent Georgia turned into the preserved front line. So Georgia became one of forces which promoted Bolsheviks in defeat of the White movement in the south of Russia for as paid off in 1921 with the imaginary independence.

1 Ovals 3. Independence of Georgia in international policy of 1918-1921 Paris, 1924. Page 191, 196-197.
2 I. Kalinin. Russian Vendee. M.; L., 1926. Page 5-7, 10.
3 A.S. Lukomsky. Memoirs. T. II. Berlin, 1922. Page 112-116; A.I. Denikin. Essays of the Russian distemper. T. 3. Berlin, 1924. Page 241-244.
4 The Kuban extraordinary regional is glad convocation on October 28th, 1918: Verbatim record of plenary sessions. Issue I. Ekaterinodar, 1918. Page 159; Issue III. Ekaterinodar, 1918. Page 373.
5 D.E. Skobtsov. Three years of revolution and civil war in Kuban. T. 2. Paris, 1963. Page 82; A.I. Denikin. Essays of the Russian distemper. T. 4. Berlin, 1925. Page 54-55; Kean D. Denikinshchina. L., 1927. Page 230, 236.
6 Brinkley G. The Volunteer Army and Allied Intervention in South Russia, 19171921. Notre Dame (Ind.), 1966. P. 158-163.
Michael Anderson
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