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On February 25th, 1956 at the closed XX Congress of the CP SU (Communist Party of the Soviet Union) Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev - the First Secretary of the Central Committee of Communist Party of the USSR read the most unexpected and sensational address “On the Personality Cult and its Consequences”. In this speech all the core values that were imposed by the totalitarian state upon its population for the period of 30 years were revealed and condemned. Khrushchev’s speech remained as a secret document until the Gorbachev’s era. Despite this fact, the document can be viewed as the pivoting point in the Soviet system’s historic changes. It is also notable, that the new official position of the Soviet elite exposed from the address statement has significantly changed the society’s perception of the functionality of the Soviet system.  

Ordinary people and a large part of the Communist nomenclature class painfully endured a wave of new developments. It was not surprising as over the years the central apparatus of agitation and propaganda has been systematically instilling trust and confidence among the population in the flawlessness of the party and its leader and in the necessity of the politics undertaken by the ruling elite. This was especially true in the case of the Soviet Georgia, where the admission and condemnation of the “Personality Cult of Stalin”  was regarded by the population, especially by the younger population not only as replacement of the old system with the new but as trampling down of the national pride.

It is exactly due to these tendencies that events of March 5 – 9, 1956 developing in Georgia could be attributed to. When information regarding the content of Khrushchev’s address statement leaked, this caused a sharp and angered reaction from both non-partisans and members of the party. The first anti-government uprising under the realities of totalitarianism has soon turned into a movement with a strong tone of nationalism.  

With no doubts, such uprising couldn’t be left without a response from the Soviet Union leadership and was severely persecuted. Until today the number of casualties as well as evoking factors of the March 5-9 events (both objective and subjective) remain unknown. The attitudes of the Georgian ruling elite and debates within the party regarding these events are unknown. Unknown remains even the name of the official that gave the order to use force against the peaceful protesters and to open fire on the demonstration. This exceptionally important historic event remains virtually unstudied to this day. It must be noted that the details of described events are being stored at the archival documents.

The Institute for Development of Freedom of Information funded by the Embassy of Switzerland in Georgia, supported by the South Caucasus Regional Office of the Henrich Boell Foundation  and in collaboration with the Archive Administration of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia is first to bring to light documents that relate to this interesting and unstudied historic event. The database comprises documents that were discovered at the archives of the Georgian MIA Archive Administration (the former Archive of the Committee of State Security (KGB) of Georgia and former archive of the Central Committee of Communist Party of Georgia). In addition, the collection of the archival documents received from the Archive of the Federal Security Service of Russian Federation by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia will also be displayed for the first time.    

We hope, that the Institute’s yet incomplete informational database will answer many questions that surrounded March 5-9 1956 events for decades and will be of use for specialists interested in the Georgian and Soviet history and for the wider public.


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