Upon Stalin's death in 1953, Georgian nationalism revived
and resumed its struggle against dictates from the central
government in Moscow. In the 1950s, reforms under Soviet leader
Nikita S. Khrushchev included the shifting of economic authority
from Moscow to republic-level officials, but the Russian
Khrushchev's repudiation of Stalin set off a backlash in Georgia.
In 1956 hundreds of Georgians were killed when they demonstrated
against Khrushchev's policy of de-Stalinization. Long afterward
many Stalin monuments and place-names--as well as the museum
constructed at Stalin's birthplace in the town of Gori, northwest
of Tbilisi--were maintained. Only with Mikhail S. Gorbachev's
(see Glossary) in the late 1980s did
criticism of Stalin become acceptable and a full account of
Stalin's crimes against his fellow Georgians become known in
Between 1955 and 1972, Georgian communists used
decentralization to become entrenched in political posts and to
reduce further the influence of other ethnic groups in Georgia.
In addition, enterprising Georgians created factories whose
entire output was "off the books"
, this ch.). In 1972 the long-standing corruption and economic
inefficiency of Georgia's leaders led Moscow to sponsor Eduard
Shevardnadze as first secretary of the Georgian Communist Party.
Shevardnadze had risen through the ranks of the Communist Youth
League (Komsomol) to become a party first secretary at the
district level in 1961. From 1964 until 1972, Shevardnadze
oversaw the Georgian police from the Ministry of Internal
Affairs, where he made a reputation as a competent and
Data as of March 1994