J. V. Stalin

The Situation in the Caucasus

May 23, 1918

Source : Works, Vol. 4, November, 1917 - 1920
Publisher : Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1953
Transcription/Markup : Salil Sen for MIA, 2009
Public Domain : Marxists Internet Archive (2009). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit "Marxists Internet Archive" as your source.


The situation in Transcaucasia is growing more and more ominous. The declaration of the independence of Transcaucasia by the Diet (April 22), which was to have untied the hands of the Tiflis "government," actually threw it into the toils of the international sharks. How the so-called "peace negotiations" in Batum 1 will end, the immediate future will show. One thing is certain: the independence of the Tiflis Mensheviks and their government of the Russian revolution will inevitably turn into their slavish dependence on the Turkish and German "civilized" wolves. It will be an alliance of the Menshevik rulers of Tiflis with the Turkish and German imperialists against the Russian revolution. Menshevik Chkhenkeli in the role of a future Caucasian Golubovich—isn't that truly an edifying picture, Messrs. the Martovs and Dans? . . .

Diet member Karchikyan reports from Tiflis:

"Tiflis is in a state of unrest; the Armenians have resigned from the cabinet, and the workers and peasants are demonstrating in the streets against the government for having proclaimed Transcaucasia independent. Demonstrations are being held in Kutais, Honi, Lechhum, Gori and Dushet demanding a referendum on the question of independence."

All Armenia is protesting against the usurpers of the Tiflis self-styled "government" and demanding the resignation of its deputies from the Diet. And the Moslem centre, Baku, the citadel of Soviet power in Transcaucasia, which has rallied around itself all Eastern Transcaucasia from Lenkoran and Kuba to Yelizavetpol, is affirming with arms in hand the rights of the Transcaucasian peoples, who are striving might and main to preserve their tie with Soviet Russia. We say nothing of heroic Abkhazia, 2 on the Black Sea coast, which has unanimously risen against the blackguard bands of the Tiflis "government" and is repelling their assault on Sukhum arms in hand. "All Abkhazia, young and old, has risen against the band of two thousand invaders from the South, and already for eight days has been defending the approaches to Sukhum twenty versts south of the city," we are informed by Chairman of the Revolutionary Military Committee Eshba. Some reports say that the advance of the Transcaucasian detachments is being supported from the sea by a flotilla of armed transports and a group of destroyers. Furthermore, it appears that under the Brest-Litovsk Peace, and according to the Germans' interpretation, not only must we not advance from the sea to protect Sukhum, but we have not even the right to defend ourselves. Such is the real support rendered by the German "peacemakers" to the Transcaucasian aggressors. This being so, it is not difficult to understand that the fate of Sukhum is practically decided in advance. The population of Transcaucasia is opposed to the Tiflis "government." The population of Transcaucasia is opposed to secession from Russia. The workers and peasants of Transcaucasia are in favour of a referendum, notwithstanding the handful of Diet members, because nobody, positively nobody, has authorized the Diet to sever Transcaucasia from Russia.

Such is the picture.

No wonder the more shamefaced of the Mensheviks— Jordania, Tsereteli and even (even!) Gegechkori—have washed their hands of the matter and are leaving the filthy work to the more unscrupulous of the Mensheviks.

We are informed from Tiflis that when Kars was surrendered by the Armenians, the Turkish corps commander at Kars declared that he considered the dispatch of Turkish forces to occupy Baku and save the Moslems in the Baku area inevitable, if the Transcaucasian government itself did not succeed soon in doing so. Parallel with this, "it was given to be understood that this was inevitable in a letter from Wehib Pasha to the Prime Minister of the Transcaucasian government."

We have no documentary verification of these reports, but one thing is certain, namely, that if the Turkish "saviours" do advance on Baku, they will encounter strong resistance from the mass of the population, and from the Moslem workers and peasants in the first place.

Needless to say, the Soviet Government will exert every effort to protect the inalienable rights of the labouring masses of Transcaucasia against the encroachments of the invader.


In 1917 a handful of retired North Caucasian generals of the type of Filimonov, Karaulov, Chermoyev and Bammatov proclaimed themselves a Federation of Highlanders, named themselves the government of the North Caucasus from the Black Sea to the Caspian, and surreptitiously prepared to take action in conjunction with Kaledin. In November 1917, after the victory of Soviet power in the centre of Russia, this pseudo-government coquetted with the British and French Military Missions, trying to undermine the truce on the Russo-German Front. In the early part of 1918, after the collapse of the Kaledin adventure, this mysterious "government" disappeared from the political scene and confined itself to organizing bandit attacks on trains and treacherous assaults on civilian inhabitants of towns and villages. By the spring of this year everyone had forgotten it, because genuine Soviets of people's deputies had firmly established themselves in the North Caucasus, in the Kuban and Terek regions, and had rallied around themselves broad sections of all the North Caucasian races and peoples without exception. Kabardinians and Cossacks, Ossetians and Georgians, Russians and Ukrainians rallied in a broad ring around the Terek Soviet; Chechens and Ingushes, Cossacks and Ukrainians, workers and peasants, filled the numerous Soviets of the Kuban region with their representatives. At their congresses, the broad labouring sections of all these races and peoples publicly proclaimed their indissoluble tie with Soviet Russia. All this could not but compel the self-styled "government" of the Chermoyevs and Bammatovs to slink from the political stage. Everybody considered this astonishing "government" dead and buried. True, in March of this year a close friend of the Bammatovs, the so-called Imam of Daghestan, made his existence known by organizing bandit raids on the railway at Petrovsk and Derbent. But already in mid-April the Imam's adventure was liquidated by Soviet detachments of Baku workers and by the Daghestanians themselves, who drove the Imam and his suite of Russian officers into the Daghestanian mountains.

But imperialism would not be imperialism if it were not able to call up the shades of the dead from the "other world" in furtherance of its own purposes in this world. Only a week ago we were handed an official statement signed by Chermoyev and Bammatov, who have risen from the dead, announcing the formation of an independent (don't laugh!) North Caucasian state stretching from the Black Sea to the Caspian (nothing more, nor less!).

"The Federation of Caucasian Highlanders," the proclamation of this self-styled government reads, "has resolved to: secede from Russia and form an independent state."

"The boundaries of the new state will be: in the North— the geographical borders which the Daghestan, Terek, Stavropol, Kuban and Black Sea regions and provinces possessed in the former Russian Empire; in the West—the Black Sea; in the East—the Caspian Sea; in the South—a border, the details of which will be determined in agreement with the government of Transcaucasia."

Thus, the Transcaucasian "government" is establishing "relations" with the Turkish and German "liberators," and the North Caucasian "government" with the Transcaucasian. It is all perfectly clear. The North Caucasian adventurers, having become disillusioned with the British and French, are now reckoning on the latter's enemies. And since there is no limit to the Turks' and Germans' lust for conquest, it is to be presumed that the possibility is not excluded of an "agreement" between the North Caucasian adventure-seekers and the Turkish and German "liberators."

We have no doubt that the latter will give assurances of their fidelity to the German treaty, of their readiness to maintain friendly relations and so forth. But since it is deeds, not words, that are believed nowadays, and the deeds of these gentry are all too definite, the Soviet Government will have to mobilize all its forces to protect the peoples of the North Caucasus from possible attempts at conquest.

People's Commissar

J. Stalin


1.The peace negotiations in Batum between representatives of the Transcaucasian Diet and Turkey began on May 11, 1918. After the disintegration of the Transcaucasian Republic on May 26, the negotiations were conducted by the Menshevik government of "independent" Georgia. Under the peace treaty signed on June 4, 1918, Batum, the Akhaltsikh Uyezd and part of the Akhalkalaki Uyezd were ceded to Turkey. Turkey also received the right to use the railways of Georgia for the transportation of its troops.

2.The uprising in Abkhazia against the counter-revolutionary Transcaucasian Diet broke out in March 1918. The organs of the Transcaucasian Commissariat were abolished and Soviet power was proclaimed. The Mensheviks moved large forces against the insurrectionaries and, in spite of the latter's heroic resistance, they were crushed on May 17, 1918. This was followed by savage reprisals, which were also extended to the civilian population.