Towards the end of March, Temur Pipia, leader of the Unified Communist Party of Georgia was detained by the Georgian police while returning from Russia. The state authorities registered a case against him, invoking the 2011 Freedom Charter. Peoples Dispatch talks to Temur Pipia regarding the ongoing persecution of communists by the Georgian state.
Peoples Dispatch (PD): Why were you detained at the Russia-Georgia border and what charges have the Georgian authorities brought against you? Why have they also confiscated the medals you brought back from Russia?
Temur Pipia (TP): Since 2011, a law under the title “Charter of Freedom” has been in force in Georgia. This law prohibits communist symbolism and ideology along with fascist symbolism and ideology. Based on this law, 300 medals were confiscated by the Georgian Customs. The medals depict the famous statue “Motherland” Calls, which was erected near Stalingrad, as well as a sickle and hammer. This is not the first invocation of this law. Last year, on May 9, in the center of the capital, communists were detained for displaying a red flag with Soviet symbols.
PD: What is the State’s attitude towards communists and leftists in Georgia? What is your take on the rise of the right-wing in the country and in the region?
TP: As far as the structures of power are concerned, we do not see direct attempts at physical or moral pressure against left-wing activists or political forces in the country. In this issue, there is a difference between the current authorities and those that ruled Georgia until 2012 (under president Mikheil Saakashvili). But the aforementioned law (2011 Charter of Freedom) is still in force , and also, almost all mass media carries out systematic anti-Soviet propaganda and Russia has been declared an enemy of Georgia.
Right-wing political forces are now facing a crisis in Georgia. The population clearly does not trust them. More than 60% of the voters do not exercise their franchise. The population is waiting for a strong socialist platform as a lighthouse. The problem is the weakness of the left movement in our country.
PD: How organized is the working class and the communist movement in Georgia?
TP: We have no great tradition of trade unions, workers and women’s unions, or the peace movement. The communists and our allies – leftist and socialist forces – are trying to organize such movements and build them. So far, our success has been minimal.
PD: What are the key goals of the United Communist Party of Georgia?
TP: The United Communist Party advocates the return of Georgia to the socialist path of development, the peaceful settlement of inter-ethnic conflicts and the restoration of a strategic alliance with Russia.
PD: How do you evaluate the anti-communist/de-communization laws and the banning of communist parties, activities and media in Georgia, as well as in other post-Soviet Republics and east European Countries with the support of the EU?
TP: The spirit of Russophobia is embedded in the Freedom Charter law and serves as a lever to marginalize those who advocate normalizing relations with Russia. Also, the law prohibiting communist ideology was not suspended due to the fact that the desire for socialism is growing stronger.
PD: What is the current status of regional cooperation between the communist parties in the region?
TP: The Unified Communist Party of Georgia is part of the regional association of communist parties, Union of Communist Parties – Communist Party of the Soviet Union (SKP-CPSU), which has the participation of parties from the republics of the former Soviet Union. We coordinate our actions and support each other in our activities. Our common goal is to promote integration processes and the restoration of an allied socialist education in the territories of the former USSR.