10 April 2003, 17:56

Zhordania, Noy Nikolayevich

Politician and journalist, leader of Georgian Mensheviks. In 1918-1921, the chairman of Menshevik government in Georgia.

Born March 9 (21), 1869, in the village of Lanchukhti, Kutaisi Province. A nobleman. Graduated from Tiflis clerical seminary, later studied in Warsaw Veterinary Institute. Started revolutionary activities in workers' circles of Tiflis; in 1893-1898, was the leader of legal Marxists in Mesami dasi (Third Group). In 1894, was tried for participation in Georgia Freedom League. Was a delegate of the Second Congress of RSDRP (Russian Social Democrat Worker Party) in 1903, joined the Mensheviks. In 1905, was an editor of Menshevik newspaper Social Democrat (Tiflis, in Georgian); opposed Bolsheviks in his publications. During the 1905-1907 Revolution, opposed armed uprising and supported creation of a legal workers' party. At the Fourth Congress of RSDRP, supported the idea of making land the municipal property. In 1906, was elected into the First State Duma from Tiflis constituency; became the leader of social democrat faction. At the Fifth Congress of RSDRP in 1907, was elected into the Central Committee and remained its member until 1912. In December 1907, for signing the Vyborg appeal (address it the people by a group of First State Duma Deputies in response to its dissolution), was convicted, among other the 167 deputies, to three months in jail, which led to forfeit of a right to be elected. In summer 1912, managed a legal Menshevik newspaper Nashe Slovo (Our Turn to Speak) in Baku. In 1914, cooperated with L.D. Trotsky in the Borba (Struggle) magazine where published a number of article on nationalities issue. During the WWI, took the "defense" position; participated in Plekhanov's Samozaschita (Self-Defense) almanac (1916). After 1917 February Revolution, became the chairman of Tiflis Soviet. On March 6, 1917, was elected the Commissar of the Tiflis Soviet's Executive Committee. On June 12, 1917, at the meeting of Military Sections of Executive Councils, under the conditions of Bolsheviks' growing influence in the army, appealed Mensheviks and Esers to unity in the struggle against the Bolsheviks. In August, at the reunification congress of RSDRP, was elected the candidate to the central committee of RSDRP(o). On September 3, 1917, at a meeting of Tiflis Council, appealed to the worker class not to accept Bolshevist tendencies, but to struggle for the creation of a parliamentary republic.

Was the delegate of Democratic Meeting (September 1917), one of the leaders of its Menshevik faction. In October 1917, joined the Pre-Parliament, but, seeing that his hopes are not justified, chose to return to Georgia.

On November 11, 1817, at the meeting of national parties regarding creating the ruling power in Transcaucasia, Noy Zhordania gave a speech on the necessity of a power that will lead the area to the Constituent Assembly or form the centralized authorities. On November 20, speaking at Georgia's First National Congress, where all parties but the Bolsheviks were present, demanded Georgia's complete self-governance. On November 26, 1917, headed the presidium of Georgia's National Council.

On January 22-23, 1918, at the meeting of the Constituent Assembly members from Transcaucasia and Caucasian Army, N.N. Zhordania suggested to convoke Transcaucasian Sejm, in order "to organize locally in all townships and by the union of organized townships put the pressure on the center and create a state authority" (Menteshashvili A.M. October Revolution and National Liberation Movement in Georgia 1917-1921. Tbilisi, 1987, p. 72). At one of the Sejm's first sessions (February 15), voiced the Mensheviks' declaration, which, among other things, said, "We think that the current Revolution by its internal and political goals does not go beyond the product economy, and this revolution does not touch the basics of bourgeois society" (In Two Years, p. 64). "...We think that with the existence of capitalist regime, liberation of labor from the capitalism is impossible... The unity of industry's and worker class's interests in a legal form is rather difficult. Still, we must lead our worker policy in this direction" (ibidem, p. 66).

The signature of Brest Peace Treaty, according to which Turkey acquired Kars, Ardagan, and Batum, strengthened the moods in Georgia for Transcaucasia's independence from the Soviet Russia. Under these conditions, Zhordania did not support Transcaucasia's separation from Russia. Zhordania wrote later, "The Turks were not satisfied with what they had achieved. They desired expansion of their territory at the expense of Transcaucasia. They would have only been able to do that only if Transcaucasia had separated from Russia, gained independence, and, consequently, become an easy prey for them." (Zhordania N. My Life. Stanford, 1968, p. 85). That is why, at the Transcaucasian Sejm sessions, Zhordania opposed immediate declaration of Transcaucasia's independence and abstained during the voting on the issue.

On May 26, 1918, after the collapse of Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic and dissolution of Transcaucasian Sejm, Zhordania de facto headed the Temporary Parliament of Georgian Democratic Republic. Under the conditions of Turkish troops' intrusion, Zhordania chose to seek support in Germany and invited German troops to Georgia.

On July 24, 1918, Noy Zhordania headed Georgia's government. On September 8 of the same year, was put on the award list to German highest military order for the help to the German occupational bodies. Upon Germany's defeat and English troops' appearance in Georgia, N.N. Zhordania won the trust of the English interventionists as well with his antipathy for Bolshevism. In June 1919, concluded a treaty with A.I. Denikin on joint struggle against the Bolsheviks. On January 14, 1920, said in a speech addressed to Georgia's Constituent Assembly that decisively refused a military union with Soviet Russia preferring the imperialists of the West to the fanatics of the East.

In spring 1920, Zhordania was of the initiators of Georgia signing a treaty with Russia (signed on May 7), according to which normal diplomatic relations were established between the two countries. Later, in negotiation with an English representative, N.N, Zhordania supported Entente's recognition of Soviet Russia, implying that RSFSR's recognition of Georgia would open a path to international recognition of Georgia.

Upon the establishment of the Soviet power in Georgia in 1921, Noy Zhordania emigrated to France. Participated in preparations for a Menshevik uprising in Georgia in 1924. Died in emigration in 1953.


Bolshevism. Berlin, 1922.

Our Disaccords. Paris, 1928.

Results. Paris, 1928.

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