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The richest jewel in the Soviet crown

A souvenir photo of Stalin from his Georgian hometown Gori 1989. Photo: Peter Nasmyth
A souvenir photo of Stalin from his Georgian hometown Gori 1989. Photo: © Peter Nasmyth

Nasmyth's journey to Georgia started in Russia – on one of his trips to Moscow in the late 80s:

I began to hear about a nation of people with noticeable less stuffing knocked out of them from the years of Stalinism. After all, their present Soviet colonisation had been preceded by the Russians, the Turks, the Arabs, the Persians, the Byzantines, the Mongols, the Romans, the Greeks. Those people regarded their current masters as just another landlord in a long succession. Furthermore as all Russians admitted they'd learnt to preserve their culture – and much of their economic wealth – with a cheeky good humour.

[p. 6]

And this preserved Georgian culture inspired and impressed generations of Russian poets and thinkers: Lermontov, Tolstoy and Gorky set their major works there.

Boris Pasternak described Georgia as "my second homeland" and Maxim Gorky declared

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