Ticket #3670 (new)

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BONUS: $50 UPS Gift Card Opportunity

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BONUS: $50 UPS Gift Card Opportunity



urian Republic's government was organised from the village level up, based on the legislation that came from the emancipation of the serfs. Village meetings were vested with supreme authority, and also served as a court. These meetings initially met infrequently, but by 1905 were assembling weekly. They were forums for a variety of topics, from banning expensive funerals and weddings to setting the curriculum for schools. They became increasingly political and could last for hours, even days, at a time. According to Gurian linguist Nikolai Marr, while the peasants took an active role in the meetings, the workers from the cities were largely running them.

Within a village a "circle" was made, and there were on average 10 circles for 90 households. Each circle would elect a "tensman" (Georgian: ????????, atistavi) who then would select among themselves a "hundredsman" (Georgian: ????????, asistavi). They would then elect representatives for the rural society, who selected their own regional representatives. All people were expected to contribute money or labour, and Villari reported that "one sometimes saw nobles, priests, peasants, and shopkeepers all manfully doing their turn of work."

These regional representatives would be the ones directly in contact with the Gurian Social Democratic Committee, established as a parallel governmental structure by the Social Democrats. Guria was divided into five regions, each led by a committee member, though the village assembly still held ultimate authority. Commissions were formed to set rent and establish grazing rights on confiscated land. In charge of the committee was Benia Chkhikvishvili, who was variously referred to as the "Gurian President" or the "Gurian King." According to Jones, "in all the meetings there was no sign of nationalism or anti-Russian feeling", as Russia was seen as a protector against a possible invasion from the neighbouring Ottoman Empire.

The decision to have two systems like this caused tension between the groups: the Social Democrats did not want to lose focus on their class struggles, while the peasants were angry at being excluded from the party. This was part of the larger division in the RSDLP that had led to a split between the Bolshevik and Menshevik factions at their Second Congress in August 1903: the Bolsheviks wanted the party to be more exclusive, while the Mensheviks were more willing to accommodate a variety of members, including peasants whom the Bolsheviks felt were not ready for class struggles. These factional differences, which also led to a split within the Georgian Social Democrats, had little impact on the Gurian Republic, with both Bolsheviks and Mensheviks at times being asked to participate in local debates.

Starting in 1903 there had been a slow expansion of the ideals of the Gurian Republic outside its borders, and by August 1904 it had firmly taken hold in neighbouring Imereti, which had 600 "circles" of its own by the end of 1905; similar movements also arose in nearby Mingrelia. Near the end of 1904 a two-ruble tax was instituted in Guria to purchase arms, leading the Tsarist authorities to fear an armed peasant uprising. "Red Detachments" were organised, and while nearly every Gurian was armed, they were not a serious force that could have deterred a real military invasion. A contemporary report noted that at most there were 2,000 rifles in the entire region, with not all of them in working order and a shortage of ammu

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