Georgia’s historical experience differs from that of other small nations such as the Baltic states and Finland, which fell under Russian or Soviet rule but eventually made a more complete escape. Georgia was absorbed into the tsarist empire in 1801, its royal family deported to Russia and its language replaced with Russian in public life. An opportunity for freedom arose after the February 1917 revolution, which overthrew the tsar, but after declaring independence in May 1918, the Georgians proved unable to sustain their state for more than three years. Rayfield points out that whereas Vladimir Lenin let the Balts and Finns go their own way, similar forbearance was unlikely in Georgia. The impulse to conquest was strong among Moscow-based Bolsheviks and thuggish Georgian comrades such as Josef Stalin and Sergo Orjonikidze.
more from Tony Barber at the FT here.