RUSSIAN COLONIAL POLICY AND SAMACHABLO
The struggle of the representatives of the Georgian Royal House and the feudal aristocracy against the Russian government is closely connected with the political history of Samachablo (Great Liakhvi gorge), which has been active since 1802. Although several members of the Machabelis feudal family were in the service of the Russian government, their general attitude was sharply anti-Russian. The Machabelis took an active part in the protests against the Russian colonial policy and fought in support of the Royal House members of Kartl-Kakheti. [Sosiashvili, 2016: 18-33] The rebellious Georgian nobles tried to form a united front against the Russians, and in this common cause of the Caucasians they hoped for the help of the loyal Ossetians too. There is a lot of information in Georgian historical sources about the active relations of Georgian kings with Ossetians, living in the North Caucasus, who often fought in support of Georgians during the invasions by foreign enemies.
Ossetian support for Russian-occupied Georgia soon became apparent. Vakhtang Batonishvili, who rebelled in 1802, was actively helped by Ossetians from Tagauri. Because of this, Russian General Tuchkov imposed economic sanctions on the Ossetians, which meant that the Ossetians were banned from importing grain from valley, which was, of course, a big hit to the Ossetians living in the mountains. [Togoshvili, 1969: 73]
The Governor-general Tsitsianov also tried to block the road for the Ossetians from Tagauri in 1804, so that they would no longer be connected to Georgia [Togoshvili, 1969: 73], however, the Ossetians did not stop supporting the Machabelis and Batonishvilis. They were especially loyal to Luarsab Iulon Batonishvili, who fled the Russian violence and took refuge in the Liakhvi gorge. Despite intimidation, bribery or other attempts by the Russian authorities, they couldn’t capture Luarsab Batonishvili, he was killed by robber Leks. The murderer Leks of Batonishvili, the fighter against the Russian government, were punished with death penalty ordered by the Pasha of Akhaltsikhe. Neither of the murderers families had a good day. The locals expelled them as families. Cases of joint struggle of Georgian, Ossetian, Chechen and other Caucasian peoples against Russia's colonial policy have taken place at other times too, however, certain ones in the Caucasus, which was already under Russian domination, were no longer sufficient.
Key words: Levan and Iulon Batonishvili, Machabeli, Ossetians, Leks, fight against Russian colonialism.