While researching individual objectors, two women protesters stood out: Nazi Shamanauri and Klara Shukvani. I had heard about Nazi Shamanauri, a dissident journalist who, as punishment for her anti-communist activites, was committed to a psychiatric clinic where she was tortured and eventually executed in the 1980s. While researching in the archives, I discovered new details about her case, which do not diminish Nazi’s role in history, but underscore how different ideologies use the role of “martyr women” for their own benefit, how the contexts of the women’s stories change depending on the needs of the time. For the communist regime Shamanauri was “paranoid” while the nationalist patriotic discourse describes her as a “dissident” or “hero.” In reality, she already told her real story through her articles, which was published in several newspapers.
Nazi Shamanauri was a tragic women locked away in psychiatric clynic; Klara Shukvani was arrested as a dissident against Eduard Shevardnadze during his presidency. She was detained over her anti-Shevardnadze poster, where she insulted the president: “Down with Shevardnadze screwed by Ardzinba ''. She was sentenced to a year in a women’s labor colony in 1998 over her use of the word “screwed” to refer to the Georgian president and resisting police. But the court took into consideration “neighbors’ positive assessment of her character and the decent past of the accused as well as the fact that she was a woman and refugee from Abkhazia and did not have any additional legal charges against her''. She also received support from the public defender. As a result, her sentence was reduced to probation instead of imprisonment. Klara was mocked by the press, which wrote “Shukvani is praying for the souls of the policemen,” “Shukvani invites Shevardnadze to her cellar” and so on.
It seems to me that today not much has changed in how society explains the protest of women. Even now, women are perceived as either “paranoid” or “naughty” when they protest.
It is almost impossible not to mention Gia Abesadze, the doctor who set himself on fire in the 1991s, at the beginning of Georgia’s civil war. His story is also a symbol of the spinning cycle. This country is permanently in need of victims; we have an illusion that a “hero-victim” can support our development, help us “destroy the system.”