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Georgia: Lost Archives Returned To Tbilisi

Tbilisi, 9 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - The Tbilisi parliament was yesterday officially presented with a portion of Georgian archives. The archives date back to the early days of Georgia's independence in 1918 to 1921.

The archives disappeared when the Georgian government fled from the Red Army in 1921.

The papers were first brought to France by Georgia's President Noe Jordania when he fled the country. They mainly concern the nascent Caucasian republic's first economic contacts, as well as documents attesting to the recognition of its independence by some 70 countries in 1918.

The papers were stored in the French National archives until the 1950s. A flood in Paris damaged some of the archives and they were moved to a house in a small village outside the capital, where they were kept until recently. A portion of the archives also remains in storage at Harvard University in the United States.

Mamia Berichvili, a longtime caretaker of the documents, told Georgian members of parliament that Georgia had requested the return of the documents many times. Berichvili said the caretakers resisted because of the risk the documents would be destroyed.

"Only now can we give these archives back to their legal owner," he said.