When we arrived from Sokhumi, our situation was already deteriorated with safety security. The reason for this was the fact that our underground party was discovered from 1981. We learned about it when we were in Sokhumi. The reason of the failure was the fact that we were planning to bring out our third journal. For that time we had already published two numbers of this journal. We printed this journals on very thin tissue-papers. We did so in order to get six-seven copies. But to read the seventh copy was almost impossible, but no one cared about it.
The first number of this journal was printed by us (my wife and I). They say that there were other families like us, who were involved in party-activities. For example, wife and husband Romavshensks. They controlled radio solidarity. I’m happy that I know both of them and I am in friendly relationship with them. They are glorious people, because the managed to broadcast in factually occupied Warsaw and we must also take into consideration the fact that Warsaw was besieged by soldiers in that period. This fact had more resonance than our journal. The main thing is that, both of them (wife and husband) were caught, but in our case they just planned to arrest my wife. It was part of the “game” for KGB. To make long story short, I would say that the reason why we failed was the fact, that my brother, David, gave journal to his group-mate, whose father was the head of the police. Unfortunately the father found this journal and went to KGB with his son and this journal. So that is how it started.
So, in a few words, in 1979-80 we were caught. After this, it took them long to interrogate us and investigate this fact. But as there was Brezhnev in the country they didn’t want to arrest people for this kind of reason. When Brezhnev died and Andropov came into power and we were arrested at that very time. But when they caught us Andropov died meanwhile (laughs at these words). We were sentenced to maximum, seven plus five. This is article 71 of Georgian Criminal Law, Anti-Soviet agitation – propaganda and plus, they added to all these – with the purpose of disruption, because without this, it was considered to be light penalty. In those days KGB was so poor in jurisprudence and had little knowledge that they thought literature producing, keeping and distributing were separate articles of Georgian Criminal Law and thought if they didn’t sentence all of us with these three purposes, it would be bad. So as the court was in their hands, we were sentenced to all of them - producing, keeping and distributing.
Five people were arrested. Somehow we managed and isolated the fifth of us, as the member of non-central committee and he went with less light penalty and didn’t get article 71. Article 71 was exceptionally heavy state crime, that means that it is in the third category. First category means ordinary zone, second – intensified zone, third – special one and the fourth means – zone for recidivists. So the fifth person went to ordinary zone and was left in Georgia. As for us, we were sent to special zone (political zone) in Russia. There were only four political zones for this kind of people in the Soviet Union, three of them were in Perm and one in Dubravlag, in Autonomous Republic of Mordivia. My brother and I were sent in Mordivia, as for both Vakhtangs – they were sent to Perm. We were sentenced to accordingly three and a half, three, three and two years of imprisonment. My brother was illegally arrested at all, because he wasn’t the full legal age by the time the crime was committed, but unfortunately, KGB didn’t care about it and said, the crime had continuous character and it will continue endlessly.
If any time in the future, they will hang something on the wall in the zone, they must hang the fact that brothers Berdzenishili and Lashkarashvili were the very first people who wrote letters in their native language. Due to this fact censor Ganichenko decided not to send our letters to our relatives. Can you imagine how hard it was for our families that they couldn’t get letters from us during several months. But later, when the president of the USA intervened in this business and later hardly managed to pronounce our surnames - brothers Berdzenishili, we deserved to write letters on our national language. Only after this fact were written letters in Armenian and Lithuanian Languages. In those days it was considered that Lithuanians were the most nationalists than anyone in the world, but we, Georgians, proved to everyone, through our activities what was the real nationalism. I want to admit one thing, prison found out to be the interesting place, I mean it was the place where we achieved our goals through struggle. We achieved to get right to write twice in a month. I had no right to write letters to anyone but out family members (just to a mother, a father, a brother, a wife and a child). I wrote one long letter and censorship didn’t pay attention to it there, but when these letters arrived in Tbilisi, it was sent to zone, it was read by censor, who agreed or didn’t agree to send them to addressee. Letters went to their destination place later, but at least we got in touch through correspondence.
This is an article 71 of Georgia’s criminar law, Anti Soviet propaganda, with the aim of undermining
He was born in 1953, in October 23, in Batumi. His father was a lawyer, a judge, the chairman of Adjara Supreme Court. As for his mother, she was the teacher of the Georgian language at school. He has got two brothers.
In 1970 he finished school in Batumi and continued his studying in Tbilisi at Technological Institute, at automation and calculation technics faculty. Two years later he left the Institute and entered Tbilisi State University, at philology faculty, which he graduated in 1977. He maintained a thesis in antic literature.
In 1979 he began working in Sokhumi, at the University. There he worked just for 6 months and then he wrote a statement and left the job because of political contradiction.
In 1981 he began working at Tbilisi State University, where he delivered lectures at antique literature.
In 1978, on 21st may, he formed Georgian Republican Party. They were publishing the newspaper – “Samreklo”, which was printed on a typewriter. In 1980 they learned that the party was caught, but constitutives were arrested only after Andropov came into power. The court of law sentenced him three years of punishment and from 1984 to 1987, 1085 days he spent in the colony of severe regime. ( He was judged according to the code of Georgian criminal law, under the article 71 – “Anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda”. ) He served his sentence in Mordovia SSR. Like him, his brother was judged for the same reason and both of them were in one and the same prison for two years.
In 1987 he was set free after he served his sentence. He continued working in Tbilisi, at State University at the laboratory of culture research of Mediterranean Sea.
In 1998 he was appointed as the general director of Georgian Parliament Ilia Chavchavadze National Library.
From 2004 to 2008 he was the member of Georgian Parliament.
From 2009 to 2011 he was working in the United States of America, he was delivering lectures at different Universities.
At the present moment he is full professor at GIPA and associate professor at CSB.
He is the member of Georgian parliament since 2012.
He has got a wife and a daughter.