19 December 2023
Study visit of the representatives of the IDFI and the Batumi and Lazeti Eparchy in Poland


On December 11-16, 2023, Anton Vatcharadze, head of the memory and disinformation studies direction of the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), and representatives of the Eparchy of Batumi and Lazeti were on an introductory visit to Poland.


The purpose of the visit was to acquaint with exemplary approaches and museums dedicated to commemorating the victims of both the communist and Nazi regimes in Poland. In this regard, Poland is an advanced country that pays a lot of attention to the creation of museums, which, in addition to preserving memory, serve educational and interactive purposes.


During the visit, the guests toured the following museums: The Sybir Memorial Museum, The Katyń Museum, The Mausoleum of Martyrology and Historical Museum in Michniów, and the Museum-Memorial Palmiry. They also visited the design studio Nizio (Nizio Design International), which is one of the active studios not only in Poland but also in the entire European Union and specializes in the design of museums, historical exhibitions, permanent and temporary exhibitions, and memorials. 


Representatives of IDFI and Batumi and Lazeti Eparchy met with museum directors and local representatives. They learned about the principles of museum and exhibition planning, important considerations, and modern approaches that make museums significant places for visitors. A balance between multimedia and traditional approaches should be maintained to prevent the exposition from becoming "old" and uninteresting. The recommendations and advice received during the meetings can be considered a valuable step in the future for introducing memorial practices at the site of the mass graves discovered in Batumi.


The willingness of the Sybir Memorial Museum director, Wojciech Śleszyński, and the founder of Design Studio Nizio, Miroslav Nizio, to be involved in the planning and implementation process is particularly noteworthy. The Sybir Memorial Museum was named the best museum in Europe in 2024 by the Council of Europe. The director of the museum engages in consulting activities worldwide and is a member of the advisory board of museums in Argentina, Chile, Australia, and other countries in addition to Europe. He is ready to undertake similar activities in Batumi.


IDFI has been actively involved in the search for archival documents about the people repressed in Batumi and Adjara since the beginning. Through the archival research carried out by the organization, it has been established that between 1937 and 1938, through the various means of punishments total of 1050 were executed in Adjara, out of whom there were 11 women as well as Orthodox and Muslim religious figures.


In spring 2022, scientists from the Polish Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) and the Wroclaw Medical University completed the process of examination of the mass grave №6. A group of Polish archeologists and anthropologists were invited by the Eparchy of Batumi and Lazeti and the Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI).


On October 5-6, 2023, in Batumi, the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), with the financial support of the Juliusz Mieroszewski Centre for Dialogue (Centrum Dialogu im. Juliusza Mieroszewskiego), held an international conference "Uncovering the Truth: Mass Graves of the Great Terror (1937-1938) in Batumi, Georgia". The purpose of the conference in which the leading experts on the issue participated, was to study the Soviet past of Georgia and to contribute to the decommunization of the country.


IDFI will identify the best practices of the museum and the memorial cemetery and develop recommendations, which will be presented to the commission established regarding the tombs discovered in the Autonomous Republic of Adjara. IDFI believes that establishing a cemetery and a museum at the site of the shootings is of the utmost importance in terms of honoring the victims, creating a place of remembrance for their families and descendants, and establishing a new educational space. This step will make a significant contribution to the understanding of the Soviet past and the process of decommunization.


IDFI, with the help of international partners, is ready to cooperate with the parties in order to achieve the mentioned goals in a timely and successful manner.


The visit was organized with the financial support of the Juliusz Mieroszewski Centre for Dialogue (Centrum Dialogu im. Juliusza Mieroszewskiego), Poland, and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).