In 1879, the year after Jugashvili had been born, two Georgian noblemen writers, Prince Ilya Chavchavadze (b. 1837) and Prince Akaki Tsereteli (b. 1840), had founded the Society for the Spread of Literacy Among Georgians. Georgians comprised many different groups—Kakhetis, Kartlians, Imeretians, Mingrelians—with a shared language, and Chavchavadze and Tsereteli hoped to spark an integrated Georgian cultural rebirth through schools, libraries, and bookshops. Their conservative populist cultural program intended no disloyalty to the empire. But in the Russian empire, administratively, there was no “Georgia,” just the two provinces (gubernias) of Tiflis and Kutaisi, and such was the hardline stance of the imperial authorities that the censors forbade any publication of the term “Georgia” (Gruziya) in Russian. Partly because many censors did not know the Georgian language—which was written neither in Cyrillic nor Latin letters—the censors proved more lenient with Georgian publications, which opened a lot of space for Georgian periodicals. But at the Tiflis seminary, to compel Russification, Georgian language instruction had been abolished in favor of Russian in 1872. (Orthodox services in Georgia were conducted in Church Slavonic and thus were largely unintelligible to the faithful, as they were even in the predominantly ethnic Russian provinces of the empire.) From 1875, the seminary in the Georgian capital ceased teaching Georgian history. Of the seminary’s two dozen teachers, all of whom were formally appointed by the Russian viceroy, a few were Georgian but most were Russian monks, and the latter had been expressly assigned to Georgia because of their strong Russian nationalist views.
The stupidity of tsarist policy on nationalities and nationalism never ceases to amaze me. (Quibble: Mingrelian, though related to Georgian, is actually a separate language.)