THE NIGHT THE LIGHTS WENT OUT IN GEORGIA

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Rosengoltz came to Abkhazia to spend his summer vacation in Sochi with his daughter, Yelena, who was sitting in the first row. She kept looking through big field glasses lent her by Basil and at the same time nibbled chocolates brought by Michael. Yelena was a joyous and beautiful girl with big, black eyes and natural golden-red hair. It was tied in a heavy knot on her neck, which was white as marble, speckled only by a few freckles. When she laughed, as she did often, she wrinkled her cute little nose, and opened her full scarlet lips, fresh as a Caucasian Georgian cherry, and showed her white teeth. She was plump, but not fat, with small, girlish breasts. She was not yet eighteen and still growing, but looked more mature than most girls her age. Yelena was already a very sexy, bright young woman, probably still a virgin, as is often the case with girls from good Jewish families where the mothers had been brought up in very religious households. Her father was a strong-minded Commissar and known as a splendid administrator. He was an Old Bolshevik who had fought in Moscow during the Revolution. For some years, he had ruled the Donbas with a strong hand. One of the most eminent Communists and a member of the Central Committee, Rosengoltz was later appointed to the Soviet Embassy in London. He stayed there until 1928, when he returned to Russia to work for the Government. He was the father of three children. Yelena, the youngest, was his beloved daughter. He was proud of her and did not let her out of his sight. Not only he, but the two young officers., Basil and Michael, were always at Yelena’s side. One did not have to guess that Beria had abnormal inclinations toward very young girls, as rumors about his peculiar tastes circulated freely among his acquaintances. One could be positive that Lavrentry Pavlovich, now trying his best to be interesting and gallant, would not hesitate to do anything to make love to her.

A few days later, Nestor Lakoba invited Beria to his country house for an afternoon cup of coffee, intimating between the lines that this would be a sort of stag party. When Lavrentry arrived at his friend’s villa he was surprised to see there were only two other men present. They were Lakoba’s two cousins, Basil and Michael; the only female guest was the charming redhead, Yelena. Beria did not ask his host what had happened to his previous plans for the party and why this time the girl was not accompanied by her father. Anyway, the party was nice and clean. The gramophone played, the young lady danced waltzes, tangoes and fox-trots, with the two lads taking turns as her partner. The refreshments were also very elegant, with pastries, tea, Turkish delight, candy and wines. But when the girl excused herself and left for a short while “to powder her little nose”, one of the young Chekists winked at the other men and poured some alcohol into her wine goblet. When Yelena returned, the gentlemen toasted her as Queen of Beauty and urged her to drink her goblet in one gulp. Soon afterwards the girl felt dizzy and hot, and asked to go out to get some fresh air. Beria and the two young gentlemen offered to escort her, suggesting a stroll in the garden surrounding the house. Two of the men linked arms with her and went out, led by a third. In one of the shaded alleys the girl felt faint, so her escort helped her to a bench and sat her on it. She was too sick, however, to sit up by herself. They laid her on the grass. One of them started undressing her. At first the girl did not realize what this was about. She probably thought they wanted to loosen her tight clothes to help her breathe more easily. Then, when she understood their intentions, she tried to shout for help. But it was too late. The man on top of her was pressing her to the ground with all his weight. She tried to fight him off, but it was hopeless. She was raped by all of them in turn.

The girl was overpowered and used. But what would happened when she got home and told her father the truth? One of the young Chekists put his hands around her throat and pressed. Harder and harder.

Back in the house, Lavrentry went to Lakoba’s studio. From there, in a sober and dry matter-of-fact voice, he telephoned the investigations magistrate, ordering whoever was then on duty to come at once with his assistants. In a short time, investigating officials arrived. The Chief of the Secret Police in Georgia, Beria, informed him that, after having had a few glasses of wine, the girl became hysterical and ran away to the garden. They had followed her, calling her to come back, but she did not listen to them. Soon they found her dead. The hysterical girl had committed suicide. No autopsy was needed.

SOURCE: Excerpted from Commissar: The life and death of Lavrenty Pavlovich Beria by Tadeusz Wittlin, MacMillian, 1972 (ISBN-13: 9780207954801, ISBN-10: 0207954801)

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