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Samegrelo (Mengrelia)
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Merab Kostava was born on May 26, 1938.

In 1955 the future prominent leaders of the National-liberation and Human Rights movement in Georgia, - Zviad Gamsakhurdia and Merab Kostava, together with some likeminded persons then in the age of 15-16 years old, initiated and established an underground youth patriotic organization "Gorgasliani", which printed and spread proclamations about Human Rights violations in Georgia, and anti-Soviet and anti-totalitarian character. The activists of "Gorgasliani" tried to give to the wellknown events of 1956 a background of Human Rights and National-liberation. The extremely risky and dedicated activities of this patriotic youth organization was not unnoticed by the KGB, which was known for its brutality. 3-5 April, 1957 members of "Gorgasliani" were charged (cr.case No 457). After six months of detention in the KGB-isolator they were released on conditional penalty because they were under age. After that Mr. Zviad Gamsakhurdia and Mr. Merab Kostava became the subjects of open or secret observation of the Soviet repressive system.

In 1962 Kostava graduated from the Tbilisi State Conservatoire. In 1962-1977 he was teacher of the music school in Tbilisi.

In 1973 under leadership of Zviad Gamsakhurdia and Merab Kostava in Tbilisi was established the first public and legal Human Rights organization in the Caucasus - "Human Rights Initiative Group", which had close contacts with Human Rights groups in the former Soviet empire. The Human Rights Initiative Group also cooperated with the Moscow samizdat underground journal "Chronicle of current events" (Editor and Publisher Mr. Sergei Kovaliov).

In 1976, on the basis of this group, was established the Georgian Helsinki Group, which represented the first group of this kind on the territory of the former Soviet-Union. From its establishment the Helsinki Group actively defended the issue of Human Rights, especially the rights of political prisoners and prisoners of consciousness in the former Soviet empire. They also actively defended the Georgian language and the absolutely undefended monuments of Georgian culture. The Group was publishing and spreading illegal samizdat underground journals "Okros Satskmisi" ("Golden Fleece") and "Sakartvelos Moambe" ("Georgian Herald").

In 1974 Dr. Zviad Gamsakhurdia and Mr. Merab Kostava were appointed International Members of the Nobelprize-awarded organization - "Amnesty International" (UK).

In 1977 the prominent leaders of the Helsinki Groups in the former USSR were arrested and Zviad Gamsakhurdia and Merab Kostava with them.

Mr. Merab Kostava was released in 1987 after hard work by Zviad Gamsakhurdia and other activists of Human Rights movement. After Kostava's release a new period in the Georgian National-liberation and Human Rights movement began. In the same year a new underground journal of the Georgian Helsinki Group, - "Matiane" ("Chronicle"), was issued. Later (1989) also the bilingual Russian-English samizdat journal "Vestnik Gruzii / Georgian Messenger" was published.

In 1986-1990 the Georgian Helsinki Group (from September 1989 - Union) was coordinator of all important protest actions of the Human Rights and anti-imperialist movement. On the 9th of April, 1989, after the brutal dispursal of the peacefull action in Tbilisi, among other organizators Dr. Zviad Gamsakhurdia and Mr. Merab Kostava were arrested. They were kept during 40 days in the KGB-isolator.

Merab Kostava, who tried to maintain the integrity of national powers, died in the accident On October 13, 1989.

 
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