17 Nov 35 years ago in Tbilisi two families were celebrating the wedding of the children — Tinatin and Gega. This event could be only in the history of this family, if the bride and groom with five buddies got jacked the next day the plane. All seven belonged to the so-called Golden youth of Georgia, had wealthy parents and could afford to go abroad and ask for asylum there. What they lacked? A question subsequently arise for companies, investigation, hostages from the plane.
The couple Tinatin and Gega. Still from the film “Bandits,” directed by Zaza, Rusadze
Seven friends, children of wealthy parents, planned to hijack a plane to escape from the Soviet Union to the West — first in Turkey.
From the memoirs of a friend of Gega Kobakhidze Kakha Tolordava: “We were to fly to Moscow for ice cream and back that evening. According to him, then they did everything they could to have fun, have a good time. So they felt that live .
Seven friends and a priest
A group of hijackers included:
Joseph Tsereteli, 25 years, the artist Studio “Georgia-film”, the son of a member of the Academy of Sciences of the Georgian SSR, Professor of the Tbilisi state University;
Joseph Tsereteli. Still from the film “Bandits,” directed by Zaza, Rusadze
Two brothers, Kakha and Paata Iverieli, 26 and 30 years. Both doctors graduated from the Moscow peoples ‘ friendship University named after Patrice Lumumba. Father — Professor, head of Department of Institute of improvement of doctors;
Kakha Iverieli. Still from the film “Bandits,” directed by Zaza, Rusadze
Paata Iverieli. Still from the film “Bandits,” directed by Zaza, Rusadze
Gega Kobakhidze, 21. The son of film Director Mikheil Kobakhidze and actress, was actor of the film Studio “Georgia-film”. Starred in the film by Tengiz Abuladze “Repentance” (the role of Tornike Aravidze), after the hijacking, the film was reshot with another actor;
Gega Kobakhidze. Still from the film “Bandits,” directed by Zaza, Rusadze
Tinatin Petviashvili, 19 years old, student of architectural faculty of the Academy of arts. The girl’s parents were divorced;
Tinatin Petviashvili. Still from the film “Bandits,” directed by Zaza, Rusadze
David Mikaberidze, 25 years, student of Tbilisi Academy of arts. Father — managing construction trust “Intourist”;
David Mikaberidze. Still from the film “Bandits,” directed by Zaza, Rusadze
Gregory Tabidze, 32. He never worked, was a drug addict, had three previous convictions (robbery, theft, hooliganism). His mother worked as a teacher and his father a Director of the project Bureau of Moskomprivatbanka. By the way, many years later in the movie “Hostage” directed by Rezo Gigineishvili, which was released in 2017, the son of Gregory George Tabidze has played his father.
Gregory Str. Still from the film “Bandits,” directed by Zaza, Rusadze
As explained by the hijackers, in Georgia the money and the names of their parents had the weight, left the border and asking for political asylum there, they would have none. So they wanted to stand the fighters against the Soviet regime.
At the trial one of the accused on the question of why not emigrated, buying tickets and asking for asylum, said:
“If we in this way had escaped abroad, we would have taken for ordinary immigrants. What are our names, influence and money of our parents over there? That’s when father and son Brazinskas flew away with the noise, the shooting, the stewardess Nadia Kurchenko was killed, so they are there as honorary academicians adopted, slaves of conscience called, from Turkey to USA crossing. Than we are worse?..“
They relied on the example of the first Soviet hijacker of Pranas Brazinskas. The one armed with a rifle gun and a grenade in 1970, hijacked a plane An-24, following the course of the Batumi — Sukhumi. With him was 15-year-old son. The aircraft landed in Turkey. Brazinskas was not given to the Soviet authorities, he spent two years in prison, and later went to the USA where he lived until the early 2000s. In 2002, Brazinskas killed his own son.
The investigation considered that the mastermind of the hijackers became a priest Teimuraz Chikhladze (33), the Church which they attended. Supposedly he inspired the young people to the idea of escape with a weapon in his hands.
Teimuraz Chikhladze. Still from the film “Bandits,” directed by Zaza, Rusadze
However, the priest was not in the plane, the hostage-taking he was not involved. According to one version, the father Teimuraz at some point have the opportunity to travel abroad on the Church line. It did not involve in the plan, although initially he had to carry under the cassock weapons on Board the aircraft.
In the documentary film “Bandits” Zaza, Rusadze Tinatin remembered that if the father Teimuraz and had an influence on the guys, it was a long time ago: “They said he was a little crazy, took it seriously. They were not going to include it in the plan.“
Honeymoon, hostage-taking victims
On the second day of the wedding, when all the relatives were still walking, the couple went on a wedding trip to Leningrad. The honeymoon with them gathered Joseph Tsereteli, brothers Iverieli, Davit Mikaberidze, Gregory Tabidze, Anna Meliva and Eugene Shalutashvili (girls were not participating in the plan of the invaders, they thought that they were going to have fun).
The wedding of Irakli Charkviani, a classmate and a childhood friend of the Gega Kobakhidze, recalls:
“Everything was very realistic, it was about love. Had a lot of guests, a wide table. We danced and had fun, and two days later learned that he and a couple of guys hijacked a plane“.
Mom Gega Natela Machavariani:
“Perhaps I had a premonition, but I realized this too late. I was very nervous about the wedding. He didn’t want a big celebration. <…> When he and others went out of the house, after 10-15 minutes I heard a knock at the window. It was the priest. I’ve met him before, so was not surprised. He said, “are They gone?” I did not understand then and wondered why he asked about it.“
To hijack prepared thoroughly acquired the weapons (2 of TT pistol, 2 gun system Pistol and 2 hand grenades, however, they were training with military fuses, but the hijackers didn’t know about it), watched at a private screening of the film directed by Vladimir Zlatoustovsky “Alarm” (it’s not meant for films, it was removed as a benefit for the personnel “Aeroflot” in case of theft), fire studied in the country, Kakabidze.
The whole company got on Board the Tu-134 on the SU-6833 Tbilisi — Batumi — Kiev — Leningrad (initially they were supposed to fly the Yak-40, but two flights combined). All on Board were 50 passengers and 7 crew members.
No problem, the company carried on Board weapons. They do not inspect before flight. The company has taken care in advance, acquainted with interchangeable duty of the international sector of the airport Anna, Varsimashvili. She was among the guests at the wedding, and there she was persuaded to make a gift to the newlyweds — miss part of the company without examination (according to another version, one of the guys cared for, Varsimashvili). And so it happened. Tabidze and brothers Iverieli passed through the common room.
Tinatin Petviashvili: “I was not afraid until, before we left the house. It was weird. As if something was holding us, but at the same time, some force pushing in the direction of the plane.“
The plane took off at 15.43.
The crew was: commander of Ahmetler, Gardapkhadze, the co-pilot Stanislav Gabaraev (in this flight it was introduced as a crew commander), Navigator Vladimir Gasoyan, mechanic Anzor chadia, the inspectors of Georgian civil aviation authority Zaven Samarthan, flight attendants Valentina Krutikova and Irina Khimich.
The hijackers knew that the plane will make a stop in Batumi, and chose this time to start of operation, considering this place is the closest to the Soviet-Turkish border. But they did not know that the plane from-for a strong lateral wind turned around and is flying to Tbilisi.
The seizure started at 16.13when the plane began to descend. Even before the hijackers behaved quite noisy, drank, watered the passengers. First, the thieves decided to disarm those who, in their opinion, was the representative of the aviation security service. They smashed his head with a bottle to the passenger Solomonia and shot him — the man died. Severe injuries to the Navigator of the Georgian CAA Plotko (he was in a plane form and flew on holiday) and Gvalia (none of these passengers were not related to security). The hijackers stunned the flight attendants.
The stewardess Valentina Krutikova struck his head. Tsereteli, Tabidze and Kakha Iverieli forced her, at gunpoint, to ask the pilots to open the cockpit door. The pilots responded to the knock stewardess and opened the door. Bursting into the cockpit, the hijackers threatened the pilots with weapons and demand to fly to Turkey. The pilots tried to protest, then Tabidze killed the mechanic Anzor CEDIA and seriously wounded a reviewer Zaven Samartano. The hijackers did not notice Galiana Navigator, who sat behind the curtain. He returned fire (some members of the crew for security purposes, given a weapon). He killed Tabidze and wounded Tsereteli.
From the memoirs Galiana:
“In Tbilisi the squad I flew, closing the curtain from the crew. What, by the way, colleagues were offended. How could I explain to them: so it’s easier for me to focus. But in the end it was thanks to the habit of the bandits I did not notice at first“.
The hijackers retreated to the shooting joined the crew that Ahmetler, Gardapkhadze. At this time the co-pilot Stanislav Gabaraev began to perform on a cruise ship aerobatics, so hoping to knock the hijackers off their feet, swinging them at the back of the cabin to batten down the cabin and to report the incident to the ground. He did it, it turned out that the plane was experiencing maximum load, but survived.
All this time the commander of the crew were shot to not let the hijacker to the cockpit, the Navigator Hasaan dragged into the cabin of the wounded of the testing Samartano, and the flight attendant Krutikov, waking (she was unconscious), helped pull the corpse Tabidze, to the pilots were able to close the cabin. The girl remained in the cabin.
The hijackers were still shooting at the cockpit door, but open it has failed. Then they killed one passenger, and several wounded, including the girls. According to eyewitnesses, the plane seized, the young people greatly abused the flight attendants: women beaten on the head, dragged by the hair.
From the memoirs of the Navigator of Vladimir Gasoyan (from the book of Michael Boltunova “alpha” — a top-secret unit of the KGB”):
“When Currencies Krutikova found dead, the hair yanked. Covered in blood, no hair, lay. And jireh Khimich the head with a pistol shot. These are the “freedom fighters”. When we had sat down, heard the screams of the flight attendants — the bandits mocked them”.
Over the intercom again, the hijackers demanded to fly to Turkey or they’ll blow up the plane. The pilots said “Good”, but landed the plane in Tbilisi, hoping that at twilight the invaders will not realize that it is still in Georgia. The plane landed at Tbilisi airport at 17.20.
Teimuraz Chikhladze. Still from the film “Bandits,” directed by Zaza, Rusadze
On the ground the plan was entered “Alarm”, the plane was cordoned off by the military. The liner was still braking on the runway, when the flight attendant Khimich opened the hatch and jumped out of it. It was shot, she was injured during the fall, then spent several months in the hospital and on all life remained the invalid. Her partner Valentina Krutikova did not have time to jump out of a plane, she was shot. In the same way tried to leave the plane and one of the passengers. It opened fire, the military, and got on the plane. Miraculously all survived.
From the memoirs of passenger Suliko Beridze:
“The plane touched the ground, but still did not stop, started shooting, and we thought we are going to explode. We then realized that the shot on the outside.”
With the hijackers began to negotiate, but they were adamant. Demanded refueling and departure for the border, threatened to kill the hostages. At the airport, gathered all the power elite, including arrived and the first Secretary of the Communist party of Georgia Eduard Shevardnadze. Hoping to influence young people in the airport and called their parents. But it had no effect, the hijackers did not want to communicate with their parents, and only threatened to blow up the plane.
From my mother’s memories of Gega, Kakabidze of Natela Machavariani:
“It was around 8 PM. The phone rang, and on the other end of the phone said, “Sorry, but you have to come to the airport”. I asked what happened, I said, “Something involving your son. Please come.” When we arrived at the airport, we saw all the government on the second floor. I heard a scream Shevardnadze: “Who gave the order to shoot?” I didn’t know what happened.
“On the wall in his room, he (Gega) have drawn the American flag, there was a photo of Reagan (Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States) and several texts in English. We talked about the same things over and over again: the criticism of the system, wicked regime. Those who received some information, could read between the lines, knew what went wrong in this country. And he of course said, “What a terrible country it is, mother!” But that he wanted to go and live somewhere else… He never mentioned any of this to me.”
A decision was made about the assault. In Tbilisi there arrived the staff of group “A” of the KGB, commander — major-General Gennady Zaitsev. Led the storming of the major Mikhail Golovatov. The assault began at 6.55 on November 19. By the time the pilots left the cockpit through the window. They were not able to help get the wounded Samartano, he died in a few hours.
From the memoirs of Vitaly Demidkina, the employee of group “A”:
“At the airport we were given to practice on the spare aircraft. After all the excitement was — until now we were working on the training machines. <…> On command “attack!” we began to open the cockpit door, but it wouldn’t budge. It turns out, was covered with corpses.
<…> Here, in the corridor that separates the cockpit door from the cabin, were two terrorists, a man of powerful physique, rising commercials under meter ninety, and a woman. Both with pistols. Hares subtle movements immediately put them on the floor, face down, and ran. <…> In the second cabin had already been Golovatov with the guys. When we ran in, all the chairs reclined, half sitting, with their hands up. One of them a hostage, who is a terrorist — not very understand. <…> Then helped the passengers: who to dress, who to collect the scattered papers and documents. Many could not do, in shock from fear.
The assault lasted less than 10 minutes and there were no casualties. One of the hijackers — David Mikaberidze, when they realized that their plan failed, and shot himself.
From the memoirs Tinatin Petviashvili about what happened after the assault:
“I was scared. What can we expect? Why are we here? Yesterday was fine, and now some kind of nightmare. It was difficult to understand and believe. Seems that there is no escape and there’s nothing you can do with this. The first day at the police station I denied it, pretended not to know about the theft. But the next day I told them everything. All my courage was gone. We were not ready for it. We had no plan in case something goes wrong. For us there was no other way.”
As a result of theft , 7 people were killed: mechanic CEDIA checking, Sharbatyan, Krutikov, stewardess, 2 passengers and the hijackers Tabidze and Mikaberidze, more than 10 people were injured, including the crew commander and the second pilot, the plane took off, as it took heavy damage.
The court and the unexpected sentences
The investigation lasted 9 months, and the court — two weeks. On the dock was Gega Kobakhidze, Tinatin Petviashvili, brothers Iverieli, the priest Teimuraz Chikhladze. Joseph Tsereteli died during the investigation under mysterious circumstances. A suspect in the case was held and Anna Varsimashvili, which helped the hijackers to Board the plane without inspection the airport (she got probation in the end).
The statement of the witness in court:
“You had everything. There you have had? How do you now feel about the West? Now you are even sure of its superiority to the Soviet system? Where did you study? What can you say?”
“They threatened the woman to kill her baby. They said, “You will drink his blood and we eat his flesh””.
Father Teimuraz during the hearing took the blame. As the remembered as they were in shock and didn’t understand why he does that. The daughter of a priest ECA assumed that my father had such a strategy: if you take the blame, it may help to reduce the term for members of the capture. He thought that he can extend and he will go to jail for 5-10 years, but it can help to save the lives of the participants of the theft.
From the memoirs Tinatin Petviashvili:
“It sounds absurd, but then I was looking forward to every day in court. I no longer felt embarrassed, used. I just wanted to see guys”.
In his last word Tinatin Petviashvili said: “of Course, I feel guilty. Nobody paints to be the culprit. There is nothing to be proud of. Of course, I’m sorry about that.”
Gega Kobakhidze did not apologize in the last word: “I do not think I need to apologize, I can’t, I have no right. Now this is gonna sound wrong and offensive if I say that I’m sorry. How can I apologize?”
13 August 1984, all of the hijackers except the girl, was sentenced to death. Not helped by a petition for clemency. For many years family didn’t know anything about what happens to those sentenced to capital punishment by the hijackers, they were looking for them in prisons, looking for the grave. All in vain.
Sentencing in the case. A scene from the movie “Bandits”.