Georgia is republic in Eurasia to the east of the Black Sea, most of which is located in the South Caucasus, while a portion of the territory lies in the North Caucasus. It is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the south by Turkey and Armenia, and to the east by Azerbaijan. At the beginning of the 19th century, Georgia was annexed by the Russian Empire. After a brief period of independence following the Russian Revolution of 1917, Georgia was invaded by Bolshevik armies in 1921 and incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1922. It regained independence in 1991. In 2008, a limited military conflict broke out between Georgia and Russia over the territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Georgia was the home of both Joseph Stalin and Lavrenty Beria. As such, it derived more favor within the Soviet Union than it might have otherwise. After Stalin was killed in 1952 and Beria deposed, thus ending World War III in Europe, the Georgian people realized how precarious their position was. Georgian soldiers began to quietly desert the Red Army.
Georgia was part of the USSR. It was located at a more southerly latitude than the far larger Russia, and so Georgians were less accustomed to the cold than their Russian countrymen. Shota Rustaveli, a Georgian and the lone non-Russian cosmonaut on the Tsiolkovsky's mission to Minerva, was the most uncomfortable member of the Soviet expedition to that wintry world.
While not exactly disaffected, Georgians were less committed to the Soviet Union than Russians. Thus it might have come as no surprise that it was Rustaveli whose patriotic instincts were most easily overcome by feelings of fraternity for the cosmonauts' Americancounterparts. Most obviously, Rustaveli risked the ire of the KGB to betray the movements of Fralk's army and especially of the AK-74-toting Oleg Lopatin to the Americans.
After Vyacheslav Molotov succeeded Stalin upon the latter's death, he fancied that the USSR's Russian majority, having been ruled by Georgians for so long, would not gladly accept a second non-Russian ruler for a number of years. This was one reason that he did not fear Nikita Khruschev (a Ukrainian) as a political rival, for example.