Upper Abkhazia (Georgian: ზემო აფხაზეთი, Zemo Apkhazeti; Abkhaz: Аҧсны хыхьтəи , Apsny khykh'twi) is an official Georgian name for a mountainous district in northeastern Abkhazia, a breakaway republic, which is internationally recognized as an autonomous republic within Georgia. It is currently the only part of Abkhazia controlled by the central Georgian authorities and the de jure government of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia. The village of Chkhalta is an administrative center of Upper Abkhazia.
Geographically, Upper Abkhazia comprises the upper Kodori Valley, the Chkhalta Ridge, and the Marukhi Pass on the border with the Russian Federation. Populated by some 2,000 people, chiefly ethnic Georgians (Svans), the area occupies approximately 17 percent of Abkhazia’s territory and is of high strategic importance due to its proximity to the Abkhaz-held capital of Sukhumi, and other important cities in the region.
The term Upper Abkhazia has been largely used by the Georgian officials and media since the successful July 2006 operation of Georgian forces in the Kodori Valley which established firmer Georgian presence in the region. Prior to that, the Georgian government had exercised a very loose control over Kodori even though the Abkhaz separatist forces had never been able to penetrate the valley, and the area had largely been run, since 1994, by the local warlord Emzar Kvitsiani who was dislodged in the abovementioned Georgian police operation.
On September 27, 2006, on the 13th anniversary of the fall of Sukhumi to the Abkhaz rebels and their allies from the Northern Caucasus (1993) the Kodori region and the adjacent pieces of land governed by Georgia were officially renamed into Upper Abkhazia and declared as a "temporary administrative center" of Abkhazia and the headquarters of the de jure Abkhazian government. In spite of Abkhaz and Russian protests, a new office of the de jure government was inaugurated, on the same day, by a high ranking delegation from Georgia's capital Tbilisi, including President Mikheil Saakashvili and the Catholicos Patriarch Ilia II.
The area is currently undergoing a major rehabilitation program, including the reconstruction of infrastructure and reinforcement of security services. The Central Election Commission of Georgia has recently established the constituency in Upper Abkhazia, allowing the population of the area, for the first time in the recent history of Georgia, take part in the Georgian local elections, 2006.
Monday, December 3, 2007
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Left: Georgian survivors of the war are studying photographs of corpses, hoping to discover (the fate of) a loved-one.In spring 1992, especially in June-July, acts of armed aggression and attacks got systematic character on highways and railways of Georgia. These attacks caused serious economic damages to the country. Criminal bands robbed trains and seized Georgian and other countries’ goods. Georgian government had no choice but to defend the highways and railways by the national army in order to secure safe travel of goods. As Autonomous Republic of Abkhazeti was the main area of the criminal bands action, on August 1992 Georgian central leadership decided to bring additional troops into Abkhazeti. This decision had been preliminarily submitted to the region leaders’ approval. It was personally coordinated with Chairman of Supreme Council Vladislav Ardzinba. The movement of the Georgian Army within the Georgian territory became a reason for starting the conflict. Here is what was written on this subject by Chervonaya Svetlana – Ph.D., leading specialist of Institute of Technology and Anthropology of Academy of Sciences of Russia (see the bibliography):
"Shevardnadze did not start this war. By noon of the 14th of August 1992, «the Georgian party» had not fired a shot, none Georgian soldier had been brought into Sokhumi yet, and nothing was threatening the peace in Abkhazian towns and villages. Vladislav Ardzinba declared this war on Georgia in his radio speech. He drew the Abkhazian people into the heinous crime. Vladislav Ardzinba announced total, forced «general mobilization» (every man from 18 to 45). He provided the soldiers with arms seized or stolen from Russian arsenal, and promoted unlawful actions of the Abkhazian armed troops in Abkhazian towns, villages, and roads (the "enemy" had not even reached this territory). The Abkhazian separatists searched for everything they considered worthy, terrorized and killed Georgian peaceful inhabitants. Abkhazian snipers opened fire to people being in Sokhumi sanatorium. They shot scores of Russian holidaymakers on the beach of the air defense forces’ and other sanatoriums. These were the crimes that had to be stopped. The criminals must answer for these deeds. The political purposes of the organizers of these crimes are known: division of Georgia, drawing Russia into a war, Soviet-communist revenge and restoring the Soviet Union."
That is how the war broke out.
"...When they [Abkhaz] entered Gagra, I saw Shamyl Basaev's battalion. I have never seen such a horror. They were raping and killing everyone who was captured and dragged from their homes. The Abkhaz commander Arshba raped a 14 year old girl and later gave an order to execute her. For the whole day I only could hear the screams and cries of the people who were brutally tortured. On the next day, I witnessed the mass execution of people on the stadium. They installed machine guns and mortars on the top and placed people right on the field. It took a couple of hours to kill everybody..."
Georgian government repeatedly appealed to the UN, CSCE, and other international organizations to intervene, while at the same time refusing offers of Russian military assistance. Several UN Security Council resolutions and decisions failed to lead to a de-escalation of the conflict. On July 27, 1993, a Russian-brokered trilateral agreement on a cease-fire and principles for the solution of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict was signed. Complete demilitarization of the region, supervised by Russia, was to follow the separation of the military forces of the two sides. However, the UN failed to implement its long-sought decision to send a large group of military observers to Abkhazeti. Furthermore, the Russian military observers insisted that Georgians did not participate in the supervision of the withdrawal of heavy weaponry.
"...When the Abkhaz entered my house, they took me and my seven year old son outside. After forcing us to kneel, they took my son and shot him right in front of me. After they grabbed me by hair and took me to the nearby well. An Abkhaz soldier forced me to look down that well; there I saw three younger men and couple of elderly women who were standing soaked in water. They were screaming and crying while the Abkhaz were dumping dead corpses on them. Afterwards, they threw a grenade there and placed more people inside. I was forced again to kneel in front of the dead corpses. One of the soldiers took his knife and took the eye out from one of the dead near me. Then he started to rub my lips and face with that decapitated eye. I could not take it any longer and fainted. They left me there in a pile of corpses..."
At the end of August 1993, S. Shoigu, chairman of the Russian Emergency State Committee, declared on Russian television that demilitarization had reached a stage at which resumption of the war would be impossible. Large numbers of hopeful refugees returned to their ruined homes and began rebuilding. Then on September 17, a surprise attack by Abkhazian tanks and artillery, supported by their Russian North Caucasian and Cossack allies, forced the remaining disarmed Georgian troops, together with tens of thousands of civilians, to flee in panic. Many of these victims later starved or froze to death in the Svaneti mountains. Shevardnadze himself, who was besieged along with the defenders of Sokhumi, had a narrow escape. The sudden clandestine Abkhazian rearmament remains a mystery only for the extremely naive.
"...The Abkhaz separatists killed people of other nationalities as well, including those who tried to protect Georgians. After the city was seized, the streets were covered with bodies. Separatists destroyed the Baramidze, Chkhetia, Baramia, Gvazava, Dzidziguri, Absandze, Shonia, and Kutsia families, as well as many others..."
The war ended in late September 1993 with Abkhazeti’s virtual secession from Georgia through a radical ethnic cleansing of its multi-ethnic population and the destruction of its cities, including Sokhumi.Just at the beginning of the war adherents of Vladislav Ardzinba started killing, tormenting, raping, and robbing the inhabitants of Georgian nationality. At first Georgians of the following towns and villages experienced the sadism of the separatists: Gagra and Gudauta, Akhaladze, Bzipi, Ipnari, Otkhara, Akhali Sopeli, Eshera, Kochara, Ketevani, Labra, Kvitouli, Kindgi, etc. Ugrekhelidze, an inhabitant of the village Eshera, was forced to dig a hole of his own height, then he was pulled out his teeth and nails, and buried alive. They left his hand above the ground (the symbol of the Abkhazian banner.) Another Georgian was captured, cut his veins. Then the Abkhazian separatists poured his blood into glasses and drank it. After this they let him go to Sokhumi to tell everybody how Abkhazians drank Georgian blood. The Abkhazian butchers captured sisters – Eka Jvania (17 years old) and Marina Jvania (14 years old), Leila Samushia and others in village Pshadi. They undressed them in front of their parents and neighbors, and raped them. After this the Abkhazian butchers executed all of them by shooting. The Abkhazian "liberators" did not spare workers of education system. They execute by shooting 78 teachers and lecturers. For instance, a teacher Bichiko Ekimiani, Armenian, was executed by shooting together with his family in his own house; a teacher of a secondary school at village Kochaki, Bajiko Vekua firstly raped, then tormented and killed; Bichiko Baramia – an assistant professor of Abkhazian University, diseased and disabled man was executed by shooting together with his wife; Shota Jgabadze – professor was executed by shooting when he was operating a wounded patient. It’s just a drop in the ocean of separatists violence. 30000 innocent people were killed in Abkhazian War in 1992-1993.
"...They captured a young girl. She was hiding in the bushes near the house where they killed her parents. She was raped several times. One of the soldiers killed her and mutilated her. She was cut in half. Near her body they left a message: as this corpse will never be as one piece, Abkhazia and Georgia will never be united either..."
The war was over in September 1993, by actual separation of Abkhazeti From Georgia, by genocide of Georgian population, by destroying towns. As a result of the war 200000 people were forced to leave their own places of residence. The refugees moved to various regions of Georgia.In spite of Russian repeated recognition of Georgian territorial integrity, since the beginning of militant actions representatives of Russian Federation officials, several ministries, and departments, various political parties and organizations have been supported the separatists with political, military, economical, financial and moral aid. Even before the conflict, on March 1992, Autonomous Republic of Abkhazeti without submission of Georgian government approval began making economic agreements with Russian Federation. In early March V. Ardzinba applied to B. Eltsin for economical aid. On March 19, 1992 B.Eltsin ordered Krasnodar and Stavropol Administration leaders to make direct trade-economic agreements with Abkhazeti. The orders were fulfilled during the next three months.