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Abkhazians leaving Abkhazia

By Salome Modebadze
Wednesday, November 3
The meeting of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism Group ended without particular results in Gali on November 2. According to information released by Shota Utiashvili, Head of the Analytical Department of the Ministry of Interior Affairs of Georgia (MIA) discussions about the criminal situation in the occupied region and incidences of human rights violations were not fully covered during the meeting. Antti Turunen, representative of the UN Secretary General for Georgia and Hansjorg Habber, Head of the EU monitoring mission to Georgia as well as members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia and the Federal Security Service also attended the meeting in Gali.

“The main issues discussed at the meeting concerned incidences of human kidnapping in general, where the kidnappers demanded ransoms from the families concerned,” Utiashvili said explaining that the only specific topic which the sides managed to discuss was the case of Gari Jopua of Abkhazian origin. A Georgian citizen, Jopua disappeared from the administrative borders earlier in October and is still missing. The representatives of Sokhumi, according to Utiashvili also raised the issue of several detainees which the Georgian side promised to discuss and help if possible.

On the same day Interpressnews released information about moving Abkhazians (including women and children) from the occupied territories because of the hard living conditions and tension. People in Zugdidi provided the news agency with the information claiming that several Abkhazian families from Sokhumi, Gagra and Gudauta have settled in Zugdidi in Samegrelo region. Ethnic Abkhazians started moving to the Georgian-controlled territories from the end of last year so that 20 more IDP families are now living at the Lilo settlement near the capital Tbilisi.

Unfortunately The Messenger was unable to contact representatives of the Parliamentary Temporary Commission on Territorial Integrity Issues for the specific details. The Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees did not have any information on moving Abkhazians from the Russian-controlled territories but analyst in conflict issues Malkhaz Chemia discussing the trend of moving IDP families from the occupied regions told The Messenger that only loyal people aware of the violations within Russian-occupied Abkhazia could have made such a decisive step and moved to Georgia instead of Russia.

Analyst in Caucasus issues, Mamuka Areshidze spoke of the political reasons for the IDPs’ step. Abkhazian families leaving the region according to the analyst have been suffering from different problems such as their social state, confrontations and private disputes of which political orientations were the most decisive. “I know very well that two ethnic Abkhazians left the occupied region for political reasons a couple of days ago because they said it has become impossible to remain Abkhazian in the Russian occupied territories,” Areshidze said explaining that Russians, encouraged by the Abkhazian de-facto authorities have been acting like real occupiers in the region.