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September 27 – A Tragic Day in Georgian History

By Messenger Staff
Friday, September 23
September 27, 1993 is a tragic day for modern Georgian history in the post Soviet era. This is the date when the capital of the Abkhaz autonomous republic, Sukhumi, fell in the face of overwhelming force from armed bands of Abkhaz separatists, North Caucasian mercenaries and Russian regular forces. The event considerably shaped the development of many events in Georgia since that day. There are still many questions not answered. Moreover, Russia later managed to increase its presence in the Georgian territories through occupying Tskhinvali region and all of Abkhazia in 2008.

This year the tragic event will be commemorated with the promised 'March of the Georgians' announced by the National Forum – one of the opposition parties. The military conflict unleashed in 1992-1993 until recently has not been assessed either politically or legally, neither under Shevardnadze nor since the Rose Revolution.

Today many analysts suggest that the bloody conflict in 1992-1993 in Abkhazia was a part of a Russian-masterminded bigger plot. The ethnic conflict was inspired and triggered by Russia and finally used to restore influence over Georgia and keep the country's orientation looking north.

The suspicion for this 'plot' is based on the fact that Georgia was gripped by internal confrontation and so Russian influence was very strong; there were many Russian agents among the ruling figures of the time. With Abkhazia lost and Shevardnadze threatened by civil war across the rest of the country, Georgia agreed to join the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) – a post-Soviet amalgamation. Through this step the positions of the ministers of defense, interior affairs and security were given to Russia-endorsed persons. Georgia agreed to announce that Russia should be the mediator in the settlement of the conflict in Abkhazia. Tbilisi also agreed on the deployment of Russian so-called peace keeping forces on Georgian territory.

However in reality Russia was not neutral - it was an essential part of the conflict, it aspired to it and was one of the main participants. The eventual reoccupation of Georgia’s breakaway territories in 2008 was grounded, indeed was the culmination of, the tumultuous events 15 years previously in Abkhazia.

If one pays attention to the public appearances of the current leadership, currently they will notice that the authorities do not like to mention the Abkhaz issue. Only rhetoric is left now and the survival kit for the ruling administration has become the formula of strategic patience - a vague term meaning everything and nothing. While the Georgians’ commemorate defeat and casualties, the Abkhaz and Russian celebrate.

There are some voices in Abkhazia suggesting that most of the population are not very happy with Russia’s presence in Abkhazia and foresee the deterioration of the demographic situation there and the attempts of Moscow to control the Abkhaz economy. However, it is wrong to think that Abkhazians will then be touched by pro-Georgian sentiments. It is much too early for that.