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Commemorating the Fall of Sokhumi

By Salome Modebadze
Friday, September 28
Nineteen years have passed since Abkhaz troops captured Sokhumi in September 1993. The fall of Abkhazia's largest city was the most dramatic chapter of a war that started in August 1992 and left thousands dead and over 200,000 people displaced from their homes. Since then, Abkhazia has been under the de facto control of the Russian Federation.

Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili went to the Memorial of Heroes late on Wednesday night to commemorate the fallen heroes. In his public speech he referred to the recent prison scandal and political problems with Russia. He said certain people with political ambitions have not said a single word about Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, a veiled reference to Georgian Dream leader Bidzina Ivanishvili.

The PM said those who want to come to power through deception and bribery insult the memory of those who died for Georgia’s independence. He also stated that these same people want to destroy all the achievements of the ruling United National Movement (UNM) and make Georgia Russia’s poor “empire.”

He said Georgia is facing a serious choice today because certain politicians are trying to return criminals to Georgia's public life. Merabishvili referred to the recent audio recordings used as “compromising material” against Georgian Dream coalition members. Georgian Dream responded that the audio recordings are fabrications created by the current government.

Gia Karkarashvili, former Defense Minister of Georgia said the current government came to the Heroes Memorial late at night to avoid meeting with “mourning mothers.” He said on the anniversary of the tragic day when Sokhumi fell the government should stand with the families of the heroes and encourage them.

Chairman of the Abkhazian government Giorgi Baramia paid his respects towards the fallen heroes. He said it is the responsibility of every Georgian to achieve Georgia’s unity. But Londer Tsaava the former chairman of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia said the current administration has not made any serious statements about the restoration of Georgia’s territorial unity which he said has caused “great despair” among Georgian society in the years since 1993.

Abkhazian War veteran Nino Popkhadze said government officials have never visited the mothers who have lost their children during the war and they have no information about their whereabouts.

Popkhadze also denounced Georgian soldiers’ participation in international missions. “Why should Georgians die in Iraq? Return Abkhazia and Ossetia to us in a peaceful way.” Popkhadze said.

In his special sermon on Thursday Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II said when he was the metropolitan of Abkhazia for 11 years Georgians and Abkhazians treated each other with respect.