The situation is calm in Pankisi Gorge, where local Georgians and ethnic Kists had a conflict late on August 18. The incident occurred in the village of Duisi. The confrontation grew into a serious clash and even the interior minister arrived in the region to settle the tension. The negotiations lasted until late on Sunday night in Telavi city.
Physical altercation in Pakisi Gorge ends peacefully
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, August 20
Local Georgians assembled on the central highway to the Pankisi Gorge. They were holding clubs, blocking the highway objecting to the ethnic conflict in the region.
Additional police patrols were sent to the region to avoid further escalation of the situation. The participation of Minister Irakli Gharibashvili turned out to be fruitful. The problem was solved after hours of meetings and negotiations with both sides.
The source of the confrontation was interpreted differently by both sides. According to the witnesses, the conflict arose between some drunken young men that began with verbal abuse and escalated into a physical clash. After the fight, several of the men were admitted to the hospital. It is still unknown who the initiators of the conflict were, as each side had a different version of what transpired.
Murat Adamov, a local ethnic Kist resident of Duisi village said that Matani village youth were coming down from the mountain where they had had a feast. Passing by the mosque in the village Duisi they verbally abused the young Kist people standing in front of the mosque.
“They were drunk. They abused our religion. They were warned to stop misbehaving…the action became cause of the confrontation,” Muratov stated. The Duisi people also stated that brother of Akhmeta majoritararian deputy Zurab Zviadauri participated in the confrontation from the Matani side.
“The confrontation was practically settled when Spartak Zviadauri came and verbally abused the locals (brother of Zurab Zviadauri). This fact became the starting point of the physical clash,” Omar Tsustashvili said
Zviadauri denied his participatation in the confrontation, stating that he was with his family in Tbilisi at that time.
MP Zurab Zviadauri also denied his brother’s or relatives’ participation in the clash. He stressed in his interview with Kronika newspaper that such facts between the village residents took place in the past as well.
Matani is the first village in Pankisi Gorge. After the confrontation, locals of Matani blocked the road to Duisi and let no one in the direction of Duisi. They blamed the ethnic Kists in provoking the incident.
Inhabitant of Matani village, Ucha Kitesashvili stated that the Duisi people stopped the car where Matani village people were sitting.
“The reason was as if the music was too loud in their car and beat them up. There was no confrontation on religious bases,” Kitesashvili suggested.
The elderly people of Duisi village state that the reason behind the clash was insignificant and that the complication of the situation in Pankisi gorge might be in someone’s interest as well. They supported peaceful settlement of the problem.