Abkhazian separatism was born in labyrinths of the KGB. Part V
14/03/2011 15:21
Levan Kiknadze
Experts' Club

(See parts I, II, III, IV)

The Club of Experts described extremely difficult public and political situation that was in Abkhazia prior to the beginning of the war actions in its previous publication "Abkhazian separatism was born in labyrinths of the KGB (Part IV)". The situation was even more aggravated by illegal decisions of the Supreme Council of Abkhazia (Abkhazian wing) and its presidium that were under the dictate of Ardzinba that were mainly directed at detaching Abkhazia from the juridical space of Georgia. Any attempts of Zviad Gamsakhurdia to regulate the situation were fritless.

After the overthrow of the Zviad Gamsakhurdia government active supporters of Zviad Gamsakhurdia that were expelled from Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Zugdidi and other regions of Georgia poured into Abkhazia which never lacked supporters of the first president. On the other hand, Russian security services were conducting undermining activities in Abkhazian and Russian-language population. Abkhazian Aidgilara, as well as Armenian and Russian organizations Krunk and Slavyansky Dom respectively were especially known for their anti-Georgian sentiments and were adding fuel to the fire. All of them were created and governed by Russian security services (even before heads of these organizations were listed on operational records of the security services for fomentation of separatism in the population).

At the same time North Caucasian "confederates" were occupying resort facilities of Gagra, Gudauta, Sukhumi and others. Chechen militants were also stationed on the Eshera base. Back in the spring of 1991, at the request of Ardzinba and direct assistance and support of Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Soviet Union Anatoly Lukyanov the 50th special Airborne Division of the Staff of Generals of the Russian Defence Ministry was redeployed in the Bombora aerodrome. Resort facilities such as MBO, PVO as well as special purpose facilities lighthouse, laboratory of Eshera, tourist site that were situated in Sukhumi and were still subordinated to the Russian Defence Ministry were strengthened by armoured vehicles, armament and manpower. And this was done at the pretext of necessity of additional defence measures because of special circumstances in the republic. Among the personnel there were a lot of officers of special departments of GRU and FSB.

Vladyslav Ardzinba and its circle understood well that discord of the Georgian national forces were in their interests. And it should be noted that they used to manage to aggravate the situation in this direction. And the situation was becoming highly expolsive. Representatives of the Gamsakhurdia government were holding rallies in the centre of Sukhumi on the daily basis. Speakers at the rallies demanded from local Georgian authorities not to obey to the Military Council that itself practically further aggravated already existing confrontation between Georgians and Abkhazians in offices and enterprises. And this added to division of the personnel along the ethnic lines. Naturally all this was playing in the hands of the separatists. Existing situation clearly threatened the territorial integrity of Georgia and made it easy for Russian security services to achieve their goal. An attempt of Eduard Shevardnadze to show a united front against unrestrained actions of the separatists did not have a desirable effect. The reason for this was that those antagonisms, that existed, were impossible to overcome. They were, on one hand, between supporters of Shevardnadze and Gamsakhurdia and, on the other hand, between those Georgian leaders of Abkhazia who made a fight for posts as an end in itself and who were not paying any attention as to how Ardzinba was using confrontation between Georgians and simultaneously was usurping the power.

The presidium of the Ardzinba Supreme Council declared those members of the National Guard that were expelled from Tbilisi and who accumulated in Abkhazia in large numbers as illegal armed formations. So called internal troops of Abkhazia were charged with disarmament and fight against them. And confrontation between those two forces was taking quite dangerous forms. All this had negative effects on criminogenic situation. Efforts of law enforcers had no desirable effects. Facts of robbery, attack, kidnapping of holding high-rank officials as hostages were frequent. Explosions carried out by gangs on the Achigvara-Gali, Tamishi-Ochamchire, Adziuzhba-Tamishi Railway stages were blamed on supporters of Gamsakhurdia. Besides, the latters were also blamed for attacks on Railway stations in Gagra, Bzip, Gantiadi, Gudauta, Eshera, Sukhumi, Dranda, Ochamchire, Achigvara and Gali. High voltage electric cables on the railway were robbed. All this was causing delays in movement of both passenger and cargo trains. Cargo carriages that were stuck in stations were also robbed.

In the existing grave situation the Ardzinba regime was very passive. It is true that there were discussions about the existing situation on various levels of the government but no one was in a hurry to take active steps in the direction of stabilization of the situation. Decisions that were made remained just on a paper. A view that Ardzinba and his circle benefited from the aggravation of the situation was gaining ground.

As to the difficult situation regarding the railway at the initiative of the Information and Intelligence Service (former security service of Abkhazia) a complex plan of defence of the Abkhazian section of the railway was drawn up. Together with security service the ministry of internal affairs were to be also involved in it. Divisions of district security services were in charge of the coordination of measures in places while overall management was carried out by the information and intelligence service of the security service. Apart from organisational issues the plan described in details all railway stages, bridges and tunnels that were to be subject to protection. Necessary manpowered and armament was calculated. In this situation necessary actions would only be possible after joint, cooperated actions. If Tbilisi were to help us, but only sensibly and in the format of the plan, and with low expenses crimonogenic situation would have improved significantly, robbery of electric cables and cargo carriages on the railway would have stopped. The above-mentioned plan was introduced to Ardzinba by head of the security service of the time Avtandil Ioseliani. Ardzinba charged deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers of Abkhazia Kapba with studying the issue and making decision in cooperation with us.

At the special meeting that was attended by me, as Ioseliani's deputy (At the time Ioseliani was in Tbilisi), and Minister of Internal Affairs of Abkhazia General Lominadze, the plan was approved by Enver Kapba. But the plan was not destined to be fulfilled as establishment of order was not in the interests of Ardzinba. It is impossible to understand reasons but neither Lomindze made great efforts to implement that plan. The fact is that efforts of security service ended without results. Despite this, Ioseliani spared no efforts and visited Tbilisi many times to solve this extremely important issue. But everything was in vain. Once he even said to me: "Levan, Tbilisi has no time for us. If we do not take care of Abkhazia everything will end much worse than anyone can imagine". Everyone was engaged in political clashes and nobody had time for such vital for the country problems as stopping lawlessness of criminals and protection of railway communications. To say more, firm request to take strict measures for the protection of the railway on the place, was perceived as wrong-timed and as a caprice.

Later it was exactly the reason of protection of the railway that armed formations of Tengiz Kitovani entered Abkhazia, a decision which was made by the Military Council and which was strongly opposed by Avtandil Ioseliani. This opposition was caused by knowledge what could have followed arrival of although very patriotic but untrained and devoid of all military discipline Georgian armed forces into Abkhazia. It was clearly a well-planned provocation against Georgia but due to the existing situation it was impossible to prevent it. Notwithstanding the fact that Georgian authorities had a full right to make decisions about movement of armed forces around its territory they were still obliged to calculate all possible complications in Abkhazia. All the more that from operational data provided by us it was clear that Ardzinba did not intend to make concessions and movement of Georgian armed forces would give him a pretext for fomentation of a fratricidal war.

Everyone believes that August of 1992 was the beginning of the tragedy in Abkhazia but in the spring of the same year there already were almost all prerequisites that an armed confrontation between Georgians and Abkhazians was to become inevitable.

Then head of the Abkhazian security services Avtandil Ioseliani knew this better than anyone. He saw this and used to take very unpopular for that time decisions. What is more important, and despite the pressure of local Georgian leaders he managed and preserved a unified core of the security service. Although Ardzinba tried to form an alternative security service that was created under the name of state protection service subordinated to the Supreme Council of Abkhazia but he could not manage to win any of valuable workers over, just several backward workers. First of all, it was due to the fact that no one in the security committee of Abkhazia of the time dared to get openly involved in political processes on either side as everyone saw how Avtandil Ioseliani himself was trying to avert a bloody confrontation. No matter whether some like it or not, we should also note that the following was true: Despite a mixed attitude towards us (which unfortunately continues until today) it was us who controlled better than any one else processes that were going on in various layers of the society. The only difference was that unfortunately we did not have leverage for influence. I say unfortunately because we were the information service and those who could have reacted they either did not believe our information or, worse, did not have time for it. This happened even when the Abkhazian University became divided. We can say it with some assurance that that was a day when a bridge was broken between Georgians and Abkhazians as this was the first armed confrontation that was organized by the Abkhazian side and for which Abkhazians were very well organized.

To this day neither party mentions real reasons for the tragedy in Sukhumi that happened on July 15-16th, 1989 a victim of which, along with other Georgian youths, became a prominent leader of the nationalist movement Vova Vekua. Nobody mentions because personal, mercantile interests prevailed over national ones in the actions of some leaders of both Georgian and Abkhazian part of the university. Unfortunately, provocative appeals of Georgian leaders of secession were supported by a significant part of professors and student body - although, despite this, no one can doubt even for an iota
their patriotism and love for their people. But at the time refusal to support this kind of appeal was seen in the Georgian society as a betrayal. therefore many often refrained from expressing a reasonable opinion and were forced to go with the flow.

We also negatively assessed division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs already in the conditions of existence of independent Georgia. I understand very well that Ardzinba illegally, without coordination with the centre dismissed Minister Lominadze from the post, and just as illegally appointed Ankvab to this position. But, in retrospect, it is obvious that if we had the foresight and patience and had not separated from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, then – I am sure - it would have been easy to find common ground with Ankvab for constructive cooperation.

Nothing good for the Georgian side came out of the division of the Supreme Council either. In the previous part of this series of publications it was noted that we had presented Ardzinba with majority on a silver platter and this enabled him to take unlawful decisions one after another. Georgian members of the parliament could not come up with anything but to divide the parliament - and this fact also played into the hands of separatists. I do not want to say that the Georgian parliamentarians did not resist to those unlawful decisions. On the contrary, they, of course, resisted, and we, Georgians, were proud watching their persistent struggle. This charge of the parliamentary struggle was passing on to the population, and it was to be followed by something. I do not know whose decision it was about the division, but in my opinion, Georgian members of the parliament was not supposed to refuse to participate in plenary sessions and they should not have left the parliament. This should be regarded as a retreat on the battlefield. Elected representatives of the people had no right to do so - they were to fight to the end.

The above-mentioned issues have been constantly discussed, there always were disputes and even quarrels, but within acceptable limits. I am not trying to convince anyone that we supposedly had no problems with Abkhazian and Russian workers. On the contrary, it was difficult to assess processes occurring among the Abkhazian population, as information provided by Abkhazian workers did not reflect the real situation. But despite this, the security services still were managing to retain unity. And Ioseliani used to call other leaders to this kind of unity and that, as it was already noted, irritated many Georgian leaders.

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