(See parts I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII)
Unknown details of the Abkhazian war. Part III
Fighters of one of the Gumista front battalions captured a person in the evening hours. He was swimming over from the other bank of the river Gumista – the dividing line of the front. When it was determined in the headquarters that the captive was a North Caucasian volunteer he was handed over to our workers that were dispatched there and who brought him to the security service building. The North Caucasian was under the strong influence of drugs. When it was possible to interrogate him it was determined that after taking drugs he and his comrades decided to cool in the river. A quick current took him towards the middle of the river. After that he probably lost his bearings and found himself on the other side of the river. For several days regular interrogations were fruitless. He stubbornly maintained the same that he came to help his brothers Abkhazians in their fighting. Aslan, whose full name and nationality we do not specify for obvious reasons, clearly showed influence of the propaganda that the Kremlin had been carrying out in the North Caucasus peoples against Georgia long before the war. He was convinced that Abkhazia was annexed by Georgia and he believed that the fight for liberation of the Abkhazian people was the holy duty of the North Caucasian peoples. Interrogations showed step by step that we were dealing with not an adventurer or somebody who came there for a common profit but with quite educated and ideologically well-versed opponent who had close relations with the separatists. He even participated in the work of the so-called assembly of representatives of the North Caucasian republics that was held in Sukhumi in the summer of 1989. As we know it was this assembly where it was decided to form the Assembly of the North Caucasian Peoples, chairman of the coordination council of which was elected Musa Shanibov. It was this assembly where Sukhumi was declared a capital of the non-existent republic of the Caucasian mountainous peoples and for liberation of which Aslan and many other North Caucasian volunteers went there. Afterwards when we became convinced that we could not get interesting information about our adversary from Aslan we changed out tactics. We told him that we would release him but for some time he was to stay with us. A room in the security service building was given to him and a guard was attached to him. Naturally we shifted interrogations to the mode of dialogue and exchange of ideas. We used to supply him with various historical and journalistic materials, arranged meetings with several Abkhazians living in Sukhumi. A great impact on him had a meeting with Lorik Marshania to whom Aslan was presented as a guest from North Caucasus.
Obviously all this was prior agreed with Aslan. Lorik Marshania talked with Aslan in details about the centuries-long history of co-existence of Georgians and Abkhazians, he touched upon the Stalin period when rights of Abkhazians were violated but he also noted that this was a result of the distorted national policy of the Kremlin and not purposeful actions of Georgians – of Stalin and Beria – against just Abkhazians. (As it came to this we should mention that if Stalin and Beria hated Abkhazians, as it was presented by the separatists, they could not have found it difficult to find a pretext, or even make up one, to send them into exile, as it was done with North Caucasian peoples during the Great Patriotic war, ed.). Aslan could not hide his surprise when Lorik Marshania acquainted him with statistical data which showed that Abkhazia was the only autonomous republic in the Soviet Union constitution of which declared the Abkhazian language as a state language; that there were 75 Abkhazian and mixed schools in Abkhazia; out of 65 memebers of the Supreme Council 28 were Abkhazians and 26 - Georgians, and the rest 11 were of other nationalities; out of thirteen ministers eight were Abkhazians and five out of eight chairmen of the state committees were Abkhazians; that in Sukhumi there were the State University of Abkhazia, national television where programs where broadcasted only in the Abkhazian language, state drama theatre of Abkhazia, museum of local history, geography and culture, the D. Gulia Literature-memorial museum, the state folk song and dance company, the state choir of Abkhazia, women vocal-instrumental quartet Gunda, ethnographic group Nartaa that was a holder of the international prize of song and dance comprtition of elders "golden peacock".
As time passed we became more and more convinced that our way of dealing with Aslan was right. He gradually realized that he was bitterly deceived and could not hide his outrage at the unimaginable ingratitude of Abkhazians. At that he used to compare lives of Abkhazians with that of North Caucasian peoples, noted with regret a deplorable state of his people in the conditions of the colonial policies of the Russian empire. He also promised us that he would help change opinions of many of his comrades and would try to convince them to abandon their participation in the fratricidal war. However surprising it may sound he asked us not to exchange him for a captured Georgian which was usual practice in the similar situations since he wanted his stay with us to be secret and for him to have an opportunity to act freely. We consented to this and agreed terms of bilateral contacts and sent him to his homeland via Tbilisi. We continued to meet him in Tbilisi from time to time during which he gave us very important information about plans and intentions of the separatists. It was no difficulty for Aslan to go to the rival-controlled territories and even to the front line. Besides, as it was noted above participation of Aslan in various meetings organized by the separatists confirmed his close relations not only with some leaders of the Abkhazian separatists, and especially with Vladyslav Ardzinba but with influential persons of the North Caucasus also.
During one of the meetings in Tbilisi Aslan told us that close circle of Zviad Gamsakhurdia invited his close relative together with several representatives of the North Caucasus to one of the secret meetings in Grozny. There, at this meeting the so-called confederates were asked to find a leverage to influence Ardzinba in order to manage and stop the fratricidal war. But in addition to this they and the confederates discussed also an issue of possible assistance for the armed formations of Loti Kobalia in Zugdidi who intended to start an armed rebellion in western Georgia against "Khunta". At this very meeting Aslan's close relative found out that at the necessary time some Georgian armed formations were to take themselves out of the Abkhazian fronts and were to join the Loti Kobalia unit and take part in the military actions in Samegrelo. From the outset Aslan did not consider the promises of the "confederates" about the stopping of the war serious. And he later confirmed this when at out request he managed and learnt from one of the leaders of the Abkhazian separatists that they not only did not intend to stop the military actions but were going to fight till the complete victory and their task would have been made much easier if the Loti Kobalia armed formations were to start military actions in Samegrelo. After carrying out relevant operational and technical and operational measures the information given by Aslan was confirmed by other sources. And later events of July-August-September of 1993 made everything clear and completely revealed actions of Loti Kobalia.
Against the background of the actions of the radical wing of the supporters of Zviad Gamsakhurdia and especially of Loti Kobalia during the course of the entire war we believed it necessary to tell readers about North Caucasian volunteer Aslan who without any pressure or force diametrically changed his position when he realized that he was deceived. It is hard to believe that Kobalia and his supporters whose minds were clouded by hatred towards Shevardnadze that they did not understand into which hands they were playing into by blocking the highway and stopping the railway communication and thus completely frustrating the rear of the front. More, practically opening the second front even if under a pretext of restoration of the legitimate authority of Zviad Gamsakhurdia , doing this at the time when the fate of the territorial integrity of the country was being decided can only be assessed as the anti-state action . Later we will try to describe several facts which will make readers convinced in correctness of our assessments of the actions of Loti Kobalia.