Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 182

Abkhazia yesterday celebrated the third anniversary of its 1993 military victory against Georgia. Several days earlier Georgia had observed its own September 27 Day of Remembrance and Hope, instituted by President Eduard Shevardnadze to honor the memory of Georgian victims of "ethnic cleansing" in Abkhazia. On September 27, 1993, Russian-assisted Abkhaz forces captured Abkhazia’s capital Sukhumi, and, as Abkhaz president Vladislav Ardzinba put it at yesterday’s anniversary, "drove the last Georgian occupiers from Abkhaz territory" three days later.

The rival observances were accompanied by armed clashes that left dead and wounded in Abkhazia’s Gali and Ochamchira districts. According to the Abkhaz version of events, the clashes were caused by Georgian military infiltrators conducting guerrilla operations in the area. The Abkhaz leadership accused Tbilisi of engaging in "state terrorism" and appealed to the Russian "peacekeeping" troops to retaliate in accordance with an August, 1996 Russian-Georgian-Abkhaz memorandum envisaging action against "terrorism" in the security zone. According to Tbilisi, however, the clashes pitted Abkhaz military and security forces recruited in those two districts against units recruited in Ardzinba’s stronghold Gudauta. The latter group is reported to be strongly over-represented in the Abkhaz military and security hierarchy, and is less than fully confident in the loyalty of some Gali and Ochamchira natives because of their family and religious ties to Christian Georgians. (Iberia, Interfax, September 28 through 30)

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