Georgia in Post Soviet Period State Council could not provide to establish peace in the country but..

 Georgia in Post Soviet Period State Council could not provide to establish peace in the country. Situation in Samegrelo Region, which was the main bearer for supporters of Gamsakhurdia, was astable (the ex-president was hiding in Chechnya and invoked people for disobedience), and hard attempts of government to establish peace violently, in fact, were ended on the contrary. But the greatest mistake of the State Council, which is one of the main problems for Georgia, was to enter the troops into Abkhazia. In Autonomic Republic of Abkhazia interethnic relations have been straining little by little in the period of Soviet government, especially since 40s. The main reason of it was vicious internal policy of the Communists (frame, demographic, school and etc.), though, as it is evident, sometimes 23 interethnic confrontations were aroused on purpose by certain services of the Soviet Centre to keep Abkhazia, and whole Georgia under stricter control. Statements of the Abkhazians with different demands periodically had mass character (1956, 1967, 1978). Sometimes a slogan requiring separation from Georgia was heard in those requirements that caused protest actions of Georgians. It should also be mentioned that GeorgianAbkhazian opposition on household level has not received ethnical antagonistic character, which is proved with flock of mixed marriages. 

From multiethnic population of Georgia the Georgians have closest cultural relationships with Abkhazians and Ossetians. By the end of 1980s, in the period of crisis of the Soviet government, when in Georgia and Abkhazia national movements were formed and got influences, Georgian-Abkhazian relationships were extremely strained. Actions and demands of the organizations of the Nationalistic directions, as a rule, had radical character. In spring of 1989 Abkhazia aroused the problem of separation from Georgia on social and political levels. The burdening of the situation was encouraged by the policy of the leaders of the Communist Party who did not avoid even provoking the bloodshed. Ethno political confrontation in the Autonomic Republic got a worse form in summer of the same year when the very first bloody collision occurred. 

Fourteen people were killed. Z. Gamsakhurdia, as it was mentioned, achieved certain compromise with Abkhazians in the legislative body – the Supreme Council – by allowing quotes, corresponding with it the Abkhazians who made 18% of Abkhazian population 6 received 43% of the deputy mandates. But the confrontation on other levels went on. The idea that modern Abkhazians came to the Black Sea coast 200-300 years ago and have not direct links with ancient population of those places dominated in Georgian propagandistic materials caused insults and offences of any representative of Abkhaz people, in spite of their political orientation. Such wrong theory that was not taken into consideration by the serious scientists became one of the main arguments of the Georgian side in the informational struggle since 1989. After overthrow of Gamsaxurdia the State Council have not received the proposal about federalization of Georgia where Abkhazia would be represented as a subject of federation. On the background of civil confrontation existed in the country “the war of laws” started between Tbilisi and Sokhumi that minimized jurisdiction of Georgia in this autonomic unit. After recognition of independence of Georgia the idea strengthened that the shortest way for restoration of jurisdiction of Georgia in Abkhazia was to show force to the “separatists”. Transferring of a lot of arms (tanks and other heavy machineries) by Russia to Georgia fostered the choice of regulation of the situation by force in favour of the centre in summer of 1992. It is supposed that Russian side did it on purpose, by involving Georgia into armed conflict to keep the handles of impact on the former Soviet Republic. On August 14, 1992 Georgian governmental forces (that was not a regular army. Police contingents and especially different militarized formations, which received military skills during the civil war and Georgian-Ossetian conflict were sent to Abkhazia) crossed the administrative border of Abkhazia and entered Sokhumi – the capital of Autonomic Republic. At the same time in the remote North-West part of the country near Gagra navy crew was landed, which occupied roads and rail lines connecting Abkhazia with Russia. The State Council stated that operation as planned for protecting the railway crossing Abkhazian territory, but the actions of the soldiers invaded Sokhumi did not resemble the actions of the defenders of transport highways. One of the first actions they did was to throw Abkhazian flag from the roof of Government House, which was not recognized by Tbilisi, and to fix Georgian flag. Abkhazian part of government of the Autonomic Republic that moved to Gudauta (in the centre of densely inhabited by ethnic Abkhazians) appealed its people for resistance. It cannot be said that 6 The lack of specific share of ethnic Abkhazians among the population of Abkhazia was the result of their mass emigration in Ottoman Empire in 60–70s of XIX century and the development of deserted territories by other people (see p. 15). 24 Abkhazians did not expect such development of events. They have already had law enforcement infrastructure (though did not have enough amount of arms) and were in alliance with national movements of North Caucasus that had essential influence in the South part of Russia. The leaders of Confederation of Highland People of the Caucasus (formed in 1991 in Sokhumi) demanded within ultimatum to withdraw military troops from Abkhazia, otherwise threatened by sending volunteers for carrying out military actions. Shevardnadze accepted rules of that game and claimed that in the squads of defence, 

formed in the whole Georgia responding to the ultimatum of the Confederates; more than 30 thousand people were united. Thus, the mechanism of war started and Georgia was involved into armed battles during more than one year. By starting hostilities in Abkhazia the role of Moscow obviously appeared in this conflict. Both Georgians and Abkhazians struggled with Soviet arms supplied by Russia. It seems that supplying arms and other military equipments occurred through selling as well as through straight delivering. People of the North Caucasus ethnically and culturally related (Kabardians, Adighei, Circessians, Chechens, Abazians and etc.) and the Abkhazian-Circessian Diaspora of nearest East supported Abkhazian minority7 . In autumn of 1992 about 4–7 thousands of Highland Confederation fighters arrived in Abkhazia. Besides, a lot of people of Slavonic nationality fought on the side of Abkhazians, especially from militarized organizations of the Kazaks. 

These various forces were motivated in different ways in Georgian-Abkhazian war, but on the whole, the fact of their participation enhanced victory of the Abkhazians. In spite of this, it should be mentioned that the main weight fell on ethnical Abkhazians in fighting against Georgians. Abkhazian formations represented the basic core of contradictory forces. In October of 1992 Abkhazians took Gagra that activated the links between Gudauta and Gagra. The troops of State Council after that controlled only that part of Abkhazia, which was mainly populated by ethnical Georgians. Sokhumi became the key point for Georgians. On October, 11 in 1992 Parliamentary elections were held in Georgia, which legitimised the authorities of the Country. At the same time E. Shevardnadze was elected as a chairman of the Parliament and soon as a head of the State. Gamsakhurdia and his supporters in Chechnya did not recognise the legitimacy of October elections. The forces backing ex-president were acting evidently in Samegrelo region. In such conditions it was difficult for Georgia to launch war against Abkhazia, furthermore the character of this war and main counter stayed to the end unknown for Georgian society. It was considered Abkhazian separatism or Russia, or Islamic “fundamentalism” (?!) After losing Gagra the Georgian Army being a mechanical unity of different squads particularly defended itself. In the beginning of 1993 several attacks of the Abkhazians on Sokhumi were beaten off, but strategically important points in the suburbs of the city were moved to Abkhazians. In these circumstances on July 27 of 1993 the agreement on fire ceasing was achieved. The agreement envisaged the demilitarization of conflict zone and creating necessary terms for restoring legitimate governmental bodies. The military troops of Russia deployed in Abkhazia were entitled to maintain neutralities. For keeping order in the region pollinational militia and internal troops should be formed where Abkhazian regiment and Georgian subdivision. Other Georgian formations as well as Abkhazian allying squads should be withdrawn from the territory of Abkhazia after ceasing fire at least in 10–15 days time. Georgian side began to take heavy machinery that was its advantage away from Sokhumi, but the process of withdrawing the forces was obstructed, as by this time Georgian army formation deploying in Abkhazia was mainly consisted of local inhabitants and their disarmament or withdrawal from the region was not easy to do. The Abkhazians considered it as breakage of the agreement and on the 16th of September unexpectedly resumed the attack on Sokhumi. The heavy battles lasted 12 days and ended in 7 According to the last account of USSR population in (1989) there were 105 thousands people of Abkhaz nationality in this country. 96 thousands ethnic Abkhazs lived in Georgia, and 94 thousands – in the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia. 25 leaving the city by Georgians (September 27, 1993). Tbilisi only maintained a hardly approachable gorge in the mouth of the river Kodori. Bigger part of Georgian population (245 000 people) had to leave Abkhazia with the troops. These people became refugees in their own Country. War lasting one year inflicted Abkhazia, the most beautiful area. Thousands were killed. Critical situation spread all over Georgia. In these circumstances Z. Gamsakhurdia tried to regain authorities. In September he returned to his home country and led armed formations of his supporters. Ex-president made attempts to start marching from Samegrelo towards Tbilisi, but was defeated and died in uncertain circumstances (On 30th of December, 1993). According to the version spread Gamsakhurdia committed suicide. In spite of defeat in Abkhazia after 1993 the authority of Shevardnadze significantly strengthened in Georgia. Most of population still believed in an experienced leader and hoped that after stopping hostilities economical revival would start and geopolitical function of Georgia would increase in the world. Those hopes were mainly based on the plans of turning the country into transport corridor between East and West that was much written and spoken about. At the same time the realization of the future achievements in public opinion (especially by the impact of official propaganda) related to the name of Eduard Shevardnadze, his private relations and influence on world policy. In the middle of 90-s loosened State Body step by step became stronger in the last period. On the 24th of August Georgia accepted a new Constitution of independent State (symptomatically the terrorist attack on Shevardnadze coincided with this action, the Head of State and the others sitting in the car with him miraculously survived), Parliamentary elections were held, the post of president was restored, which was temporarily cancelled after overthrown Gamsakhurdia8 . President Shevardnadze was building Georgia with his old experience and with the help of old staff. A great deal of former party and Komsomol members came back to authority structures, who substituted the persons of anti-Soviet movement of “Perestroika”. But Shevardnadze attracted some young politicians, who were not in touch with former party nomenclature. Their presence in government strengthened Shevardnadze‟s image of reformer and West orientation politician. Among those was the leader of Greens Party Zurab Zhvania, who in 1995 at the age of 32 took the post of Parliamentary speaker. The political bearing for Shevardnadze became a “Union of Georgian Citizens” that was formed by him, which obtained majority of seats in the Parliament by elections of 1995. Thousands of people became members of the “Citizens”, most of them aimed at arranging their own careers “under roof” of presidential party. Bureaucracy of State Body and increasing of corruption connected to this fact became the symbol of Shevardnadze‟s epoch. Tendencies of economical rise, as if conceived in further period of Abkhazian war, by the end of 90-s completely disappeared. In fact the laws did not function in Georgia, e.g. three out of four legal regulations were not accomplished. The sources of State budget did not function well (by some data only 1/7 of tax incomes entered state treasury).

 Greater part of donations granted by the West was grabbed by ruling strata. Delaying this way and that low wages and pensions became regular. Preelection promise in 1995 of the Citizens‟ Union to create 1 million working places appeared to be a complete fiction. Hundred thousands of Georgian people had to go abroad for seeking jobs. Neither boosted international economical projects had obvious results in spite in 1999 the first experimental oil pipe-line transiting through Georgia and the terminal of Supsa operated (in the South of Poti), which supplied Azeri oil to industrialized world. It became clear to the publicity that the reforms and combating corruption stated by the president bore a formal pattern. Constant black outs of electricity and gas caused the dissatisfaction of population. Shevardnadze could not overcome political dead-end arose by Georgian-Ossetian and GeorgianAbkhazian armed conflicts. Self-claimed Republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia did not recognize jurisdiction of Georgia. 8 Eduard Shevardnadze was elected in 1995 and 2000 as a president of Georgia. 26 Through the mediation of International organizations (UN and OSCE) and “friendly countries” (USA, Russian Federation, Great Britain, France and Germany)9 began the process of peaceful negotiations, but that did not gain any results; the sides kept complete contradictory positions that means that danger of restarting fire still exists. Unsettlements of ethno political conflicts directly have impact on the fate of many refugees whose being in the country tenses current state even more. Personality of Shevardnadze became the target of unsatisfied population caused by current situations (as before, he was expected to solve the key national problems). In 1999 the Parliamentary and in 2000 the Presidential elections were held in such conditions. The Union of Citizens won again but rumour of great falsifications during elections in favour of the authority spread. Total freedom of speech existed in Georgia during Shevardnadze‟s presidency was his merit. Great deal of mass media widely discussed situations underway and their acute critics towards authority and the president often got over the margins. But unfortunately, such freedom was associated with that total dissolution and impunity that reigned in the country. On October of 2001 Georgian law enforcement bodies with the help of Chechen squads launched armed attack in Abkhazia was utterly defeated. It seems that the next failure of the government resulted in mass dissatisfactions of people. Attempt of coarse pressure on independent TV-company “Rustavi2” by authorities became a detonator. On November of 2001 a spontaneous protest actions were held in front of the Parliament and State Chancellery. Gathered people required the resignation of Shevardnadze. Gap between the president and young “westerners” of the Citizens‟ Union became obviously clear in this period. 

Zurab Zhvania left the post of parliament speaker. An outstanding representative of the new wing was a lawyer Mikheil Saakashvili who attracted attention in the Parliament for his critical statements towards officials. Reforms of the court system in Georgia related to Saakashvili‟s name. In 2002 Saakashvili became a chairman of Tbilisi Sakrebulo. After Zhvania Nino Burdjanadze who was supposed to be a compromising figure between the presidential group and parliament opposition, took the post of the speaker, but soon after Burdjanadze supported the opposition. By this time the authority of Shevardnadze has already been shaken in the opinion of the Western friends of Georgia observing the current situation in the country. They say that the West political circles approved Saakashvili and Zhvania. Georgian political forces were thoroughly preparing for the elections 2003. Ambitious political leaders discussed those elections as a stage for presidential struggling when the last term of Shevardnadze‟s being as a head of the country was to end. Forming of election blocks and alliances started. Soon it became clear that the unions formed by the politicians who had left the governmental party and joined by other political forces had a great influence10: 1) “National Movement” headed by M.Saakashvili, 2) “United Democrats” (leaders – N. Burdjanadze, Z. Zhvania). During pre-election period names of popular leaders appeared in the titles of oppositional blocks – “Saakashvili–National Movement” and “Burdjanadze–Democrats”, as a Georgian average voter votes more for a single leader than for political organization in whole. 24 election candidates took part in parliamentary elections appointed on November 2. Shevardnadze, whose bearing political organization – Citizens‟ Union – has practically broken-up, that was left by the strongest political figures, formed an election union “For New Georgia”. That governmental block as it was called, differed with significant eclecticism. Different forces united under presidential “umbrella” were unified by wish of entering the Parliament. 9 The role of Russian Federation is to be notable, its troops with the status of peacemaking forces are in the conflict zones of Georgia-Ossetia and Georgia-Abkhazia (accordingly since 1992 and 1994). 

Many perceive it as hidden expansion in Georgia. 10 In particular, political organizations have also been unified in the national movement: “Republic Party of Georgia” and “Union of National Forces”, and the “Union of Traditionalists” have joined the block of United Democrats. 27 In pre-election period with help of mass media and non-governmental organizations it transpired that mass falsification of the lection lists were being prepared: essential part of potential electorate were not included in the voters‟ lists. Instead they found the names of those who died long ago. In spite of great fuss shortcomings were not improved as the influential forces were interested in rigging. Elections of November, 2 were held with great activities of the population. People wanted cardinal changes in the country, that‟s why it was necessary to change existing authorities. But according to official results of elections that was published by Central Election Commission (CEC), the first place was gained by the governmental block “For New Georgia”, and the second place – by “Democratic Revival Union” leaded by Aslan Abashidze, head of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara. According to the same results “Saakashvili–National Movement” election block took the third place, and fifth place was gained by “Burdjanadze–Democrats”. A lot of local and foreign observers attended the Parliament elections in Georgia. Nongovernmental organizations carried out parallel counting of votes. The result obtained by them utterly differed from the results from CEC. In particular, in regards with alternative sources the first place was gained by the block of “Saakashvili–National Movement”, the second place – “governmental block. Union “Burdjanadze– Democrats” gained the fourth place and the “Revival Union” – fifth one. “National Movement” and “Burdjanadze–Democrats” did not recognize the results by CEC and on the 4th of November came out with protests in the streets of the capital. They were joined by thousands of Tbilisians and people from different regions of Georgia. 

For 20 days the streets of Tbilisi were crowded by demonstrators and police subdivisions, and the situation often got to be explosive. The events of November, 2003 displayed how unpopular Shevardnadze‟s rule was. Practically he had no supporters in public except united group around the governmental block, which showed its inability of constructive actions. Regardless, On November 22 Shevardnadze tried to open the first session of Parliament by the results of CEC, but Saakashvili and his supporters, who rushed into the Parliament hall, did not give the president that opportunity11. Demonstrators took up the buildings of the Parliament and State Chancellery. Police and armed forces went over to the people. Next day, on November 23, the whole world turned its back to Shevardnadze12, who had to declare about his resignation from the presidential post. Winner opposition, that has majority of supporters in Georgian society, came into the government of Georgia. Leaders of “National Movement” and “Burdjanadze-Democrats” called Mikheil Saakashvili as a presidential candidate, who gained absolute victory in the preterm presidential elections of January 4, 2004 (96% of voters). Such support of population gives authorities a chance to fulfil effective economical and social reforms in the country in order to take ascending way in Georgia in the beginning of XXI century

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