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Are the Russian Peacekeepers in Georgia really Keeping Peace?

The Mitigated Role of the Russian Peacekeepers in the Georgian-Ossetian and Georgian-Abhkazian Conflict


04 / 1998

The first Georgian state was established in the fourth century BC. Georgia was incorporated into the Russian Empire in 1801. After the collapse of the Russian Empire in 1917, an independent Georgian state was established on 26 May 1918. In 1921 Georgia was invaded by Bolshevik troops and a Georgian Soviet Republic was proclaimed.

From 1991`Georgia declared independence. As soon as Georgia declared independence, severely worsened inter-ethnic tensions in the Republic. The principal areas of dispute were in the autonomous territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Historically Abkhazia was part of Georgia. From 1931 it was called autonomous Republic of Abkhazia. Abkhazians constituted only 17% of the population of their autonomous Republic. In 1989 Abkhazians renewed a campaign, begun in the 1970s, for secession of their autonomous Republic from Georgia, which was strongly opposed by Georgians.

South Ossetia is an historical part of Georgia. The current dispute began in 1989. The Ossetians demanded to reunite with the North Ossetian Autonomous Republic, in the Russian Federation. These demands met with strong opposition from local Georgians and, in 1989 there were violent clashes between Ossetians and Georgians. After the violence, in 1991, there were thousands of refugees from both sides.

Today the Caucasus is the most dangerous and violent conflict area in Europe, having more seats of armed conflicts than even the Balkans. Turkey and Iran historically had and still have strong interests in Transcaucasus.

Georgia constitutes a distinct region with an ethnically very mixed population and the direct involvement of the major power - Russia.

Russian military penetration into the Caucasus started early in the 18 century and is still very strong in this region.

After the collapse of the former USSR Georgia became involved in a number of internal wars and military conflicts. The most crucial became the secessionist wars with separatists from Samachablo (South Ossetia autonomous Republic of Georgia)and Abkhazia (another autonomous republic). These and other military events (like fighting against President Gamsakhurdia)caused the following:

- More then 200000 refugees, a great part of which considers that military way is an only way that can restore fairness and create appropriate conditions for their return home;

- A number of people in Georgia are in contact with above-mentioned refugees and share their views;

- A number of service members took part in military activities during the wars and psychologically are inclined to solve problems with weapons.

The first postsoviet Russian military presence in South Osssetian autonomous Republic of Georgia began in1992 and continued in 1994 - in Abkhazian autonomous Republic. Russia forcefully offered Georgia to agree on the Russian Peacekeeping mission. Russian-Georgian military relations actually serve not the development of neighborly relations and security of Georgia, but mostly the creation of a military-political alliance led by Russia.

Here is one typical example of Russian presence in the region: A machine gun assault on a Russian military column near the town of Mozdok in North Ossetia on April 16 left five Russian servicemen dead and eight wounded.

The attack prompted the postponement of a meeting between North Ossetian President Alexander Dzasokhov and President Edouard Shevardnadze in Tbilisi. No new date has been set.

Before the attack occurred, Dzasockhov had met with Ludvig Chibirov, the self-proclaimed president of Georgia’s breakaway region the former South Ossetia, in Tskhinvali region.

Dzasochov reportedly offer to mediate the settlement of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict.

During the meeting, Chibirov claimed the resolution of the conflict is deadlocked because of insurmountable disagreements about the political status of the breakaway region.

Ossetian separatists demand the highest status- roughly equivalent to republic-and openly support a plan to unite with North Ossetia Russia proper.

Tbilisi offers the region wide political autonomy but only within an integrated Georgian state. The status of ex-South Ossetia was going to be the main topic of the postponed Shevardnadze-Dzasokhov meeting.

Meanwhile, another killing took place-this time in ex-South Ossetia-on the border of the Georgian village Tamarasheni and Tskhinvali.

Sergei Dobronik, a Russian sergeant, was said to be drunk when he gunned down village resident 24 years old Mindia Mindiashvili.

Fearing revenge from the local Georgians, Russian commanders promptly removed their peacekeeping post from Tamarasheni.

At present Dobrodnik and his commander Lieutenant Ivanov, who failed to prevent the killing, are being held in the detention cell of the Tbilisi-based commandant’s office of the Group of Russian Troops in Transcaucasus.

According to Russian Criminal Law, Dobrodnik faces up to twenty years in prison if convicted.

Georgian guerrillas warn Russian peacekeepers.

The same situation is in Abkhazia: The leaders of pro-Georgian guerrillas in break-away Abkhazia warned the Russian peacekeeping troops that if they continue to raid Georgian villages in Gali together with Abkhaz militia, assaults on the peacekeeper’s posts will become more frequent and bloody.

Prime-News and GEA, referring to sources close to the Georgian guerrillas, reported that the guerillas had operated mainly in Gali district but now have expanded their zone of activity to include Sukhumi, Ochamchira, Gulripshi and Tkvarcheli.

The guerrillas have become more professional and their armament improves, the sources said.

The guerrilla’s leaders claimed that their activity pushed the Abkhaz government accused Georgian authorities again of backing the guerrilla war in breakaway Abkhazia.

The Russian Foreign Ministry echoed those same charges in a sternly worded statement released in connection with the April 11 bloody clash between Georgian guerrillas and Russian peacekeepers in the village Saberio of Gali district. In those attack 10 Russian peacekeepers wounded and 5 Abkhaz soldiers were killed.

Moscow demanded that Tbilisi take tough and effective measures to curb terrorism in Abkhazia. "Eventually it becomes clear that the Georgian government is fully informed on those bandit groups who carry out terrorist acts in Abkhazia," the statement said.

Tbilisi denied the charges. {GEA, Prime-News}.

Palabras claves

construcción de la paz, conflicto étnico, terrorismo

, Europa Oriental, Georgia, Cáucaso, Tbilisi


With greater organization and newer arms, Georgian guerrillas in breakaway Abkhazia are becoming bolder and more deadly for Abkhaz and Russian soldiers. The same situation is in South Ossetia.

Failing to fulfill their mandate and with plenty of time on their hands Russian peacekeepers in Georgia are drinking more heavily making them aggressive toward local residents.

The procrastination of the conflict resolution will result in an escalation of the guerrilla war.


Artículos y dossiers

Information Agency GEA

Tbilisi Peace Research Association - 30 Chavchavadze Avenue, 2 Entrance, 4 Floor, and Apt 15/380079, Tbilisi, GEORGIA - Tel (995-32)22-34-68. E-mail: - Georgia - tinab (@)

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