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The War in Abkhazia – ‘Cyxymu’ Remembers

Blogger cyxymu – whose Russian-language blog is devoted to “the memories of [Sukhumi], the war and the pain” – spent the second half of September marking the 14th anniversary of the storm of Sukhumi, which dealt a final defeat to the Georgian forces in their war with Abkhazia. He has a lengthy post with his own interesting theory about why the conflict unfolded as it did – he thinks that the main motivating force behind the fighting was Russia's desire to get Georgia to join the CIS.

He has also posted recollections from a number of his readers about their experiences during their last days in Sukhumi. I was going to translate a couple of them, but some of the best ones are quite long…

The recollections culminated on September 27th with cyxymu‘s own thoughts about the significance of that date:

Today marks 14 years since the day when I stepped on the earth of my homeland for the last time. On September 27, 1993, I left my hometown and have not been back since. That was the last day when Sukhumi existed. On that day, as the Abkhaz say, “they shot the ‘i’ off Sukhumi,” and along with it they killed the city's soul. And if on other questions I can find points of agreement with my Abkhaz friends, that day remains for us a chasm which we can never cross. For us [Georgians], that day is a day of mourning, a day when hundreds and thousands of civilians died by the hands of the Abkhaz units who entered the city; tens of thousands of Georgians, saving themselves and their children, fled into the mountains; a day when children lost their parents and parents lost their children. But for the Abkhaz side it is a day of victory, the day when they took Sukhumi. And we'll never be able to arrive at a common denominator regarding that day.

I don't lose hope, and I believe that we will return to Sukhumi, that Abkhaz and Georgians will be able to live together, but in order for that to happen it's essential to punish the war criminals whose arms are covered up to their elbows in the blood of civilians.

I should probably temper the translated text by noting that most observers of the conflict believe that atrocities rising to the level of war crimes were committed on both sides (see, e.g., this Human Rights Watch report). For what it's worth, my opinion is that too much time has passed and attitudes have become too entrenched for a tribunal or other attempt at post-conflict justice to be effective. On the other hand, I can't think of anything better, so maybe a low-impact “truth and reconciliation” process that doesn't necessarily hand down harsh sentences would be one way to go about starting to rebuild the bridges burnt back in 1993.

Somewhat less emotionally, cyxymu also posted in late September about the Abkhazian special forces troops captured after a skirmish with the Georgians, and how they were led by an officer who had served in the Russian peacekeeping forces in Abkhazia before joining the Abkhazian armed forces. The post is titled вот такие у нас миротWARцы” – an impossible-to-translate pun meaning “these are the kind of peacekeepers we have,” but substituting “WAR” for a phonetically similar syllable in the Russian word for “peacekeepers.” A few days later, he wrote about a firefight and increased tensions in South Ossetia.

And on October 1st, cyxymu marked the 15th anniversary of an earlier battle in the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict, the battle for Gagra, by posting a slew of photos from the war. He introduced the photos with this text:

These pictures, taken during the days of the final storm of Sukhumi, show war as it is, not as something heroic and splendid, but as something which brings death, not only to those who go to war, but to those who simply lived in the city and didn't touch anyone. The photos show the Georgian side and the Abkhazian side.

I'd like for those who want to spill new blood to look at these pictures and reconsider. It's not too late.

In the past few days, cyxymu has written about his memories of Sukhumi taxis (the post ends on a rather sad note – “The Sukhumi taxi park ceased to exist on August 14-15, 1992, when most of the taxis were stolen by the Abkhazian forces, and the rest were stolen by the Georgian forces.”) and briefly about the furor surrounding former Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvilicyxymu suggests that everyone watching this “concert” stock up on popcorn and take their seats to watch further developments.

On many of these posts there are numerous comments expressing diverse points of view by well-informed (if sometimes impassioned) people, some of them eyewitnesses to the hostilities 15 years ago and others knowledgeable about the conflict.

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