Human Rights: Georgia (excerpts)


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Subject: Human Rights: Georgia (excerpts)

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Human Rights: Georgia (excerpts)


South Cacausian Human Rights Monitor
Published by the Caucasian Institute for Peace, Democracy and
Development
 
Series 3
Human Rights in Georgia
November 1999
 
...................

Around Chechnya
 
Due to the conflict in Chechnya, the Russian prime-minister Vladimi
Putin demanded to impose a visa regime at the Russian-Georgian and
Russian-Azerbaijani borders (though the Bishkek agreement of the CIS
stipulates a visa-free regime within the CIS).
"7 Dge" No. 130, November 5-7, p. 2
 
The visa regime should be imposed at the whole length of the
Russian-Georgian border, including the territories of Abkhazia and
South Ossetia, Eduard Shevardnadze told Russian journalists on
November 8, commenting on Putin's statement.
"Resonance" No. 307, November 9, p. 2
 
On November 7 the Russian foreign ministry officially announced that
Russia was going to begin negotiations with Georgia on the
introduction of Russian consulates in Adjaria, Abkhazia and South
Ossetia in order to impose the visa regime at the Russian-Georgian
border.
"Droni" No. 134, November 9, p. 1
 
Commenting on the results of the recent Georgian-Russian talks on
border problems at his November 10 press- conference, Valeri
Chkheidze, the chairman of the State Department of Frontier Defence,
said the two countries agreed that Georgian consulates would suspend
entry visas for 21 Muslim countries - Algeria, Afganistan, Bangladesh,
Bosnia-Herzegovina, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon,
Morocco, UAE, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, The Yemen Republic, Saudi
Arabia, Syria, Sudan, Tunisia, Ethiopia - that are allegedly involved
in transportation of mercenaries and arms into Chechnya.
"Akhali Taoba" November 11, p. 4 (Georgia will not issue entry visas
for 21 Muslim countries)
 
According to the Abkhaz leader Vladislav Ardzinba's representative at
the Georgian-Abkhaz talks Henri Djergenia, if a visa regime is imposed
at the Russian-Georgian border, Russia will provide residents of
Abkhazia, with multiple-use entry visas, unlike the other population
of Georgia.
"Resonance" No 313, November 14, p. 2 ("Russia promises the Abkhaz
multiple-use visas")
 
At present, refugees from Chechnya sojourn in five villages of the
Akhmeta district of Georgia; 1,700 of them - women, children and
elderly only - have been granted status of refugee, though it does not
provide for any social allowances. They will get only humanitarian aid
of international organisations.
"Resonance" No 313, November 14, p. 2 ("1,700 Chechens got refugee
status")
 
The vicinity of the village of Omalo in the Akhmeta district of
Georgia still has to be cleared of about 2,000 mines that have
remained there since August 9. That day Russian fighters dropped some
4,000 anti-personnel mines PFM-1 in the area. 
"Svobodnaya Gruzia" No 287-288, November 17, p. 2 (2000 out of 4000
mines remain uncleared)
 
Vladislav Ardzinba, the president of the self-proclaimed republic of
Abkhazia, ordered to accommodate refugees from Chechnya in the Gali
district of Abkhazia. The other day 20 families of the refugees
settled there in houses that earlier belonged to ethnic Georgians, the
newspaper writes.
"Resonance" No 316, November 17, p. 1, Gea news agency (Ardzinba
accommodates the Chechens only in Gali)
 
According to the State Department of Frontier Defence, three Russian
helicopters entered the Georgian air space from Chechnya on November
17 at about 12:00 p.m. and dropped several landmines in the vicinity
of the village of Shatili. No casualties or damages were reported.
"Svobodnaya Gruzia" No 289, November 18, p. 1 (One more incident in
the air)
 
The Greens Party of Georgia rallied in front of the Russian embassy on
November 18 in protest against air strikes of Russian helicopters at
the village of Shatili (at the border with Chechnya) and the war in
Chechnya. In their words, the war threatens the whole Caucasus with an
ecological catastrophe (they say there are 67 chemical plants and
large storage facilities for radioactive wastes around Grozny).
Although the action lasted almost the whole day, there was no reaction
from the embassy.
"Resonance" No 318, November 19, George Kapanadze (There will be
another Chernobyl in the Caucasus, and Georgia will vanish)
 
According to the Intelligence Department, two Georgian and one Turkish
citizens, who were kept hostage in Chechnya since February, have been
released and are already in Georgia.
"Svobodnaya Gruzia" No 293, November 20, p. 4, Interfax news agency,
"Two Georgians and one Turk released from captivity"
 
The chairman of the public relations department of the Georgian
foreign ministry refuted Russian mass media reports which claimed that
a Russian general Gennady Shpigun, kidnapped in Chechnya this March,
was held captive in one of the mountainous regions of Georgia
bordering Chechnya. According to the ministry, respective Georgian
agencies checked this information and found no traces of Shpigun in
Georgia.
"Svobodnaya Gruzia" No 299, November 27, p. 1, Sakinform news agency
 
Although the Georgian law-enforcement agencies keep denying Russian
mass media reports about penetration of Chechen gunmen into Georgia,
according to the interior and state security ministries, reinforced
police squads have been patrolling Tbilisi for the last two months due
to the situation in the North Caucasus. They check all "suspicious"
by-passers.
"Alia" No 188, November 30, p. 3, Prime-News agency, "The city checked
stricter"

---------------------------------------

Freedom of Religion, Religious Minorities
 
Father Basil, the unfrocked fundamentalist priest of the Georgian
Orthodox Church, is getting ready for the coming visit of Pope John
Paul to Georgia. His supporters are going to throw eggs at the Pope.
"7 Dge" No. 130, November 5-7, p. 4
 
On occassion of Pope John Paul's official visit to Georgia,
Patriarchate of the Georgian Orthodox Church issued a statement,
warning the flock against going to the papal mass in Tbilisi on
November 9. This visit may make the fundamentalists of the Georgian
Church more aggressive towards Patriarch Ilia II of Georgia who
invitied John Paul to Georgia. During the visit, the latter suggested
that the two churches should become closer to each other.
"Resonance" No. 309, November 10, pp. 1, 3
 
The trial of the case Guram Sharadze (the leader of the nationalistic
movement "Georgia First of All") vs. two religious organisations,
"Union of Jehovah Witnesses" and "Pennsylvania Guard Tower
Association", resumed in the Isani district court of Tbilisi on
November 19. Sharadze claims that these organisations were registered
in Georgia illegally, and their activities, in his opinion, are
anti-constitutional and anti-state. However, the trial was delayed
after Sharadze pleaded that he had not enough time to get ready for
the process.
"Droni" No 140, November 20, p. 3, Thamar Maisuradze, "These two
organisations are anti-state, anti-national and anti-Orthodox".
 
A new hearing of the case Guram Sharadze (the leader of the
nationalistic movement "Georgia First of All") vs. two religious
organisations, "Union of Jehovah Witnesses" and "Pennsylvania Guard
Tower Association", took place on November 19. Sharadze demands to ban
these organisations as anti-state, anti-national and anti-Orthodox.
The judge, Tsinana Khazalia, decided that their books should be
examined by the Faculty of Philosophy of Tbilisi State University
which must find out whether they pose any danger to the Georgian
state. The trial has been suspended until the examination is
completed.
"Akhali Taoba" No 330, November 30, pp. 4, 6, Daredjan Meparishvili
"Does the sect of Jehovah Witnesses pose any danger to Georgia?"

...................
 
The 10th anniversary of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict remained
unnoticed on November 10.
"Resonance" No 322, November 23, p. 4, Gea news agency, "The problem
of Tskhinvali has not matured yet"

...................

HR Seminars
 
A seminar initiated by the international Red Cross started in Tbilisi
on November 15 in the framework of the Geneva Convention Week
(November 15-19) under the slogan "Let's deepen the respect for
humanitarian principles". 
"Svobodnaya Gruzia" No 286, November 16, p. 7 (Dedicated to the Geneva
Convention)
 
On November 16 Halil Gozalishvili Association of Deported Muslim
Meskhetians, a Tbilisi-based youth NGO, held a conference in the
office of Ombudsman of Georgia on occasion of the 65th anniversary of
the deportation of Muslim Meskhetians from the Samtskhe-Djavakheti
region.
"Akhali Taoba" No 216, November 16, p. 8 (As a result of the
deportation of Muslim Meskhetians Georgia lost one of the Georgian
tribes)
 
The apparatus of the ombudsman of Georgia began a series of seminars 
"Human Rights and the Police" for the personnel of the law-enforcement
agencies.
"Akhali Taoba" No 325, November 25, p. 6, Gea news agency, "The
apparatus of the ombudsman carrying out seminars for the police"

In and around Abkhzia
 
Two terrorist actions took place in Abkhazia on November 1 and 11: the
central highway was bombed near the village of Zemo Eshera when
Konstantin Ozgan, the Abkhaz prime-minister, was driving by; and  an
administrative building exploded in Ochamchire. No casualties were
reported in both cases.
"Akhali Taoba" November 11, p. 4 (A bomb exploded in Ochamchire)
 
The Russian government finally abolished its 1994 resolution and
lifted all the restrictions on cross-border traffic at the Psou border
checkpoint (the Abkhaz sector of the Russian-Georgian border).
"Dilis Gazeti" No 264, November 17, p. 2, Gea news agency (Russia
fulfils its threat)
 
According to the November 20 statement of Irakli Menagharishvili, the
foreign minister, the OSCE summit in Istanbul resolved to assign a
special mission to Abkhazia to investigate ethnic purges of the
Georgians there.
"Akhali Taoba" No 321, November 21-28, p. 4, Thamar Ninidze, "The OSCE
summit assigned a mission to Abkhazia".
 
At the November 22 Russian-Abkhaz negotiations, Moscow satisfied a
request of the Abkhaz authorities and agreed to restore the Babushera
airport (Sukhumi). According to preliminary information, the Abkhaz
aviation will be directly subordinated to Moscow. Georgia did not take
part in the negotiations.
"Resonance" No 322, November 23, pp. 1, 2, Zviad Pochkhua, "The
Russian government decided to restore the Sukhumi airport"
 
Dieter Boden, the newly appointed special representative of the UN
Secretary General for the conflict settlement in Abkhazia, came to
Georgia on November 23. He replaced Liviu Bota, who had worked three
years in the office. 
"Dilis Gazeti" No 270, November 24, Kavkaz-Press agency, "Dieter Boden
came to Tbilisi yesterday".
 
An armoured personnel carrier and a cargo vehicle of the Russian
Peacekeeping Force were ambushed by guerrillas in the Nabakevi village
of the Gali district of Abkhazia on November 24. The number of
casualties remains unknown. 
"Resonance" No 324, November 25, p. 2, Zviad Pochkhua, "Russian
peacekeepers killed in the Gali district"
 
According to a high-ranking official of the Ministry of State
Security, the Abkhaz authorities and the Russian government have
reached an agreement which stipulates that equipment of the
Gudauta-stationed Russian military base will be ceded to Abkhazia.
(According to the resolution of the OSCE summit in Istanbul, Russia
has to withdraw this base by February 2001.) Besides, the Georgian
embassy in Moscow confirmed the information about the Russian-Abkhaz
agreement on the restoration of the Babushera airport (Sukhumi).
However, Lev Mironov, the Russian envoy for the settlement of the
Georgian-Abkhaz conflict, refuted flatly the fact of negotiations
between Russia and Abkhazia.
"Resonance" No 324, November 25, p. 4, Zviad Pochkhua, "Moscow agreed
with Sukhumi to cede armaments to Abkhazia"

At their November 25 talks, Eduard Shevardnadze and Dieter Boden, the
UN Secretary General's representative in Georgia, discussed a draft on
political status of Abkhazia which provides for widest autonomous
rights in the framework of the Georgian state. On November 28 Dieter
Boden will meet Vladislav Ardzinba, the Abkhaz leader, for the same
purpose. However, in his November 25 interview with the Abkhaz TV,
Ardzinba said Sukhumi would never agree on any autonomy within Georgia
as Abkhazia was an independent state.
"Resonance" No 325, November 26, p. 2, Zviad Pochkhua, "Sukhumi
rejects Tbilisi's proposal on the status of Abkhazia"

The Sukhumi group of the Russian frontier troops was withdrawn from
Abkhazia on November 12. According to Abkhaz officials, no Russia
frontier guards are in Abkhazia at present and the Abkhaz will defend
their borders by themselves.
"Dilis Gazeti" No 272, November 26, p. 5, Gea news agency, "Russian
frontier troops left Abkhazia"

Aslambey Kchach, the interior minister of Abkhazia, says nobody was
killed or wounded when the unidentified gunmen fired at the Russian
servicemen. 
"Resonance" No 325, November 26, p. 4, Prime-News agency, "The
interior minister of Abkhazia denies information about the death of
Russian peacekeepers"

Unidentified gunmen fired at a car of the UNHCR mission in Georgia
with three local personnel of the mission on November 23, badly
wounding one of the passengers, Akubardia by name, who was
hospitalised in Zugdidi. 
"Dilis Gazeti" No 272, November 26, p. 5, Kavkaz-Press agency, "A UN
car under fire in Abkhazia"

The other day Abkhaz gunmen kidnapped spouses Shota and Nanuli
Emkhvaia, residents of the Nabakevi village, Gali district of
Abkhazia. According to the information centre of Abkhazia, their son
was killed by the Abkhaz gunmen last year. The reason of their
kidnapping remains unknown.
"Resonance" No 326, November 27, p. 2, Prime-News agency, "Abkhaz
gunmen kidnapped elderly spouses"

In the opinion of Mr Tamaz Nadareishvili, the chairman of the
Tbilisi-based Supreme Council of Abkhazia, the OSCE could play a more
effective role in the settlement in Abkhazia than the UN. None of the
UN Security Council's resolutions on Abkhazia has assessed the events
of the armed conflict in Abkhazia as genocide of the Georgians in
Abkhazia, while the OSCE 1996 summit in Lisbon did it, he says.
"Meridiani 44" No 138, November 29, p. 3, Prime-News agency,
"Nadareishvili prefers OSCE"

Spouses Nanuli and Shota Emkhvaia, kidnapped in the village of
Nabakevi, Gali district of Abkhazia, on November 25, have been
released. However, they keep silent about the kidnappers and the
reasons of the kidnapping. Officials of the Tbilisi-based Supreme
Council of Abkhazia think that the spouses were kidnapped by mistake
and released after the kidnappers recognised their slip.
"Akhali Taoba" No 330, November 30, p. 9, Gea news agency, "The
hostages prefer to keep silent"

Dieter Boden, special representative of the UN Secretary General  in
Georgia, visited Sukhumi on November 29 for talks with Vladislav
Ardzinba, the Abkhaz leader. The Abkhaz leadership's position with
regard to the conflict in Abkhazia remains unchanged: according to
Ardzinba, the "equality of Georgia and Abkhazia" is one of the main
preconditions for any settlement in Abkhazia. 
"Resonance" 329, November 30, p. 3, Prime-News agency, "Dieter Boden
met Ardzinba in Sukhumi"

Several projects sponsored by the Open Society - Georgia Foundation
and the British and American embassies are being carried out in
Georgia in the framework of the Georgian-Abkhaz cultural dialogue
programme: a depoliticised Abkhaz-speaking radio station "Hara" began
to function in February 1999; an Abkhaz-Georgian phrase-book, a
collection of Abkhaz proverbs (in Abkhaz) and a bilingual
(Georgian-Abkhaz) edition of the Constitution of Georgia were
published in recent times, while a collection of stories for children
and folk stories is coming up. The programme is implemented by an
initiative group led by Georgian scholar Zurab Shengelia.
"Resonance" No 329, November 30, p. 4, Eliso Chapidze, "A
Georgian-Abkhaz phrase-book published"

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