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Gali District of Abkhazia



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Gali District of Abkhazia
Around 42, 000 ethnic Georgians in Gali district of Abkhazia constitute the last impediment to the creation of ethnically homogenous territory under Russian Control. Since the conflict in August 2008, the Russian forces and separatists under their control have closed all the possible connections between Gali and the rest of Georgia and further intensified the oppressive measures against ethnic Georgians. This include, burning and destroying of bridges, mining of the administrative border, killings, kidnapping and arbitrary detention, robbery, frequent punitive raids under the pretext of security, burning of Georgian books and disrupting learning process in Georgian schools, etc.
The Gali Georgian population is prohibited from crossing the administrative border without permission and incurs severe sanctions if they are arrested on such accusations. The sum for entering Abkhazia has gone up in recent period as well, making it harder to travel to the territory controlled by Georgian government that is the only place for locals to go to shop or hospital.29
In order to render the freedom of movement practically impossible from other routes, the Russian military and separatist forces have destroyed all the bridges on Enguri River that used to connect Gali District with the rest of Georgia.
The mentioned restrictions should be seen in the light of importance for ethnic Georgians to communicate with the rest of Georgia. The adjacent district of Zugdidi is the only place to sell the harvest and survive in tense economic situation. Apart from this, they are unable to get even the basic medical treatment in Gali and are forced to go to Zugdidi hospital. In sum, the population of Gali is fully dependant on the adjacent regions of Georgia and cutting off the possibility to freely move amounts to rendering them without the means for survival.
Apparently with this aim, the Russian forces have resorted to large-scale mining of bordering territories. Mines are being planted along the whole administrative border and especially around the river fords that are used by local population to cross the river Enguri.



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