Our Position
How aware is the central government of the problems of occupied Gali?
Last week was tense in Abkhazia. On the one hand, on the basis of disinformation spread by Russian propaganda Telegram channels, representatives of de facto law enforcement agencies and the Russian occupiers were jointly looking for the so-called saboteurs who allegedly entered Abkhazia from the Tbilisi-controlled territory. On the other hand, the de facto authorities of Abkhazia started preparations for the winter and, in order to mitigate the energy crisis, they received guarantees from Russia on the supply of increased amount of electricity.

Regarding the first story, the Abkhazian society realized that Russians staged this play in response to the positive recommendation of the European Commission to grant Georgia the EU candidate status. After the initial and natural anxiety passed, anger and irony emerged in the Abkhazian society towards Russians. As for the energy crisis, according to the information available to the Democracy Research Institute, the general mood in the society can be characterized by fearful dissatisfaction. On the one hand, Abkhazians fear that the Russian "gift" is not enough to overcome the energy crisis, and at the same time, no one knows when Russia will reduce the energy supply if they do not receive the desired concessions from the de facto authorities of Abkhazia. On the other hand, they cannot hide their displeasure that the Russians treat Abkhazia so humiliatingly.

Against this background, Russians cynically wear the mask of benefactors in the Gali district and openly try to create the feeling that they are "protectors" and "friends" of ethnic Georgians. Perhaps the only goal of this policy is not only to win over the residents of Gali, but also to spread a message to the ethnic Abkhazians that Russia is building partnership with communities formed as ethnic groups on the territory of Abkhazia. Accordingly, their policy can be understood as follows: Abkhazians are not Russia's only partners in Abkhazia, and Armenians and Georgians are also parties to the Russian "cooperation".

As for the current developments in Gali, which make us speak about the Russian policy of "gifts" - representatives of the Russian occupation forces demonstratively visit the district and leave "gifts" along with statements about Russian-Georgian friendship: on November 7, the day of the October Revolution in Russia, representatives of the Security Service of the Russian Federation ( (FSB) visited Gali public school No 1 and presented the biology room with equipment and computers. At the same time, within the framework of the "memorandum of cooperation" signed between the Tambov province and the de facto administration of Gali, Russians started to build apple orchards in the territory of Gali. As they say, it is planned to grow citrus plantations as well in the future.
The first story is noteworthy in that the body that handed gifts to the school was not the so-called embassy of the occupation forces in Sokhumi (as it has happened many times before), or the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation, but the Security Service of the Russian Federation. Why the latter? We can assume that Russians are intensifying activities of the Security Service in the Gali district, which, of course, will be followed by appropriate steps to work with the local Georgian community, and that the Russian occupiers will apply the policy of recruiting Georgians, who live under hostage conditions, to the spy network.

This story is noteworthy in that Russians, in parallel with the expected concessions ("apart hotels") in Abkhazia, which are delayed amid the stubborn protests of the Abkhazian society, may be taking territories of the Georgian ethnic group from the de facto authorities of Abkhazia. This could be a kind of compensation for the still unresolved and non-agreed projects in the areas where the local community has no strength to resist the Russian occupation.

Against the background of the above-mentioned issues, the question arises as to what policy the central authorities of Georgia are pursuing to protect the rights of Georgian citizens in the occupied territories. Unfortunately, the Gali district has not been in the center of attention of Georgian politics for a long time. The Gali issue has been removed not only from political, but also from public discussions in general. It is not known to the general public how aware the central authorities are of the problems of the occupied region or what vision they have regarding the territory of Abkhazia as a whole or the people living there, specifically regarding Gali, where the majority of population are Georgian citizens.