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Russia destroys Georgian cultural heritage in breakaway areas

By Messenger Staff
Monday, January 16
“We’ve heard reports about the destruction of a historical monument and a cemetery by Russia’s border guards in Georgia’s Abkhazia region, specifically in the Gulripshi district,” reads a special statement released by the Patriarchate of Georgia.

The Patriarchate assesses the destruction fact as ‘alarming’, and calls on the Georgian government to ensure the monuments’ monitoring by UNESCO specialists, as Georgian ones are not allowed to protect and restore the cultural monuments in the occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions.

“The latest reports say that the church remnants that date back to 8-9th centuries have really been destroyed as well as the cemetery of the Polish people that resided there after the World War II,” the statement said.

“It is an alarming fact that these monuments -the cemetery and church - have been destroyed in a peaceful period that was respected both by Georgians and Abkhazians as well as other ethnic people living there,” the statement added.

The statement stressed “we all should unite to protect the Tsebelde Forest in Abkhazia from any threat and ensure such incidents never occur again”.

It was reported by Russian and de-facto Abkhazian media that Georgia’s cultural heritage in Abkhazia was destroyed with the aim of constructing a military facility.

However, Russian media has reported the country’s foreign ministry as saying that no military base is planned for the area.

Even in case the government of Georgia addresses UNESCO to monitor the cultural monument’s in Georgia’s Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, it is less unlikely Russia will change its plans.

It is known that the only international monitoring mission in Georgia is the EUMM (the European Union Monitoring Mission); however, the mission is not allowed in the occupied territories of Georgia, and are only able to just monitor adjacent areas.

Russia consistently refuses to let international organisation into either breakaway territory, and international pressure to open the borders is severely limited.