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Abkhazia Occupied by Russia Even Before August 2008 War, Russia Fully Responsible for Human Rights Violations, Strasbourg Court Rules

By Liza Mchedlidze
Monday, March 13, 2023
The Ministry of Justice of Georgia issued a statement regarding the Strasbourg court's decision on the case "Mamasakhlisi and others against Georgia and Russia", according to which the territory of Abkhazia was under the effective control of the Russian Federation even before the August 2008 war, and Russia bears full responsibility for human rights violations in occupied Abkhazia.

"As it is known to the public, on January 21, 2021, Georgia won a historic victory against Russia in the case of the August 2008 war in Strasbourg, and it was confirmed that the Tskhinvali region and Abkhazia have been occupied by Russia since 2008. In this case, for the first time, Russia's responsibility for human rights violations committed in the occupied territories before the 2008 war was established. In particular, the petitioners Levan Mamasakhlisi and Grigol Nanava were illegally arrested and imprisoned in Dranda prison in Russian-occupied Abkhazia in 2001-2007 and 2003-2005. They were subjected to inhumane treatment and were not allowed to see their family members.

Taking into account the given facts and the evidence provided by the government, the Strasbourg court found that Russia is fully responsible for these human rights violations committed against Georgian citizens, as it exercised effective control over Abkhazia even before the August 2008 war. The Strasbourg court emphasized that, according to international law, Abkhazia is an integral part of Georgia, although it has not been under the control of the central government of Georgia since the 1990s due to decisive military, economic and political interference by Russia.

In addition, by the same decision of the European Court, the occupation of the Democratic Republic of Georgia by Soviet Russia in 1921 and Russia's direct involvement in the military conflict in favor of the Abkhazians in the 1990s were already legally confirmed. In particular, the Strasbourg court concluded that in the mentioned conflict Abkhazians not only used Russian weapons and a significant number of Russians fought on their side, but without the direct involvement of Russian military units and combat equipment, it would have been impossible to end the conflict with a military victory for the separatists. The European Court drew attention to the fact that a number of international sources point to the 'ethnic cleansing' of Georgians during this conflict," the statement reads.

The Chairman of Parliament of Georgia Shalva Papuashvili said that Strasbourg's decision to confirm that since 1993 the territory of Abkhazia has been legally recognized as the territory occupied by Russia, is the result of the Georgian government's active involvement in international mechanisms

"You know that in January 2021, the decision of the Strasbourg Court was made, which determined that after 2008, Russia has effective control over Abkhazia and also over Samachablo, which in legal terms means occupation. This decision stated that even before 2008, Russia exercised effective control. As of today, we can say that it has been confirmed by the court document of the Strasbourg court that since 1993 the territory of Abkhazia has been legally recognized as the territory occupied by Russia and this has been confirmed by the decision of the Strasbourg court. Of course, this is the result of the fact that our government has been active in terms of international mechanisms for the last 10 years," said Papuashvili.