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Will Nut Harvest Bring Any Profit to Gali District Population?

17.08.2006
Will Nut Harvest Bring Any Profit to Gali District Population?

 

From August 10th, nut season begins in western Georgia. Every year this period is awaited with hope and fear by the Gali district population, as frequent robberies also take place at this time. Every year people are kidnapped for ransom, armed attacks on families and buses occur. The Gali region’s Abkhazian administration has ‘seriously’ prepared for the season.

At a special meeting, Ruslan Kishmaria, a special representative of the self-proclaimed Abkhazian President for the Gali district, categorically warned village councilors not to carry any nuts to Zugdidi. Kishmaria stated that any person found with even a kilo of nuts on him, either ready to transport or in the process of transporting would be detained. The nut smuggler would not only have his baggage confiscated but also his entire harvest.

At this time, the price of nuts is 2.5GEL, while it is only 1.5GEL in Zugdidi. Hence, it is no surprise that nuts will not be taken to the Zugdidi district. The price of nuts is regulated by Otar Turnanba, Deputy Chief of so the called Abkhazian Militia in the Gali district. In May Turnanba was delivered a complete set of equipment for a nut factory from Zugdidi, via the main Enguri Bridge. Over several months, Turnanba built a nut factory equipped with modern technology in the Gali district village of Achigvara. They say that nut business is controlled by Z. Lakerbaia, a former member of the partisan unit ‘Tkis Zmebi’ (wood brothers) along with Turnanba in the Gali district.

At the aforementioned special meeting, Ruslan Kishmaria informed law enforcers of the de-facto President’s special orders, which were as follows: All kinds of transportation must be stopped after the 10th August between the Gali and Zugdidi districts. Every day buses from the villages of Pirveli Otobaia, Kvemo and Zemo Barghebi, Khumushkuri, Sopchai, Tagiloni, Gagidi, Pichori, Mziuru used to make a single trip. The population used to sell agricultural products from their villages in Zugdidi and bought many goods there.

According to the Abkhazian de-facto government’s orders, all buses, minibuses and cars-trying to cross the border to enter Zugdidi- will be confiscated and taken to Ochamchire auto-depot; besides that, a criminal case will be launched against the driver. The only safe way of transport for the Georgian population in the Gali district is the bus running across the main Enguri Bridge, financed by the UN. Refugees say even this bus has faced problems.

Initially representatives of Russian peacekeepers demanded that the UN bus not stop near their guard posts. According to current information, the Abkhazian side now supports this demand of the Russian peacekeepers. The combined efforts of both sides resulted in the UN bus stopping at the top of the Enguri Bridge and thus the population has problems reaching it. Both the Russians and Abkhazians explain that it is for their own security. Kishmaria says: “It was just our wish to let Georgians carry guns into the region on this bus”.

The Georgian population in the Gali district dreams of the President’s arrival in Megrelia, as last year on the 20th November, during his visit, the price of nuts went over 5GEL in Zugdidi. They think that the price of nuts is regulated from Russia.

Nato Berulava, Zugdidi

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