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Who Owns Weapon in Samegrelo Region and Why?

25.10.2006
gun.gifSince 1991 it has been in fashion to have a gun in Samegrelo Region. Despite that such a large amount of arms has never been in the region before. Initially we should name those gangs who had guns-they are several groups set up by so-called Zviadists (supporters of Late Georgian President, Zviad Gamsakhurdia); as well as groups of Badri Zarandia, Jambul Bokuchava, Akaki Eliava, Anzor Chkheidze and Gocha Esebua.

After 1992-1993 Georgian-Abkhazian Civil War new armed formations appeared in the region. First of all, they were the participants of Abkhazian war, who later became members of different units. For example, several units of former warriors were set up, like 'Tetri Legioni' with Ramin Gogokhia as a commander, 'Tkis Zmebi' with Commander Dato Shengelia and small units of Kvaratskhelia, Buliskiria, Bigvava and Kakulia. They possessed the largest amount of weapon. According to the information spread that time, these armed formations were supplied by government too

I have to point out that population also owned particularly large amount of weapon. They had bought them because of self-defense.

Large scaled withdrawal of weapon started in spring 2004 in Samegrelo Region. On February 4, forty automatic guns, five machine-guns, bomb-machines, etc. were withdrawn during Interior Ministry's special operation. The number of withdrawn automatic guns from the 4th till 11th of February reached over 120.  Besides that Mr. Dato Shengelia, commander of the unit 'Tkis Zmebi' handed their weapons- racket-machines of the following models 'Nursi', 'Igla' and 'Shaitan Truba'.
We do not mention the number of ammunition, like bullets and bombs, some explosive materials since it is difficult to give exact number.

Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti Interior Ministry's Regional Department categorically denies giving such information. They do not want to speak about the fact without Interior Minister's or Khizanishvili's (the head of the administration department of the Ministry of Interior) permission either.

What we have learned was a surprise even for us - the largest amount of the weapon in Zugdidi is owned by robbers and cattle thieves. People have only ordinary guns.

Edem Kharchilava served his term for stealing a cow and a horse in the Zugdidi Jail #4.  He had companions however, it was impossible to detain them. Edem Kharchilava and his band had automatic guns. A year ago robbers killed Taliko Sordia in the village of Orulu, Zugdidi District. The offenders are detained. Multiethnic groups with Abkhazian and Georgian members are armed with automatic weapons. They barter stolen cattle at the Zugdidi-Gali border. Local thieves are driving the cattle from the village of Rukhi via ford in Taligoni, Chuburkhinji and Sida to barter. They take the cattle stolen on the other bank of the Enguri River. 
Cattle are frequently stolen in Martvili and Abasha districts; however unlike Zugdidi thieves they have fewer guns.

Zugdidi Policemen withdrew 41 guns during nine months in 2005. Forty-three guns were withdrawn in 2006 for the same period of time. For the last two years bombs were found nearly in every village of Zugdidi District. Bombs were found in scrap iron stations too.  (Foti).

Policemen generally withdraw guns when they detain offenders. One fact of detention (Zaza Shamugia attacked police car) resulted into killing the offender as he had fired at the police. Two days ago Police detained Gogia Nachkebia who had been wanted for robbery. Three automatic guns, a bomb and numerous ammunitions were found on him while searching.

Most of grave crimes (murder, robbery) are committed with fire arms.

In 1995-2003 weapon was transported from Abkhazia and automatic gun could be bought for 100USD. Now the situation has changed. Weapons are not imported any longer. The amount which is in the region at present is enough to improve criminal situation there.


Nato Berulava, Zugdidi

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