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GEORGIA, Landmine Monitor Report 1999



In April 1991, the Republic of Georgia declared itself independent of the Soviet Union. In 1992, the long standing dispute over the political status of Abkhazia resulted in the outbreak of war. At the end of September 1993, Georgian armed forces withdrew from the territory of Abkhazia. Additional fighting took place in early 1994. After a cease-fire agreement in May 1994, the Commonwealth of Independent States Collective Peacekeeping Forces (CIS CPKF) were introduced into the region. In November 1994, the Supreme Council of Abkhazia adopted a new constitution and declared Abkhazia to be a sovereign republic, which can be bound by international law. No international diplomatic recognition has been extended to Abkhazia. Peace negotiations are being conducted by the United Nations and facilitated by the Russian Federation, with the representatives of the USA, Britain, France, Germany and Russia, acting as Friends of the UN Secretary General. No progress has been made on agreement on the political status of Abkhazia.

As a result of the fighting, and continued skirmishes, Georgia and Abkhazia are mine-affected (see also the special report on Abkhazia).

Mine Ban Policy

Georgia has not signed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. Nevertheless, the Georgian government has proclaimed its support for a mine ban. At the UN General Assembly in September 1996, President Shevardnadze said: “I, as the President of Georgia, declare that Georgia takes the obligation never to produce, use or import antipersonnel mines.”[1]

Georgian authorities have stated that they cannot sign the Mine Ban Treaty for two reasons: first, antipersonnel mines have been used in the region of Abkhazia and Georgia cannot fulfill its treaty obligations to conduct mine clearance until Abkhazia is reintegrated with Georgia; second, Georgia lacks funds, proper equipment, and trained deminers to conduct the mine clearance operations.[2]

Despite this reluctance, during a visit to Georgia in February 1999 by ICBL Ambassador and Nobel Laureate Jody Williams, President Shevardnadze stated his intention to sign the ban treaty and indicated that the Georgian Council of National Security was discussing the issue.[3]

Williams reported that while political officials expressed support for the treaty, the minister of defense remained opposed, and insisted on the right of the military to retain and use antipersonnel mines.[4]

Georgia attended the treaty preparatory meetings of the Ottawa process, although it did not endorse the pro-ban treaty Brussels Declaration in June 1997. It attended the Oslo treaty negotiations in September and the treaty signing conference in Ottawa in December 1997 only as an observer. During the signing ceremony, the Ambassador of Georgia, Tedo Japaridze, said: “Georgia believes that the human and social costs of antipersonnel mines far outweigh their military significance.... Georgia...will in every way support and promote the ban on the use of the mines.... Therefore, Georgia supports the Ottawa Process and its goal--the prohibition of use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines and their destruction...[but] without financial and necessary technological assistance from other countries Georgia will not be able to fulfil its obligations under the Convention (particularly to destroy antipersonnel mines during 4 years).... Georgia believes that the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva should be the main forum for negotiating a global ban.”[5] Georgia, however, is not a member of the CD.

Georgia is a state party to the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapon and its Protocol II on landmines, but it has not ratified the 1996 amended Protocol II.

Production, Transfer, and Stockpiling

Georgian authorities state that Georgia is not a producer of antipersonnel landmines or mine components.[6] Georgia’s status as a possible past producer of landmine components for the Soviet Union is unclear.

Georgia is not a landmine exporter. The Minister of Defense of Georgia has stated that Georgia has not imported any AP mines since independence.

Georgia inherited what is believed to be a small stockpile of antipersonnel mines from the former Soviet Union, though the exact size and composition is not known.[7] Georgia has not destroyed any of its landmine stockpiles.[8] In addition, there are antipersonnel mines stockpiled at military bases under Russian control. The most commonly found types of mines in Georgia and Abkhazia are MON-50, MON-100, MON-200, MON-90, OZM-72, PMN, PMN-2 (former Soviet Union); and the TS-50 (Italy).[9]


Both Georgian and Abkhazian forces have laid tens of thousands of mines. Georgian military units laid the majority of landmines in Ochamchira and Sukhumi districts, while the Abkhaz forces are reported to have laid the majority of mines in the Gali district.[10] Though most mines were used during the intense fighting in 1992-93, there are still allegations of ongoing use by both sides. There are numerous reports of groups from Georgia infiltrating into Abkhazia and laying antipersonnel mines. (See Landmine Monitor report on Abkhazia). There are also allegations of Abkhazian military groups or partisans laying mines in Georgia.[11]

Russian soldiers laid mines around their military bases in Georgia, some of which have been transferred to the Georgians, some of which are still under Russian control. According to the Georgian Ministry of Defense, the Russians have not cleared any of the mines or provided any precise maps or registries of mined areas.[12]

Residents of the village of Nikozi told the ICBL Georgian Committee that during the Georgian–South Ossetian conflict mines were used, but that there have been no casualties since the end of the fighting.

Civilians use antipersonnel landmines for fishing, uprooting of trees, and other purposes. According to General Gurgenidze, the Head of Georgian Peacekeeping Troops in the Tskhinvali Region, in 1992 after fighting broke out between Georgia and Abkhazia, the Sappers Regiment in Tskhinvali left its post and approximately 3,000 mines were abandoned. According to the General, the local community has used those mines.[13] This has led to several mine accidents.

Landmine Problem

According to the United Nations, there are approximately 150,000 landmines in Georgia and Abkhazia, the majority of which are near the Inguri river separating Georgia and Abkhazia.[14] The U.N. Development program has estimated that there are 15,000 mines just in two heavily mined areas along the Inguri River and the Gali canal.[15] The mine problem is much more severe in Abkhazia than in any other region in Georgia. Outside of Abkhazia, mines pose dangers to civilians in Georgia mainly in areas near the border with Abkhazia and near military bases which have been mined.

Quite often the water level rises along the Inguri river because of floods and mines are washed out of minefields, posing a hazard to local civilians.[16]

Across from a former Soviet military base in Osiauri (near Khashuri, in eastern Georgia), seventy-six hectares of forest were mined, as well as the perimeter of the base.[17] The former head of the Sappers Department in the Ministry of Defense of Georgia Colonel Kalandadze said that when the base was transferred to Georgia, the Russians left behind incorrect maps because Georgian sappers during the clearance operation removed nearly 1,000 mines instead of 361, as had been indicated on the map.[18]

During her visit to Georgia, ICBL Ambassador Jody Williams visited the site of a Russian base with a still-mined perimeter. She reported that “the old and rusty barbed-wire fence was broken down and clearly anyone could walk off the main, heavily traveled road to the river not far from the road. The one sign regarding landmines in evidence was old, rusted and hard to read.”[19]

Mine Clearance

Georgia has no national programs for humanitarian clearance, mine awareness programs, or survivor assistance. The United States committed $39,000 for a landmine survey.[20] By the order of the President of Georgia, responsibility for mine clearance is entrusted to the Ministry of Defense for the zone of military actions and territory of military bases, to the Ministry of Internal Affairs for populated areas, motor and railroads, and to the State Department for frontier areas. Effective clearance is complicated by the lack of coordination between the related institutions. Since 1994, CIS peacekeepers have conducted demining operations in the security zone along the Inguri River. The non-governmental organization HALO Trust is conducting humanitarian mine clearance in Abkhazia.[21] The alleged new use of landmines has delayed implementation of mine action programs and mine clearance in contaminated areas.

Mine Awareness

The ICBL Georgian Committee plans to undertake a mine awareness campaign, including mapping mined areas, organizing lectures and seminars for teachers in high-risk regions, and publication of a mine awareness brochure for people in Georgia and Abkhazia. The ICBL Georgian Committee is cooperating with Abkhazian nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) on these issues.

Landmine Casualties

There has recently been a reduction in the number of people killed or injured by antipersonnel landmines in Georgia because a large number of people have left the mined territories. However, after displaced persons return to their homes, it is anticipated that there will be an increased number of mine casualties.

According to information from the Head of Science and Technical Research Department of Georgian Army General Staff, Colonel Tavadze, about 70% of casualties during the war were landmine victims.[22]

Landmine Survivor Assistance

Hospitals throughout Georgia, including in Abkhazia, routinely run into shortages of basic medical supplies. Lack of surgical equipment and the facilities to store blood prevent adequate care for landmine survivors. No special rehabilitation assistance is provided to landmine victims in Georgia. In general, in Georgia there are medical rehabilitation centers for survivors, but expensive surgical and rehabilitation measures for survivors are inaccessible to most people. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) runs orthopedic projects for the war disabled, many of whom are landmine victims. It has centers in Tbilisi and Gagra (Abkhazia) where an average of thirty-one patients in Tbilisi and six patients in Gagra are fitted with prostheses or orthoses per month.[23] In 1997, the ICRC manufactured 669 prostheses in the Tbilisi and Gagra workshops, 184 of which were for mine victims.[24] There are no national programs to provide psychological counseling for landmine victims.


[1] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, “Georgia and Problem of Anti-Personnel Mines,” June 1998.

[2] Address of H.E. Tedo Japaridze, Ambassador of Georgia at the Signing Ceremony of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, Ottawa, December 1997.

[3] “Georgian Leader Supports Joining Convention on Banning Landmines,” Kavkasia-Press news agency, Tbilisi, 9 February 1999, reported by BBC Worldwide Monitoring.

[4] Jody Williams, report to ICBL on visit to Georgia, email dated 22 February 1999.

[5] Address of H.E. Tedo Japaridze, Ambassador of Georgia at the Signing Ceremony of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, Ottawa, December 1997.

[6] Landmine Monitor interview with Colonel K. Kalandadze, Head of Sappers Department of the Ministry of Defense of Georgia, April 1998.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade’s Mine Action Database.

[9] United Nations, Country Report: Georgia. At: http://www.un.org/Depts/Landmine/country/georgia.htm.

[10] United Nations Development Program, United Nations Needs Assessment Mission to Abkhazia, Georgia (United Nations, March 1998). See http://www.abkhazia.org.

[11] Landmine Monitor interview with M. Rapava, Head of Criminal Police Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Abkhazia.

[12] Landmine Monitor interview with K. Kalandadze, Ministry of Defense, April 1998.

[13] Landmine Monitor interview.

[14] United Nations, Country Report: Georgia. At: www.un.org/Depts/Landmine/country/georgia.htm. The UNDP estimates 50,000 mines throughout Abkhazia, which makes the UN estimate of 150,000 for all of Georgia seem high.

[15] UNDP, Needs Assessment Mission, March 1998.

[16] Newspaper Droni, No. 96.

[17] Landmine Monitor interview with staff of Osiauri Military Unit.

[18] Landmine Monitor interview with K. Kalandadze, Ministry of Defense, April 1998.

[19] Jody Williams, report to ICBL on visit to Georgia, email dated 22 February 1999.

[20] Mine Action Bilateral Donation Support, compiled by the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

[21] Aleksander Rusetsky, Report on the First International Conference on Landmines in Russia and the CIS.

[22] Landmine Monitor Interview with Colonel G. Tavadze, head of the Main Department of the Strategic Planning and Science-Technical Research.

[23] International Committee of the Red Cross, Update No. 98/01 on ICRC Activities in Georgia, 4 June 1998. See http://www.icrc.org.

[24] International Committee of the Red Cross, Annual Report 1997, Georgia, 1 June 1998.