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Country Reports
GEORGIA, Landmine Monitor Report 2000
LM Report 2000 Full Report   Executive Summary   Key Findings   Key Developments   Translated Country Reports


Key developments since March 1999: It appears that Georgian groups continue to lay antipersonnel mines inside Abkhazia. The Georgian government acknowledges that it is considering mining the Chechen stretch of the Russian-Georgian border. Russian aircraft dropped mines inside Georgia in what Russia called an accident.

Mine Ban Policy

Georgia has not acceded to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, even though as early as 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]

At the treaty signing conference, in December 1997, the representative of Georgia stated that the country could not 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]

In February 1999 President Shevardnadze stated his intention to sign the ban treaty,[3] but the Ministry of Defense remained opposed, insisting on the right of the military to use antipersonnel mines.[4] In March 2000, in a letter to the ICBL Georgian Committee, the Ministry of Defense cited additional reasons for not joining the treaty: (1) Russian military forces located on Georgian territory have “great amounts of landmines;” (2) “none of the states of our region” have signed; and (3) “Russia continues mining of Georgian territories....”[5]

Georgia was one of twelve observer delegations at the May 1999 Maputo First Meeting of States Parties of the Mine Ban Treaty. It voted in favor of the pro-Mine Ban Treaty United Nations General Assembly resolution in December 1999, as it had in 1997 and 1998. In a July 2000 letter to Landmine Monitor, a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “I would like to underline that Georgia has been a supporter of the ‘Ottawa Process’ and shares its ultimate goal of complete elimination of the landmines. I would also like to reiterate our support to the International Campaign for Banning Landmines and express our will to reach one of the most important goals of mankind – world free of landmines.”[6]

An NGO-sponsored regional conference on landmines was held in Tbilisi in early December 1999 and was attended by military and governmental representatives from the region as well as NGOs.

Georgia is a state party to the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons and its Protocol II on landmines, but has not ratified 1996 Amended Protocol II. It did not participate in the December 1999 first annual conference on Amended Protocol II. Georgia is not a member of the Conference on Disarmament.

Production, Transfer, and Stockpiling

As reported in Landmine Monitor Report 1999, officials state that Georgia is not a producer or exporter of antipersonnel landmines, and has not imported AP mines since independence.[7] 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. It 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]


The resumption of fighting in Chechnya has had an impact in Georgia. On 9 August 1999, two Russian Su-25 aircraft entered Georgian airspace from Dagestan, where Russia was involved in fighting against Dagestani rebels, and bombed in and around the village of Zemo Omalo; three people were wounded, one severely.[10] Georgian military identified the weapons used as KSS-1S cluster bombs, containing PFM-1S antipersonnel mines.[11] On 17 August, it was reported that Air Force headquarters would “[o]n behalf of the Russian Defense Ministry...officially apologize to Georgia in the near future for mistakenly dropping mines on Georgian territory 9 August 2000.” The incident had been confirmed by a special commission set up to investigate the incident.[12]

In April 2000, it was reported that the “military leadership and border services of Russia and Georgia have adopted the decision to mine several stretches of the border” in order to stop the flow of men and material between Georgia and Chechnya. Russian military spokesmen said that over twenty mountain passes and dozens of pathways would be mined along an 80 kilometer stretch of the border near the southern Chechen Argun Gorge.[13] The Georgian Department for the Protection of the State Border, for its part, has stated officially it is “considering the possibility of mining the Chechen stretch of the Russian-Georgian border.” That possibility was said to be a direct response to the decision of the Russians to mine the area.[14]

Both Georgian and Abkhazian forces laid tens of thousands of mines during the intense fighting in 1992-93.[15] In 1999 and 2000, there continued to be numerous reports of groups from Georgia, allegedly linked to the Georgian government,[16] infiltrating into Abkhazia and laying antipersonnel mines. (See report on Abkhazia). At the Regional Conference in Tbilisi in December 1999, an official from the Georgian Ministry of Defense noted, “Those mines and ammunition we use at present are military secrets. Landmines have their importance and let us leave it in secret.”[17] Areas of Lower Gali Region in Abkhazia are subject to ongoing limited conflict.[18]

In a response to Landmine Monitor regarding potential use during this reporting period (March 1999-May 2000), the Georgian Foreign Ministry stated that Georgian armed forces have been “strictly abstaining of laying landmines since long before March 1999. Unfortunately, as you are aware, certain parts of Georgia are not under the control of the Government of Georgia, therefore we are not able to control any kind of military or paramilitary activities there. Neither the Government of Georgia is supporting or controlling the paramilitary units functioning on the above mentioned territories.”[19]

There have in the past been allegations of Abkhazian military groups or partisans laying mines in Georgia,[20] but Landmine Monitor is not aware of allegations in the March 1999-May 2000 time period. A January 1999 UN Security Council resolution “condemns the activities by armed groups, including the continued laying of mines, which endanger the civilian population, impede the work of the humanitarian organizations and seriously delay the normalization of the situation in the Gali region, and deplores the lack of serious efforts made by the parties to bring an end to those activities....”[21]

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.[22] 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.[23] 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. (See Landmine Monitor Report 1999 for more details). There are also mines on the border with Turkey.

Mine Clearance

Georgia has no national programs for humanitarian clearance, mine awareness, or survivor assistance. 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, roads, and railroads, and to the State Department for frontier areas. Since 1994, CIS peacekeepers have conducted demining operations in the security zone along the Inguri River. The non-governmental organization HALO Trust has been conducting humanitarian mine clearance in Abkhazia.[24] (See Landmine Monitor report on Abkhazia).

In 1999, the government of Georgia requested U.S. assistance to “clear protective minefields surrounding two ex-Soviet military bases in Georgia so that the areas may be returned to civilian use.”[25] The U.S. has budgeted $1,062,000 for mine action assistance for Georgia and Abkhazia in U.S. fiscal year 2000.[26] Georgia will host a unique U.S.-sponsored joint humanitarian demining training exercise with personnel from Armenia and Azerbaijan from September-November 2000.[27]

Apparently, discussions are underway between officials of Georgia and Turkey regarding an agreement to demine the border and prohibit future use on the border, similar to an agreement Turkey has made with Bulgaria.[28]

Mine Awareness

The ICBL Georgian Committee has begun 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 NGOs on these issues. During the Tbilisi Regional Conference in December 1999, ten teachers and 300 school children were involved in mine awareness activities with the Georgian Committee.

Landmine Casualties and Survivor Assistance

The ICBL Georgian Committee believes that there has recently been a reduction in the number of people killed or injured by antipersonnel landmines in Georgia, primarily 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.[29]

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.[30] In 1997, the ICRC manufactured 669 prostheses in the Tbilisi and Gagra workshops, 184 of which were for mine victims.[31]

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. There are medical rehabilitation centers, but expensive surgical and rehabilitation measures are inaccessible to most people. There are no national programs to provide psychological counseling for landmine victims. Although a general law for the “Social Protection of Disabled” exists in Georgia, necessary legislation for its implementation has not been developed. The aforementioned law makes no mention of mine 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 Mine Ban Treaty, Ottawa, 3-4 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] Letter to Georgian Landmine Campaign from the Public Relations Department, Georgian Ministry of Defense, 14 March 2000.
[6] Letter from Georgi Burduli, First Deputy Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to Landmine Monitor/Human Rights Watch, 6 July 2000.
[7] Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p.793.
[8] Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade’s Mine Action Database.
[9] United Nations, Country Report: Georgia, available at: http://www.un.org/Depts/Landmine/country/georgia.htm.
[10] “Prime-News,” (television), Tbilisi, Georgia, 10 August 1999.
[11] “Georgian Deputy Says Type of Russian Bomb Established,” Moscow RIA News Agency, 11 August 1999.
[12] “Sources Say Russian Air Force to Apologize to Georgia,” Moscow Interfax, 17 August 1999. A U.S. government official told the ICBL that there was a second incident in which a Russian helicopter dropped mines inside Georgia. ICBL meeting with U.S. delegation to CCW Protocol II meeting, Geneva, 13 December 1999.
[13] Aleksandr Igorev and Georgiy Dvali, “Minefields Will Separate Russia from Georgia,” Moscow Kommersant (daily newspaper), 12 April 2000.
[14] Ibid.
[15] United Nations Development Program, United Nations Needs Assessment Mission to Abkhazia, Georgia (United Nations, March 1998), available at: http://www.abkhazia.org. Russian soldiers and peacekeepers based in Georgia have also used mines in the past. See Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 793-4.
[16] Two main Georgian groups have claimed responsibility for mine attacks, the “White Legion” and the “Forest Brothers.” See Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 838, for more details on mining and links to government. In April 2000, the Abkhaz Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that members of the White Legion and Forest Brothers patrol the Georgian side of the Ingur River.
[17] Vacho Jgrenaya, Sapper Administration, Georgian Ministry of Defense, “Peaceful Caucasus: Toward a Future Without Landmines,” Regional Landmine Conference, Tbilisi, Georgia, 5-7 December 1999.
[18] HALO Trust and Abkhazia Mine Action Center, “Abkhazia Minefield Survey Report,” March 2000, p. 11.
[19] Letter from Georgi Burduli, First Deputy Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to Landmine Monitor/Human Rights Watch, 6 July 2000.
[20] 1999 Landmine Monitor interview with M. Rapava, Head of Criminal Police Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Abkhazia.
[21] UN Security Council Resolution, S/RES/1225, 28 January 1999.
[22] United Nations, Country Report: Georgia, available 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.
[23] UNDP, Needs Assessment Mission, March 1998.
[24] HALO Trust and Abkhazia Mine Action Center, “Abkhazia Minefield Survey Report,” March 2000.
[25] U.S. Department of State, “Fact Sheet: Meeting of the Interagency Working Group on Demining,” 2 September 1999. The U.S. is considering the request.
[26] Human Rights Watch, “Clinton’s Landmine Legacy,” July 2000, pp. 27, 34.
[27] Ibid., pp. 24, 34. The exercise will involve a total of sixty deminers from the three countries.
[28] Statement by the Turkish Delegation to the Ljubljana, Slovenia Regional Conference on Landmines, 21-22 June 2000. Also, in a letter to Georgian Campaign from K. Imnadze, Deputy to the Secretary of the National Security Council, No. 342, 10 March 2000, he states representatives of the governments of Georgia and Turkey met in December 1998 to begin these discussions.
[29] Landmine Monitor 1999 interview with Colonel G. Tavadze, head of the Main Department of the Strategic Planning and Science-Technical Research.
[30] International Committee of the Red Cross, Update No. 98/01 on ICRC Activities in Georgia, 4 June 1998, available at: http://www.icrc.org.
[31] International Committee of the Red Cross, Annual Report 1997, Georgia, 1 June 1998.