According to media reports of September 30, a young ethnic Georgian man from Gali district of Abkhazia has burned the Abkhaz flag, while the celebrations of “victory and independence day” were under way in the occupied region.
In a video widely shared among the region’s social media users, the young man apologizes to those offended by his action. Explaining his gesture, he says to have acted on September 30 that marks the day of separation between the Abkhaz and the Georgians.
“I did it deliberately… […].. this is so that there is no separation [between Abkhaz and Georgians], … so that we are friendly to each other, that’s why I did it,” young man notes in a video, adding that “I beg everyone so that we [Abkhaz and Georgians] are brothers. That’s why I did it.”
The video about the alleged burning of the flag was widely decried by the Abkhaz Facebook users, with many calling for the man’s expulsion from the region with others going as far as calling for murder.
On September 30, the day when Georgian Government forces withdrew from Abkhazia in 1993 after the 13-months-long armed conflict, the Kremlin-backed region marks as the day of “victory and independence.”
Despite the ethnic cleansing of around 300,000 persons – mostly ethnic Georgians – from Abkhazia after the armed conflict in 1993, the Georgians still make the second largest ethnic group in the region. According to statistical data available in Sokhumi, as of 2020, the region’s population stood at 245,424, of which the Abkhaz make the largest group with 125,974 (51%), followed by Georgians (including Megrelians, a Georgian sub-ethnic group which the Abkhaz register separately in their ethnicity data, based on self-identification. Georgia does not include ethnicity in its national rosters) with 46,905 (19%), Armenians – 41, 870 (17%) and Russians – 22, 468 (9%). Over 30,000 persons – with their absolute majority being ethnic Georgians – live in the Sukhumi-controlled Gali district. The government in Tbilisi has repeatedly pointed to the rights abuses in the district, including the right to free movement and education in the Georgian language.