Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Developments
The fighting in the western regions of Abkhazia and Megrelia, which had marred Georgia’s human rights record in recent years, decreased dramatically in 1994. However, violations of refugee rights, police brutality, abysmal conditions of confinement, and restrictions on peaceful dissent continued to plague this Caucasian country.
After fourteen months of fighting the central government for autonomy, Abkhazian forces took full control of the disputed territory in October 1993, and the warring sides signed the first of a series of U.N.-sponsored peace agreements on December 1. Beginning in June 1994, Russia deployed some 3,000 peacekeepers under the Confederation of Independent States (C.I.S.) banner to de-mine the conflict zone. At the same time, the bloody civil war between supporters and opponents of Head of State Eduard Shevardnadze that had gripped Megrelia and the capital, Tbilisi, since 1991 also tapered off. The parties to the conflict signed a cease-fire agreement in September 1993, former President Zviad Gamsakhurdia died in December, and anti-Shevardnadze military leader Vakhtang “Loti” Kobalia was sent to jail on murder charges on July 7, 1994.