Georgia. According to
Countryaah, President Eduard Shevardnadze was subjected to
an attack in February in the capital Tbilisi. He escaped
unharmed, but two bodyguards were killed when grenades and
automatic fires were fired at the president's car cortege.
Suspicions were directed at the incumbent President Zviad
Gamsachurdia's supporters but also against Russian forces
who wanted to prevent a new oil pipeline from the Caspian
Sea from being pulled through Georgia.
Shortly after the attack, four UN observers, including a
Swedish officer, were kidnapped by armed militia loyal to
Gamsachurdia. The hostage was released without meeting the
kidnappers' demands: the withdrawal of Russian troops from
Georgia and the release of political prisoners.
The conflict around the outbreak republic of Abkhazia
caught fire in May. For a few days, Abkhaz forces and the
Georgian army fought the most difficult fighting since the
1993 war. Extensive negotiations followed, and in October
the parties agreed on confidence building measures,
including the military commanders decided to establish
communications. A minor military revolt broke out in western
Georgia in October, where Gamsachurdia has its strongest
support. The uprising was fought after a few days, but was
given, among other things. as a result, Shevardnadze
dismissed his Minister of Security. He was accused of
knowing in advance about the revolt without intervening.
Shevardnadze claimed that the uprising was controlled by
forces that wanted to prevent the Caspian Sea oil pipeline
from being pulled through Georgia to Turkey.
The country's finance minister resigned in November after
harsh criticism that long-term payments of pensions and
public servants' wages were delayed. At the same time, the
country's largest electricity company announced that it
could only afford electricity supply three days a week to
Tbilisi and other cities. Unpaid electricity bills were
stated as a cause.
South Ossetia on the border between Georgia and Russia
has declared itself independent from Georgia, but is
considered an outbreak republic by the government of
Tbilisi. Independence is only supported by Russia and a
handful of other states. The capital is called Tschinvali.
Geography and climate
South Ossetia lies on the southern slopes of the Great
Caucasus mountain range. The terrain is mostly mountainous
but also includes plains further south to the Mtkvari River.
The highest peak is Khalatsa at nearly 4,000 meters. In
total, South Ossetia covers 3,900 square kilometers, which
corresponds to three times the area of Íland.
In South Ossetia, around 70,000 people live today. More
than half live in the capital Tschinvali.
Before the uprising against Georgia and the subsequent
civil war of 1990-1992 (see History), about 100,000 people
were estimated to have lived in South Ossetia, of which
about two-thirds were Ossetians and the rest were Georgians.
30,000 of the inhabitants fled during the unrest. Most of
them never came back.
The short war between South Ossetia / Russia and Georgia
in the fall of 2008 (see History) gave rise to a new refugee
stream on both sides. Over one hundred thousand people were
reported to have been forced to leave their homes in South
Ossetia and in adjacent areas of Georgia. About 35,000 South
Ossetians fled to North Ossetia, while the Georgians of the
area applied to Georgia. Most of the South Ossetians were
able to return home when the fighting was over, while many
Georgians remained at refugee centers in Georgia.
The Ossetians are a Caucasian minority people who speak
an Iranian language. Most are Orthodox Christians but a
minority are Muslims.
In 2012, the South Ossetian Parliament passed a law that
allows residents to exchange Georgian or Russian last names
with Ossetians. Names ending with the Georgian endings
-jvili or -dze, or Russian -ov / -ova can be given the
ostetic endings -ty, -ti or -on.