Georgian tabloid Asaval-Dasavali released in its October 30 – November 5 edition the interview with Georgian athlete, Roman Rurua, in which the latter discusses the issue of Abkhazia in Turkophobic and Islamophobic context and notes that alienation between Georgians and Abkhaz is linked to ethnic Turk, Konstantin Ozgan. Rurua claims that Ozgan fulfilled the instructions of Turkey and Muslim North Caucasians, who tried to gain access to the sea.
Roman Rurua, athlete: “He [Konstantin Ozgan] was famous for his anti-Western sentiments. Noteworthy that Konstantin Ozgan was neither Abkhaz, nor Russian. He was ethnic Turk. Does not it tell you anything?! Then Georgian security services should have dealt with Ozgan, but unfortunately they failed to do it. The Muslim world, namely the North Caucasus, which wanted to snatch Abkhazia away from Georgia, to create a confederation with it and gain access to the sea, is to be blamed for all kinds of misfortunes. That is why Chechens and other North Caucasian peoples were actively fighting in the Abkhazia war against Georgia. We thought then that they were fighting against us upon the Kremlin’s instructions, but we were wrong.”
Roman Rurua’s remarks contain false information and represent clear distortion of historical facts. Not a single fact confirms any political links between the Turkish state and Konstantin Ozgan. The latter was the head of Abkhaz separatist ideology, who had open political links with the Soviet Union.
Lie No. 1: Konstantin Ozgan was a Turk and he acted upon the instructions of Turkey.
Reality: In 1970-1990, Ozgan was actively involved in the political unrests in Abkhazia and held senior positions in Abkhaz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic and later in occupied Abkhazia. Ozgan was a Soviet Army major and has been awarded an Honorary Order.
- Secretary of the Abkhaz “Security Council,” Stanislav Lakoba writes in his book “Abkhazia after Two Empires, XIX-XX centuries” that Ozgan was one of the active participants of political unrests in Abkhazia. Lakoba also writes that in 1992-1993, during the Abkhazia war, Ozgan was a member of the state defense committee that had active contacts with the Confederation of Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus. It should be noted that the Confederation fought against Georgia during the Abkhazia war.
- Malkhaz Pataraia, member of the Assembly of Abkhazians, told Myth Detector that establishing the Confederation was a Russian project that is confirmed by the fact that it was dismantled as soon as the Abkhazia war ended.
- Malkhaz Pataraia recollects that one of the first anti-Georgian activities by Ozgan involved organizing a manifestation in Gagra on May 4, 1978, where Ozgan and other protesters demanded resignation of Kvantaliani, first secretary of the city council in Gagra, for his pro-Georgian policy. Kvantaliani was replaced by Aseniko Gvaramia, while the latter was replaced by Konstantin Ozgan as the first secretary of Gudauta district committee.
- On March 18, 1989, Abkhaz political figures gathered in the village of Lykhny and signed the so called “Letter of Lykhny.” Malkhaz Pataraia said that Konstantin Ozgan, who served then as the Head of the Supreme Council of Abkhaz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, was one of the initiators of the letter. The signatories demanded Abkhazia’s quitting from Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic.
- After the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the Abkhazia war, in 1996-1997 Ozgan was appointed as “Foreign Minister” of Abkhazia. In 1997-1999 he served as “Economy Minister” and “First Deputy Prime Minister”. In 2002, he was appointed as “the Parliament’s Vice Speaker.”
Lie No. 2: The strife between Georgians and Abkhaz dates back to the 1960th and is associated with Konstantin Ozgan.
Reality: It was Russia that launched dissemination of anti-Georgian ideology in the 1900th. Stirring up anti-Georgian sentiments was not launched in the 1960th. It is linked to the policy of Russian Empire, on the one hand, and Stalin’s nationalistic policy, on the other.
Dissemination of anti-Georgian ideology by Russia dates back to the 1910th, before the Soviet Union was formed. The first such fact was observed in 1907, when a brochure titled “Abkhazia is not Georgia” by Voronov was published. It was followed by stirring up anti-Georgian sentiments by Russia.
During the Soviet period, the Soviet Union used the so called Abkhaz issue as the lever against Georgian state independence. As soon as the Georgian society began its struggle for independence, Abkhaz separatism was the force that made this struggle inefficient and ultimately suppressed it, causing public or political confrontation inside the country.
Prepared by Merab Doborjginidze
Myth Detector Laboratory