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  • Alexandre Kukhianidze Alexandre Kupatadze

    Roman Gotsiridze

    SMUGGLING THROUGH ABKHAZIA AND TSKHINVALI REGION

    OF GEORGIA

    TBILISI 2004

    Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TraCCC)

    Georgia Office

    transnacionaluri danaSaulisa da korufciis kvleviTi centri

    saqarTvelos ofisi

  • 2

    Smuggling has become a direct threat to the national security of Georgia. The goal of this research was to investigate smuggling through Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali Region, two secessionist regions of Georgia, which after the armed civil conflicts of the 1990s have been transformed into territories with high levels of violence, organized crime, and smuggling networks. With an interdisciplinary approach, the TraCCC research group has investigated general trends and mechanisms of illegal trade, along with the main crime groups involved in smuggling through these territories. The following materials are contained within the report: an analysis of anti-smuggling normative acts of Georgia, an analysis of organizations responsible for the prevention of smuggling, an overview of the general situation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali Region, and photographic documents which illustrate different aspects of smuggling, corruption, and criminal cooperation between crime groups, law-enforcement bodies of Georgia, and Russian peacekeepers. The “Rose Revolution” in November 2003 initiated a new political situation and a better environment in which to wage a successful fight against smuggling and corruption in the country. As a result, some conclusions and recommendations included in the report before November 2003 are no longer urgent – such as the need for new elections and a change of political leadership in Georgia. However, there is still much to be done to address this urgent problem.

    EDITORIAL BOARD:

    Louise Shelley, Erik Scott, Shota Papava, Keeli Nelson, Ketevan Rostiashvili, Georgi Glonti, Taras Akhalaia, Irine Kakoiashvili

    REVIEWED BY:

    Kenneth Yalowitz and Giuli Alasania

    This research project was conducted within the framework of the Georgia Office of American University’s Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TraCCC)’s grants program. Financial support was provided by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, in coordina- tion with the Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development Assistance and Training (DOJ/OPDAT) of the U.S. Department of Justice. The work was undertaken by Georgian scholars in Georgia, and by Russian scholars in Russia. This report presents the results of research conducted by the Georgian TraCCC research group. The results of the Russian TraCCC research group can be found online at: http://sartraccc.sgap.ru/.

    © American University’s Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TraCCC) Georgia Office

    Printed at Polygraph Ltd. 2, 26 May Sq., Tbilisi

    ISBN 99928-0-830-6

  • 3

    CONTENTS

    Introduction ..................................................................................................................................... 5

    Defining the Problem ............................................................................................................... 5

    Research Methodology ........................................................................................................... 7

    Sources of Research ...................................................................................................... 7

    Difficulties of Research................................................................................................... 8

    Publications on Smuggling through Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia .............. 9

    Smuggling through Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia .............................................. 10

    General Trends of Smuggling ................................................................................................. 10

    Smuggling Routes To and From Georgia .................................................................................11

    Psou River................................................................................................................... 12

    Trade Across the Cease Fire Line (CFL) Between the Gali and Zugdidi Districts ........... 14

    Violence and Smuggling in the Security Zone ................................................................ 16

    The Movement of Ships and Smuggling ........................................................................ 17

    Ergneti Market in Tskhinvali Region.............................................................................. 18

    Efforts to Control Ergneti Market ....................................................................... 20

    Smuggling Groups ................................................................................................................. 21

    Abkhaz, Ossetian, and Georgian Groups ...................................................................... 21

    Abkhaz Armed Groups, Georgian Guerillas and Crime Groups ..................................... 22

    Ossetian and Georgian Crime Groups .......................................................................... 24

    Law Enforcement Structures ........................................................................................ 26

    Russian Peacekeeping Forces (PKF) ........................................................................... 27

    Socially Vulnerable Groups of Smugglers...................................................................... 27

    Groups in Power and Clans ......................................................................................... 28

    Two Governments of Abkhazia ........................................................................... 29

    South Ossetian Government ............................................................................... 30

    Types and Mechanisms of Smuggling ..................................................................................... 31

    Radioactive Materials (Potential Threat) ....................................................................... 31

    Weapons ..................................................................................................................... 32

    Drugs .......................................................................................................................... 34

    Human Trafficking........................................................................................................ 36

    Trafficking in Stolen Cars ............................................................................................. 36

    Oil Products ................................................................................................................ 37

    Cigarettes .................................................................................................................... 39

    Log and Timber Export ................................................................................................ 42

    Hazelnuts Business in Gali and Zugdidi Districts ............................................................ 44

  • 4

    Fishing ......................................................................................................................... 45

    Scrap Metal................................................................................................................. 45

    Coal Mining and Export ............................................................................................... 46

    Alcoholic Beverages ................................................................................................... 47

    Tourism as a Form of Contraband Service .................................................................... 47

    Smuggling of Cultural Valuables .................................................................................... 48

    Irrelevance of CIS Sanctions Against the Secessionist Government of Abkhazia ...................... 49

    Prospect of Economic Relations with Self-Proclaimed Republics ............................................ 51

    Conclusions .......................................................................................................................... 52

    Appendices ................................................................................................................................... 53

    Appendix A. Legal Acts on Smuggling through Abkhazia

    and the Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia ................................................................................ 53

    Appendix B. Organizations Responsible for Prevention of Smuggling through Abkhazia

    and the Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia ................................................................................ 60

    Appendix C. Situation in Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia ........................... 71

    Recommendations .......................................................................................................................... 81

    Slides ............................................................................................................................................. 84

    References ..................................................................................................................................... 99

    Maps, Schemes and Charts .......................................

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