TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgia demands that international observers and Georgian specialists are allowed to observe monuments in the breakaway region Abkhazia.
The request comes out of concern that Georgian inscriptions and depictions on monuments will be damaged during rehabilitation work on monuments in Abkhazia, which is a part of Georgia that broke away in the early 1990s and was occupied by Russia in 2008.
After rehabilitation of Ilori and Bedia monasteries, which led to such damage, there is now about to start rehabilitation of Likhny Church, according to Abkhazian media, The church lies in Gudauta, Abkhazia, and was built in the tenth century.
Likhny is a historical place in Abkhazia on the shores of Black Sea. There are several historical monuments there: St Mary’s Church from the tenth and eleventh century and ruins of a two-floor palace belonging to Chachba-Shervashidze family. The palace was destroyed after a rebellion in 1866 on the orders of the Russian government. There also is Abaanta fortress from the eighth century on the left bank of the River Khipsta.
According to Abkhazian media, rehabilitation work has started in this village and is rapidly progressing.
Giorgi Gagoshidze, representative of Georgia’s monument protecting agency, says that this monument will also be damaged during restoration, just like Ilori and Bedia mnasteries. Bedia Monastery, which was built in the tenth century, contained the only fresco of King Bagrat the III, who is credited with having united Georgia. That fresco was destroyed during restoration works, according to Russian and Abkhazian media.
Georgia fears that what is going on is a deliberate policy by Russia to wipe out Georgian cultural traces in Abkhazia.
“Abkhazia plans to conduct accelerated restoration works in Likhny Monastery. This will be the same action as what happened in Bedia and Ilori. Georgian Monasteries were irreparably damaged under the guise of restoration. They destroyed a fresco of Bagrat the III and deleted five lines of inscriptions of Dadianis,” Gagoshidze said.
He adds that unique paintings, frescos and inscriptions are perfectly retained in Likhny church. He fears the church will share fortune of the other two monasteries.
Gagoshidze notes that Georgia has repeatedly appealed to the international community to stop this process and asked for access for international and Georgian observers to go and observe monuments in Abkhazia.