Zhiuli Shartava, the first national hero of the independent Georgia, is being remembered today, 29 years after his death during the war in the country’s now-occupied region of Abkhazia.
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili called Shartava “the best representative of his generation, a patriot distinguished by dignity, patriotism and education” who “fought to the end of his life for the unity of Georgians and Abkhazians.”
The Government head also noted Shartava’s “resilience and devotion to the homeland is a guide for each of us, for all future generations”, in his commemoration of the Chair of the Council of Ministers of the Abkhazian Autonomous Republic.
Shartava was killed on September 27, 1993, on the day of the fall of Abkhazia’s regional capital Sokhumi to separatist forces, who captured the government official, along with a small group of Georgian and Abkhaz government officials and staff, in the city.
Remaining in government offices in Sokhumi until the moment of the city’s capture, Shartava was "excessively tortured” following his capture, a United Nations report later revealed.
Shartava chaired the Council of Ministers of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia during the war between the Georgian government and separatist forces in the region that lasted between 1992-1993 and resulted in tens of thousands of civilians and soldiers losing their lives and about 300,000 people being displaced.
Shartava was the first person to be awarded the title of the National Hero of Georgia in 2004. He was also posthumously awarded the Vakhtang Gorgasali First Degree State Medal.