ABKHAZIA TODAY. WHAT TO DO? (PART VІІ)
“I sincerely wish volition and freedom for all people and every person, but I must say that their volition and freedom is the opportunity to have a government and laws that guarantee the safety of their lives and property.”
King Charles I of England I (1600–1649)
A quarter century after the Patriotic War of Abkhazian people, we still do not have a peace treaty with Georgia. It is the fault of Georgia.
A quarter century after the Patriotic War of Abkhazian people, we still do not have a peace treaty with Georgia. It is the fault of Georgia. The Georgian government does not want to put up with the emergence of independent Abkhazia and defends the preservation of the territory of the former Georgian SSR within the boundaries established by the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin (Dzhugashvili). I am sure that it is strategically much more profitable for Georgia to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and not to pursue an unconstructive policy aimed at isolating our country.
Although Georgian society has largely changed its attitude to the problem of Abkhazia, nevertheless I am sure that Georgian politicians are ready to carry out a new military intervention against us when they have such an opportunity. There is no doubt about it!
In the section of “Politics” (see above), I have already said and now I repeat that in Abkhazia there is no politician who is ready to question the fact that our main strategic ally (our protectorate) is the Russian Federation. It is important for Abkhazia to support the normal functioning of Russian military bases on the territory of our country. It corresponds to the Russian geopolitical interests as well.
However, it does not mean that the Russian Federation should not continue to build good relations with Georgia (even if they are not good for Abkhazia).
That is why we should maintain the independence and autonomy of our army, to raise the level of training of our army and to have modern equipment.
How can we achieve it? Abkhazian military specialists can answer this question, not me, the clergyman and the answer will undoubtedly be based on the above principles.
If we have already touched upon the military topic, I will focus on an important point: we all know that many citizens of our country keep weapon at home.
After the Patriotic War of 1992-1993 people had a lot of small arms.
Our citizens will always remember the pre-war operation of the authorities in order to seize firearms from the population. As a result, the people of Abkhazia were almost unarmed before the military aggression of Georgia.
In my opinion people can have firearms if there is a threat to their homeland and they are ready to defend it. Firearms must be registered in the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Abkhazia. Hunting weapons and handguns must be registered by public organizations like security companies, shooting clubs and so on. Access to registration data should also be limited.
It is the only way to realize the principle of autonomy, combat readiness and defense capability of our Republic.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1990–1944), writes in his work “The Citadel”:
“All our troubles, said the generals, because people are corrupted. Their sins ruin the kingdom. It is necessary to enforce laws and toughen punishments. It is necessary to punish severely people who are guilty.
And I was thinking…
“Maybe it’s really time to chop heads.” But virtue is always only a consequence. The sins of our people ruin the state. The corrupted state needs corrupted people. A healthy state nourishes nobility in people.”
The “unspoiled” state and nobility in people, nourished with their enlightenment is the main principle of development of Abkhazia, in my opinion. That’s why I started my work with the sections of “Politics”, “Education”, “Mass Media”, then “Human Resources and Management”, “Economics” and finish with the sections of “Security” and “Medicine”.
Organized crime (in particular, the institution of “thieves in law” in the USSR) arose in the period of totalitarianism, in the 30s and 40s of 20th century. In the same way, in Italy, the mafia arose and strengthened during the period when fascists ruled the country. I think these examples are enough to make a conclusion that a severe attitude of authorities to criminal gangs does not always give good results and sometimes it even turns out to be the opposite result.
The so-called “Icelandic miracle” is the evidence of the success of this approach (by the way, the population of Iceland is the same as in Abkhazia). In order to reduce the statistics of offenses (in particular, the number of drug addicts among the young people), they preferred to attract young people to a positive, sport and healthy lifestyle. Stadiums, gyms and sport clubs are built etc. Just a harsh suppressing of offences and severe punishments are not the good approaches. The new approach has allowed not only to change the behavior of adolescents, but to make a healthy and sport lifestyle attractive for a lot of people in Iceland.
I do not think that all Abkhazian young people are struck by various malicious ailments of our time and involved in the criminal environment and subculture.
Let me remind you of the extract from “An Essay on Abkhaz Etiquette” (Sukhum, 1984) by Sh. D. Inal-ipa: “Observe in everyday life the young Abkhazians – I don’t mean those young people who follow neither the new culture, nor the old one and make a very bad impression. I mean those ones who follow a modern lifestyle and at the same time they preserved our main traditions. Such “conservatives” stand up when they see older people; they will not sit until the elders are on their feet and they ask them to sit down; they will not say and drink too much before elders, they will not interrupt elders’ speech, they won’t walk between elders, they always speak politely, never use rude words, never deceive elders. They have not read about all of these things in books and have not learned them, it’s just their lifestyle, their simple every-day life”.
On the other hand, don’t forget that no one in history has managed to eradicate crime completely. Prisons are built in all countries, even in Iceland. The only difference is that in some countries, for example, in Holland, they are often empty and in others, unfortunately, modern Abkhazia belongs to them, prisons are full of prisoners.
Perhaps, it is difficult to find a country in the world where organized crime doesn’t exist. However, in highly developed countries, organized crime is isolated and deprived of the opportunity to control all state mechanisms. In particular, it doesn’t control small businesses. It’s a great privilege because if organized crime controls small business in a country, any country has no future.
Mafia may exist in a state, but a state should not exist for mafia.
Pierre Trudeau, one of the most popular Canadian leaders said: “Freedom and personal security are protected by law, for the law to be effective, it must be respected.”
After the Patriotic War of Abkhazian people in 1992-1993, a lot of our citizens have disrespectful and even disdainful attitude towards state laws. The consequence of such an attitude is total impunity which is spread in the country and it is a good condition for the growth of crime.
Reflecting on this topic, I found historical illustrations and I am ready to share them with readers. It is curious for me to find out how Abkhazians punished criminals at the beginning of 19 century.
The author of the article “Statistical View of Abkhazia” published in 1831 in the newspaper of “Tifliskie Vedomosti” (No. 24–29) notes: “Here is the whole Abkhazian law-code: according to the ancient custom, for the murder the offender must reward the relatives of the victim with 15 peasants, the best horse with a saddle, sabre, gun and pistol. If he is not able to reward relatives, then the relatives of the murdered person kill him and the revenge is over.
The thief must pay to the victim the double price of the stolen things. In addition, the perpetrator must give to the Prince (of Abkhazia – remark of Father Dorotheos) one person, if he does not have peasants, then he must serve as a slave.”
i.e. fines were the basic punishment, not the personal punishment of the perpetrator. We see the same thing today: the person who committed the crime pays off a large amount of money and he is free.
I consider that all kinds of crimes, except for serious crimes and particularly serious crimes, should be punished with heavy fines and community service, not by years of imprisonment, during these years the criminal behavior of the offender only grows. In our conditions, it makes no sense to make imprisonment a priority type of punishment, while for isolation of criminals we have only a detention center in Dranda. There are no corrective colonies and other penal institutions.
Law enforcement agencies
The scheme for improvement of law enforcement and courts’ work is well known all over the world and it makes no sense to repeat them now. I will focus on another thing. In our country, the population is small and many people know each other. Most of us are relatives to each other. In addition, some features of the Abkhaz mentality are not the best ones. All of these things are enough for worsening the work of law enforcement officers. As a result, most lawbreakers avoid punishment.
As an example, I will give an extract from the detective story of prose writer Valentin Dbar (1948–2010), who worked for a long time in the bodies of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Abkhazia.
«Аусура мшы нҵәаразы рацәак агмызт, — writes V. Dbar in his story of «Азеимаак», — ашә аартны х–ҩык ахацәа аныҩнашылоз. Аӡәы издыруаз иакән. Аҩны изныкымкәа, ҩынтәымкәа итәахьаз, игылахьаз, изхааизгьы аусзымдырхәаз…
— …Уара макьана уҷкәнцәоуп, дад? Зегьы абоудыруа. Анкьа ҳаҳәшьа ду лыԥсы анҭаз шәара шәҿы акән тәарҭас–гыларҭас иахьҳамаз… Уҳацхрааразы ҳуҳәарц ҳааит. Хаҭала саргьы схазы аказы суднамгалацт… Абра ҷкәнцәақәак машәырк иақәшәан…
— Уи машәырума иҟарҵаз, — ихжәацәазаргьы иажәа аахысҵәеит.
— Машәырымкәа, дад, рхы акы ҭазар уи еиԥш ҟарҵозма? Ихәмарны аӡәы лнапы асааҭ ахырхит ҳәа ирӡтәума?
— Асааҭ амацара акәндаз. Убас лнацәкьарақәа ахьтәы мацәазқәа рхыхыуп, ллымҳареҩқәа ирхьымӡеит акәмзар. Ажәакала, ддырҳәит…
— Иуҳәо иашоуп, аха уажәы абахҭа инҭашәар, рыԥсҭазаара ԥхасҭахагәшьоит.
— Мап, иабжьап сгәахәуеит. Иҟарҵаз шиашам азхәцха аамҭарацәа роуеит.
— Ус умҳәан, сукәхшоуп. Аус уанӡа инамгакәа ацхыраара руҭароуп.
— Цхыраарас ируҭои, рхы зықәдыршәаз ауп изықәшәаз.
— Ргаӡара рыхьӡеит. Усҵәҟьа иҟам. Уи ауха иахьеилагаз сыздыруам акәмзар?..
— Уажә рҿыхра шәашьҭалт, уаанӡа шәабаҟаз?
— Аҩны ҳаҟан…
— Аҩны ҭынч шәтәоуп азоуп, даргьы изықәшәаз ишақәшәаз. Уи иашақәшәаз жәдыруазар акән. Џьара аус руӡом. Ашәыр аџьырмыкьаҿ иаҭнырхуа шаҟа мааҭ шәырҭахьеи? Акгьы зышәымҳәои? Излашәырҭои, аҽны идырҳауа, ауха аресторанқәа рҿы инырхуеит… Ашкол даалгаанӡа ауп ауаҩы иааӡара анаҭахыу, нас ддухеит ҳәа шәылаԥш игшәыжьлоит. Иашам. Уажәоуп еиҳагьы иааӡара, алаԥш игмырхара анаҭахыу. Избанзар, ари аамҭаз, амҩахҟьара зынӡа имариоуп. Саб иқәлацәа шәоуп. Арсҟатәи изырҳәозеи ҳәа шәгәы иаанагозар ҟалоит. Аха уи аусураҿы аԥышәа иснаҭаз ауп исзырҳәо…
— Ҟоҳ, ауаҩы дыршьыма? Ауаҩы дызшьызгьы аурышьҭуеит. Уамаӡак ҟарҵазшәа шәылрыхан иҭашәкуеит.
Даара игәы иалсны дҩагылт, Пыҷа иабгьы днаишьҭаланы дындәылҵит. Ҭамшьыгә дахьтәаз даақәԥсычҳаит.
— Аԥыхьа ишысҳәаз еиԥш, ҳарҭ ҳаицәтәымуаам. Усцәыԥхамшьан, уагьсцәымшәан, исҳәо ухшыҩ азышьҭ. Рҩыџьагь ҩышықәса изланхахьоу ацәқәа рымоуп. Ирҭиуеит. Иҳәа, шаҟа аҭахыу аҷкәнцәа рҿыхразы.
— Уи шԥыкәу? — сҩаҵнарҟьеит.
— Мшәан, уара иугоит сымҳәеит. Аиҳабыра ыҟоуп. Урҭгьы аҭаацәа рымоуп, акрыфара зҭахымда? Уҭахызаргьы уара ига, аха аус ҟаҵа…
Уаҳа аҳәаха исымҭеит, ишсымчыз сҭаҷкәм раҵәаны астол ианықәсыкша, сахьгылаз схы инаркны сшьапаҟынӡа сҵысҵысуан ажәак сзымҳәо. Иаргьы иажәа алымҵуазшәа аниба, дмақаруа ашәахь иҿынеихеит:
— Уара уеиԥш егьаҩ аабахьеит! — ашәаҿы дааҭгылт. — Дук хара имгакәа урҭ аҷкәнцәа аушьҭымхозар, ҭәыу ҳәа усҿаӷьцәа… Анцәа иџьшьоуп, ауаа хыхьгьы иҳамоуп…» (Дбар В. Иаанкылоу асалам шәҟәы. Аҟәа, 1990).
Although the above situation happened a few decades ago, little has changed in our life…
It seems to me in order to improve the work of the law enforcement bodies of our Republic, it is necessary to create closed special groups in each region (in each group there must be at least ten well-trained employees of the Ministry of Public Security). Each group must be well-equipped and armed in a modern way, it must have special vehicles, including modern police motorcycles. And the most important thing is that no one outsider should know these people, their names or surnames – both the employees of these groups and their leaders. Each such group should be led by several officers of the internal security department in order to control the actions of these groups and not allow them to break the law.
In addition, it is necessary to keep a constant video recording of any law enforcement activities (nowadays it’s very simple). Video archives are stored and they can be accessed at any time by court decision.
This approach will improve the work of law enforcement agencies without involving their officers in possible “family ties” schemes for circumventing the law.
In the section of “Economics” (see above), when we talked about tourism, I suggested to replace all the traffic police posts along the roads with cameras that record violations of traffic rules and create mobile police patrol. The number of workers of such patrol groups should be much smaller than the special groups we talked about above. For example, three people in each patrol car, one of them is an employee of the internal security service of the Ministry of Public Security.
Car accidents on roads
Here is the data from the report of the car accident statistics of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Abkhazia from 1994 to 2016. According to this information within the last 23 years 4,750 car accidents have happened on the roads of our country. 1,336 people perished and 5.321 people wounded. If in 1994 there were 136 car accidents in Abkhazia and 69 people were killed, in 2015, 220 accidents happened, which killed 75 people.
Every year nearly 1.25 million people perish in a road traffic crash all over the world. Almost a half of the victims on road accidents are motorcyclists and pedestrians. As a result, 49% of road deaths are not drivers of cars. At the same time the death in a car accident is the cause of death number one for people aged 15 to 29 years old. 90% of deaths due to road accidents happen in the countries with low and middle income.
Every year the biggest number of people die in road accidents in Namibia: 45 people per 100 thousand. In the second place is Thailand, where 44 people per 100 thousand perish on the roads. In the third place is Iran, 38 people per 100 thousand, etc.
There is no doubt that Abkhazia is among these countries, where annually the majority of people die on the roads. But the population of our country is only 250 thousand people, so it is impossible to compare the report of the Interior Ministry of Abkhazia with numbers of perished in these countries! The population of the African Namibia is more than 2 million people, the population of the Asian Thailand compose 67 million people and Iran is 78 million people.
Obviously, there are many reasons which lead to accidents on the road. Some of them are common for all countries in the world, others have their own features, related to the cultural and historical aspects of nations. This is a large and separate topic. I will not speak about it now. With regard to Abkhazia, I think there are two main reasons of such a large number of accidents on the roads of our country.
The first reason is the mentality of our people, which is reflected on our behavior.
Theophilus Lapinsky, a Polish officer who fought on the side of the highlanders during the Russian-Caucasian war, said the precise words: “A horse is an animal, I am Abaza!”
For the male population of the Caucasus, including Abkhazia, a horse was a special animal. Any Caucasian had to have a good horse, it didn’t matter if he was rich or poor. Abkhazians preferred horses, which had a high speed in the run. Caucasians could spend all their cash at their horses. They bought saddles, belts and buckles with silvering plaques.
Nothing has changed in our time, hasn’t it?
Modern Caucasians prefer good, powerful cars preferably with a nice tuning, and spend a huge amount of money on them. How many ridiculous cases have been in Abkhazia for the last 10 years, when people buy expensive cars with a large engine capacity, but they rarely drove their cars, because there was no money for a fuel.
One day, I was in Maikop and I noticed that the Circassians prefer cars of the brand BMW. I asked some of the owners of those cars, why did they prefer BMW? The answer struck me: it turns out, the cars of this brand budge significantly faster than others.
Preference of good cars is not the only challenge, Caucasians are not the only ones who prefer expensive cars. The second trouble is the manner of driving.
Theodore Tornau, an intelligence officer of the Russian-Caucasian war, published his memoirs in 1864. He described the funeral procession of Abkhazians, in particular the funeral of Emin Shakril. This event took place in 1835. He wrote that at funeral horseraces were organized. 30 horses took part in the races. Riders were boys of 12-14. Participants of the “races” had to gallop up to the Pitsunda temple and back, about 48 miles, i.e 51 km. “The whole gang – said Tornau – consisted of more than one hundred riders. Like a whirlwind, shouting, whooping, galloping through the woods, mountains, downhill, never holding back the horses. Each of them had one thought to overtake one another and win the prize, consisting of a beautiful Kabardian horse with a saddle and a rich rifle donated by the ruler Michael Chachba. I have not seen anything more exciting than this racing in Abkhazia. During such horse races boys frequently fall from horses, died. As a result, after one funeral followed another one and the following dangerous races”.
I remember the parade in honor of the 10th anniversary of the victory of the Abkhaz people in the war of 1992-1993. The parade took place in the Square of Freedom, Sukhum. At the parade there were heavy military vehicles. One of the tanks suddenly stopped and began to spin on the spot. Our people liked the game on the “iron horse” very much, except the guests from other countries. All over the world, heavy military vehicles take part in parades, but none of us have ever seen such performance at a square.
In other words, the problem is not only in those who love speed, but in a bystander, who greets such behavior. Apparently, we still continue to believe that modern cars like horses. At the same time we forget that a horse is a living creature. Even if a horse does not listen, then we shout at it and it understands the human voice. But what can understand a car?
Of course, not only in our country people like speed. This feature is characteristic for many drivers, especially those who live in the southern countries. According to my observations, the behavior of drivers and pedestrians in Italy, Greece, etc. not much different from the behavior of our citizens on the roads.
In the first year of my stay in Greece, one of my Greek friends took me to the famous monasteries of Meteora. On the way I drew his attention to a large number of tiny churches with burning lamps in them, situated along the roadside. He explained to me: “Father Dorotheos, we – Greeks are religious people, but bad drivers!” I understood what he meant. The second event took place in Italy, when my friend and I, being in the center of Rome and enjoying the historic City Hall of the city, were suddenly distracted by a car of Ferrari brand which were driving with a high speed. We were very surprised to know that this luxury sports car belonged to the police, and the driver of the car was a smug carabineer.
Such behavior of almost all southerners is explained by their environment, forming their temperament, which is not so easy to control. A metropolitan of the Greek church explained the emotional behavior of the Greeks and Italians by the following way: the sun constantly beats their heads.
The second cause of so many accidents on the roads of Abkhazia is impunity for violators of traffic rules. Let’s remember the words of the English King Charles I (1600-1649): “I sincerely wish people to have the freedom and will, as well as any single person, but in spite of their freedom and will they also must have a government and laws which guarantee the safety of their lives and property “.
Let’s try to identify at least a few ways of improvement the situation on the roads of our country.
Personal responsibility is very important. All of people constantly teaches each other how to drive a car, how to cross the road, etc. But very a few of them ask themselves whether they properly behave on the roads. A personal example is very important.
I have a driver’s license for 15 years, although the last 9 years I rarely drive a car. I have never exceeded the speed over 80 km per hour. I have never crossed the road on a red light, even if streets were empty. I have never overtaken where it was not allowed. After living in Greece, I always wear a seatbelt, it doesn’t matter I am at the wheel or in the passenger seat. If I see that my driver or any other person who drives a car exceeds the speed or violates the traffic rules, I always make an observation.
Eventually all listed rules have become a habit for me and I don’t make an effort to comply with them. But the failure to comply with the basic traffic rules I see not only as a lack of discipline on the roads, but as a serious sin. Why? The reason is that a person can drive through a red light 100 times t, overtaking in the wrong place, do not wear a seat belt, driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs and psychotropic substances and it really did not happen. But for the 101st times (there is no doubt), he will be deprived of life by his own fault and it is more awful if he kills somebody and among them may be present kids! Is not it clear that this is a terrible sin?!
All of us often claim that there are two important things in our Christian life: obedience and humility, even though I do not think that these things are the most important in Christianity. However, if you are Christian and you want to show obedience and humility, then as a priest, I cannot bless (saying in a church language) driving without wearing a seat belt, speeding over 80 or 90 kilometers per hour, overtaking in a wrong place or crossing the road on a red light, etc. Show your humility and obedience!
What else can we do to improve the situation on the roads in our country? First of all every violator must be punished without any exceptions as well as all in other countries. It is also necessary to install Surveillance Cameras in order to record violations of traffic rules, at least on the most difficult sections of roads, to increase fines and other similar measures.
There are many speed bumps on our roads but it is difficult to say how effective they are.
Finally, many wedding cars get into accidents and a lot of people die. I can’t understand why all the wedding cars from all towns and villages in Abkhazia must visit the capital. Aren’t there sightseeings in Gagra, Gudauta, New Athos, Pitsunda, Ochamchira, Tkvarchal, Gal? A long way and time constraints push drivers of wedding cars to excessive speed, which often leads to accidents. In addition, a wedding cortege must be headed by senior and respected people who must restrict attempts of speeding and violations of traffic rules by young drivers.
To fulfill the above two conditions, however, as just noted by us, the most important role played by parents and the elders in the family. They must put aside rivalries and the petty bourgeoisie, to be uncompromising in these things by me, if they want to see their children alive and healthy.
I think the most important role is played by parents and elders in a family. They must bring up their children, speak to them, explain how children must behave, including on the road.
Concluding the topic of road safety, I recommend to get acquainted with the project of «Безопасный город. Системный подход к снижению бремени дорожно–транспортного травматизма», presented by Otto Lakoba and Victor Roganov in 2014.
On 7 July a meeting on the problem of drug addiction was held in the assembly hall of the New Athos School. In the meeting participated: deputies of the City Assembly, representatives of the city administration, law enforcement agencies, the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia, young people and society of New Athos. At the meeting I discovered horrible facts, the number of registered drug addicts in our small town is amounted to 161 persons (out of 1518 according to the census of 2011)! At the meeting I shared some thoughts on the most complicated problem in the Abkhazian society. In a more detailed form, I would like to share them here.
First of all, I reminded that several times I had refused to hold Funeral Service over people who had been baptized in the Church and died from drug overdose. I consider, such a death is definitely one of the forms of suicide.
Many of us have heard the phrase «Иҽишьыр иҭахызар иҽишьааит!» (If he wants to commit suicide, then let him do it!) from Abkhazians. It is about a man who has begun to take drugs. Of course, I do not agree with such methods. However, it is obvious that Abkhazians connect drug addiction with suicide. It is difficult to disagree with this. Every drug user knows that any of the subsequent doses of drug injected into the body can become fatal. He knows about this dangerous but continues to take drugs. Such behavior is not just weakness or illness, it is a conscious choice between life and death. Many people object that addicts have a strong dependence, etc. This is true. But a man must do his best to win over this dependence
Having a strong desire to continue his life, faced with such a problem, a person does everything possible (with the assistance of his relatives, society, the state, etc.) to get rid of any dependence, because he knows that otherwise he will die. My refusal to read the burial service over the drug addicts is connected with the fact that I leave the trial of such people to God. No one gave me the right to make a decision, for example, to say during the funeral service ” Let him rest in peace with all the righteous ones” Let me remind you a famous phrase of Saint Augustine: “Do not despair, one of the thieves was saved!
The most terrible thing is not that a person dies from drugs, people die for other reasons too. The terrible thing is that a person who takes drugs is degrading. His personality is degrading. Personality gives a man by God. Life is the way of the formation of a Person and the achievement of the maximum perfection. The ultimate perfection of the Person is the ability to live in God and achieve God-likeness.
During the burial of a Christian, the priest utters following words: “Saints of God, come to his/her aid! Come to meet him/her, Angels of the Lord!” and utters the name of the deceased person. There is a simple question. Does a priest have a right to ask Saints of God to aid a person who didn’t appreciate his life? If a person adopts Christianity and becomes a Christian, he cannot continue to take drugs. Since becoming a Christian means changing the way of thinking and behavior. Prior to baptism, a man thinks that drugs are the usual means of “relaxation” and “entertainment”, but when you have become a Christian, you realize that to take drugs is a terrible sin, it destroys your personality. Otherwise a split of the human personality will occur: I’m good in church, I’m bad outside the church fence, but I repent for bad deeds. It seems to me that first of all priests are responsible for such an understanding of the Christian life. Priests teach people that the most important thing is “repentance”, but I repeat repentance means the changing of the way of thinking and behavior and it changes the life of repentant person. If a man does not have this, he is not a Christian and the fate of his soul is uncertain.
What about drug addiction… Nobody was able to defeat this terrible “plague” of our time, not a single country, even the most developed and economically prosperous. It is a fact.
It should be about creating conditions in the state, in which the ranks of drug addicts do not replenish as easily and quickly, as we are observing it in Abkhazia now.
In 2017, during the clearing of olive plantations near the New Athos Monastery, I found several so-called “reserves”.
Unfortunately, everyone knows in our country what is it! What would I do if I saw people who made these “reserves”? Without any doubt, I would call the police. In the state of law every citizen must do the same thing. If someone tries not to follow the law but avoid it, guided by doubtful “concepts”, then such a person becomes a participant in the death of all those young people who die from drugs.
The solution of the problem of drug addiction is only not concluded in the issue of the consciousness of our citizens. All our efforts will be in vain if drug distributors, not only will not be punished, but will also pay off for money from law enforcement agencies. A policeman (it doesn’t matter what rank he has), who releases drug dealers for money, is also guilty of the death of our drug-dependent citizens and must be punished too. While we constantly hear the names of drug users on Abkhazian television but the names of drug dealers rarely and we’ve never heard the names of representatives of law enforcement agencies who release drug dealers for money, nothing will not change.
And the last thing what to do with those ones who are already addicted to drugs? At the meeting, I proposed to open a rehabilitation center for drug addicts in the abandoned Skete of St. John the Baptist in the village of Ankhua.
A month later, on 27 July 2017, at the following meeting of the Council of the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia, a project on construction of a rehabilitation center for drug addicts in the building of the restored monastery of St. John the Baptist in the village of Ankhua was unanimously approved.
In August 2017, employees of HMA carried out large-scale work on clearing the territory of the building. At the same time, the architect Beslan Bagatelia measured all the rooms in the monastery building and prepared documents for the restoration.
The experience of other countries shows that several conditions are necessary for the treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts:
• the building must be in a remote and unavailable location and must be closed
• Patients must be under constant medical supervision
• both clergymen and psychologists must be in the Rehabilitation center
• a church and a household plot (where patients can work) must function in the rehabilitation center
Religious intolerance and enmity are becoming one of the key issues in the safety of the modern society’s life.
A few years ago, my friend from Greece put up the following post on a social network: “I saw a group called “Ορθόδοξοι Έλληνες Μαχητές (Orthodox Greek Fighters).” Then I saw a group of “Islamic Fighters” from Syria and Iraq, killing people in the name of “God”. You can make a conclusion by yourself… I remembered the verse of Odysseus Elytis (Greek poet, Nobel Prize in Literature,1979): “When you hear the word “τάξη”(order), it smells like human flesh!”
Religious tolerance is one of the most important features of «Аԥсуара», the ethical code of our people and the Abkhazian state should promote it in every way.
The head of the Black Sea coastline L. M. Serebryakov wrote (1852) on the religious situation among the Abkhazians: “… In the Abkhazian tribe, Muslims do not have the spirit of fanaticism and are distinguished by religious tolerance. Tolerance is mutual between Christians and Muslims there. Muslims marry Christians and vice versa. In some families, some children are Christians and others are Muslims, and there are no disputes in such families”.
Abkhazia is a secular state and according to the Constitution of our country (Article 14), everyone has the right to choose a religion by himself. I think, it should be unchanged!
I have always opposed our state giving preference to any one religion, as well as against the use of any religion as the ideology of the state. Faith in God is the most sacramental thing for a man! Therefore, the state should not interfere in the relationship between God and a believer or a community of believers, and even more to regulate them.
In addition, the state, including ours, is obliged to protect its citizens from the influence of various destructive totalitarian sects (both Christian and Islamic ones). In the post-war Abkhazia there is again a boom of their activities.
In 1919, Mkan Khakibey in the article of «Афы ашьарда зымчуыи, Шьашәы абжьныха ашьарда зырҿыои (ажьира)», which was published in the «Аԥсны» newspaper (No. 10), expressed his indignation at the “methods” of treating people practicing in the Gudauta region of Abkhazia. Fortune-tellers (аҟәыдырԥацәа) were involved in the treatment and devastating sacrifices for relatives of the patient were performed.
The state should also help our people to get rid of some pseudo-religious and pseudo-Abkhaz rites (for example, holding devastating funeral processions and wakes.
«Абарҭ аԥсхәарақәеи, аԥшцәеи, аҵаацәеи роуп, — wrote I. Adzhindzhal in the same newspaper in 1919 (№ 18), — ҳ–Аԥсны инхоуа аҩнуҵҟа ӷа дуус, шьҭахьламзар, ԥхьаҟа измышьҭуа ирылоу. Убри аҟнытә зегьы Аԥсны азы згәы былқәоуа, абра иаԥхьоуа ԥсыхәа зламоу ала мчыла, абарҭ аҭоурых гмыгқәа аԥсуаа раԥхьаҟа измышьҭуа шәыҽырзышәшәара азы. Ҵара зманы, хәыҷык заҳауаны иҟоу зегьы абарҭ рзы ҳақәԥалароуп…».
In conclusion I would like to say about the religious calendar reform, which must be carried out in Abkhazia. It is important to adopt relevant legislation for this step.
Despite the fact that the Church in the Republic of Abkhazia is separated from the state, in our country many traditional Christian and Islamic holidays are state.
The celebration of most holidays, both Christian and traditional Abkhaz ones, twice a year (according to the new and old calendars) should be put to an end. Christmas, New Year and Epiphany holidays last almost a month (from 25 December to 19 January), it is not right at all!
The difference between the New Julian (Gregorian) and Julian calendars was 13 days. Nine Local Orthodox Churches follow the New Julian calendar. Five Local Orthodox Churches follow the Julian calendar, these are Jerusalem, Serbia, Russian, Georgian and Polish. For example, Christmas is celebrated on 25 December and New Year is 1 January. These days before the calendar reform carried out by the Soviet government in 1918, were on the days of modern 7 and 14 January. Hence the date of celebration of Christmas is 25 December according to the new calendar / 7 January according to the old calendar and the date of celebration of New Year is 1 January according to the new calendar / 14 January according to the old calendar.
Before the calendar reform of Soviet power, carried out in 1918, our people did not know two days of celebration, for example, Christmas or New Year holidays. Therefore, I think that the Orthodox Church of Abkhazia should start following the New Julian calendar (modern European calendar), which is followed by nine of the fourteen Local Orthodox Churches. Bearers of traditional religious beliefs will have to postpone the New Year’s celebration (Хьечхәама/Ажьырныҳәа) from 14 January to 1 January, as it was before the 1917 revolution.
(To be continued)