The secret of the Green Lake
04 September, 2015
Why did the state hide the fact of Aslan Abashidze’s buried weapons existing?

A whole heap of weapons and munitions was found at the bottom of Khulo municipality’s Green Lake, located at 2 200 meters above sea level. This was confirmed to have been done during the rule of Aslan Abashidze, former leader of Adjarian Autonomous Republic. The lake, known for its beauty, is a popular attraction for local and foreign tourists alike. Its attractiveness is augmented by its location
in the midst of massive mountains, surrounded by coniferous and deciduous forests alike. Its waters are crystal clear, giving the place an idyllic look. Aside from tourists, it has – until recently – been rather actively used by divers as well.

“Both usable and nonfunctional weapons were dumped into the lake after military exercises.”

It were precisely the divers who made the lake a hot topic in Georgian media for an entirely different reason. A few days ago, one of them has discovered a massive amount of armaments resting at the lake’s bottom. According to official information, some of the sunken mortars have not suffered significant damage from the water and may still remain both loaded and functional. Therefore, the danger of a sudden explosion is still present, which is the reason why the weapons have still not been extracted from the lake.

As it turned out, these weapons were first discovered as far back as in 2006, but nobody cared enough to remove them from the lake; moreover, no one even warned the tourists visiting the lake to refrain from swimming in it.

“Adjarian television actually covered the find back then, but CSD operatives confiscated the footage and released it only three days later.”

Georgian Journal has contacted Davit Nikolaishvili, head of Georgia’s Underwater Swimming Association, for additional information. This is what he told us:

- Our diving club members discovered the weapons cache nine years ago, in 2006. Adjarian television actually covered the find back then, but CSD (Constitutional Security Department) operatives confiscated the footage and released it only three days later. These weapons and munitions were dumped into water under Aslan Abashidze, and there are so many of them that if one walks on the lake’s bottom, they reach up to his knees.

The Green Lake is quite deep; our club is one of the few that has an international diving certificate, which gives us the right to provide services and training to any and all foreign tourists interested in diving as well as take them wherever we want. However, since we are barred from entering Abkhazia, many excellent diving spots are unavailable to us, so we have to make do with Kvariati, Gonio and Khulo municipality’s Green Lake, which possesses abundant and very special underwater flora and fauna. This is the reason why this place is so popular with tourists; however, now that these weapons have been discovered, it is no longer suitable for diving.

We did a bit of searching and discovered that there was a military base nearby that frequently held drills and small-scale exercises, using the lake as a dumping ground for dysfunctional weapons and ammunition. This was happening before and in 2003; later, they started dumping functional weapons there as well. Therefore, we do not know which of the buried weapons are loaded or armed, but if this heap is disturbed, the resulting explosion can lead to numerous casualties. We did our part by issuing a warning to tourists, but until the government takes care of this place by scouring the bottom clean of these weapons and ammo, swimming there will be lethally dangerous. Entering this lake should be officially banned until it is cleared.

Author: Eka Gadakhabadze