Forest Brothers (Georgia)

The Forest Brothers (Georgian: ტყის ძმები, tq'is dz'mebi) was a guerrilla group consisting mostly of ethnic Georgians who remained in the breakaway republic of Abkhazia after the Georgian regular army's defeat in the War in Abkhazia (1992–1993)[1][2][3] and resisted the ethnic cleansing of Georgians in the disputed territory.

The group, along with another guerrilla group called the White Legion, continued low-intensity guerrilla war against Abkhaz forces along the ceasefire line in the late 1990s and early 2000s.[1] According to the Georgian Interior Ministry, under the cover of its guerrilla warfare, the Forest Brothers engaged in kidnappings, smuggling and other crimes.[4]

The Forest Brothers were led by Dato Shengelia.[2] Shengelia disbanded the group after Mikheil Saakashvili was elected President of Georgia in January 2004. On 4 February 2004, the police arrested a large number of Forest Brothers in Zugdidi. On 11 February, Shengelia declared that he had reached an agreement with Interior Minister Giorgi Baramidze to lay down his arms.[4]

In December 2006, Shengalia was arrested for the possession of heroin and methadone,[4] and subsequently convicted to 24 years of imprisonment. However, he was released in 2010 on account of bad health. On 22 February 2011, the Abkhazian delegation at the 25th meeting on incident prevention in Chuburkhindji questioned Shengelia's release and demanded his extradition from the Georgian side for various serious crimes.[5][6]

In popular cultureEdit

In the 1995 novel Our Game by John le Carré, there is an group of Ossetian mercenaries known as "The Forest" which may have been based on the Forest Brothers.


  1. ^ a b Georgia: The Threat of Attacks as a Diplomatic Tool, 11 November 2005[permanent dead link], Stratfor
  2. ^ a b Security deteriorates along the Abkhazia-Georgia ceasefire line, 6 September 2001, Jane's Information Group
  3. ^ Fighting in Georgia Redraws Twisted Alliances, Groong Research & Analysis Group
  4. ^ a b c "Guerrilla Group Surrenders Arms". Civil Georgia. 11 February 2004. Retrieved 25 February 2011.
  5. ^ Kuchuberia, Anzhela (22 February 2011). "Абхазия требует от Грузии выдачи Дато Шенгелия". Caucasian Knot. Archived from the original on 11 August 2011. Retrieved 25 February 2011.
  6. ^ Fuller, Liz (23 February 2011). "Abkhazia Asks Georgia To Hand Over Former Guerrilla Commander". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Retrieved 26 February 2011.