"To Beloved and Dear Vladislav": Letters from a Mother Who Lost Sons in War

Vladislav Ardzinba (14 May 1945 – 4 March 2010) was a wartime leader and the first president of Abkhazia.

Vladislav Ardzinba (14 May 1945 – 4 March 2010) was a wartime leader and the first president of Abkhazia.

Babusya Chamagua suffered the loss of both her sons in the Patriotic War of the people of Abkhazia (1992-93 Georgian-Abkhazian War). One of them strikingly resembled the first president, Vladislav Ardzinba, and it was in the Abkhazian leader that the bereaved mother found a semblance of her lost son.

Discover the story of the acquaintance between Vladislav Ardzinba and the mother who endured the loss of her sons, and learn about their subsequent communication in this article.

"My beloved, dear Vladislav Ardzinba, as close to me as a son, you will remain eternal as long as this world exists. The embodiment of our history, our leader! Your image is immortal!" – thus begins one of the dozens of letters from Babusya Chamagua of the village of Achandara in the Gudauta district to Vladislav Ardzinba.

Babusya's fate was marked by tragedy. During the Patriotic War of the people of Abkhazia, she lost both sons – Zurab and Anzor Trapsh.

Zurab Trapsh
Zurab Trapsh

Zurab, upon the onset of the war, joined the militia and was subsequently drafted into the repair and adjustment group of the "Luch [ray] factory. He crafted several dozen combat weapons, and on November 20, 1992, he tragically died in a road traffic accident.

Chamagua's other son, Anzor Trapsh, took up arms to defend the Motherland from the first days of the war. He was part of a militia group that halted the advance of enemy tanks on the right bank of the Gumista river. In that battle, Anzor suffered injuries from a mine, damaging both his eyes.

But a few days later, the fighter returned to the Gumista front. He asked the command to send him to the Gagra direction, where the situation was more severe. Anzor died in the battles for the liberation of Gagra and was posthumously awarded the "For Courage" medal.

Anzor Trapsh
Anzor Trapsh

Rediscovering a Son

Babusya Chamagua’s younger son bore an uncanny resemblance to Vladislav Ardzinba. The mother often reflected, "He resembles my son. I wish to approach him, to observe closely." According to Gugutsa Dzhikirba, the director of the Museum of the Patriotic War of the People of Abkhazia named after Sergey Dbar, Babusya Chamagua eventually had the opportunity to meet the first president of Abkhazia post-war. When Ardzinba learned of the mother’s story, of sons who had perished during the conflict, he extended an invitation to her.

"She secured his home phone number and would call from time to time. Then, she prepared treats and visited him. Vladislav Ardzinba and Svetlana Dzhergenia (Vladislav Ardzinba’s widow) received and bid her farewell as one would a beloved mother. Babusya frequented their home, occasionally staying over for a couple of days. When she hadn’t reached out for a while, Vladislav would initiate contact, arranging meetings. The woman was profoundly moved by her conversations with Vladislav, his captivating tales; she recognized in him traits of her son," recounted the museum director.

Dialogues About the People

When Gugutsa Djikirba inquired about the subjects of Babusya Chamagua’s discussions with the president, she responded that predominantly, he led the conversation. Vladislav Grigorievich showed keen interest in village life, the villagers’ occupations, and their living conditions. This information was crucial to him.

During every visit, Ardzinba ensured Babusya Chamagua did not go unnoticed; he presented her with gifts. In discussions with Gugutsa Dzhikirba, she mentioned, "Perhaps someday I will donate these gifts to the museum. But for now, I am not prepared; they hold immense sentimental value."

"Reflect on his compassionate approach to the mothers whose sons sacrificed their lives for the Fatherland. He possessed an open heart, and within him resided a deep-seated love for his people," highlighted Gugutsa Dzhikirba.

Babusya Chamagua and Vladislav Ardzinba not only engaged in phone calls and face-to-face conversations during her visits to the first president, but they also exchanged letters. Ardzinba subsequently handed these letters to the Gudauta Museum of the Patriotic War of the People of Abkhazia. "Vladislav would later give me these letters she wrote, remarking, 'They might prove useful in the future, should you establish a museum,'" added the museum director.

Vladislav Ardzinba, the revered leader of the Abkhazian people, departed this life on March 4, 2010. Babusya Chamagua grieved for the first president as though he were her very own son.




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