Amidst the Patriotic War waged by the people of Abkhazia in 1992-1993, Khuta Kurt-Ogly found himself immersed in engineering and sapper tasks. This article sheds light on the pivotal moments he confronted during the conflict and explores the extent to which his pre-war military education bolstered his endeavours.
The protagonist of our tale, Khuta Kurt-Ogly, spent his formative years living and studying in the village of Akarmara. After completing his education at night school, he ventured into the workforce, securing a position in one of the mines of Tquarchal, before earning a place at the Kaliningrad Military Engineering School. Upon graduation, Kurt-Ogly embarked on his service in Batumi, strategically situated on the border with Türkiye. A year into his tenure, he received a transfer to an engineering-sapper regiment in South Ossetia, where he held the rank of company commander for four years.
"Subsequently, I was reassigned to head the engineering base situated near Tbilisi. It was there, in 1975, that I submitted my application to join the military academy, from which I graduated in 1980. Following this, I was stationed in Abkhazia, dedicating myself to civil defence from 1981 to 1990," the veteran reminisces.
Within the realm of civil defence, Kurt-Ogly assumed the role of an educator, imparting his wisdom and experience to the upcoming generation. His journey saw him ascend to the position of head of the engineering department, followed by appointments as the first deputy head of the civil defence of the Abkhazian ASSR and the chief of staff of the civil defence of Sukhum. He also undertook responsibilities as the head of the Voluntary Society for Assistance to the Army, Aviation, and Fleet (DOSAAF). Before the outbreak of the war, Khuta Kurt-Ogly relocated to Kaliningrad, where his eldest son was enrolled at the maritime school.
"On August 14, as we neared Moscow, I noticed the Georgians in our carriage toasting with glasses of vodka, embracing one another. Curious, I inquired with the conductress about the cause of their celebration; she informed me – the Georgian army had captured Sukhum," he narrated.
Kurt-Ogly remained resolute and continued on his journey, already contemplating his imminent return to Abkhazia to extend his support to the republic in any possible way. Upon reaching the hotel, he specifically chose a room equipped with a TV to keep abreast of the news from Abkhazia. Immediately after reuniting with his son, he made his way to the airport, though he could only depart the following morning.
"Upon landing in Adler, I was on the lookout for transportation to Sukhum. Unexpectedly, a bus labelled 'Pitsunda' pulled up. I assumed it would take me close enough. However, when we reached the turn to Gechrypsh, Georgian soldiers halted the bus and ordered the Abkhaz, Circassian, and Chechens to disembark. I stayed put, but a soldier approached and requested my ID. I presented the document, declaring my Abkhaz nationality," the veteran emphasised.
Incensed, a Georgian soldier forcibly removed him from the bus, struck him with the butt of a rifle, and fired a shot through the cap that had fallen from Kurt-Ogly’s head, a clear act of intimidation. They confiscated his documents and escorted him to a police station near the "Psou" holiday home.
After a while, an officer approached, returned his documents, and directed him to a blue "Zhiguli" car parked nearby. Once Kurt-Ogly entered the car, it headed towards the Russian border at Psou. The officer behind the wheel, who turned out to have served with Kurt-Ogly in the Georgian city of Akhaltsikhe, had decided to aid the detainee.
"He let me go to the border, where I found myself stranded for an entire day. Eventually, a ship destined for Sukhum arrived, and we were all boarded. We navigated towards 'Atoll' (a scientific marine station in the capital – editor's note), where the captain had everyone disembark on boats. However, he advised me, 'Don’t disembark; we will arrive by night,' as Georgian soldiers, lined up in two rows, were inspecting everyone. Late into the night, I managed to make my way home, where my family was still residing in the city," he recounted.
Kurt-Ogly had the option to evacuate his family from the capital, but a call from Gudauta, urging him to share his military expertise, redirected his course. Eager to contribute, he approached the Russian military, with a unit stationed near School №12. Responding to his plea, they facilitated Kurt-Ogly's evacuation from the city.
Contribution to Victory
Upon reaching Gudauta, Khuta Kurt-Ogly encountered the Chief of the General Staff of the republic, who highlighted the pressing need for specialists in engineering and sapper affairs. The Abkhazian army was in dire need to fortify the front line that extended along the Gumista River.
"We traversed from the sea to the upper Gumista bridge, inspecting meticulously, yet found not a single trench. The conditions under which our people fought were unimaginable—it was August 22-23! I was allotted two 'Belarus' excavators, and we marked areas so the workers knew where to dig trenches. But it proved immensely challenging. Snipers targeted us, and I grew concerned for the tractor drivers. At one juncture, the onslaught was so intense that our only refuge was a ditch, where we stayed till evening," the veteran vividly recollected.
In spite of frequent bombardments, the engineering-sapper brigade succeeded in constructing a trench of the required length. This trench would later serve the Abkhazian army, facilitating the hold on the front line. Beyond trench construction, Kurt-Ogly's team engaged in demining operations. Post the recapture of Gagra (the operation unfolded from October 1 to 6, 1992 – editor's note), a significant number of mines were left behind, necessitating defusal. Concurrently, the engineering-sapper group was tasked with mining areas vulnerable to Georgian military incursions and clearing explosives from regions where Abkhazian offensives were anticipated. Kurt-Ogly conceded the challenges, citing the scarcity of essential equipment.
"We were devoid of mines. At the onset of the war, Abkhazia possessed a mere 24 anti-tank mines, barely sufficient to blockade a single road. Our initial endeavours were hampered by the absence of mine detectors, probes, uniforms—essentially, we had nothing. I approached the Russian unit in Gudauta and was fortunate to encounter a colonel I had studied with in Kaliningrad. He assisted me, procuring a mine detector, several probes, a couple of anti-personnel mines, and training mines," recounted Kurt-Ogly.
Gradually, a sapper battalion materialised, playing a pivotal role in all Abkhazian army offensive operations. The veteran emphasized that the battalion honourably met every commitment during the war. Among the sappers, some made the ultimate sacrifice for Victory. As the 30th anniversary of Victory in the Patriotic War of the people of Abkhazia approached, Khuta Kurt-Ogly extended his wishes for good health to the veterans and expressed his aspiration for perpetual peace over the republic.