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Fire at art museum in Abkhazia destroys thousands of works

According to the officials in the breakaway territory of Abkhazia, located along the Black Sea in Georgia, a destructive fire broke out at a prestigious art gallery. The incident took place on Saturday evening in Sukhumi, the region's capital, and resulted in the loss of more than 4,000 paintings dating back to the 1800s and 1900s.

Published January 21,2024
A serious fire in an art museum in Georgia's separatist region of Abkhazia along the Black Sea has burned thousands of paintings, according to the authorities.

More than 4,000 works from the 19th and 20th centuries went up in flames in the building in the Abkhazian capital of Sukhumi on Saturday night.

"This is irreparable damage for us", said the director of the National Art Gallery, Suram Sakaniya, according to the Abkhazian news agency Apsnypress.

According to the emergency services, the fire broke out in the roof area - according to initial findings, an electrical cable burned through there.

"All the pictures are burnt," said Sakaniya.

Photos showed the building in the city centre ablaze. Among the destroyed works were paintings by Abkhazian and foreign artists. Some 300 paintings by the Abkhazian artist Aleksandr Chachba-Sharvashidze (1867-1969), who is also well-known abroad, were destroyed.

The region of Abkhazia belongs to Georgia under international law but has long held a degree of autonomy. It is currently ruled by a self-declared independent government, which is only officially recognized by Russia and a handful of other countries.

Known for its picturesque landscapes and its own language and culture, the region broke away from Georgia after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Following the war in August 2008 between Russia and Georgia over the breakaway region of South Ossetia, Moscow stationed soldiers in both areas.