White Legion (Georgia)

Country: Georgia
Details of Formation: The White Legion’s origin is disputed. A news source mentions that the White Legion was already active during the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict in the early 1990s, while the UCDP dates the creation after the official ending of the fighting in 1993 (UCDP Forest Brothers, White Legion). Another news source mentions 1996 as the date the PGM started to function.
Details of Termination: The White Legion was reported to have broken up after the Rose Revolution (2003) because of the stop of financial support of the Abkhaz Government in Exile (UCDP Forest Brothers, White Legion). In 2005 and 2007 news sources speak of the group to restart its operations or to be created again; however, activities of the White Legion have also been reported in 2004 until 2007. There is no report of activities after 2007.
Purpose: The main purpose of the White Legion was to destabilize Abkhazia and disturb the Abkhaz authorities in their efforts to consolidate a de-facto regime. This purpose was in line with the objectives of the Georgian central government and the Abkhaz exile government, which wanted to regain control over Abkhazia (UCDP Forest Brothers, White Legion). The White Legion was actively pursuing their purpose by engaging in a low-intensity guerilla war in Abkhazia (Wikipedia).
Organisation: The White Legion was led by Zurab Samushia. It received support from the Executive Council of the Abkhaz Government in Exile, which in turn was subsidized by the Georgian central government. However, with time the government lost control over the group and the White Legion focused increasingly on crime and smuggling (UCDP Forest Brothers, White Legion). The group allegedly had close ties to the Georgian Defense Ministry and support of the Interior ministry, the Secret Service and President Shevardnadze.
Weapons and Training: The White Legion had bombs, mines, rockets and snipers, as well as a large number of small arms and light weapons, including Kalashnikovs, grenade launchers and machine guns (UCDP Forest Brothers and White Legion – Republic of Abkhazia). There have been allegations that the Georgian government supplied arms. Western diplomats said that the Georgian interior ministry trained and equipped the White Legion.
Size: At the end of the 1990s the White Legion had around 150-200 men (UCDP Forest Brothers, White Legion). A news source of 2007 mentions 300-500 fighters.
Reason for Membership: Many members of the White Legion are Georgian refugees from Abkhazia that gave up hope of a successful negotiated settlement to the conflict.
Treatment of Civilians: A news source of 2006 reports that the White Legion had taken hostage a local Abkhaz.
Other Information: The White Legion was closely linked to the Forest Brothers PGM (UCDP Forest Brothers, White Legion). Its main targets were Russian peacekeepers, which they accused of protecting Abkhaz separatist forces.
References: Uppsala Conflict Data Program. “Forest Brothers, White Legion.” http://www.ucdp.uu.se/#/actor/3824

Uppsala Conflict Data Program. “Forest Brothers, White Legion – Republic of Abkhazia.” http://www.ucdp.uu.se/#/nonstate/5357

Wikipedia. “White Legion”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Legion