SUKHUM -- The launch of a book of reminiscences about Hero of Abkhazia Sultan Sosnaliev entitled "Honor is dearer than life" took place on June 28 in the conference hall of the hotel "Atrium Victoria." Sultan Aslambekovich’s close relatives – his wife, sister, niece and grandson – attended the launch, together with friends and volunteer fighters from Kabardino-Balkaria; the former head of the Confederation of Peoples of the Caucasus, Professor Musa Shanibov; [Abkhaz] parliament speaker Valery Bganba; Prime Minister Leonid Lakerbaya; Security Council Secretary Stanislav Lakoba ; parliament deputies, government members, veterans of the 1992-1993 War, the mothers of soldiers who died in the fighting, and people who had the good fortune to know General Sosnaliev personally.
The book was published in a print-run of 2,000 copies. The author is Sultan Sosnaliev’s wife Lyubov Sosnalieva, the editor is poet and journalist Gennady Alamia, and Batal Djapua was responsible for the formay and illustrations.
Work on the book began in 2009, and publication was timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the birth of Lieutenant-General Sultan Sosnaliev - a prominent statesman and military leader, a former Abkhaz deputy prime minister and defense minister, Hero of Abkhazia and Chevalier of the "Akhdz-Apsha» Order Grade 1.
In connection with the 70th anniversary of Sosnaliev’s birth, Abkhaz President Ankvab issued a decree on creating a commission, headed by Prime Minister Leonid Lakerbaya, to plan and organize commemorative events.
"It was hard to write a book about Sultan Sosnaliev. We were able to transfer memories of him to paper. And we did so with the intent of leaving the story of a Hero for [future] generations," Gennady Alamia said at the book launch. In Alamia’s words, Sultan is an example for the younger generation. Gennady Alam expressed his appreciation to Lyubov Sosnalieva for proposing publishing the book.
"During the war, nobody in the world believed that the volunteers from the North Caucasus went to Abkhazia following the promptings of their hearts, out of fraternal motives, not for money or some other benefits," Alamia said.
Musa Shanibov expressed his gratitude to the leadership of Abkhazia and Kabardino-Balkaria for their attention to the person of the Sultan Sosnaliev. "These commemorative events are necessary both for us and for future generations. No other military commanders in the 20th century could compare with Sosnaliev in terms of talent, " said Shanibov. The former head of the Confederation of Peoples of the Caucasus talked at length about the pre-war situation in Abkhazia and about what steps he and Sosnaliev took to prevent bloodshed.
"We were very much hoping there would not be a war, but alas... Representatives of 21 ethnic groups came to Abkhazia to help their brother Abkhaz, and Sultan united them all into a victorious army," said Shanibov.
In Shanibov’s words, today Georgia’s plans with regard to Abkhazia are far from peaceful, and for that reason it is important to have a strong and battle-ready Abkhaz army. “A test by peace is underway today. And we must win that too!” Shanibov said.
In Shanibov’s opinion, children and warriors should be brought up on Sosnaliev’s example. "Unhappy is the people with no heroes, but a people that does not respect its heroes is even more unhappy,” says Musa Shanibov.
“Many years from now, this book will be even more valuable and important than it is today. It is the story of an outstanding individual in the history of the Caucasus,” asserts Council of Elders chairman Konstantin Ozgan . He stressed that he considers himself fortunate to have known thelegendary Sultan.
Talking about the Sosnaliev phenomenon, Center for Strategic Studies head Oleg Damenia stressed that "he was a truly great man, a modern Hadji Murad." The book of memoirs about Sultan, he said, will help those who do not know the history of Abkhazia. "What attracted Sultan to Abkhazia? He was not looking for honor, he already had it. What was it that motivated him to come here then, and not only him? We need to ask these questions and try to find the answers to them. This will save us,”said Damenia. He also talked about Sultan Sosnaliev’s unifying role.
Hero of Abkhazia Aslan Kobakhia called Sosnaliev a genuine knight. "I first got to know Sultan in October 1992. He rarely smiled and never panicked, and did not laugh loudly," said Kobakhia. He recalled episodes during the war when they were analyzing two unsuccessful attempts to liberate Sukhum – the January and March operations. "The situation was extremely complicated. We looked at Vladislav Ardzinba and Sultan Sosnaliev. The conversation was extremely difficult. Then Sosnaliev said: When we learn to speak the truth to each other, then we shall definitely win. The same holds true today. The Caucasus did not know such individuals in the 20th century, and there is no sign of them as yet in the 21st,” said Aslan Kobakhia. He described Sosnaliev as a great son of the Caucasus, who demonstrated how one should live with honor, in accordance with one’s conscience.
"Our young people have little information about the Abkhaz Patriotic War, perhaps some people will raise questions about this book, but it is history. Sultan Sosnaliev, Vladislav Ardzinba, and Sergei Dbar – are our history, our national heritage, " said Hero of Abkhazia and parliament deputy A. Kobakhia.
Hero of Abkhazia Apollon Shinkuba talked about Sosnaliev’s personal qualities, his love of hunting.
He thanked Gennady Alamia for the book about Sultan, and also for his book "The Age of Ardzinba" about the first president. He expressed gratitude separately to Lyubov Sosnalieva for first proposing a book about the great military leader.
"I am the happiest man, because I not only knew knew Sosnaliev during the war, but was at his side in time of peace. I have always admired his greatness," said Shinkuba.
Sultan Sosnaliev’s niece Dr.Alla Inarokova talked about she and her siblings perceived their uncle. "Our Uncle Sultan lived as he flew – at a great height. He was good, faithful to his duty, his people and his relatives. For us, his relatives, Abkhazia became a symbol and embodiment of human fortitude, strength of spirit. We are grateful to the Abkhaz people for remembering him and we wish you the solidarity and unity," she said.
Two other volunteers who became Heroes of Abkhazia, Alkhazur Suleimenov from Chechnya and Aleksandr Sahrokov from Kabarda, also spoke at the launch, as did publicist Vladimir Zantariya. Zantaria said the publication of the book about Sosnaliev is a great event, the book contains nothing that is irrelevant, it is conceptually sustained.
Hero of Abkhazia Givi Agrba considers it essential to publish such books for the younger generation.
Ailurbek Gabashi , a member of the Union of Cinematographers of Russia and a friend of the Sosnaliev family, has already read the reminiscences of Sultan in the book. He said the book was written from the heart and contains no false notes, which is the most valuable thing.
Lyubov Sosnaliev described how in 2009 shecame up with the idea of putting together a book of reminiscences, and she appealed to the leadership of Abkhazia, which supported her unequivocally and provided financial assistance for the publication.
"Of our 19 years together, only a year and a half were ‘before the war,’ and all the rest of our life is evaluated through the prism of the war, through Abkhazia,” she said. “This war shortened the lives of Vladislav Ardzinba, Sergei Dbar, Sultan Sosnaliev. "
Sosnaliev’s widow repeatedly tried to induce Sultan to write his memories of the war, because one gradually forgets so much. But he told her, "You can’t write the whole truth, and I don’t want to write half the truth. There is one truth -- victory, and let the people rejoice in it. "
"Sultan was outside politics, and I want this book too to stay out of politics. He was a man who brought tothers together,” stressed Lyubov Sosnalieva. She thanked the Government of Abkhazia for its support in publishing the book and also the authors of the reminiscences it contains and everyone who contributed to the project. "I dedicate this book to the younger generation - his grandchildren, the grandchildren of soldiers who did not return from the front,” said the Hero’s widow . “ I want all who knew him to livea long and happy life, because as long as you are alive the memory of him, and of those who laid down their lives for the freedom of the Fatherland, will also live on. "
At the end of the presentation, Prime Minister Leonid Lakerbaya expressed gratitude to the authors of the book. He also mentioned that journalist Catherine Bebia published the first book on Sosnaliev, entitled "Our General,"about two years ago.
"In 2013 we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Victory, measures for that celebration are currently under preparation. It would be a good thing to complie an audio version of reminiscence of our war and our heroes, " said the head of government.
Leonid Lakerbaya invited all the participants at the book presentation at the celebrations to attend the ceremonial events on June 29 dedicated to the memory of Sultan Sosnaliev. They begin at 11:30 with the laying of flowers at the Monument to Fame.
At 15:00 in the Sukhumi Central Exhibition Hall of the Artists' Union a photo exhibition dedicated to Sultan Sosnaliev will be opened. On the same day at 17:00 in the Abkhazian State Philharmonic Society there will be a gala evening devoted to the general’s memory.
Celebrations have already taken place in Sosnaliev’s home republic, in Nalchik. A delegation from Abkhazia headed by Vice-President Mikhail Logua and Prime Minister Leonid Lakerbaya participated.
Hero of Abkhazia and former Minister of Defense Sultan Sosnaliev died on November 22, 2008 after a serious illness. The outstanding son of the Kabardian people Aslanbekovich Sosnaliev Sultan made an invaluable contribution to the struggle of the Abkhaz people for their independence.
Source: Apnsy Press