T. Shamba, A. Neproshin
Е, Ё: ...
Legal basis of statehood and sovereignty
Chapter I. Abkhazians - ancient ethnos with original culture
1.5. Ethnos and territory of Abkhazia
Analyzing the question of the origin of Abkhazians and the history of the settlement of territory occupied by them, the majority of non-Georgian scientists and some modern Georgian researchers (for example, Professor O.Djaparidze) consider that all the western part of the Caucasus was occupied by Hett-Abkhaz-Adyg tribes until IV – III millennia BC. The genetic relationship between ancient Abkhaz-Adyg tribes and Hetts was specified by such well-known scientists as I. Diakonov, S.Eremian, I.Dunaevskaya, V. Ivanov, etc.
Researchers name two directions of movement of ancestors of the present-day inhabitants of the region: from the North Caucasus where tribes related to Abkhazians nowadays live (Abazinians, Adygs, Kabardians, Circassians, Shapsugs), and from the south, from Asia Minor through Colchis. According to the first direction, the cradle of Abkhaz-Adygs should be localised on the northern slopes of the western Caucasus, in the Prikubansk niche (G.A.Melikishvili, M.D.Lordkipanidze, etc.). From there, in an interval till I century AD (according to such authors as P.Ingorokva), and also after XVI century, part of the local population moved to the Black Sea coast. However, from the second half of II millenium BC, southern cultural streams were dominant on the western Caucasus, therefore hypotheses about resettlements of Abkhazian ancestors from the north at that time, and the more so in XVII century, lose any archaeological substantiation.
For the second, southern, direction, it is assumed that the Colchian ecological niche and northeast areas of Asia Minor adjoining it were an ancestral home to the Abkhaz-Adygs. Even from the end of II millennium BC to the beginning of I millenium BC the Kashki-Abeshla tribes, presumably related to Adyg-Apsils, lived there (O.M.Djaparidze, G.A.Melikishvili, V.G.Ardzinba, etc.). In this case it is necessary to admit the movement (along the coast through the eastern Black Sea corridor and through passes) of direct language ancestors of Adygs during II - the beginning of I millenium BC on northern slopes of the western Caucasus. Ancestors of Zikhs-Ubykhs thus occupied a niche between the Gagra ridge and Tuapse, connected with neighbouring territories by almost impassable seasonal tracks. The proto-Abkhazian tribes (Apsils, Abazgs and Sanigs), as a primary part of the community, continued to live in Colchis, where they were identified by ancient authors.
The last migratory movements for 2000 years, according to written sources, were a proportion of the Adygs moving to the east (Kabardians) and a proportion of the Abkhazians moving to the north Caucasus (Abazinians). No large-scale return movements during this period have been noted. But the migration of ethnonyms is also rather indicative - the name of Abkhazians "Abaza" moved from the territory of the modern Gudauta area (historical Аbasgia) to extensive areas of the northwest Caucasus.
Some Georgian scientists have attempted to confirm a hypothesis about the existence in this area of the Georgian kingdom, through the discovery in the region of the east Black Sea coast of a considerable quantity of coins (named colhidki), by attributing these to Colchian origin. This has not received support, as these coins were minted in Greek cities and bear an obvious print of the Greek monetary tradition.
At the same time, historical materials since I millenium BC testify to the presence of the Abkhazian state in western Transcaucasia. In VI century BC, Procopi Kesareeski in the work “War with Goths” wrote about the border which existed between Lazikans and Apsils living together with Abazgs. Modern Kartvel historians incorporate Lazikans within Kartvels, but Lazikans never considered themselves thus and still do not do so. In Procopi Kesareeski’s opinion, the border followed the river Fazis, which nowadays is called the Rioni. By III century BC, at the beginning of the Farnovaza dynasty in Transcaucasia, the border of the Abkhazian territory had been accurately defined. It ran along the Caucasian ridge, the river Ingur (Enguri), the Black Sea coast to present Batumi, via mountains to the source of the river Chorokh and to lake Palakatsio, then further along the right bank of the river Debeda to the river Kura and, at last, to the river Alazan and its tributaries. It is important that at the end of IV century BC Abkhazia was an independent country and was not a part of what present Georgian historians name "Georgia", and also that Abkhazians did not form part of “the Georgian population”.
By the end of I century AD, some early feudal proto-Abkhazian princedoms were formed on the Black Sea coast, which for some centuries co-operated with each other and with their neighbours. Occupied by Abkhazians, the territory served as a kind of bridge between the north Caucasus and the Black Sea. Another connection was via the sea – ships moved along its coast towards Asia Minor and Crimea. An important role was also played by the geographical position of Abkhazia, as the base of a triangle which was open to influence from the southeast where the road at the foot of the mountains (“the Abkhazian Way”) led, and which was used by conquerors and merchants.
Djvansher Djvansheriani (Djuansher Djuansheriani), in the XI century book “Deeds of Vakhtang Gorgosal”, wrote that in the V century, the border between Abkhazia and Iveria passed along the Rioni river. Ioann Sabanisdze in VIII century stated that the borders of Abkhazia included Khaldia and Trebizond. The X century Byzantian emperor and historian Constantine VII Flavius (Porphyrogenitus) also confirms that Trebizond was within the borders of Abkhazia.
By XVII century Abkhazia was defined as a completely independent state in its present territory. In “The new and full geographical dictionary of the Russian state, or the Lexicon”, published in Moscow in 1788, we read:
“Abkhazians are the free and numerous people living in the Caucasian mountains, whose language has no similarity to any other known language except Circassian, to which it shows a slight resemblance. The land on which these people live is called Absny in their own language”, i.e. Abkhazia. Further in this work the borders of the Abkhazian people’s residence were noted: “During former times these people lived only in the western part of the Caucasian mountains adjoining the Black Sea, on rivers which run into that sea between the rivers Kuban and Enguri. The Enguri river separated them from Mingrelians. The majority of the people have lived in this country until now in the following districts: Khirpis, Chashi, Sadze, Aibga and Akhshipsе, which to Circassians are known under the general name of Kushgashik, (i.e. “behind the mountains”) “.
According to the dictionary, in the western part of Abkhazia lived Toobs, Ubykhs, Shashes, and Shapsugs. Later compilers of the dictionary separately describe “the third small part of the Abkhazian people..., who in the previous century (i.e. in XVII century) moved to the north side of the mountains, where they lived between the Circassian regions and Kabarda (they are referring to Abazin tribes)... The language of these northern Abkhazians is identical to that of midday Abkhazians”. Further, it is specified that the centre of all this territory was fortress Sukhum-Kale, where there were sovereign Abkhazian princes.
How do Georgian scientists see the historical origin of Abkhazians? S. Shamba quotes material from the department of ancient history, archeology and ethnography of the Sukhum branch of the Tbilisi state university: “Scientists studying Caucasia know that the Abkhazian people make two ethnoses. The descendants of ancient Abkhazians are the same as Georgians, and make today about 80 % of Abkhazians. They carry Georgian surnames, the majority of them speak Georgian and have namesakes among the Georgians. Apsuas (Abazinians) in the territory of Abkhazia appear only in the late Middle Ages. Before 1621, no Apsuas lived in Abkhazia. From that year, church and other annalistic documents prove it to be true that only three surnames lived in Abkhazia”.
S. Shamba notices that this opus expresses the opinion widely held in Georgia as to the history of Abkhazian (and not only Abkhazian) people. Because the fact of Abkhazian ancestors residing in the territory of modern Abkhazia is impossible to deny, as it is confirmed by many ancient and medieval sources, the concept according to which ancient and medieval Abkhazians were the same as Georgians has been invented. Modern Abkhazians (they are named Apsua because this is what they call themselves) – “came down from the mountains two centuries ago” - i.e. from the North Caucasus.
In 1989 the Georgian writer R .Mishveladze sent an open letter to writer Fazil Iskander in which he wrote: “... Never anywhere in nature did the Abkhazian language exist, nor the Abkhazian culture, and damned Bolsheviks have misled naive Adygs, have thought up the Abkhazian autonomy for them in the territory of Georgia, and in passports have written down a nonexistent nationality – Abkhazian..”
Here is how the history of the Abkhazian people appears in a short statement by a group of well-known Georgian writers M. Kahidze, R. Mishveladze, T. Meburishvili and G. Djumuhidze in the newspaper "Аhalgazrda Komunisti" of May 6th, 1989. From this statement it appears that Abkhazians are in no way Abkhazians, but “from the North Caucasus, Adyg tribes (Apshils and Abazgs) came to us (i.e. to Georgia) two centuries ago... The tribes which came on a visit called themselves by the name of the most ancient Georgian tribe, the Abkhazian tribe, and, having grown bolder due to our naivety, imposed the Adyg language upon Georgian Abkhazians, who within millenia could not make a sound in any language except native Georgian”. This last statement sounds absolutely absurd, and basically contradicts both historical experience and the laws of linguistics. In history there have been occasions when these or those people have converted to the language of newcomers more developed in cultural relations. For example, the Daks, ancestors of Romanians, converted to the Roman language. Reverse cases have not been observed. For instance, Bulgar nomads transferred their title to the Balkan Slavs, but the latter retained their own language which is still understandable to Russians, Ukrainians, etc. How could “half-civilised tribes of humble origin, who did not have either culture or history”, according to the statement of the Georgians, impose their language upon “ingenuous Georgian Abkhazians”? Moreover, it is known that the phonetics of the Abkhazian language is so complicated and original that to master it is possible only in early childhood, and adults are not capable of this. But even the Georgian nationalists could not invent statements about the total abduction by “half-civilised Adygs” of the babies of “Georgian Abkhazians”.
Georgian "historians" T. V. Koridze and Z. D. Abashidze managed to drag this thesis even into “the Orthodox Encyclopaedia”, published under the aegis of the Moscow patriarchy, where in the article “Abkhazian - West Georgian Catholic See” there is the statement that present Abkhazians are “tribes who moved in the 1630s from the North Caucasus and took their name from local Abkhazians”.
In № 4 edition of Georgian magazine "Critic” for 1989 one can read: "The tribe “Apsua” (the self-name of Abkhazians), come down from the North Caucasus and lodged on the most ancient Georgian land, has made insidiousness resistant to human concept: named itself “Abkhazians” and, having appropriated our history, has "declared" itself sons and owners of the finest corner of Georgia... If anyone wished to respect this Apsua tribe, they would write them a nationality –“Apsua”. You (Abkhazians) have the right to express your discontent only in Adygea”. R. Mishveladze's articles show a special emotionality and rudeness: “... Inch by inch poured by blood, over centuries won, we inch by inch conceded to all without discrimination - whether dervishes of humble origin, or the tribes which have come down from the Caucasian mountains, which have neither culture nor history... Let us become owners of our lands, let us create new Georgian villages in the territories occupied by visitors”. As well-known Georgian writer Chabua Amiredjibi declares: “Abkhazians are the Georgian tribe. And those who have come to us from the North Caucasus are any riff-raff, Adygea, murderers and half-civilised tribes...”.
The former president of Georgia Z. Gamsakhurdia remarked: “Georgia is the country of Georgians”, meaning by this that Abkhazia also belongs to Georgians.
The writer and publicist G. E. Tsereteli, one of the organizers of the group "Meore-dasi" (a political movement of the Georgian intelligentsia), and confirmed by the Georgian Soviet historiography as being ideologically close to Russian revolutionary democrats, in 1873 wrote:
“All Caucasus is our country. You should mentally imagine that our foot stands on our land, that we are in our country. Whether we will lodge in the country of Circassians, though in Dagestan, everywhere is our native land”. After these statements Tsereteli urged the Georgians to occupy all the coast of the Black Sea to the Crimea to which, “as like leeches, foreigners have stuck: Greeks, Tatars, Jews and others”.
We consider it necessary to pay attention to G. Paichadze's work “Names for Georgia in written Russian historical sources”, where the main principle of research used by world science is broken: firstly analysis, then synthesis, and finally conclusions. G. Paichadze begins the first paragraph of the work with the conclusions that all Transcaucasia since II millennium BC is "Georgia", and all people living in its territory are ethnic "Georgians". As for "Georgian" and "Georgia", as already mentioned such a people, nation or ethnos, and also the country, did not exist up to the most recent times. Therefore to speak about the existence of Georgia throughout 26 centuries is a nonsense, an invention which does not have anything in common with historical validity. It can be seen from our research that such ethnic groups of people as Colchians (then Gurians) and Svans really existed during the specified period and that in the beginning of XX century they, along with Kartvels and Kakhetinians, became a part of the newly-created nation - the Georgians. Into the new state formation, other ethnic groups also entered: Mingrelians, Adjarians, Meskhetians, etc. The Georgian nation was formed and received this status from the moment of commencement of the state Georgia on May 26th, 1918 and, hence, existence of the nation and the state probably totals hardly one century.
Since the start of XX century there has also been a basic change in the ethno-demographic situation in Abkhazia. If in 1886 Abkhazians made 85 percent of the population of Abkhazia, in 1916 their share had decreased to 57 percent, and in 1926 had fallen to 27 percent. The Georgian occupation was strengthened over many years and has changed into a severe constant genocide. As a result of the systematic settling of Georgians within Abkhazia after its annexation by Georgia, and later during the existence of the USSR, the demographic balance has been broken. The indigenous population has appeared as a minority and with such oppression that any questions connected with sovereignty could not be considered any more, and could not even occur, as they would have challenged the majority of the people of the country. The Georgian majority had been created artificially, due to immigrants from the invading country. Abkhazia in this situation not only lost its independence, but because of a constant attack on the national language, and introduction of the Georgian alphabet, the culture of the ethnos was systematically destroyed. As a result, Abkhazia transformed from a sovereign state into a certain region in which the Abkhazian nationality lived as a minority.
One of the arguments that Abkhazians are Georgians is the fact that some Abkhazians and Georgians have the same surnames. This really occurs, usually as a result of assimilation, or an artificial or natural change to the ethno- demographic situation in the region. The period of intensive change of surnames in Abkhazia started at the beginning of a genocide of the Abkhazian people by Georgia, and the active settling of territory by Georgians and replacement of the Abkhazian government by Georgians. This process was accompanied by ethnic cleansing, political and physical violence, destruction of the ruling elite of the country and its intelligentsia, and occurred during the years of the Stalin regime. In these circumstances, the presence among surnames belonging to the native ethnos of others belonging to other nationalities cannot be used for the assignation of all ethnoses to these nationalities, as the change of surnames occurred during earlier times.
Historical sources testify that even during the first period of the ‘Georgianisation’ of Abkhazia, churchmen of different levels were appointed exclusively from the Kartvelian nationality, who knew neither Russian nor local languages. They wrote books of records of births, marriages and deaths, and with their help Abkhazian surnames were altered to Georgian style: Maan - Маrgania, Emkhi - Emukhvari, Аchbа - Аnchabadzе, Inal-ipa - Inalashvili etc. Such transformation of surnames took place in the XX century during the new period of ‘Georgianisation’ of territories. The authors know cases when the Jewish surname Mikhelson was advantageously transformed to Mikhalashvili, and the Russian Maklakhov to Маglakelidze.
The purposeful and consistent policy of the Georgian government towards the genocide of the Abkhazian people should have led to the full cleansing of Abkhazia of the non-Georgian part of its population, and this was one of the reasons for the conflict which took place in 1989. For the purpose of full assimilation of Abkhazians, the Ministry of Justice of Georgia passed the law № 3/1 dated February 23rd, 1990, obliging employees of the Registry Office and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Abkhazian Autonomous Republic, for people of Abkhazian nationality with surnames terminating in -iya, -ia, -va, or -ua in documents proving their identity, to write the nationality "Georgian" in the relevant column. It was a violent change of nationality, and therefore of citizenship, for ethnic Abkhazians.
In details describing the situation in Transcaucasia at the beginning of XIX century, N. Dubrovin stated that after numerous requests by possessors of princedoms in the Central Transcaucasia for Russian citizenship:
“Russia assumed to rank Georgia as a Russian province, as “the Kingdom of Georgia”, and after 1800 Georgia (Kartli and Kakhetia, authors) "for ever" joined Russia. Its territory to the north bordered on the Caucasian ridge, in the west separated from Imeretia by Khopinskaya Valley, from Ahaltsikhski Pashalyk by mountains, on continuation from Toparavana Dale to Akhbaba. In the south it was separated from Karski Pashalyk by the river Arpachai, and from Khanate Erivanski by lake Gokcha. In the east, the river Djagor separated it from Khanate Ganzhinski, and river Alazan from Djaro-Belokan.
Georgia included Kartalinia, Каkhetia, Samkhetia (consisting of Trioleti and Borchala), Kazakha, Shamshadyl, Bambaka and Shuragel, as well as the lands of Khevsurs, Pshavs, Tushes, and Ossetians. The whole area did not exceed 280 versts from east to west and 300 versts from north to south. The population was about 100,000 souls.
The western part of Transcaucasia consisted of the kingdom of Imeretia, the sovereignties of Mingrelia, Abkhazia and Guria, recognised as independent of Turkey by the Kuchuk-Kainardjiski agreement of 1774, and Ahaltsikhski Pashalyk “.
The first official mentions of "Georgia" were contained in military reports of wars with Persia in ХVIII century, in which Russia also took part. On fig. 2 the map of that time defining the borders of "Georgia" (as understood by the Russian military leaders) is presented. According to the map, which is a legal document, these borders included only Kartalinia. Abkhazia had no relation to this princedom.
The border between Abkhazia and Mingrelia, specified in the map of XVIII century which is the first legal document, passes along the river Enguri (Ingur), and so-called "Georgia", according to this map, is located in insignificant territory of Central Transcaucasia and does not border on Abkhazia at all. The southern border of Abkhazia on the river Ingur is also noted by other authors. Countess Uvarova wrote “We are already in Abkhazia, whose borders are considered to be from a town called Gagra to the river Ingur in spite of the fact that the part of the country from the river Kodor to river Меrkula or Mokva belonged to Mingrelia for a very long time, and made one of the furthest parts of the Dadiani princedom; from Merkula to Inguri is situated so-called Samurzakan, or the sovereignty of Murza-Khan “.
In the book “Data on conveniences of apartment accommodation for all kinds of troops in Abkhazia (Short military-statistical review with apartment map)”, written by 1st department of Headquarters of the Joint Staff in 1843, the border of Abkhazia is described in detail, beginning from Samurzakan to the land of Djigets. In this book, detailed characteristics of the nature of the country are given - woods, rivers, lakes, settlements, the economic condition as a whole, class structure, etc. A big map of Abkhazia showing troop locations is enclosed in the book.
F.F. Tornau in the book “Memoirs of a Caucasian officer” wrote that “the real border of Abkhazia begins on the right bank of the Inguri”. We find interesting data on the borders of Abkhazia in K.D. Machavariani's works. He wrote:
“Borders of the Samurzakan site are made in the north by the Caucasian mountains (their spurs), in the south by the Black
Sea, in the east by the river Ingur and the boundary with Mingrelia, and in the north by the river Okhurei and the Kodori site - Samuzarkan has received the name from the prince Murzakan Shervashizhe to whom the possessor of Abkhazia has charged management of this site... On the left side of the Ingur, the Zugdidi and Senaksky districts of Mingrelia begin”. In this work it is also underlined that the Samurzakan area was always territory in Abkhazia and was outside of Mingrelia, and at the beginning of XVIII century was occupied only by Abkhazians.
In 1864 the Georgian priest D. Machavariani and Russian general I. Bartolomei remarked: “Samurzakan is separated from Mingrelia by the river Ingur, which often happens to be impassable, whereas from Abkhazia there is no such barrier. It can serve as an explanation as to why there were stronger influences on Samurzakan from Abkhazia in the past than from Mingrelia, and confirmation of the national legend of the indivisibility of Abkhazia and Samurzakan”. Throughout the last three centuries and to this day, the Ingur river is the political and state frontier of Abkhazia, separating it from Mingrelia and Georgia.
Annalistic sources confirm the existence from VIII to XI century of the powerful independent state of the Abkhazian kingdom, whose territory covered areas in the north to Kuban, in the south to Batum, including a part of modern East Georgia from Tbilisi, and further to Armenia. During the subsequent period as a part of the Abkhaz-Imeretian kingdom there was an independent political formation - the princedom of Abkhazia. In XII - XIII centuries the residence of Abkhazian sovereign princes Chachba-Sharvаshidzе was Tskhum (Sukhum). This royal line ruled Abkhazia to the middle of XIX century. In the middle of XIII century, under attacks from Mongols, the Abkhaz-Imeretian kingdom broke up into a set of kingdoms and princedoms, among which there was also a separate state - the princedom of Abkhazia. Then, throughout 600 years, before acceptance into the structure of the Russian empire in 1810, the Abkhazian princedom did not unite with any one kingdom or princedom. On the contrary, during these centuries it fought them, with varying degrees of success. For example, at the end of XIII - beginning of XIV century Mingrelia occupied eastern areas of Abkhazia (Tskhum province) until Anakopia. Struggle for this territory was conducted till XVII century. Until the moment of incorporation of Mingrelia into the structure of Russia in 1803, fortress Anaklia on the left bank of the river Ingur was in the hands of Abkhazia, where the successor to the Mingrelian sovereign prince was held as a hostage. Even the presence of the largest defence construction in the Caucasus – the 60-kilometre Kelasur (Great Abkhazian) wall could not stop Abkhazians from taking the boundary by storm and restoring the ancient political border along the river Ingur. The territory supervised by the Abkhazian princes was narrowed, extended, narrowed, then again extended, but Abkhazia never stopped existing within its historical borders.
At the end of XVIII and beginning of XIX century, the majority of the Caucasian states were joined to Russia : Kartli-Kakhetia in 1801, Mingrelia in 1803, Imeretia in 1804, the Gurian princedom in 1811. In 1804-1806 the Azerbaijan khanates were attached to Russia. In 1810 the structure of Russia also included Abkhazia, which was never “Georgian”, and did not represent itself as the Georgian nation or ethnos. The border from the south separated Abkhazia from Mingrelia and other kingdoms and princedoms which were independent state formations. Abkhazia became a part of the Russian empire as a sovereign state, as a subject of world politics, and this was recognised and fixed legally. The Abkhazian princedom, having asked for Russia protection, was included into Russia’s structure with its own territory actually identical to today's, having thus kept its independent status, unlike all other princedoms existing in the territory of modern Georgia.
The expulsion of Abkhazians to Turkey (so-called "makhadjirstvo"), which started straight after 1810, was a mass exodus. Some tens of thousands of people were compelled to leave their native land. Russian imperial officials had complete power over all those who remained. The Lykhni revolt, in which about 20 thousand people took part, flared in 1866. It was an attempt to restore the princedom, i.e. statehood, but was unsuccessful and was suppressed by military force. Severe reprisals followed - prisons, banishment, and hard labour began. In 1877 there was a new revolt and more reprisals, including further expulsions to Turkey. This time 50 thousand people left Abkhazia, which was a national tragedy. Throughout XIX century Abkhazia lost about 180 thousand people, including 135 thousand Abkhazians. The country became deserted. Its territory began to be occupied by people of other nationalities: Armenians, Greeks, Germans, Estonians, Russians, Ukrainians, Jews. But most of all, the country was occupied by so-called Georgians, i.e. Kartvelians, Kakhetians and Mingrelians. Over a decade (1886-1897), the number of settlers in Abkhazia from Transcaucasia grew sixfold, reaching 26 thousand people. The national structure of the population had sharply changed.
In 1864, in connection with the beginning of a mass exodus of the indigenous population to Turkey, a part of the territory of Abkhazia, from the river Mzymta to the river Begripsta, was attached to the Black Sea district formed at that time, which subsequently became a province. The Russian imperial government continued further to break the territorial integrity of Abkhazia. At the end of XIX century, Emperor Nikolai II presented a considerable part of Gagra region to his relative Prince A. Oldenburgski, who in 1903 founded “Gagra climatic station” as an aristocratic resort. The decree of the emperor from December 24th, 1904 confirmed the “Decision about joining of Gagra climatic station with neighbouring area as far as the river Bzyb to the Sochi district of the Black Sea province”. The colonisation of the territory, which had occurred since the first half of XIX century, greatly increased during the last quarter of the century and came from different directions - from Turkey, Russia, Mingrelia, and Imeretia.
Fig. 2. Copy of “Plan of operations of the troops of Major-General Sukhotin in Asia in the campaign of 1771” (fragment), from “Official and historical documents of ХVIII century, concerning Georgia. Vol. 1, from 1768 to 1774”.
ЧЕРНОЕ МОРЕ …… BLACK SEA
According to G. Dzidzaria, Abkhazia in XIX century consisted of the Bzyb, Abkhazian (Sukhum) and Abzhui regions, and the Tsebelda (from 1837) and Samurzakan (from 1840) police districts. In 1840 Djiget police district was formed between the rivers Gagripsh and Hosta (Small Abkhazia). In 1841 this territory was added to the Abkhazian princedom, and in 1847, together with Tsebelda police district, was transferred to the Black Sea district. The Capital was Lykhni. G. Dzidzaria also wrote, referring from I. K. Ash (1830), that “The northwest border of Abkhazia is the river Gagripsh, from which the land of Djiget begins”. After Russian had constructed a fortress in Gagra in 1830, this land was attached to Abkhazia, and entered the Sukhum department even later.
The territorial organisation of the Sukhum military department, which was officially a part of the Kutaisi province, was later subject to constant reformation. After 1864 the former third department of the Black Sea coastal line (from the river Gagripsh to the river Kodor) was divided into districts: 1) Ochamchira (the former Samurzakan district and Tsebeldа): Gudavа, Оkum, Bedia, Ochamchira, Ilori, Dali gorge, Georgian and Tsebelda fortifications; and 2) Pitsunda (Abkhazia, former Abzhiva, Bzyb and Sukhumi districts): Drandi, Кеlasuri, Sukhum-Kale, Ааtsi, Gudaut, Souk-su, Tserа, Pitsundа, Gagra, Pskhu, and Akhchi-Pskhu.
Thus, on the basis of objective data it is possible to draw the following conclusions:
1) Ancient authors confirm the existence of the Abkhazian ethnos from V century BC onwards, and also its location within the territory of the Abkhazian state situated along the coast of the Western Transcaucasia. Its southern border passed along the river Fazis (Rion), and sometimes its limits also included more southern areas, including Trebizond.
2) Though the Abkhazian kingdom, situated in the territory of present Abkhazia as well as in areas of eastern and southern Transcaucasia and partially Armenia for almost six centuries, broke up into separate feudal formations, the independent Abkhazian state continued to exist in the historically confirmed territory of origin of its ethnos. Since the V century BC, during the whole period of residence in this area of Abkhazians as ethnos, the territory of Abkhazia remained within the borders existing nowadays, as the property of its people, and was never transferred in possession to someone via a legitimate procedure.
3)The settlement during prehistoric times of Abkhazians in the region of present-day Colchis, and their displacement to the north by tribes which later occupied this area, is confirmed by the presence of various forms of Abkhazian toponyms in Southwest Transcaucasia.
4) The Abkhazian state during that time already had its own name - "Absny", which has existed till now in the form "Apsny", which means Abkhazia.
5) It has been confirmed that the Abkhazian population of the country was numerous before the beginning of “makhadjirstvo”, which led to an exodus from the country of several hundred thousand Abkhazians and similar nationalities.
6) The territory of medieval Abkhazia, and its borders which passed from the south on the river Ingur to the Caucasian ridge, then north along it to Kuban, are accurately defined in documents.
7) The originality of the Abkhazian language, which does not have similarities to others (especially to languages of the Kartvelian group), except for a certain similarity to Circassian and some other languages of the people of the North Caucasus, is extremely clearly defined. Possibly, the similarity to the language of these people became one of the reasons why, in "The Dictionary...", the border of Abkhazia goes to Kuban, as during that time Circassians lived to the north of the borders of Abkhazian territory.
8) The indication of the presence in the country of only one language testifies to the absence in the territory of Abkhazia of other nationalities with their own languages, i.e. to the homogeneity of its population.
9) A very important fact is that Abkhazia is separated from Mingrelia by the river Ingur (Enguri), which serves as a natural border. It confirms that on primordially Abkhazian land till the middle of XVIII century (anyway, till its beginning), so-called "Georgian" tribes, and especially people of Kartvelian nationality, never lived. The border passed, then as well as now, along the river Ingur. The first mention of the border along the river Ingur, separating Abkhazia from its southern neighbours, occurred in III century BC.
10) The given annalistic materials once again establish the groundlessness of all insinuations from Georgian historians, politicians and writers trying to prove that Abkhazia is not, and never has been, a state located in its own territory within strictly defined borders, and with the Abkhazian ethnos existing in this territory throughout several millenia.
11) For a state to be recognised as a sovereign unit, it is necessary to have the ownership of territory with a native ethnos existing within it. This has been proved to be true for Abkhazia.
Shamba T., Neproshin А. Abkhazia: Legal basis of statehood and sovereignty. М: Open Company "In-Oktavo", 2005, 240 pages.
Абхазы - (самоназвание апсуа) автохтонное население Кавказа.
Абхазия (краткая историческая справка).
Исторические лица Абхазии (биографический справочник).
Редактор Вячеслав Румянцев
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