T. Shamba, A. Neproshin
Е, Ё: ...
Legal basis of statehood and sovereignty
Chapter 2. Statehood of Abkhazia
2.2. Transcaucasia as a part of the Russian empire
At the end of XVIII century the Abkhazian princedom was headed by Keleshbei Sharvashidze. During hostility between Turkey and Russia in the Black Sea - Caucasian area, he clearly oriented Abkhazia towards Russia. As well as some other Caucasian states, Abkhazia objectively gravitated to Russia, whose power was increasing and who could become its defender against invasions by Iranian, Turkish and other conquerors. Similar aspirations had already appeared at the end of XV century in other states of Transcaucasia. Since that time, Kakhetian tsars had continuously addressed their Russian masters with requests for protection, or for acceptance within the structure of Russia.
According to M. Miansarov's "Chronicles", events in Transcaucasia developed as follows:
1492 - Kakhetian tsar Alexander I sent a delegation to Moscow, asking for protection. In his message to the Grand Duke of Moscow, Ivan III, he called himself "Ivan’s lackey" , and called Ivan III the Great Tsar, etc.;
1501 - Izmail-Sofi, the founder of the Sefid dynasty of Persian shahs, conquered Shirvan and Georgia (?);
1550 - Shah Takhmaspa invaded Georgia (?), and destroyed Vardzia;
1578 - Caucasian possessions were divided between Turks and Persians. The Turks seized Tiflis, and the towns of Poti and Sukhum-Kale were founded;
1586 - Kakhetian tsar Alexander II asked tsar Fyodor Ioannovich for protection;
1597 - Shah Abbas expelled the Turks from Georgia (?);
1604 -Kartalinian prince George declared himself a contributor to tsar Fyodor Borisovich Godunov6;
1616-1617 - The Persian shah Abbas devastated Kakhetia;
1619 - Kakhetian tsar Taimuraz I sent a delegation to tsar Michael Fyodorovich with a request for protection against the Persians. In 1639 he recognised Michael Fyodorovich's power over himself;
1621 - George III, tsar of Imeretia, and Mamia II, tsar of Guria, asked tsar Michael Fyodorovich for protection;
1636 - Mingrelian dadian Levan II expressed his readiness to recite the oath to tsar Michael Fyodorovich;
1650 - The tsar of Imeretia, Alexander, swore citizenship with Russia. Turks seized Kutais;
1703 - Kartalinian prince Vakhtang became the governor of Kartalinia. His collation of annals –“Ulozhenie” (Code) - relate to this time;
1724 – Tiflis was captured by Turks. Tsar Vakhtang VI and 43 Georgian princes and noblemen escaped to Russia; Eristavstvo Ratcha asked for Russian protection;
1735 - Tiflis, Erivan and Ganzha were given to the Nadir-shah;
1736 - The Nadir-shah expelled the Turks from Kakhetia and Kartalinia;
1752 - Irakli, the Georgian (?) tsar, defeated the Persians in Yerevan;
1774 - On July 10th the Kuchuk-Kainardjisky treaty released Imeretia and Guria from the Turks.
As G.N.Kolbaia states(1955), a request for protection against Turkish invasions was addressed in 1564 to tsar Ivan Grozny by the tsar of Imeretia, Levan II. Alexander II, tsar of Kakhetia, also begged tsar Fyodor Ioannovich with a similar request in 1586, saying that “only you, Wearer of a Crown of Orthodoxy, can rescue our lives and souls”, and finished the message with the words: “To you I beat my forehead to the face of the earth with all people: yes we will be yours for ever and ever”. When ambassadors from tsar Fyodor Borisovich arrived in the capital of Kakhetia in 1605, the son of tsar Alexander declared to the envoy from Moscow: “Never has Iveria lived in misery more awfully than at present; we stand under knives of the sultan and the shah; both want our blood and everything that we have, we had given ourselves to Russia, let Russia take us not by word, but by deed”.
Megrel possessor Levan Dadiani addressed a similar request to tsar Michael Fyodorovich in 1638. Imeretian tsar Alexander also asked about help and protection in 1653. Kakhetian tsar Taimuraz I, in his request to tsar Alexei Mikhailovich in 1658, informed him that the Shah of Iran, Abbas I, had captured his mother and two juvenile sons, and begged the Russian tsar to accept his people in citizenship and to protect them.
Some tsars, having been rescued from the Persian and Turkish enslavers, at various times escaped to Russia: Archil II (Imeretian) in 1699, Vakhtang VI (Kartalinian) in 1722 and Taimuraz II (Kakhetian) in 1761. They remained in Russia till the end of their days, continually asking Russian tsars about acceptance of the people subject to them within the structure of Russia. Almost 300 years were required before Russia made a decision about their inclusion within the structure of the state.
Firstly in the structure of Russia there appeared the Kartli-Kakhetian kingdom, which in 1783 in the name of God Almighty declared a recognition of “the Supreme power of the All-Russia Emperors over Kartlinian and Kakhetian tsars”. For an understanding of some features of the conditions under which Kartli-Kakhetia became a part of the Russian empire, we give excerpts from the Georgievsk treaty. Two documents were prepared and signed. The first document was:
Oath of fidelity to the Russian Emperors
and a recognition of their protection and Supreme power.
The sample on which his Highness the Tsar of Kartalinia and Kakhetia Irakli Teimurazovich will make the oath promise of fidelity to Her Imperial Majesty, autocrat of All-Russia, and on a recognition of protection and the Supreme power of the All-Russia Emperors over Tsars of Kartalinia and Kakhetia.
Аs named below, I promise and swear by Almighty God before His sacred Gospel that I praise and honour H.I.M.7 her Highness and Royal Imperial Majesty and great Sovereign Empress to All-Russia Ekaterina Alekseevna and her kindest son, his Highness Sovereign Cesarevitch and Grand Duke Paul Petrovich, lawful successor to the All-Russia imperial throne, and all high successors of that throne true, assiduous and benevolent to be. Recognising as my name, all successors of mine and all my kingdoms and areas for ever the highest protection and Supreme power of H. I. M. and her high heirs over me and my successors, Tsars of Kartalinia and Kakhetia,
6 M. Miansarov was mistaken - in 1604 the Tsar was Boris Godunov, and his son Fyodor ruled from April 14th till June 10th, 1605.
7 Her Imperial Majesty
and owing to that rejecting, under whatever title or pretext, the supremacy or power of other sovereigns and states and being denied their protection, I am obliged by my pure Christian conscience to esteem enemies of the Russian state as my own enemies, to be obedient and ready in any situation, where on service.... for H. I. M. and the All-Russia state I will be as needed, and in all that not to spare my stomach to the last drop of blood. With H. I. M. military and civil chiefs and attendants to address with sincere consent. And if I learn anything reprehensible to the advantage and glory of H. I. M. and her empire’s deeds or intention, immediately to let know.
In a word, I should also act decently according to my one faith with the Russian people and in my line of duty, in a reasoning of protection and Supreme power of H. I. M. In conclusion of this my oath I kiss the words and the Cross of my Saviour. Amen.
This sample has to serve henceforth and in future to Kartalinian and Kakhetian tsars for taking the oath promise at their introduction to a kingdom and on reception of a document of details of confirmation of investiture, favoured from the Russian imperial court.
For authenticity the undersigned proxy this sample with the force of their full authority, and have signed this and have put to it their seals in the Georgievsk fortress on 24th day of July 1783
On the original it is signed:
Prince Ivan Bagration,
Prince Garsevan Chavchavadzev.
As follows from the applied text, addressed to Russian empress Catherine II with the request for protection and recognising her Supreme power, the tsar of Kartalinia and Kakhetia, Irakli, according to this document confirms his fidelity and humility to Russia and speaks only on behalf of two kingdoms: Kartli and Kakhetia. Hence, the present document, confirmed by signatures of the authorised persons and fastened by their seals, is the legal document and according to the text extends its jurisdiction only to territories of two princedoms - Kartli and Kakhetia. In this legal document there is no mention of other state formations (kingdoms, princedoms, etc.), existing at that time in the territory of modern Transcaucasia. Hence, its jurisdiction cannot be extended to the states which have not been mentioned in the present document. Especially, it is necessary to notice that it contains not one word about Abkhazia.
The second document is actually the Agreement containing the basic text and Articles. We include only some Articles, which are the most relevant to our theme.
Agreement on a recognition by the tsar of Kartalinia and Kakhetia Irakli II
of the protection and the Supreme power of Russia
(the Georgievsk treaty) on July 24th, 1783
For the sake of Almighty God, glorious in the United Sacred Trinity. From old times the All-Russia empire, sharing one faith with the Georgian people, served as protection, help and refuge to those people and to their Highnesses the governors against oppressions to which they from their neighbours have been subjected. Protection granted by the All-Russia autocrats to Georgian tsars, their families and their citizens, has made that dependence of the latter on the former which appears from the Russian imperial title. H. I. M., at present safely reigning, has sufficiently expressed her monarchical goodwill and magnanimous blessing to these people by the strong diligence enclosed about their disposal of a yoke of slavery and from the bringing of a tribute by adolescent boys and girls which some of these peoples have been obliged to give, and continuation of her monarchical charity to the governors of these people. In this arrangement, condescending to applications to her throne brought from his Highness the Tsar of Kartalinia and Kakhetia Irakli Taimurazovich about his acceptance with all his successors and with all his kingdoms and regions into monarchical protection of Her Majesty and her high successors, with a recognition of the Supreme power of the All-Russia Emperors over Tsars of Kartalinia and Kakhetia, she has mercifully decided to decree and conclude with his Highness the aforementioned tsar a friendly agreement, by means of which from one side, his Highness, by his name and by his successors recognising the Supreme power and protection of Her Imperial Majesty and her high successors over governors and the people of the kingdoms of Kartalinia and Kakhetia and other regions to them belonging, would solemnly consider his obligations in an exact way, in the opinion of the All-Russia empire; and from the other side, Her Imperial Majesty could also consider solemnly which advantages and benefits from her generous and strong right hand were being granted to the aforementioned people and their Highnesses the governors.
To the conclusion of such an agreement, H. I. M. has desired to authorise his Highness the Prince of the Russian Empire Grigory Alexandrovich Potyomkin, the armies’ chief general, and so forth and so forth... because of his absence, to select and supply a deputy with full power who he himself will choose, and he (G. Potyomkin) has selected and has authorised the excellent nobleman from H. I. M. army, a general lieutenant, Commander of the armies in the Astrakhan province, H. I. M. valid chamberlain and recipient of the St. Alexander Nevski and other Russian awards, the gentleman Paul Potyomkin, and his Highness the Tsar of Kartalinia and Kakhetia Irakli Teimurazovich has selected and authorised from his own side their Excellencies his left-hand General Prince Ivan Konstantinovich Bagration and his General-Adjutant Prince Garsevan Chavchavadzev. The above-mentioned authorities, having started with God’s help and having exchanged mutual powers, have decided, concluded and signed the following articles.
The first Article
His Highness the Tsar of Kartalinia and Kakhetia by his name and the name of his successors solemnly is forever denied vassalage from everyone under any title whatsoever, and from any dependence upon Persia or other imperial power, and declares to the whole world that he does not recognise over himself and his successors any other autocracy, except the Supreme power and protection of Her Imperial Majesty and her high successors of the All-Russia imperial throne, promising to that throne fidelity and readiness to bring advantage to the state in any way it will be demanded.
The second Article
Her Imperial Majesty, accepting from his Highness so frank a promise, at regular intervals promises and encourages with an imperial word from herself and her successors, that their favour and protection will never be withdrawn from their Highnesses the Tsars of Kartalinia and Kakhetia. As proof of which Her Majesty gives the imperial guarantee of preservation of the integrity of the present possessions of his Highness Tsar Irakli Teimurazovich, assuming to extend that guarantee during time and circumstances to such possessions as will be acquired and most definitely confirmed as his.
The eighth Article
As proof of special monarchical goodwill to his Highness the Tsar and his people and for greater connection with Russia of these people with the same faith, H. I. M. allows the Catholicos or their commanding Archbishop to accept a place among the Russian bishops in eighth degree, after Tobolsk, most graciously favouring him with the title of Member of the Holy Synod forever; regarding the control of Georgian churches (???) and their relation to the Russian Synod, a special article will be made.
For authenticity, the undersigned proxy this Article with the force of their full 244 authorities, and have signed these Articles and have put to them their seals in the Georgievsk fortress, 24th day of July 1783
On the original it is signed:
Prince Ivan Bagration,
Prince Garsevan Chavchavadzev.
The fourth separate Article
H. I. M. promises to use in case of war all possible diligence in granting weapons, and in the event of peace to insist on the return of lands and places long since belonging to the Kingdom of Kartalinia and Kakhetia which remain in the possession of local tsars on the basis of the concluded treaty about protection and the Supreme power of the All-Russia emperors over them.
These separate articles will have the same force as if they were included unchanged in the main treaty.
For authenticity, the undersigned proxy these Articles with the force of their full authority, and have signed these Articles and have put to them their seals in the Georgievsk fortress on the 24th day of July 1783
On the original it is signed:
Prince Ivan Bagration,
Prince Garsevan Chavchavadzev.
Let's consider the content of the given Articles. With the first Article, the Tsar of Kartalinia and Kakhetia swears allegiance to the Russian emperors, but the second Article represents indubitable interest for historians and lawyers. Along with the promise of protection and the guarantee of preservation of possession of tsars of Kartli and Kakhetia, the empress gives the promise to tsar Irakli II to extend this guarantee “during time and circumstances to such possessions as will be acquired and most definitely confirmed as his.” Thus, the international legal document was signed, according to which:
a) The Kingdoms of Kartli and Kakhetia (but not Georgia!) become a part of the Russian empire;
b) To tsars of Kartli and Kakhetia is given, and is legally confirmed, the right to capture, gain and other variants of joining of other territories and states, not considering their independence, sovereignty, ownership by other races and difference in both culture and language. A main objective of this carte blanche is the joining of everything that will be possible to Kartli-Kakhetia, and through it to Russia;
c) This document gives a guarantee that any captured territories will be supplied with further powerful retention as a part of Russia.
The fourth Article is the most dangerous and illegal, as it authorises to tsars of Kartli-Kakhetia the uncontrolled annexation of their neighbours, which subsequently occurred. As follows from the agreement, Kartli-Kakhetia is allowed to consider not only all those lands which were invaded or subjugated by armies of Kartli-Kakhetia as belonging to the kingdom, but also, under the jurisdiction of this Article, the countries-neighbours which were ever exposed to attacks from this kingdom. Subsequently, on the basis of this Article, there was a capture of the neighbouring territories and creation of the state of Georgia around Kartli-Kakhetia. As Abkhazia was the founder of the Abkhazian kingdom which was transformed into an incorporated kingdom of Abkhazians and of some other princedoms, even after full disintegration of the latter, from the point of view of the present Article it was considered as a part of a kingdom and, hence the jurisdiction of the document extended to Abkhazia. Moreover, according to this Article, in any capture and assignment of other lands the Russian empire guarantees rendering assistance, including military.
In the agreement, in the preface and the eighth Article, for the first time at an official level the words “the Georgian people”, “Georgian tsars” and “the Georgian church” are given. Because the tsar of Kartalinia and Kakhetia, Irakli II, does not mention anything "Georgian" in the application, it is necessary to consider the inclusion of this name in the official legal document either as a misunderstanding, or else it was a deliberate provocation by the compilers, having further serious political consequences.
The term "Georgian" did not appear in official documents till the moment of signing of the Georgievsk treaty in 1783. Moreover, the tsar of Kartli and Kakhetia Irakli II, addressing Catherine II, does not mention either the toponym “Sakartvelo” or the name "Georgia". Mention of them is absent in the text of the agreement itself, however in its preface and articles for the first time there is mention of “the Georgian people” and of “the Georgian church”. In this connection there is a question – whether, in the understanding of Russian diplomats and governors, the term “Georgian people” refers only to the people of Kartli and Kakhetia under whose name Irakli acts in the application, or whether it concerns all kingdoms and the princedoms within the Abkhazian kingdom? If so, on what basis, as all these state structures at the moment of signing of the Georgievsk treaty were independent and sovereign and were either in a condition of conflicts and wars among themselves, or had an armistice i.e. were equal subjects of international law. Or else does this term concern all Transcaucasian states, including modern Azerbaijan and Armenia (whose tsars ruled in due time in Georgia), situated, by the definition of Persians, in the territory of Gurdjistan – “the country of wolves”?
In our opinion, most likely the Russian diplomats knew about the existence of so-called Gurdjistan, as during that period they had contacts with Persia, and appropriated this generalising name for the countries of Transcaucasia initially to the people of Kartli and Kakhetia, and then extended it to all people of the region. As at that time in the territory of modern Georgia the uniform, integral state did not exist, it naturally did not have any definite name. Later, at the end of XIX century, a uniform administrative region was formed, was controlled as a part of Russia by a Governor-General, and received the conditional collective name of "Georgia" from the imperial office. In the Russian documents the toponym "Georgia" was widely applied at once after the transfer of Russian military units to the territory of Transcaucasia, from the moment of the joining of separate kingdoms and princedoms to Russia. It was especially evident when all independent states of the Central and Western Transcaucasia which had entered into the structure of Russia at the beginning of XIX century had been abolished, and in their place other administrative structures had been organised. Since that moment, the Russian administration names only this territory Georgia, as Armenia and Azerbaijan at that time were already defined with their own names and consequently were dropped from the number of countries designated the toponym "Georgia" (Gurdjistan).
In 1783 Empress Catherine II accepted Irakli II, the Tsar of Kartli and Kakhetia, under her Supreme power and protection. The statehood and the sovereignty of Kartli-Kakhetia as a part of Russia have been abolished since September 12th, 1801 after acceptance of “the highest manifesto on the joining of Georgia to Russia”. Other kingdoms and princedoms entered under the protection of Russia after that. Mingrelia became a part of Russia in 1803, and its autonomy as a part of Russia was cancelled in 1857; Guria became a part of Russia in 1810, its sovereignty was lost in 1828; the Imeretian kingdom became a part of Russia in 1804, and was abolished in 1810.
All the above kingdoms and princedoms received Russian protection and entered into its structure independently from each other. This testifies that from the moment of disintegration of the Abkhazian kingdom, and then the Abkhaz-Imeretian or Armenian-Iverian kingdom , in the territory of present Georgia the uniform independent state which modern Georgian (and not only Georgian) historians post factum name "Georgia" did not exist. Sovereign Abkhazia was not mentioned in the agreements listed above, and had no relation with the states involved in them, especially with the phantom state "Georgia".
As S. Hotko states, during the considered period only throughout 150 years of the existence of the Kingdom of Abkhazians did Abkhazia exist in close union with the princedoms which were situated in the territory of modern Georgia, but during that time not being it. This fact is sufficient for confirmation of the absence of any basis to claims of Georgia on the territory of Abkhazia. From XIII to the beginning of XIX century, the statehood of Abkhazia was not interrupted, and the country continued to exist as an independent Abkhazian princedom, which is proved to be true from historical annalistic sources.
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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