Chapter 2. Statehood of Abkhazia.

2.1. Statehood formation.

The first Abkhazian kingdom arose under the influence of the Roman empire, with its direct participation, and existed in the territory of modern ­ Abkhazia from I century AD, and  from then on Abkhazia actually possessed all the signs of statehood. The early types of  states forming Abkhazia were the ­"kingdoms" Sanigia, Apsilia and Abasgia, appearing ­ in sources since I century AD, which covered all the territory of the present ­ Republic of Abkhazia. These political structures were dependent upon the Roman emperors who appointed local tsars and had control over them through the seaside settlements Sebastopolis and Pitiunt, in which the Roman garrisons took residence. In the beginning of II century ­ Apsils were ruled by Julian, Abasgs by Resmag, Sanigs by  Spadag, and at the change from III-IV centuries Rigvadin reigned in Аbasgia.

After the transfer of the capital of the Roman empire to Constantinople, political,­  economic and cultural Roman-Byzantian presence in the area increased. In the first half of VI century, in connection with the invasion of Persians and their ­ North Caucasian allies into Colchis, Byzantium made an attempt to unite ­ proto-Abkhazian (Apsils, Abasgs, Misimianians, etc.) and west Caucasian (Lazikans, Svans) nationalities within the limits of vassal buffer formation - the Lazikan kingdom. In Colchis there appeared a situation similar to that occurring ­ in the middle of XX century – Abkhazia, as an independent entity, was included in the state ­ of Lazikans (though territorially they were divided) which, in turn, actually became a part of the Byzantian empire.

Abkhazia as a state declared itself independent for the first time in 545, and already in 550 it was subordinated by Byzantium. Throughout the following period of more than 200 years, the territory of Abkhazia was included in the east Black Sea coast province of the Russian empire and considered as “Roman territory”, management of which was carried out by imperial logofets (deputies). In D. Chachhalia's work “the chronicle of the Abkhazian tsars” (2000) names of these governors­ operating in the territory of Abasgia (Opsit and Skeparna in VI century; Anos, Gozar, Justinian, Filiktos, Barnuk, Dimitri, Feodosi and two ­ Constantines from VII to the beginning of VIII century) and Apsilia (Marin and Evstafi in ­ first half of VIII century) are given­­­.

Independent Abkhazian statehood arose from the moment when ­ the rule of the protege of Byzantium, Leon I, began. The Caesar, ­ the Byzantian emperor, in VIII century granted to the Abkhazian lords, his vassals, the right to sovereign rule the country. Leon welcomed on his land the governors of Kartli, who were pursued by armies of Mervan ibn-Mohammed (Mervan-Crewe) to the borders of Abkhazia, and helped Kartls in the battle of Anakopia. After this, the emperor of Byzantium, who was interested in ­ expansion of the borders with the Caucasus, gave Leon the right to rule Abkhazia hereditarily. “Henceforth it is my hereditary possession from Klisur to the river of the Big Hazaria where reaches the end of  Caucasus”.

So, Abkhazia received its own governor Leon I, the tsar of the newly-formed Abkhazian kingdom, later occupying a considerable part of Transcaucasia. Approximately in VIII century,  the Abkhazian tsars moved to the east of Transcaucasia, and seized regions ­ of Central Transcaucasia up to the borders of Albania. Tao-Klardjeti’s Bagratids (the owners of Kakhetia), the emir of Tiflis, and Armenian tsars all took part in this struggle. The definitive victory went to the Abkhazian­ tsars who seized and incorporated almost all of Kartli. Kartlis Tshovreba says that “at this time Abkhazia was the only part of Caucasus which due to its own safety and fertile soil promoted physical and moral ­ strengthening of its tsars”. Leon I occupied Mingrelia, Imeretia and all space to the Suramsky ridge, and  based a fortress called Kota (Kutysh, Kutatis, Kutais) on the river Rioni. He named this state “Metropolia of Abkhazia” and divided it into districts: 1) actual Abkhazia, 2) Tskhom  (from  the river Inguri to Alania), 3) ­ Bedia, 4) Guria, 5)  Ratcha-Lekhum, 6) Svan, 7) Tsenis-Tskhali to ­ the Suramsky ridge and to the south along the river Rioni. With him, the dynasty ruling this territory for two centuries commenced­.

In VIII century in the territory of central Transcaucasia, an Arab caliphate dominated. All princedoms paid a huge tribute to Arabs.  Abkhazia ­ remained out of reach of them, and the victory over Arabs at the walls of the main Abasg fortress Anakopia promoted a strengthening of the new state. In the end, Abkhazia as an independent country was established in VIII century. The nephew of Leon I, Abkhazian tsar Leon II, was the founder and the builder of the sovereign Abkhazian state., Other princedoms of Transcaucasia at that time, and especially Kartli, ­ took no part in the formation of the Abkhazian ­ state, partly because of the absence of their own statehood.

At the end of VIII century Leon II, having taken advantage of the weakening of empire and ­ strengthening of the Khazar kaganat, declared independence and transferred ­the capital of the Abkhazian kingdom to ancient Kutais, which represented the natural ­ centre of the western Transcaucasia.

According to Kartlis Tshovreba, this was the peak moment of history in the formation of the Abkhazian (not Kartvelian or Imeretian, and especially not "Georgian") kingdom: “Having established this, Leon, having seized all  Egrisi, named it not Egrisi, but Abkhazia, and  divided this Egrisi, and henceforth Abkhazia,­  into eight eristavstvos (princedoms). That Leon assigned Abkhazia to himself and ruled (it), and ­ after a safe reign died  in 806 (year) of Christian (era)”.

Kartlis Tshovreba informs us that later, at the beginning of X century, Abkhazian tsars Constantine ­ and George gained the next territories, including Kartli, Kakheti and Ereti, thereby incorporating all of western and eastern Transcaucasia into the state structure. The Abkhazian kingdom blossomed at the time of George II, in the middle of X century, having incorporated a part of modern east Georgia. In X-XII centuries Abkhazians played the leading role in the creation of the Abkhazian kingdom, formed due to dynastic union and the announcement of its leader as the representative of  the Tao-Klardjeti dynasty of Bagrat III, the nephew of the childless Abkhazian tsar Feodosi the blind. During that time Abkhazia in the southeast bordered ­ Armenia.

In our opinion, this period in the evolution of Abkhazia can be divided into two parts, the first of which (before the reign of Leon II) is an epoch of the formation of Abkhazian statehood, and the second an epoch of the Abkhazian kingdom. This kingdom, arising at the end of VIII century and existing under this name, as confirmed in  history annals (and by Georgian ­ historians, who do not forget to note in brackets – “the Georgian kingdom”), throughout two centuries covered considerable territory in Transcaucasia. Following vigorous internal and foreign policies, it became amongst the largest states in the region, simultaneously solving questions ­ of difficult international mutual relations with Armenian Bagratids and with rising new princedoms Tao-Klardjeti, Kakheti, Ereti, etc.

As R. Honelia notes, during this period there was actually a struggle for hegemony ­over Transcaucasia; all policy of Abkhazia was directed to the east, and in this process she competed first of all with the Armenian kingdom, which carried out a similar policy and at times achieved considerable success. So, at the beginning of X century tsar Ashot I (Bagratid) seized Kartli and Imeretia and ­ became “the Prince of Princes”.

After Ashot, Sombat (Smbat in the Armenian transcription) attached some more princedoms to the borders of the Caucasian ridge, and the Abkhazian tsars (till 898) undertook a  dynastic marriage between Prince Musheg (son of Sombat) and the Abkhazian Princess (daughter of Abkhazian tsar Constantine). This meant a close relationship with Armenian Bagratids, and the beginning of a new dynasty in the Abkhazian kingdom. The presence during this period of a common border ­ between the Abkhazian and Armenian kingdoms on the Suramsky ridge is assumed­. With ­the weakening of the Armenian kingdom after Arabs in 901 seized Armenia,­  “in 904 entered Constantine, the tsar of Abkhazia, who both took hold of Kartlia and became the enemy of the Armenian tsar Sombat” (Kartlis Tshovreba Vol..1, P. 262).

In the war with Sombat and his allies the Abkhazian tsar Constantine suffered ­ defeat, but, despite this, proceeding from the internal political situation in the region, Sombat returned seized lands to Constantine later. Having returned ­home to Kutais from captivity, Constantine began to rule the Abkhazian kingdom autocratically.

Thus, for all the period before the capture by Abkhazians of central Transcaucasia, and during the existence of the Abkhazian kingdom, Kartvelian tribes constantly depended upon Arabs, Persians, and Khazars, or were a part of the Abkhazian or Armenian kingdoms. They lacked not only statehood, but also independence, throughout five centuries until the disintegration of the Abhaz-Imeretian kingdom.

Rivalry in the realisation of effusive plans occurred not only with the Armenian tsars. Tao-Klardjeti’s Kuropalat Adarnase, being the father-in-law of the Abkhazian tsar, pursued his own political ends and acted on the side of  Sombat against tsar Constantine. In 888 Adarnase proclaimed himself “the Kartvelian tsar” and put forward claims for Kartli and  all eastern territory, and for his superiority in the system of these kingdoms and princedoms. Nevertheless, as I.A.Djavahashvili notes in “History of the Georgian ­ people”, Kartli remained a component of the Abkhazian kingdom. Having kept good relations with Constantine, Sombat was able, after Arabs ­ had seized Armenia and Kartli, to find protection in Abkhazia, to which many inhabitants of the country escaped during this period. Moreover, Abkhazians managed to show such ­ resistance to Arabs, that the latter did not manage to subdue the Abkhazian kingdom (except for Kartli), as the Abkhazian army at that time ­ had already been equipped and armed in the Byzantian manner. Later, in 920 Abkhazia rendered military assistance to Ashot II during the last major battle with Arabs. Constantine, having expelled the rest of the Arab military garrisons from Kartli, restored the status of the Abkhazian kingdom in central Transcaucasia. Kahetian ­ governor Kvirike recognised himself as the vassal of the Abkhazian tsar, and they began to struggle together against Ereti where the Abkhazian kingdom was then established­. Henceforth, domination and advantage appeared in the hands ­ of the Abkhazian tsars, and Constantine III became one of the most powerful ­ sovereigns on the Abkhazian throne.

As a result of military opposition by possessors of various princedoms and kingdoms in Transcaucasia, the Armenian line of Bagratids received priority status, due to which the Abkhazian kingdom under its aegis was strengthened. Bagrat III, who represented the Armenian line, and formerly the Persian line of Khanaenians from Tao-Klardjeti, came to power. His mother was Abkhazian, i.e. he had nothing in common with the Kartvelian tribe. His kingdom is quite often called Abkhaz-Kartvelian because Bagrat III subdued Kartls as a result of wars and extended his power to their territory, having thereby accepted the title “The tsar Abkhazian and Novelissimus all East” which was confirmed by a parchment roll dated 1058 from Tiflis church repository “Mkhedruli”. Immediately after a victory over Kartvelians, the following memorable inscription devoted to this ­ event was cut­ in a temple in Kutais, the capital of the Abkhazian kingdom, in 1003: “ Oh, Tsar, ruling all tsars, extol powerful Bagrat, kuropalat, the tsar of Abkhazians and Kartvelians “. This inscription confirming ­the gain of a princedom of Kartli by the Abkhazian tsars is represented by Georgian historians as the creation of " the Abhaz-Kartvelian kingdom”, though this does not correspond to reality.

Successors of Bagrat representing the elite of other princedoms did not keep this name, and during the subsequent period it carried the name “kingdom Abkhaz-Imeretian”, a kingdom of Armenians and Iverians. Miriam,   mother of Bagrat IV, had­ the title of the tsarina of Abkhazians and Armenians. The appurtenance of the subsequent tsars - Bagratids - to the Abkhazian line and imperial elite is confirmed by the text on the coins of Bagrat IV – “Christ, glorify Bagrat, the tsar of Abkhazians and Novelis”.

Confirming his lawful accession to power, Bagrat III produced­ the manifesto known as “Divan of the Abkhazian tsars” in which he lists his predecessors on the Abkhazian throne. He gives 20 names of tsars and the years of their reigns (for the whole period from VII - the end of IX century) and continues: “And after these, God wished - and I, Bagrat Bagrationi, the son of blissful Gurgen , the son ­ of the daughter of the Abkhazian tsar George, have seized the country of Abkhazia, my mother’s inheritance, and I will reign for the time God wills!” On coins of his period is engraved “Bagrat the Tsar of Abkhazians”. His reign is marked ­ by the unification of all inherited territories, and a political, economic and cultural uplift of the Abkhazian kingdom. In 1001 he received the title of Kuropalat from Byzantian ­ emperor Vasily II. In the list of his possessions ­ Kartli is registered also.

With the accession of Bagrat III, the Tao-Klardjeti dynasty came to power in the country, and Kartvelians who were subdued and incorporated into the Abkhazian kingdom gradually began to represent a certain proportion of the population. This situation could have led to a regeneration of the Abkhazian kingdom. The most influential aristocratic  clan of  Abkhazian origin, nicknamed Abazasdze  (or sons of Abaza, Abkhaz)  in the  beginning of  XI  century headed ­ opposition and led a vigorous offensive against tsar Bagrat IV for the purpose of obtaining power. The political status of Abkhazia was above the state formations ­ inherited by Bagrat III. This state throughout several ­ centuries still carried the name "Abkhazian", and its capital until the second quarter ­of XII century would be Kutais. Abkhazia became a foundation of the new, larger state ­ which inherited the political, economic and cultural achievements ­ of former Abkhazia.

Transfer of the capital of the Abkhazian kingdom, firstly from primordial Abkhazian centre Anakopia to Kutais, in the territory occupied by Mingrelians, and later to Tiflis, lowered the influence of Abkhazian culture and decreased administrative influence ­ on commoners and the nobility within princedoms and kingdoms. ­The self-created national elite advanced their rulers to the throne, therefore there was a replacement of the Abkhazian tsars by tsars from Tao-Klardjeti (a branch of the Armenian tsars), and later by rulers from Imeretian and Kartvelian dynasties.

Let's consider how modern Georgian history treats these events. From M. Miansarov's "Chronicles" it can be seen that Bagratids, the Armenian rulers from 787 AD, sat on the Kartlian throne and in other princedoms ­ of Transcaucasia, yet it is stated that “Bagratids enter on the Georgian throne for a second time”, which is certainly untrue. Firstly, there was no invitation to rule. Ordinary capture of territory took place, as a result of which rule passed to the Armenian lords­. Local tribes and princedoms recognised them as their tsars.

Secondly, “the Georgian throne” is a mythical concept thought up by later historians, as time and again it has been stated that during that period no Georgians or Georgian kingdom existed.

Moreover, the beginning of the reign of the Bagratid dynasty can only be historically accurate since the time of family connection of tsars of the Abkhazian state, occupying ­ practically all territory of central and western Transcaucasia, with Armenian Bagratids. In modern Georgian historical materials, very little is spoken about the existence of the Abkhazian kingdom in this territory or about reigns of the Abkhazian tsars. Apparently from the text of  "Chronicles", instead of research into the existence of the Abkhazian kingdom from 780 to 1003, after which, according to many Georgian historians, the change to the Kingdom of Abkhazians and Kartvelians occurred, this period (200 years plus) was deliberately omitted, and instead was devoted to Armenia. But to hide the truth is difficult, therefore, for example, information on the Abkhazian tsar Leo IV suddenly emerges.

M. Miansarov in "Chronicles" states: “since 1089 - the beginning of the reign of Georgian tsar David III the Restarter”5. Actually, at the end of XI - ­ the beginning of XII century David IV the Builder ruled. He was not Georgian by definition­; his accession occurred in Kutais - capital at that time of the Abhaz-Imeretian kingdom; he was related to a descendant of Abhaz-Tao-Klardjeti Bagratids. Ruling at the end of X century (he died in 1001), tsar David III the Restarter was also from the Tao-Klardjeti Bagratids, governors of the Abhaz-Imeretian kingdom. He conquered Tiflis, which for a long time had been in the­ hands of Moslems (thereby winning Kartli and Kakhetia from the Arabs, and again attaching them to the Abhaz-Imeretian kingdom).

According to M. Miansarov, in 1139 “Georgian tsar Dimitri I devastates ­ the city of Ganzhe (Gandzha), and in 1184 - 1212 tsarina Tamara defeats the Armenians, Turks and Persians, and all mountain tribes submit”. But neither Dimitri nor Tamara represented a Kartli dynasty, and, especially, they were not Georgian tsars. All of these from the Armenian  Bagratid dynasty, related to the Abkhazian Leonids, owned eastern provinces ­ of Transcaucasia as a result of successful invasions. After 1225, following the ruin of Tiflis by Djelal ad-Din Khorezmshakh, the next loss for Kartli occurred when it no longer benefited from the power of the Abkhaz-Imeretian kingdom, which once again confirms the negligible role of a princedom of Kartli ­ in the functioning of the Abkhazian or Abkhaz-Imeretian kingdom.



5 M.Miansarov made an appreciable error - David IV the Builder ruled from 1073 to 1125. SES. P. 358.

In 1239 disintegration of the Abkhazian kingdom began, with the invasion of Mongol-Tatar­ hordes accelerating this process. By the beginning of 1240 Mongols had conquered Azerbaijan ­ and the eastern part of an incorporated kingdom (including Kartli), and by 1243 all Armenia had been conquered by them. From then on the given territories ­ were occupied by nomads, and the people of central Transcaucasia rendered tribute to Mongols,­  and provided soldiers for their army and slaves for the markets. Such a situation actually existed till the end of XIV century. During the same period, in 1323 the Mingrelian, Gurian, Svan and Abkhazian­ eristavstvos (princedoms) declared themselves independent. By 1469 in the territory of the former Abkhaz-Imeretian­ kingdom three independent kingdoms were formed: Kartli,­ Kakhetia and Imeretia, and independent Ahaltsikhski atabekstvo, between ­ which there were constant wars. Abkhazia during this period avoided invasion by the Mongolian Khans, and kept its independence in the ­ management of its own territory. As before, it represented accurately defined independent political formation.

So, during four and a half centuries (X - the middle of XIV centuries) Abkhazia was included within an incorporated kingdom (latterly existing ­ purely formally) which some modern sources ­name Georgia, and others the Kingdom of Abkhazia and Kartvelia. The first name is­ completely incorrect, and the last, as we have shown, is inexact ­ as this state formation was the successor of the Abkhazian­ kingdom and Abkhazia was the principal part of it.­ Tsars of the Abkhaz - Tao-Klardjeti dynasties ruled it,­  and the cultural, economic, and political centre was gradually displaced into Tiflis, in the eastern territories. At this time it subordinated a considerable part of the Armenian ­ lands, territories of northern Azerbaijan, and some mountain tribes of the north Caucasus.

Consideration of this period of Abkhazian history shows that the ­ state of Abkhazia was created independently on the primordial earth. Throughout ­ several centuries the Abkhazian state was the strongest among its neighbours­. We will underline for comparison that Kiev Russia arose in IX century, ­ the Polish state in X century, and the English kingdom in XI century, so Abkhazian ­ statehood is older than these states participating in world politics. ­ Aggressive policy of the Abkhazian tsars finally  led to the Abkhazian kingdom, occupying territory of practically all modern Georgia, breaking up (like the Roman empire) into separate princedoms.

As later historians, for example tsar Vakhtang and P. Iosselian explained: “Georgia was usually called Kartli, which in 1469,­ existing as an incorporated kingdom, definitively broke up into a number­ of independent kingdoms and eristavstvos (princedoms)... From this moment each of these state formations was independent and ruled by its own princes. All of them kept their  independence till XIX century”.

Tsar Vakhtang IV (1703-1724), who edited and added to the­ annalistic collection Kartlis Tskhovreba created on the basis of legends and ­ historical materials, considers that with the disintegration of the Abkhazian or Abkhaz-Imeretian ­ kingdom there appeared an idea of the association of Kartl tribes, which he introduced. Historical errors have been continuing since that moment. Diligence ­ of Georgian patriots during ХIХ-ХХ centuries, to have their own history released from historic facts undesirable to them, has led to the majority ­ of events in Abkhazian history having received tendentious explanation. Therefore the historical shape of the centuries-old Abkhazian state has been deformed­. Some Russian scientists helped in this as well. Academician N. J. Marr in 1912 said: “in Abkhazia, in a broad sense of this word, the new Georgian state has revived” and “the history of Abkhazians is the beginning of the history of Georgia”.

Abkhazian researchers at times also distort terms, and names of kingdoms and princedoms of Transcaucasia. The work of the historian G. A. Amichba contains equally important errors, characteristic of both Georgian and Abkhazian historians. Citing quotations from publications describing ­ events of VI-XVI centuries, the author gives them in two variants – with and without quotation marks. Where inverted commas occur, there is no mention of "Georgia" as ­ such (which is the valid historic fact). Only  Kartli, Colchis, Kakhetia etc. are spoken about. But where inverted commas are absent, for an unknown reason the terms "Georgia" and "Georgians" appear. They ­ are presented not only as an analogue for Sakartvelo (Kartli-Kakhetia), but also transferred ­to the earlier independent state of Colchis or Lazika, and to the later independent states of Mingrelia, Svanetia, Guria, Imeretia, and also Abkhazia. To the real historian ­ it is inadmissible to deform history either intentionally or involuntarily. Similar errors are characteristic of other Abkhazian historians, for example I. Damenia who writes: “In historical sources the term “Sakartvelo”, meaning united Georgia, occurs for the first time only in XI century. By the same time the Georgian nationality is also consolidated”. The instances of free interpretation of historical facts are inadmissible.

About 1325 Bagratids, ruling in an incorporated kingdom, actually ­ recognised Abkhazian line Chachba-Sharvashidze as a ruling family of Abkhazia, and in 1462 the representative of this line was confirmed by the prince of Abkhazia. In an old charter concerning Abkhazian sovereign princes and the resettlement of Apsua in Samurzakan the following appears:

“During the reign of tsarina Tamar, Abkhazia was ruled by Dogato Sharvashidze. His descendants living in ХVI-ХVII centuries, three Sharvashidze brothers named Rostom, Djikeshia and Kvapu, sons of Zegnak, separated. The elder Rostom took the first land, Abkhazia, ­ located from the river Bzyb to the river Kodor; the middle brother Djikeshia received possession from ­ the river Kodor to the river Galidzga, which in the Abkhazian language is even today called Abzhua, which means the average country or village; and youngest Kvapu from the river Galidzga to the river Enguri. This last territory, because of troubled times, became more deserted and consequently Kvapu transferred from Bzyb, that is from the possession of his eldest brother, some families of princes and aznaurs, namely: Anchabadze, Emukhvari, Inalishvili, Margania, Zvanbaia, Lakerbaia and Akirtava, among whom he divided these lands.For himself he left villages: Bedia, Pakhulani, and Borbalo (modern village Koki). Kvapu died leaving his son Murzakan, ­ who equipped this territory, named it Samurzakan after his own name of Murzakan, and ruled in it.

After Murzakan his son Khutunia ruled, and then Khutunia’s sons Leon and Solomon. The elder of them, Leon, became the  governor of Samurzakan, and Leon and Solomon  divided fiscal ­ villages. The senior Leon received the village of Bedia which ­his sons own till now,­  and Solomon obtained Borbalo (Koki). The village of Pakhulani remained undivided,­ at the disposal of the elder  brother Leon as a summer [residence] of governors of Samurzakan. From Solomon there come six sons: Manuchar, the last governor of  Samurzakan,­ Bezhan, Sorekh and others”. (The Site Abkhazia, doc. № 127).

In XII and XIII centuries Tskhum (Sukhum) served as the residence of Abkhazian sovereign princes Chachba-Sharvashidze. This family ruled Abkhazia until the middle of ХIХ century. Gradually princes Chachba achieved full political, economic and church independence from an incorporated kingdom. It had been reached after an intense struggle of the people with Megrel and Imeretian governors.

“The Abkhazian princedom” - so Abkhazia was officially named throughout XV - middle ХIХ centuries. The history of the   given period is filled by struggle­ of the people and ruling princes for the preservation of independence, and when it was impossible to obtain such status, to defend the relative independence of the state. In this struggle there were limits. It is characterised in XVI century by the strong influence of Genoa merchants whose trading stations were disseminated all along ­the Abkhazian coast. Restoration of wide Mediterranean connections had not only economic, but also political and cultural value. Abkhazia­ had communication with European civilisation, the national coin was minted in its capital Sukhum,­ and European culture extended among the people. But in the same century Turkish presence also accrued. On the boundary of ХVI-ХVII centuries, Abkhazia found itself with a strong dependence upon the Ottoman empire.

Connections with Europe were severed, and ХVII-ХVIII centuries saw the time of Turkish ­ domination. This was a time of increasing political connections with the Ottoman empire, whose government, with a view towards expansion of its influence in the Caucasus, had focused upon Abkhazia, considering its special position in the­ region. Turkish garrisons stood in Sukhum-Kale and Anakopia, and Turkish galleys travelled along the coast. Resisting aggressors, the Abkhazian population ­ many times organised revolts which were severely smothered. A proportion of Abkhazians accepted Sunni Islam. But even in these conditions the Abkhazian princes retained a certain independence in the management of the country. Unlike Adjaria which was included administratively into the structure of the Ottoman empire, Abkhazia remained an autonomous (vassal) state.

So, summing up the first stage of  Abkhazian statehood, it is possible to say:

1. The Abkhazian state, localised in a limited territory practically within the borders of modern Abkhazia, was able by VIII century to strengthen its political, economic and military structure to such a degree that it was allowed by means of diplomacy and military force to create a new state formation – “the Abkhazian kingdom”. It  united numerous kingdoms and  princedoms which were situated during that time in Transcaucasia, and then expanded its­ borders to territories of adjacent states such as Persia, Turkey, etc.

2. Abkhazian statehood was formed in VII century AD on the basis of, and with assistance from,­ the Byzantian empire.

3. Throughout two centuries the Abkhazian kingdom was ruled by Abkhazian tsars. Their reign was intelligent and active, which allowed the country to remain within its former ­ borders, to resist the invasion of enemies, and to support the well-being of the peoples and maintain calm within the country.

4. The peoples who were conquered by Abkhazians  or  voluntarily joined ­ the Abkhazian kingdom expressed humility to the Abkhazian tsars, which testified to the state wisdom and political maturity of those sovereigns.

5. The political, administrative and military elite of the Abkhazian nobility was­ constantly under the influence of an   environment of numerous representatives of other ethnic and national groups. In these conditions, an assimilation of different anthropological and language groups within the population therefore took place as a result of noble-dynastic marriages. It is known that the wife of Leon I was Kartvelian, and the mother of Leon II was Khazarian. Such interaction also occurred at­ lower levels of the Abkhazian nobility and led to a time at which it was difficult to define the nationality of inheriting tsars. There arose a situation when Kartvelian princes, and also grandees – Colchians or Kartvelians - began to have Abkhazian surnames. Such confusion­ had no importance during this period, although this fact is now actively explored ­ by some Georgian historians, trying to prove that Abkhazians have no relation to the Abkhazian kingdom.

6) Princedoms or kingdoms of central Transcaucasia, including Kartli, had no relevance to the occurrence, origin or formation ­ of the Abkhazian state.

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:

Paul Potyomkin,

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:

Paul Potyomkin,

Prince Ivan Bagration,

Prince Garsevan Chavchavadzev.


Separate Articles


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:

Paul Potyomkin,

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.

2.3. Abkhazia as a part of the Russian empire.

Expansion of Osmansk Porta (Turkey) taking place in XVIII - the beginning of XIX centuries, and Russian-Turkish and Russian-Persian wars of this period, forced Russia to reconsider its policy in Transcaucasia. The independent position of the kingdoms already accepted under its protection, ­ which did not provide reliable guarantees of their loyalty to the crown, and assurance by oaths of fidelity “to serve Russia assiduously to their last breath”, did not satisfy Russia. For this reason at the beginning of XIX century Russia undertook active steps towards the establishment of control over kingdoms and princedoms of the former ­ Abkhazian kingdom.

The political interests of Russia in the Caucasus were not co-ordinated with those of the states which entered under its protection, for which only formal cover was necessary, without intervention into their internal affairs. Russia, considering these states as a base for conducting military actions against the Ottoman empire, in a very short time deprived them of their sovereignty,­  having included all these territories within the structure of the Russian empire. Then, using the right of a suzerain, Russia posted its armies there and transformed all the territory into a semi-colonial formation with division into provinces (Caucasian region controlled by a governor-general) with military authorities at their head, having appropriated the name “Georgia” to this ­ formation for simplicity.

During the same period on the coast of the Black sea, on the most strategically important ­ site under conditions of incessant seizures by Turkey of cities and territories, there was one independent sovereign state - Abkhazia. Direct pressure was put as necessary upon governors of the country, and upon rulers of neighbouring princedoms and church leaders who could be friendly, fraternally advising it to become a part of Russia. Such advisers appeared. We quote a fragment from the letter of the Catholicos of Abkhaz-Imers Maxim III to Besarion Gabashvili about the expediency of a reunion of Abkhazia with Imeretia and fidelity with Russia, from July 2nd, 1789:

“The brilliant Prince, Besarion Zakharych!

Now I write, that if his Highness the Prince deigns to send you back to our Tsar David, report to the prince that our Tsar by his efforts will join the possessor of Abkhazia, Sharvashidze, who will agree with the Tsar and will be devoted to the Russian Sovereign. If he agrees and does this, there will be an influence of only our Tsar; the possessor of Abkhazia, Sharvashidze, I think will find great happiness. If he suddenly disagrees with our Tsar over the question of fidelity with Russia, I think in the end he will regret it, therefore it is better ­ to unite now ­ with our Tsar, to show fidelity to the Russian Imperial throne”.

As follows from the text, the direct aim of Imeretian governors ­(but not Kartvelian - "Georgian") was to attach Abkhazia to their country, though Abkhazia was then an independent state,­  the subject of international law.

A corresponding initiative was also shown by the rulers of neighbouring Mingrelia. We quote a fragment from an application by Grigol Dadiani, addressed to Emperor Alexander I, about acceptance of Mingrelia (including Abkhazia) within citizenship of Russia:

“I, the undersigned Prince Grigory Dadian, the lawful possessor of Odish, Lechkhum, Svan, Abkhazian (?) and all lands belonging to my ancestors from time immemorial,­  and autocratic master of these  from the day of subscription of this certificate, after fulfilment of the oath promised at a ceremony, offer Myself with all my lawful posterity and with all my possessions, both the above- named and any others acquired,­  in eternal both true slavery and citizenship to the highest All-Russia power”.

In 1806 the Prince of Abkhazia, Keleshbei (Sharvashidze) applied for the acceptance of Abkhazia within the citizenship of Russia, but Emperor Alexander I hesitated with the decision of this question, though assumed to award to the Prince the rank of General Lieutenant of the Russian army with a huge salary, and to leave him the lifelong governorship of a princedom.

The commander-in-chief of the Russian army in Georgia and in the Caucasus, General A. P.Tormasov, wrote on January 11th, 1810 to Earl N.P.Rumiantsev (the Minister of Foreign Affairs­ of Russia), that Nino (the spouse of G.Dadiani, and the daughter of the last Tsar of Kartli-Kakhetia George XII, and who in the early childhood of the Tsar’s  successor ­ ruled Mingrelia from 1805-1810) “should be thanked for ­ Sefer-Ali-bek’s intention to enter with all Abkhazian possessions into the eternal ­ protection and citizenship of Russia”. The ruler of Abkhazia George (Sefer-bek) Sharvashidze (1810-1821), son of Keleshbei, informing General I. Rykgof of the murder of his (George’s) father, wrote that Keleshbei during his lifetime had given his lands to Russia, and now “if you want, I give this land to you if only to revenge Arslan-bek (his brother who had killed the father - author).

I undertake to obey, with all my true and assiduous citizens, the orders of the Chief Commander of Georgia, with all my might as you depend on him.

I undertake henceforth this letter and I commit myself, and together with me Abkhazia and all ­ beings in Abkhazia, in hereditary citizenship and slavery to the throne of the most gracious ­ and  august monarch of All-Russia and also the successor of that throne, with ­ confession of our former belief (Christian - author).

I wish sincerely to be, to the last drop of my blood, a true subject and I undertake by oath of allegiance and the promise in eternal citizenship to be obedient to the Chief Commander of Georgia, together with both my true assiduous slaves and my citizens”.

The application was supported by the commander of Russian armies in Transcaucasia I.V.Gudovich. George Sharvashidze's pleading points were also signed ­ by Princes Tulaa Sharvashidze, Tuflasu Lakerbaya, Levan Zepishvili, Khutunia and Levan Anchabadze, Hitu, Rostom, Bezhan and Jambulat Margania etc.

Entering in July 1805 under the protection of Russia, with the direct mediation of Mingrelia, Levan and Manuchar Sharvashidze were presented in the oath as “the Abkhazian princes, sovereigns of Samurzakan”. ­ Chkondid metropolitan Vissarion swore them on oath­ in Mingrelia. Such a­ situation was explained by the fact that the Mingrelian princedom had addressed Russia for help and entered under its protection earlier than others. From then on its governors ­ became the most active conductors of Russian policy in the territory.

In the previously mentioned “Historical note about the management of the Caucasus” S.Esadze wrote that Samurzakan made a part of Abkhazia and was ruled by a “special branch” of  Abkhazian Sharvashidze**.  In the middle of XVIII century in Abkhazia there were big disturbances, and its rulers Sharvashidze (Chachba) at the will of the sultan were sent to ­ Turkey. Disturbances promoted some isolation ("autonomy") of the Samurzakan branch of Sharvashidze, the head of which became the ruler Murzakan. His rule was serially inherited by: Khutunia, Levan and Manuchar  (Mancha).



** In sources the writing of the name of rulers of Abkhazia occurs as both Sharvashidze and Shervashidze. To us the first is accepted, according to the

undermentioned "Charter".


Penultimate Samurzakan ruler Levan Sharvashidze was in ­ advanced years, and his nephew Manuchar entered  into a struggle with him for advantage of possession. The latter was incited in every possible way by Mingrelian ruler  Dadiani, to whose sister Manuchar was married. Attaching Samurzakan to Russia, Dadiani thereby extended his power to this area. In 1834 General Akhlestyshev entered Samurzakan and constructed the fortification of Ilori. In 1840 the ruler of Abkhazia, Michael, proved his right to this area, and from then on it was a separate region controlled by a police force.

In 1810 Abkhazia received the protection of the Russian empire, about which there is a Charter given by Emperor Alexander I to the ruler of Abkhazia Prince George Sharvashidze, by means of which the Russian Emperor declared a recognition of the statehood of Abkhazia and the distribution over it of the protectorate of Russia.


TheCharter given 17 Feb., 1810

 By Emperor Alexander I

To  the ruler of Abkhazia PRINCE GEORGE SHARVASHIDZE,

 with pleading points

By the Grace of God, WE, ALEXANDER the FIRST, the EMPEROR and the AUTOCRAT of ALL-RUSSIA: and so on and so forth. From us, to kindly loyal Ruler of the Abkhazian land Prince George Sharvashidze, OUR IMPERIAL favour and goodwill. Condescending on Your application to arrive in eternal citizenship of the Russian empire and, not doubting Your fidelity to OUR high throne, explained in Your obligatory letter, to OUR all HIGHEST Name sent, WE confirm and WE recognise You as OUR kindly loyal hereditary Prince of the Abkhazian Possession under the Supreme protection of the  Russian empire, and including You and Your house and all the Abkhazian possession of inhabitants in OUR loyal number, WE promise You and ­ Your successors ­ OUR IMPERIAL favour and goodwill. Having accepted also for the blessing all articles and explanations from word to word in that Your application, which together with a copy of ­ the Russian translation of all of OUR bestowed Charter it is applied, WE confirm them by  OUR IMPERIAL word for US and OUR high successors with all Our force  for ever inviolably and, owing to that condescend to mark You with OUR special favour, defining You the salary in silver of ­ two thousand five hundred roubles a year, and to Your Mother the kind Princess one thousand five hundred ­ roubles a year in silver, which as for You, so for Her, from the date of declaring Your­ fidelity of citizenship on the oath, will be delivered by the Commander-in-Chief in Georgia from OUR treasury each third of a  year. In greater expression to You of OUR IMPERIAL favour, WE award to You and Your successors a banner with the arms of the Russian Empire, ruling to store this hereditarily in Your house, and moreover with OUR IMPERIAL favour WE honour You as a Gentleman with an award of the Order of St. Anna of the first class, with signs which on this warning WE rule to assign to Yourself and to wear according to protocol. Your successors have the right to ask for the HIGHEST confirmation of their position as Prince of the Abkhazian possession by OUR IMPERIAL Charter, which according to OUR mercy will also be most graciously delivered. Due to this WE charge You to rule the people of the Abkhazian lands with mildness and justice, WE are assured that You and Your successors are in fidelity to ­ OUR throne, and in accuracy of execution of duties by Yourselves You will be unshakable. In such hope and as proof of OUR Monarchical favours to You and to all Abkhazian people, OUR IMPERIAL Charter is given with OUR  autographic signing and with the State Seal appended. In OUR Capital City (St. Peter), 17th day of February  1810, and ­ OUR reign in the tenth.

Alexander I

State Chancellor Earl Rumiantsev


Far-sighted politician Keleshbei with the price of his life defined autonomy­ for the Abkhazian princedom within the limits of the Russian state. Thus,­  Abkhazians too cast in their lot with Russia. According to the Charter of the Russian ­ Emperor, the Abkhazian Princedom became a part of Russia with its own ­ territory, in which it kept autonomy and an independent position within the internal political sphere. The presence of such a document highlights two important political moments. Firstly, Abkhazia was a part ­ of the Russian empire independently, as a sovereign state, and the subject ­ of world politics and international law. As such, its position was recognised by the imperial government and was legally fixed. Secondly,­  even within the limits of empire the autonomy status had been kept, and it was still considered as a princedom (as, say, Poland - a kingdom, and Finland - a great princedom), and ruled by Chachba – Sharvashidze national princes.

But there was one more feature distinguishing the placement of Abkhazia under ­ protection of Russia. If Guria, Imeretia and other states became parts of Russia complete with their full complement of all nationalities and families, then when  Abkhazia came under the protection of Russia, free Abkhazian societies (Aibga, Pskhu, Dal, Tsabal, etc.)  did not enter according to the Agreement, which led to further unpredictable consequences. Such behaviour of separate nationalities was explained by the fact that Abkhazians and the people of this territory close to them (Ubykhs, Shapsughs, Abazinians, etc.) throughout centuries-old history were completely free, proud and independent people,  bold and ­ eager to fight. At all times of the country’s existence its lands was never seized ­ by conquerors completely, and enemies always received a worthy ­ repulse. Therefore the idea that Abkhazians voluntarily would enter into submission to someone caused aversion in them.

Describing the political and state system of Abkhazia of that period,­  N.I.Karlgof gives the following data:

“In the Abkhazian tribe there are two different types of political system: 1) the Abkhazian property is a mixture of the feudal system and the appanage; 2) other ­ societies of the Abkhazian tribe are situated between the Abkhazian ­ and Circassian societies (i.e. Between the Abkhazian monarchy and democratic ­ republics)...

We cannot positively tell which of the two forms of  political system ­ of the Abkhazian tribes was the first, i.e. whether small Abkhazian societies were torn away from dependence on rulers, as was common for all Abkhazian people, or the Abkhazian method of control is the result of the development of Abkhazian society; ­ whether it was originally formed in the latter case, or occurred from the assignment ­ of  hereditary power by one of the governors of the people who was placed by the Georgian tsars...

In Abkhazia, Svanetia, Tsebelda, Pskhu, and for Djigets, the two forms of rule have remained to the present time, aristocratic republic or sovereignty, i.e. Abkhazia possessed the necessary statehood to allow the country to be independent”.

Because for Abkhazians it was unworthy and unnatural  to be dependent upon foreigners, immediately after the posting of Russian armies into the country there was a counteraction to the Russian presence, though in the beginning of XIX ­ century it was purely symbolic. But counteraction, revolts and resistance to the Russian administration and  armies were always followed by retaliatory measures by the other side, and there was a conflict escalation. This process was warmed up, on the one hand, by military actions in ­ the North Caucasus, and on the other by expansion of Turkey along the Black Sea coast ­ of the Caucasus.

Islamisation of the territory and promises of help from Turkish invaders to the Abkhazian governors led to separation of the country leaders and, accordingly, split ­ its political unity. Russia, which relied on the oath promises stated in the Agreement of 1810, was compelled to combat ­ in this region on two fronts: with Turks in open fight for the Caucasus as a whole ­ and with the people of the Caucasus who did not tolerate the presence of Russia on their land. We will not pause with the history of development of these events,­ as it does not enter into our problem. We will only say that during this period Makhadjirstvo began (resettlement to Turkey and the countries of the Middle East). According to historians, the number who left Abkhazia until the end of XIX century was 180 thousand persons. The blow to the Abkhazian ethnos was irreparable­.

As an example we will give only a quotation from the official report of General E.A.Golovin to A.I.Chernyshev about destruction of the population and conquest of Dal:

“... In two weeks Dal was absolutely obedient, devastated and deprived of population, and in all it cost 10 killed and 20 wounded men, including only 6 Russian soldiers...

As to the opinion of Colonel Muravev, the settling of Dal by Russians still very attentively demands a reason for this country being subject to attacks by ­Karachaevs and other hostile tribes nearest to it... [Samurzakanians] since times of separating  from Mingrelia and  entering under direct control of Russian ­leaders, express the greatest diligence, do not know dangers and under ­ the first requirement appeared from 600 to 700 persons in number, which is rather considerable given the small population of the Samurzakan district...”.

We quote this section not only with the purpose of showing the result ­ of retaliatory measures by the Russian army, but mainly to note that as a result of ­ the devastation of Abkhazian lands, including the Samurzakan area ­ belonging to Abkhazia, there appeared a problem  with the resettlement of this territory.

Despite the preservation of state sovereignty and autonomies­ of Abkhazia by Russia, instability within the territory still disturbed it. The Russian administration considered the developed instability in Abkhazia as being due to the governor of the country, Prince Michael Sharvashidze, who by his inactivity provoked disturbances. Confirming this view of the problem, we quote an excerpt from N.N.Muravev's report to Prince V.D.Dolgoruki about the actions ­ of the ruler of Abkhazia:

“In actions of the possessor of Abkhazia I see double-faced behaviour against us and the Turks, resulting from his doubts:  which of the countries at war will gain­ Abkhazia? He has no sincere attachment to one party, but wishes to keep his possession and considers himself in the right to remain neutral, forgetting his high rank as a General-Adjutant of H.I.M...”.

The unreliable position of Russia in autonomous Abkhazia (in comparison with ­ other princedoms of the Central and East Transcaucasia which ­ had already been deprived of sovereignty for a long time by the imperial government and were a part of Russia as military departments), and also its special interest in a ­ strategically important site on the coast, demanded acceptance of cardinal measures on ­ a change of the status of the region. Military leaders and the Governor-General incessantly reminded others of it, as we see from the official report from the Chief of Armies in Abkhazia, General M.T.Loris-Melikov, to the Kutais Governor -General G.R. Eristov of August 12th, 1858:

“The necessity and importance of our occupation of Abkhazia, having a unique good port on the east coast of the Black Sea, and the country which, recognising the power of Russia, should form the basis for distribution of our sovereignty on all the east coast, cannot of course  be subject to any doubt.

We occupied Sukhum in 1810. Since then a  half-century has passed, and it is necessary ­ to confess that our influence in Abkhazia has not increased at all, and that as General Philipson said, we do not own, but only occupy it. It even seems more truthful­ to say that this occupation is less strong now than it was before, because secret intrigues of foreign powers, with the purpose of inciting the tribes occupying territories on the east coast of the Black Sea against us, have greatly increased recently”.

Also there came the moment when Russia  made its decision about inclusion of Abkhazia in its structure, that  was confirmed by the following document:


“Decree  from the Governor-General of the Caucasus Grand Duke Michael

To Earl V.Adlerberg about introduction into Abkhazia of Russian rule.

June 26th, 1864

The highest command about elimination of Prince Sharvashidze from duties of the possessor,­  for ever with his descendants, and about introduction in Abkhazia of Russian rule, has been received ­ by me during my last expedition to the river Mzymta valley. Wishing personally to declare the Supreme Will to Prince Sharvashidze, and at the same time to call him from Abkhazia so that at the forthcoming transformation of rule of this territory possible disorders and even armed resistance can be avoided, I have charged the Chief of Staff to invite Prince Michael to Kutais at my arrival time there... considering everything, in case the further measures of indulgence in relation to Prince Michael ­ will not lead to the desirable purpose, I have sent to him my decree in which I positively  declare to him the Supreme Will, and order the Kutais Governor-General ­to introduce Russian rule in Abkhazia now, having insisted on the immediate departure from Abkhazia of  the former possessor”.

The document with which the Governor-General of the Caucasus addressed  the tsar, concerning the liquidation of Abkhazian independence, is indicative. It is necessary to appreciate the delicacy in approaches to the decision of this problem, which was not simple. As follows from the text, only special circumstances compelled Russia to take this step, which was not undertaken with other princedoms which had earlier become a part of the Russian empire.

Here is how the Governor-General of the Caucasus, Grand Duke Michael, wrote on this occasion about the necessity for the abolition of the Abkhazian princedom and its settlement by Cossacks, on March 27th, 1864.

“In view of the close realisation of the highly-approved Assumptions of settling ­the Cossack villages on the East coast of the Black Sea from the mouth of the Kuban to the river Bzyb, it is obviously necessary to solve questions on the future position of Abkhazian rule: whether Abkhazia should be in its present state, i.e. under the unaccountable rule of Prince Michael Sharvashidze, or whether a newly-arranged rule should be entered.

Sixty years has passed since Abkhazia recognised the Supreme power of the Russian ­ Sovereign and the father of Prince Michael Sharvashidze was recognised as its hereditary ­ruler. This country was then still half-wild, with the various princely families torn apart amongst themselves and constantly exposed to violence from Turks and predatory­ mountaineers, and since the time of joining to Russia has received external protection from the Russian government.

The Abkhazian people, occupying the best part of the Caucasian territory, have fallen to the­ last degree of poverty and wildness. Half have accepted Islam, the others have lost almost any concept about religion. Russia instead of a grateful ally has got in Abkhazia a rebellious and artful slave, ready with open arms to accept each of our enemies who appears at its coast. Our authorities are not concerned with the internal ruling of these people: Abkhazians neither pay taxes nor duties, armies do not stay with them in their homes, do not take any supplies from them, do not use anything and constantly protect them; for all this Abkhazians pay us in murders behind a bush.

Where are we to search for the reasons for all of this, as it is not under the control of the present ruler­. Legally it is impossible to accuse Prince Michael Sharvashidze of any one of those grave crimes of which he is accused by public opinion and by everyone closely observing the activities, because his actions as ruler have never been exposed and could not be exposed to lawful investigation. Anyway, it is necessary to pay attention to many obvious facts of his long period of rule... Assessing commoners for small offences by huge penalties in favour of the treasury, he always leaves strong predators and murderers unpunished and even patronises them; from this predation robberies and murders have become constant phenomena in Abkhazia. Whether or not in such a territorial position it is favourable to ­ Russia, and whether or not it produces a feeling of justice and philanthrophy, to leave it under the power of ­ the possessor ruling it now, in the political situation  it ­ would be positively harmful. Destruction of such power which, deliberately or not, has done so much harm for so long makes it a duty of our ­ government.

We should:

1. Persuade the possessor and his successor to refuse the right of possession.

2. Define and supply an allowance to the possessor and his successors.

3. Form a military district of Abkhazia, which together with Tsebelda will be subordinate to a special military chief, like the chiefs of departments in areas which submit to the Governor-General of Kutais.

4. If the quantity of free land permits, install Cossack settlements along the coast to the mouth of the Ingur, which together with settlements on the river Bzyb could ­ make the Abkhazian Cossack army under the control of the chief of the Abkhazian military department.

5. Appoint a ridge, closing Gagra pass and now separating  Abkhazia from Djigets land, as a border between the Kuban and Abkhazian armies”.

So, management reform also concerned Abkhazia. In 1864 with the aim of “a settlement of internal order” the Abkhazian princedom was abolished and Russian control began with the formation of the Sukhum military department of the Russian empire. This coincided with the termination of the Caucasian war and defeat of Turkey in the Russian-Turkish war. The Governor-General of the Caucasus, in a ­ letter of March 23rd, 1864 wrote to Alexander II:                 “... The independent position ­ of Abkhazia made sense, while the east coast of the Black Sea was not attached to Russia”.

Analysing the period of existence of the autonomous sovereign state of Abkhazia as a part of the Russian empire, being under its high ­ protection, it is possible to say that in the Russian empire, military departments were not state formations, and were created as temporary administrative structures. Military departments territorially corresponded to the former princedoms, as, for example, Sukhum to the Abkhazian princedom,­  or to arbitrary territories, as, for example, the  Black Sea department to the occupied Adler-Sochi-Tuapse region.

The administrative structure of this colonial formation was as­ follows: the military districts headed by governors (representatives of the Governor-General of the Caucasus), being in the district centres, submitted to the Tsar’s Governor-General who had residence in Tiflis and submitted directly to the Tsar. This complete structure, which had incorporated all kingdoms and princedoms of the Central and Western Transcaucasia, for simplicity was called “Georgia” by Russian governors. However, in each of the princedoms of this formation the people named themselves according to their own ethnos (to a tribe or a nationality). The name "Georgians" was also used, but only as a certain generalising symbol which could be applied to any inhabitant of this territory. Anyway, ethnic Abkhazians never used this name concerning themselves.

It is especially necessary to note that during the existence of military departments, civil authorities and any local government were absent­. There was a centralised military power, typical of all­ colonies in the world. When in need of decisions to questions which fell outside the limits of competence of these departments, under their management corresponding ­ committees were created, to solve the vital issues in the lives of the local population. In these committees representatives of the local nobility and communities were involved. This absence of local government was one more sign of the transformation of Abkhazia into a colony of Russia.

However, even with the formation of a military department, nothing had changed regarding the formal and legal position of  Abkhazia. The population structure of the country was monoethnic and so it  remained; the territory of the country­ practically remained unvaried, and hence Abkhazia was de jure a sovereign state. Nevertheless, ­ considerable de facto deviations from the normal development of a sovereign state actually took place,­  namely:

a) The creation of a military department meant that development of the state occurred under emergency conditions;

b) Retaliatory actions increased against dissatisfied people, especially after the Abkhazian revolts of 1866 and 1877, after which began the violent expulsion of Abkhazians from their dwelling-places;

c) The population of Abkhazia after suppression of the above-stated revolts was declared “rebellious and guilty” and then retaliatory ­ sanctions followed;

d) The aggregate population of the country sharply decreased;

e) The military and civil authorities of the Russian empire started ­ realisation of the plan of settling Abkhazian lands, released as a result of makhadjirstvo, with foreigners i.e. country colonisation began.

The Sukhum military department existed till 1883, and then was transformed after ­ the next reorganisation, and in the form of the Sukhum military district ­ became a part of the Kutais province, and for all this period till 1917 the country ­ was ruled by a Governor-General directly submitting to the Russian ­ Emperor. Though nothing formal changed for Abkhazia during the following period,­ some events ­ which essentially affected the subsequent development of relations with the present ­ state of Georgia actually took place:

1. Remaining in the form of the Abkhazian kingdom, the Abkhazian princedom, or even ­ the Sukhum military department, Abkhazia had the possibility to keep ethnic uniformity (monoethnicism).

2. The statehood of the country, its laws and immigration policy, and later ­administrative and territorial separation from neighbours to the south, ­prevented penetration into the country and the free settlement of people of other ­ ethnic groups.

3. The transfer in 1883 of the government of the military district to the territorial centre of governorship Kutais, and the absence of civil national ruling and control promoted formation of the official channel allowing representatives of other ethnoses to emigrate freely from southern provinces (Guria, Kartli, Mingrelia, etc.) and to settle in empty regions­ of Abkhazia.

4. Assistance with resettlement of the people in Abkhazia was rendered by the colonial policy­ of imperial Russia, directed towards replacement of rebellious people ­by unscrupulous marginals, which was easy to operate by means of a whip.

To the end of the century the number of settlers was still small, but in ­ comparison to the size of the rest of the people who avoided being destroyed by genocide, it became dangerous as it laid the foundation for a change of demographic balance in Abkhazia.

The association of separate princedoms of Transcaucasia under the Russian majestic eagle had come to an end by 1878 with the joining to Russia of former Batum pashalyk (region), occupied mainly by Moslems. Imeretia together with Guria left  the Georgian-Imeretian administrative region in 1864, as an independent administrative unit  which received the name of the Kutais province. In the beginning its structure also included Ahaltsikhski district, and later Mingrelia, Abkhazia ­ and part of Svanetia provinces also joined, with their former rulers submitting directly to Russia.

The most important element in the circumstances was that the people of this phantom state conveniently named by Russians as "Georgia", which Russia involuntarily joined at the end of XIX century, showed a special interest in the  territory of the neighbouring country of Abkhazia,­ which it appeared (by means of Russia) possible to take without ­ undue effort. The territory was devastated, entrance and settlement were unobstructed, counteraction from local authorities was absent (as were the authorities), and­ the Russian military administration not only did not interfere with such resettlement,­  but even welcomed it.

In the history of Abkhazia there were two attempts at replacement of the Abkhazian native­ ethnos by other nationalities. The first of them occurred in XIX century, as a ­ result of the colonial policy of Russia. For this purpose, not wishing to have to stomach restless Abkhazians, Circassians, or Ubykhs, it ­made an attempt at removal of these rebellious people from their native lands. This generated ­makhadjirstvo, i.e. an exodus of the native people of Abkhazia to Turkey, Jordan, Syria and other countries of the Middle East. There was an undertaking to replace rebellious ­ nationalities of the Caucasus with those more loyal, who in the south were Mingrelians and Gurians, and in the north were the Russian Cossacks who completely replaced Circassians in the Tuapse-Sochi area, up to the river Bzyb.

As V.A.Gurko-Kryazhin notes, “the artificial reduction in the size of the Abkhazian population is explained by three main reasons: ­ its mass emigration ­ as a result of a gain of the Caucasus by Russia and its wars with Turkey, the infiltration of Megrel-Kartvels assimilating natives of the country, and the colonial policy ­ of the imperial government”. Thus, the colonial policy of Russia in 1864-1917 began an exodus of Abkhazians from the country and led ­ to replacement of the native people by foreigners - in short, to a change in the ethno-demographic situation in the country. And the population of the central and western areas of Transcaucasia accepted the most active participation in this process.

The second large-scale attempt at replacement of the native Abkhazian people was undertaken by Georgia which continued colonisation of their country (Abkhazia) in a military expansion 1918-1921. Then later, Abkhazia became an autonomous republic within Georgia, and thereby entered the USSR through Georgia. The people of central Transcaucasia, encouraged ­ by Russia from the end of XIX century, longed to live in Abkhazia. The country, ­ as a result of makhadjirstvo, had been weakened and had lost the possibility of administratively protecting the territory, as is practised by all sovereign states ­ of the world through   limiting the entrance of foreigners for settlement by the use of quotas or other regulating measures.




Fig. 3. Changes in the population of Abkhazia according to census. ­ Years of occurence of census are shown.

(абхазы = Abkhazians, грузины = Georgians, русские = Russians, армяне = Armenians, греки = Greeks)


Settling by Georgians of Abkhazia was well-planned and occurred so intensively that from 1918 to 1964 the number of Georgians in Abkhazia ­ grew to 240 thousand persons, and in comparison with data from the first census increased by a factor of 60, having thereby exceeded the number of the indigenous population of Abkhazians five-fold (Fig. 3). Ethnoreplacement allowed Georgia and the government of the USSR ­ to consider Abkhazian people as an ethnic minority, i.e. a crime against the native ethnos was committed­. Thus, in Abkhazia, especially during its occupation by Georgia, genocide occurred. This name according to “the Dictionary of foreign words” derives from Greek genos - a sort or tribe, and Latin caedo - I kill, and it ­ represents one of the worst crimes against humanity - the extermination of separate groups of the population according to racial, national-ethnic ­ or religious identities. All actions by Georgia in relation to ­ Abkhazia throughout practically all XX century were inspired by genocide, ­ national chauvinism, military expansion, aggression and terrorism. Their ­ purpose was annexation of the country and replacement of the Abkhazian ethnos by the Georgian majority, through eradication of all ethnic groups of the population: Russians, Armenians, Abkhazians, Greeks, Jews, etc., and the settling in Abkhazia of Georgians. All this occurred both before and after acceptance of the Operating Convention of December 9th, 1948 about the prevention of crimes of genocide and punishment for it.

There are incontestable documentary written sources (firstly Georgian), about the exact date of mass resettlement of Mingrelian ­ peasants in Abkhazia after the termination of the Caucasian war, the abolition of an autonomous Abkhazian princedom in 1864 and the expulsion of Abkhazians (makhadjirstvo) to Turkey which followed  the revolts of 1866 and 1877. J.Gogebashvili wrote in detail about it all in 1877 in the newspaper “Tiflis bulletin”, in a vast article entitled “Whom to occupy Abkhazia?”, in ­ which the developed plan of colonisation of Abkhazia was given.

Eventually the military authorities, under pressure from the indignant ­ population of Abkhazia, and having estimated the possible consequences of such ethnic diversion,­  blocked access of immigrants to Abkhazia. And here the second stage of action occurred - an ideological substantiation of the postulate that Abkhazians and "Georgians" are ethnically one people, immemorial friends and brothers. Those who opposed such a statement were enemies of Abkhazians and "Georgians" who have ­ lived from ancient times­ in one territory, and for their protection and for that of already arrived settlers, the acceptance of emergency measures, up to military action, was necessary.

From the moment of transformation of the Sukhum military department to a district with its centre in Kutaisi, favourable conditions for ideological ­ propaganda and sabotage against the Abkhazian people were created­. From Tbilisi and Kutaisi political emissaries and other agents rushed to Abkhazia to prepare a base for the assimilation and seizure of the country. The press conducted incessant work to introduce ­ into the consciousness of the population the idea of both ethnic and territorial unity of Abkhazians and so-called "Georgians". We give quotations from press publications of that time, filled with unctuous speeches:

“It is a cause of regret that Abkhazians stand in the way of intellectual regeneration whilst showing complete indifference to   the question of national independence. ­ The policy of Russification has already done so much that these people have completely split  from their neighbours - the Georgians; this policy, because of wrong education, has intellectually spoilt ­ these people who have forgotten that if Abkhazia should have something in common with anyone, it should be with neighbours, with Georgians to whom they are connected historically; and ­ the geographical position of their native land is such that further than Georgia these people do not have any salvation”. (Article in “Tsnobis Purtseli” from April 1st, 1905, signed “Sukhumian”. ­ Despite the publication date, it is obviously not an April Fools' joke. - authors).

Apparently from N.Djanashia's letter “Motley notes about Abkhazians and Abkhazia­”, Georgians were very strongly disturbed by thoughts about the independent, liberated territory of Abkhazia:

“Georgian magazines and newspapers in recent years have almost forgotten that on the coast of the Black Sea Abkhazia is located, its fate connected with the bitter past ­ of Georgia. Though Abkhazians are hardly close relations of the Georgian tribe (at last it is told correctly!), it is also true that this remarkable corner, as fresh as spring, (notice that this is the country, not the people!) has been connected and united with Georgia: joining together with it has time and again drained the historical bowl filled with a bitter drink. Even if it had not been,­  today's interests of Abkhazians and Georgians are so bound, that leaving them without attention has been an inexcusable and irreparable sin of Georgian magazines and newspapers. In 1897 there was an order not to give any part of the area of settlement (Ochamchira and Gudauta) to "natives". Thus, the "natives" (Abkhazian and Georgian?) have been deprived of the right of acquisition of private property. Now I wish to note, as times and circumstances have changed, that nowadays very many care for them and caress them, if only to destroy and put an end to the small remains of a historical link­ uniting Abkhazians and Georgians over many centuries... Unless the Georgian nationality hinders in this matter? Certainly not. Georgians have undergone national oppression, and this bitter experience is a pledge that they themselves will never  incur the role of executioner, let alone the executioner of not one person, but all people!” (“Droeba”, 1909).

Later in many works about the occupation of Abkhazia by Georgia in 1918, and up to the war of 1992-1993, it was shown that the Georgian mini-imperialists and national chauvinists, in relation to the Abkhazian people, actually became  executioners and murderers.

In the press of that time incorrect data about the population of Abkhazia misrepresented its ethno-demographic structure, but simultaneously showed ­ anxiety about the beginning of resistance of the Abkhazian people to ethnic ­ expansion. We will give an example of this from  S.Pirtskhalava's article "Forgotten land" - about the situation in Abkhazia.

“The majority of inhabitants of Samurzakan, which stretches to Ochamchira, are Megrelians... Ochamchira today is a  completely Megrel settlement... There is no link with the rest of Georgia, and the local ­ pulse does not join to the general pulse of the native land.

In Sukhumi there are now more than 40 thousand inhabitants. The majority are Georgians, Russians are 15 thousand, Armenians are 5500. And in the property plan the first position is occupied by Georgians... Local Georgians thirst to live a national life and wish to link closely with the rest of our country.

... The sharp question for Sukhumi and for the whole district is the Georgian-Abkhazian mutual relationship. It should not  be forgotten that Abkhazians have given high political and cultural merit to our native land. In VIII century our revival began from Abkhazia”. (“Sakhalho Purtseli”, October 25th, 1915).

Thank God at least one has told the real truth, that today's Georgia was constructed by Abkhazian hands and minds. Thanks! It is to be hoped that this has reached today's Georgian leaders and politicians. And as to the numbers of   separate ethnic groups living in Sukhumi, ­ the author did not indicate how many Abkhazians were there, believing that  Georgians were the main people in the city, and ranking all ethnic Abkhazians to them.

It will be pertinent here to give the following example from the directory ­"Caucasus" for 1903. On page 226 the following statistical data are published:

“Inhabitants about 180 thousand souls, which in percentage terms rate as follows: Armenians - about 40 percent, Georgians - almost 25 percent, Russians - about 20 percent, and the remainder of 15 percent - Persians, Tatars, Germans, Turks, Jews, ­ Frenchmen, Englishmen, Czechs and others”.

What do you think - where was such structure of the population? In Yerevan? No, in Tiflis, nowadays Tbilisi – the capital of Georgia. Therefore, before you complain about your neighbour’s house, take a look at your own.

And here is what N.Djanashia wrote about the Georgian-Abkhazian mutual relationship: “Dark forces spread mean gossip and fairy tales here, as if Georgians ­ prepare for destruction of Abkhazians and capture of their lands and manors”. Only today is it possible to appreciate the truth of these words, having compared them with what has been done by Georgia in Abkhazia during all these years. After comparing the above-stated ­ citations with quotations from the press and the materials of the Georgian historians quoted in the second chapter, inevitably there will be this conclusion: the main ­ weapon of the Georgian politicians, and naturally historians and the press, was not even double, but threefold morality: one was spoken, ­ another was meant,­  and the third was carried out. Behind tender words and the alleged expression of care­ there was a rigid pragmatism, aggression and despotism.

Already then, at the beginning of XX century, and developed under ­ the revolutionary movement trend ­ in Russian program documents, the following was provided­:

From the program of the Constitution-Democratic party of Georgia.

“With the establishment in Russia of the new political system, all nations, and in particular Georgia, must acquire the right of establishment of autonomous control. In autonomous Georgia civil freedom must be established and the rights of national minorities will be inviolable. The borders of autonomous Georgia will be defined by an extra-ordinary ­ meeting consisting of freely selected deputies from Tiflis and Kutais ­provinces and the Batum, Sukhum and Zakatal districts.”

What cynicism must have been possessed to assume that as a part of the future national-state formation, "Georgia" would receive autonomy for only one people, and all other ethnoses of Transcaucasia would become in its structure "national minorities". Here it was decided ­ to deprive Abkhazia of sovereignty, to take away its territory and to define its ethnos with a centuries-old history as being in a "national minority" position. Then also the idea appeared of   defining the border of “the autonomous state of Georgia­” not on the basis of historically developed states, but by the decision of district representatives, under the condition that all regions controlled by Governors-General would automatically enter the new autonomous state. Apparently from the document, nobody asked for the consent of administrative formations which earlier became a part of Russia as independent states, and later, by a power decision, ­were included in the structure of military districts and regions controlled by Governors-General.

In conclusion it would be desirable to say yes, since 1846 the state structure of Abkhazia as sovereign de facto, in the full sense of this phrase, did not exist­. But after all, other princedoms which entered at various times into the structure of Russia also did not exist as independent states. There was only Russia with a region controlled by a Governor-General in Transcaucasia, and military districts or departments in the territory occupied by armies with military management.

Formally, Sukhum district existed till 1919 and introduced into the development of Abkhazia both negative and positive elements. ­ On the positive side, it is possible to refer to a wide cultural exchange between Russia and Abkhazia, and the help of Russia in the creation of modern Abkhazian writing, which is based upon the Cyrillic alphabet.

For the negative influence, it is necessary to refer to: the violent entrance­ of elements of  Russian culture and routine into the lives of the Abkhazian population, who had a culture based upon centuries-old traditions and laws of the mountain people; autocratic (without consideration of the opinions of the people or decisions of the Abkhazian state ­ institutes) settling of Abkhazian lands by immigrants from other regions which led to changes in the demographic situation of the country; the beginning of the destruction of the Abkhazian ethnos and creation of conditions for the suppression of consciousness of the Abkhazian ethnos by other ethnoses; and the beginning of ideological diversion, which justified the subsequent annexation of the country by Georgia.

On the basis of the above it is possible to draw the following conclusions:

1) To the beginning of XIX century Abkhazia de jure and de facto was an independent state within  outlined geographical borders, the subject of  international law,­ and  capable of entering into international agreements.

2) Abkhazia, unlike Georgia, had not completely lost its statehood ­after joining to Russia. From July 1810  to  June 1864, and actually till 1883, the Abkhazian princedom kept “autonomous status” as a part of the Russian empire, and it still was considered as a princedom ruled by ­ national princes Chachba - Sharvashidze. Abkhazia became a part of the Russia empire independently, as a sovereign state and a subject of world politics,­  and at the moment of reception of the Charter  from the Russian empire, Abkhazia ­ officially de jure and de facto confirmed the sovereignty which it had possessed since VIII century that was fixed by legal documents.

3) According to the text of “The Highest Manifesto on the joining of Georgia to Russia”, the borders of "Georgia" were defined, but they did not include­ not only the territory of Abkhazia, but also Mingrelia, Guria, Imeretia and Svanetia.

4) As follows from the text of the Petition, Abkhazia asked for the protection ­ of Russia forever, i.e. eternal preservation of the sovereignty of Abkhazia under the  protectorate of Russia was meant.

5) After abolition of the Abkhazian princedom and the bloody revolts of 1866 and 1877, Abkhazians because of numerous protests were declared a “guilty population” by the imperial government. Tens of thousands of  Abkhazians were compelled to leave their native land and  move to Turkey and the countries of the Middle East, and in their place, beginning from 70-80th years of XIX century, representatives ­ of other people, mainly Megrelians, rushed in from adjoining areas­. The ethno-demographic situation in the country began to vary sharply. Uncontrollable settling of Abkhazia became so intensive that it started to worry the imperial authorities. The stream of immigrants was limited, but the process nevertheless proceeded continuously.

6) Sovereign Abkhazia, by a powerful order due to a decision of the tsar, in 1864 “­ lost independence” (which confirms the existence of the sovereignty of the country until that moment). The thesis “Russia stopped the existence of the Abkhazian princedom”, i.e. deprived de jure Abkhazia of its sovereignty in 1864,  is incorrect,­  as Russia was not competent to deprive Abkhazia of its sovereignty, and in reality colonisation, as a retaliatory action of the Russian empire against Abkhazia and its people, took place. Therefore the liquidation agreement regarding the  de facto sovereignty and deprivation of statehood of Abkhazia by Russia in 1864 has ­ no validity, because the  power change in the Abkhazian­ state system and its placement within the Russian empire was not included in the request for protection. Hence an infringement by Russia of its international obligations took place according to this agreement.

7) The decree of 1864 in which Russia attached Abkhazia to itself never had and could not have any  validity, as in its basis it did not lay down bona fide one word about either the right of the conqueror, or the right of hereditary territorial possession,­ or  any of the other norms demanded by the rules of international law.

8) At the same time it is impossible to consider an acquisition of one territory violently united with another territory during the presence there of military, ­ or civil  but generated by means of military force, government, as the  loss of  de jure sovereignty. Also, it is impossible to separate, and use ­ as legally significant, the annexation or capture during ­ any period of one state by another during civil war or ­ formation of the statehood of the country.

9) The resistance­ of the Abkhazian people to innovations generated by Russian colonial policy, and the forceful  suppression of that resistance,  led to makhadjirstvo and to a devastation of the Abkhazian lands. This was the beginning of the genocide of Abkhazian people which was continued during almost the next two centuries by Russia, and later by the USSR and Georgia.

10) During the period between 1810 and 1917, Abkhazia did not transfer its sovereignty to anybody.

11) Loss of both the statehood and the sovereignty of Abkhazia during the period of the Russian empire controlling the Caucasus from 1883 to 1917, and also during ­the revolution and de facto disintegration of the Russian empire, is not the reason for the termination of its existence subsequently, with the arrival of other ­ interstate and international circumstances. This status of Abkhazia de jure remained, as its formal liquidation was illegal.

2.4. Expansion of Georgia and struggle of Abkhazians for independence.

One of the central painful points in the history of Georgian-Abkhazian relations is the period 1917 - 1921. The Abkhazian princedom, since 1864 included with its own local territory in the structure of Russia in the form of the Sukhum military department (and later the Sukhum military district), left it as the sovereign state of Abkhazia with its own territory,­ the same as it entered the Russian empire in 1810. Polemic on the question of ­ whether Abkhazia was a sovereign country till 1917 or not has ­ no essential value. Abkhazia continued to remain a part of the­ Caucasian region controlled by a Governor-General within the Russian empire, and had no relation to Tiflis or even the Kutais province, or to other regions of the Empire, or especially to "Georgia", which during this period did not exist on world maps. Separate independent princedoms in the structure of the region controlled by a Governor-General ­ were represented in the form of Russian provinces, in particular Tiflis and Kutais (Statement of Claim Е, pp 13 - 14, 2004).

The February revolution sharply changed the situation in Transcaucasia. ­The Provisional Government of Russia immediately created the “Special Transcaucasian Committee” (OZAKOM, later transformed into the Transcaucasian Democratic ­ Federal Republic - ZDFR). Abkhazia, which was at that time the Sukhum district under the protectorate of Russia, continued to be considered as an independent state. Next day, on March 10th, 1917 in Sukhum a meeting of representatives of the population of the Sukhum district took place. This formed its own local Provisional Government in ­ Abkhazia – the Committee of Public Safety under the presidency ­ of Abkhazian prince A. Sharvashidze (Chachba). The militia led by Tatash Marshania was simultaneously created. (Archive AGM).

The Provisional Government carried out the really revolutionary step which changed the political status of the Russian empire. As is known, until 1917 all ­ inhabitants occupying the country were subjects of the Monarchy. With ­ the arrival of the Provisional Government in the territory of the former Empire there was a new statehood - the Russian Republic was created, of which Abkhazia (called the Sukhum district at that time) was also a component. The new legitimate government of Russia introduced the institute of citizenship in the country covering all territories of the former Russian Empire. According to these huge changes in the legal regulations, all former citizens of the Russian state, including inhabitants of Transcaucasia and Abkhazia, from ­ September 1st, 1917 obtained the new status, i.e. they became citizens of Russia. At that ­ moment the principle of obtaining Russian citizenship “by the right of blood” began to operate. This principle, because Abkhazia and its population have not refused Russian citizenship, operates till now. Inhabitants of Abkhazia by definition are citizens of Russia.

After the February revolution, the Government of the Russian Republic (Provisional Government) started preparations for elections to the country’s Constituent Assembly. On September 23rd, 1917 the­ “Election Regulations for the Constituent Assembly of the Russian Republic” were confirmed, where in section V, ­ item 152 the list of the election  commissions for the Transcaucasian ­ district was given, including:

Subsection 2)  Baku, Elisavetopolsk, Kutais,­  Tiflis and Erivan provinces, and also Batumi and Karsk...

Subsection 3) …and also Sukhum and Zakatal districts  (The Russian ­ legislation, X - XX centuries, pp 136, 164).

This document shows that after the February revolution (27. 02. 1917) the Provisional government, which was legitimate (appointed by the State Duma in coordination with Petrograd Council­), considered the Sukhum district as independent, without ­any connection with the provinces of the former Caucasian region of the Russian empire listed above. The same document confirms the continuity between the old and new government of Russia, and the transfer of all powers of the Russian Monarchy to the Provisional government (Development of Russian legislation..., 1997, pp 251, 265).

Forming its own statehood, Abkhazia, in the form of the Sukhum territory, was included on May 1st, 1917 into the structure of Mountain Republic, a legitimate ­ state formation with a Constitution and a control body - the Central Executive Committee. From October 20th, 1917 it became a member of the “South-East Union of the Cossack Armies, Mountaineers of the Caucasus and Free people of the Steppes” (Georgia was not related with this Union), as ­ an independent allied state with the right to enter into agreements with other ­ subjects of international law. The agreement upon which basis Abkhazia entered the specified "Union" had no time limit, and exit from it was regulated ­ by a certain procedure. (“The union of incorporated mountaineers...” collection, pp. 23-50, 50-53).

Then, in May 1917, under the decision of the 1st Congress of the Mountain people of the Caucasus, ­ the Sukhum area (Abkhazia) was represented in the Mountain spiritual board, along with the Black Sea province and Zakatal district.

We quote some points from the Allied Agreement­ of the South-East Union of the Cossack Armies, Mountaineers of the Caucasus and Free people of the Steppes from October 20th, 1917:

“We, the undernamed Cossack Armies, Mountain people of the Caucasus and Free people of the Steppes conclude a union among ourselves, with the purpose of promoting an establishment ­ of the best political system, external safety and  order in the Russian State,­  and also to provide inviolability to members of the union, to support ­ internal calm, to raise the general well-being and thereby to maintain ­ the blessings and freedom won ­ by the revolution.


Item 1. The union is formed by the Cossack armies (Don army, Kuban army, Tersk army, Astrakhan army and Kalmyk people adjoined to the Astrakhan army) and the following mountain and steppes people united in the special Union of Mountaineers of the Caucasus:

...c)  The Mountain people of Sukhum district (Abkhazians);

... Item 4. Each member of the Union keeps full independence concerning their internal life and has the right to independently enter relations and agreements not contradicting the union purposes...


Item 5. The union sets as its purpose:

a) achievement of the prompt establishment of the Russian Democratic Federal Republic with a recognition of members of the Union as separate states...


Item 6. The allied power operates within the rights following from the present ­agreement and especially represented to the power by separate members of the Union.

Item 7. The allied power within the competence presented to it (Item 6) ­ is independent.

Item 8. At the head of the Union there is an incorporated government of the South-East Union.


Item 15. The incorporated government has a temporary location in the city of Ekaterinodar.


Item 17 Change of and addition to this agreement, and equally its termination, is to be made ­ by the Conference of representatives of members of the Union” (Allied agreement SOGK, 1917).

We wish to state that Abkhazia did not leave the structure of this Union. Even after ­ the territory of the North Caucasus had been occupied by A.I.Denikin's armies,­  and this Union had temporarily ceased to function, Abkhazia continued ­ to remain  true to this Agreement.

The October (Bolshevik) revolution in Russia did not lead to special changes in the statehood of the country. Sovereign Abkhazia at the first ­farmers’ congress in Sukhum on November 8th 1917 created its own ­ state structure headed by the ruling body of the Sukhum district ­ - “the Abkhazian National Council”, known to history as the first ANC, a factual legitimate body of independent Abkhazia. The purposes and ­ problems of political and state life of the Council are stated in the “Constitution of ANC” and “Declaration of Congress of the Abkhazian people”. According to the "Declaration":

“- ANC  undertakes to its fellow members:

Item 1. To help by all allied means in preparation of their internal ­structure as independent states of the future Russian Democratic Republic­". Then the Declaration on self-determination and the Constitution based on its principles was accepted. (S.Lakoba - Essays on political history of Abkhazia, Sukhum, 1990, pp. 62-63). Representatives of the Georgian delegation at Union congress opposed this decision in every possible way,­ believing that Abkhazia should enter automatically into the Transcaucasian committee into which kingdoms and princedoms of the Central and Western Transcaucasia, Azerbaijan ­ and Armenia, entered.

“Item 2. The Abkhazian people are sure that their brothers - mountaineers of the North Caucasus and Dagestan ­- will support them when they protect their rights.”

“Item 4. The Abkhazian people enter as a part “of the Union of incorporated mountaineers of the North Caucasus, Dagestan and Abkhazia"… also need to support a close connection with their northern brothers”. Simultaneously the Congress Declaration confirmed that ­ the major problem of the АNС was work on country self-determination, and the final form ­ of the state would be defined by the Constituent Assembly of all people of Russia, following the principles declared by Russia about society organization having found a response in the minds of Abkhazians.

“Item 5. The District Committee, Commissars and other administrative institutions and persons retain their former functions of management, but the work and activity of all ­ administrative and other institutions and persons, as this work and activity concern Abkhazia, should proceed in contact with ANC, in the interests of the achievement of fruitful results.

Item 6. ANC recognises the power and the competence of corresponding administrative agencies ­ and social-political organisations (the Union of Incorporated Mountaineers,… editor) as these institutes and  organisations observe principles ­ of democracy and national self-determination” (Central Archive of Abkhazia).

ANC confirmed the continuity of decisions accepted earlier, particularly decisions on the country entering the structure of “South - East ­ Union of Cossack armies, Mountaineers of the Caucasus and the Free people of the Steppes”. Neither the Constitution of the ANC nor the Declaration did not provide for any mutual relations ­between Abkhazia and  former Governorship regions of Russia in ­ Transcaucasia and, especially, any obligations to them. (The Statement of Claim­..., Appendices 7 & 8; the Union of Incorporated Mountaineers..., 1994, pp. 80-83).

The Constitution of the ANC, from which the basic points are given, said:

“1. The Abkhazian National Council is the national-political organisation uniting the Abkhazian people.

2. The representative and the spokesman of the will of the Abkhazian people in relations with both­ governmental administrative institutions and political ­ organisations is the Abkhazian National Council”.

“4. Aims of the Abkhazian National Council:

c) Spadework on self-determination of the Abkhazian people;

d) Maintenance and strengthening of relations of the Abkhazian people with the Union of Mountaineers of the Caucasus, and carrying out in life the general political slogans, decisions and actions of the Central Committee of the Union”.

Points 5 and 6 of the Constitution confirmed the legitimacy of both the District Committee and the structure of the Union of Incorporated Mountaineers of the North Caucasus..., together with the South-East Union, providing close contacts between the ANC and the specified structures.

The political situation in the country was difficult during this period, because of intensive settling of the Abkhazian lands by settlers from West and East Transcaucasia at the end of XIX - the beginning of the XX centuries, which followed the exodus from the country in the middle of XIX century of Abkhazians and related people (makhadjirstvo). ­The demographic structure of the population in Abkhazia had sharply changed­. According to the population census in 1886, of the general population of about 70 thousand persons, the number of Abkhazians was almost 59 thousand, and settlers from other regions hardly more than 4 thousand. From the census of 1897, their number had already increased to 26 thousand persons, with the same 59 thousand Abkhazians. Using an interpolation method   (fig. 3), it is possible ­ to draw the conclusion that by the beginning of 1918 the number of immigrants from other regions was equal to the number of Abkhazians living in the country. This circumstance ­ led to a split at the first Congress of the Abkhazian people (on November 8th, 1917), with the Abkhazian delegation in the decisions gravitating to Russia, and delegates ­ from immigrants to so-called "Georgia". This split led to open political opposition in the country. We quote I.Gomarteli's notes about the work of the Congress of Abkhazians, and the reasons for the Georgian-Abkhazian contradictions, below:

“... the representatives of Abkhazians are not only cool, but have met  the Georgian deputation to the meeting almost with hostility. They have decided in advance to reject advice from the deputation, and firmly to protect their own position, not making any concessions.

What do Abkhazians want when they speak to Megrelians about joining together with them in ­ the Union of Mountaineers and Cossacks? - That Megrelians have separated from their nation – Georgian. ... Abkhazians  should know well that Megrelians are Georgians and they will not separate from the Georgian nation on any question.

To this it is necessary to add national vanity. Georgians constantly swear friendship, and social democrats have not included any Abkhazian in the election list of candidates­; or is Abkhazia unworthy of having one representative in ­ the Constituent assembly?

The Abkhazian could not create culture, has not created writing and today he tries ­ to create writing by the spoilt Russian alphabet. Abkhazians cannot ­ create their own alphabet today. They do not have cultural force for this purpose. Therefore they should return to the Georgian alphabet, to Georgian writing, to that writing upon which the higher estate of Abkhazia was brought up and developed. Georgian language, certainly, should enter into Abkhazia.

If we consider the destiny of Abkhazians, does it matter who will swallow them,­ if this absorption is obligatory?”  (“Alioni”, November 16-23, 1917).

As you can see from the presented materials, by words and ­ actions ­ it still once again proves to be true that Abkhazians are not "Georgians", who consider Abkhazians as the lowest race and on this basis try ­ to dictate conditions and to teach them how to live; the scornful,­  pejorative relation to the Abkhazian people can be seen­. And after that are they surprised as to why Abkhazians do not love them, to put it mildly?

Since November 16th, 1917 in Ekaterinodar “the Incorporated Government of the South-East Union” began to function. Under the decision of the ANC, the Sukhum district was also included on a federal basis. Its main task was the realisation of "self-determination of the Abkhazian people”.

In “the Declaration of the Incorporated Government” it was especially noted: “Recognizing a democratic federal republic as the best form ­ of  state system for Russia, the South-East Union in practical activities ­ will keep a line of conduct suitable for supporters of the federal form ­ of rule. Guaranteeing its members full independence in their internal affairs, the Union undertakes to promote them by all allied means in the preparation of their internal systems, as independent states of the future Russian Democratic ­ Federative Republic” (Central Archive of Abkhazia).

About the aims of the ANC, the "Declaration" of Congress said: “During this disturbing time when much is razed to the ground and much is created anew, and when the­ conditions  of  life of all Russia, and hence Abkhazia, vary considerably, each nation should watch sensitively that its rights and interests have not suffered,  and would not be forgotten in a reorganisation of Russia with new beginnings.

One of the important aims of the ANC is work on self-determination ­ of the Abkhazian people. The Abkhazian people are a part of the Union of Incorporated Mountaineers ­ of the North Caucasus, Dagestan and Abkhazia - and, of course, require support in their close connection with northern brothers”.

The union Government extended its power to Abkhazia, both political power and, from the end of December 1917, state power. Then there was a decision about “formation of the Abkhazian horse regiment four hundred strong...”. This military formation at the ANC was made by horsemen of "the Abkhazian hundred” Circassian regiment of the Caucasian ("wild") division ­ which arrived in Sukhum from the front, and were a part of the armed forces of the Mountain Republic.

In Tiflis the opening of the National Council of Georgia (NCG) took place on November 19th, 1917. This was a Parliament, at which the representative of the Parliament of Abkhazia, Chechen Aslanbek Sheripov, said: “I am happy that  the great honour has fallen to me to send you warm regards on behalf of the Abkhazian National ­ Council. The Abkhazian people entering into the Union of Incorporated Mountaineers, congratulate fine ­ Georgia on its first steps on the way to national self-determination... The Abkhazians ­ who have entered into the Union with northern brothers, are assured therefore that in the near future they will meet the noble Georgian people in the general union of all people of the Caucasus. And in this future union the Abkhazian people think of themselves as ­ a member of the “Union of Incorporated Mountaineers” with equal rights.” (Archive of the Russian Federation.)

 From the given speech it follows that at the end of 1917 Abkhazia (and its ­ government ANC), entering into the Union of the states of the North Caucasus ­ as an independent subject of the law, did not aim to have any other mutual relations with the states of Transcaucasia, except equal  and good-neighbourly (the Statement of Claim..., p. 5).

The beginning of XX century was characterised by heightened interest of Menshevik functionaries in Abkhazia. From the moment of disintegration of the Russian empire and easing ­ of the central power, reorganisation of political state structures began, which inevitably led to repartition of territories. The question of Abkhazian borders became a point of discord firstly between the Transcaucasian committee and the Black Sea province, and then between the Transcaucasian ­ Menshevik government and Abkhazia. At the beginning of June 1917, the future commissar of internal affairs of the Transcaucasian commissariat A.Chkhenkeli arrived in Gagra. The aim of his arrival was the joining of Gagra district to Transcaucasia, i.e. an aspiration "to make this district Georgian". It was thus supposed that Abkhazia is Georgian, though at that time such a country as Georgia did not exist on ­ a political map of the world.

After the revolution in Russia on October 25th, 1917 the Special committee ­took steps towards the separation of Transcaucasia from Russia and the creation of an independent ­ government. It was the origin of chauvinism and obsessive nationalism in Transcaucasia. The Transcaucasian Seim (representative assembly) declared on April 9th, 1918 the separation of Transcaucasia ­ from Russia. This fact did not concern Abkhazia, as it ­ was a part of the Mountain Republic. At the end of 1917 in the village of Djirkhua a meeting of farmers of the Gudauta site was called, at which the decision ­ to create  the armed  farmers squad “Kiaraz” led by N.A.Lakoba was accepted.

When it became clear to so-called social democrats that for Abkhazians ­ the free life of the nation was a starting point and the purpose of all their aspirations, they showed the policy and behaviour natural to them - to break the persistence of Abkhazians “with fire and sword”. With the formation of TDFR (Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic) and its separation from Russia, there appeared a real threat of military expansion in relation to Abkhazia. ­ Heads of TDFR understood precisely that during this period a distancing of Abkhazia from Transcaucasia could happen. Bolsheviks also saw a threat in the expansion ­ of Georgia, and they made repeated attempts to establish Soviet power in the country by spreading their influence across all territory ­of the Sukhum district. After the new Bolshevik revolt which began on April 8th, 1918, Sukhum was released from Mensheviks, Soviet power was established in the capital, and on April 11th in Samurzakan. Over these four days, Soviet ­ power won all Abkhazia except for the Kodori site (Abzhui Abkhazia). The revolutionary-military committee of Abkhazia became the central body. Actually it was the first Soviet republic in ­ Transcaucasia. Soviet power in Abkhazia existed no more than 40 days, because from the Transcaucasian and Tiflis government (“virtual ­ Georgia”), attacks by military units began.

During this period in Transcaucasia separate groups ­ creating political parties and having  the task of re-partition of the collapsing Russia developed frenzied activity. This can easily be seen from the decision of the Constituent Congress of the National-Democratic party about the territory of Georgia. The Congress heard the report of Paul Ingorokva and decided: “The territory of Georgia includes the provinces of Kartli, Kakheti, Samtskhe-Saatabago, Imereti, Guria, Mingrelia, Svanetia and Abkhazia, components united by centuries-old state, cultural and ­ economic relations”.

Let's also give a fragment from the press reflecting the opinion ­of nationalist-inclined intelligentsia: “The Georgian autonomy should ­ include, first of all, so-called indisputable territories. These are, in our opinion, the Sukhum district, today's Kutais province, the Batumi district and ­ the Tbilisi province”  (“Alioni”, June 1917).

From P.Ingorokva's report at a session of the Historical and Ethnographic ­ society, about the borders of Georgia, on February 7th, 1918: “Political borders of Georgia often varied in the past, but the same territory was always called Georgia; there are ­ eight provinces where the Georgian nation has lived throughout the centuries: Kartli, Kakheti, Samtskhe-Saatabago (modern Muslim Georgia: Meskheti and Lazistan), ­ Imereti, Guria, Samegrelo, Svaneti and Abkhazeti. This territory - Georgia, - besides that it is a complete cultural-historical ­ unit, at the same time it is a uniform and indivisible geographical province, one country enclosed by natural borders”.

Mr. Ingorokva cheats. Until May 26th, 1918 no state of "Georgia" existed, and could not exist. This was also true of the Georgian territory. Over a certain period independent princedoms entered into the structure of the Abkhazian kingdom, during the VIII - X centuries. At a later time they had the nickname “Gurdjani”, transformed in XVIII-XIX centuries into the Russian transcription "Gruzini" (“Georgians”). This generalising term concerned different peoples, and till XX century did not have anything in common with a nationality or ethnos. As for the country being enclosed within natural borders, ­ it is surprising that this author did not include Armenia with ­ Azerbaijan.

The question of Samurzakan being an accessory continued to excite the minds of chauvinist politicians in Tiflis, as it went together with the belonging of the territory of Abkhazia to "Georgia" as ­a component of the Sukhum district. Apparently from the speech of Samurzakan representative I.Gegia at the National Congress of Georgia, functionaries perfectly ­ understood the illegitimacy of their claims. They (Georgians) knew that Abkhazians were not Kartvelians,­  but they had a huge interest in the territory of Abkhazia:

“And Samurzakan meets with delight the thoughts and visions of the true son of the fatherland Mr. Noi Zhordania. I only wish, gentlemen, to draw your attention to the historic facts testifying to the mutual relations of Georgia and Abkhazia in the past. Megrelia and Samurzakan are separated by Inguri, therefore Samurzakan is a continuation of Georgia (not absolutely clear from what it follows - the authors). Today Samurzakan ­ plays only the role of an intermediary between Georgia and Abkhazia, but in the future will also be the bridge [between them].

In conclusion, we hope that Abkhazia, Samurzakan, and the Sukhum district remain unchanged, and obtain a national-cultural autonomy within their border”  (“Alioni”, November 30th, 1917).

After the introduction of the ANC Constitution, pilgrimages of political and religious emissaries from Georgia began to deliberately try to separate Abkhazia from the Mountain Union, from their brothers by blood and by language. As a part of the first of these delegations, there was the Synodal public prosecutor calling Abkhazians to recognise the Supreme domination of the self-proclaimed non-canonical Georgian church. But Abkhazians declared their resolution that they had the historical and human right to consider their confession free and independent, without  recognition of the patronage of the newly-created Patriarch-Catholicos of Georgia. Despite this, the decree about submission of the Abkhazian church to the Georgian Catholicos followed from Tiflis by messenger, and the Metropolitan appointed by Tiflis was sent to Sukhum.

These were the first practical steps by Transcaucasian Mensheviks (NCG in the Transcaucasian federation), who considered plans for the annexation of Abkhazia. In the Tiflis press, appeals about the joining of Abkhazia to administrative ­ formations of Transcaucasia appeared­. In these conditions ANC, having become a real power, raised the question of a good-neighbourly settlement with NCG.

The official letter from NCG dated January 7th, 1918 addressed to ANC:

“Intented to arrange a meeting with representatives of the Abkhazian National Council for discovery of mutual relations between Georgia and Abkhazia, and also for the establishment of contact for activities in the future life of our people... For the establishment of a closer connection between the Georgian and Abkhazian people..., finding a way towards mutual understanding and the establishment of a close brotherly unification with Abkhazians. Georgians from their part ­ sincerely wish to find a way to such mutual understanding and the establishment of a close brotherly unification with Abkhazians. With that end in view... NCG asks ANC to send their­ representatives to this meeting in Tiflis on 20th January. Together with this we notify you that ­ representatives of Samurzakan are also invited to the planned ­ meeting. A companion of Chairman Chkhenkeli” (Archive AGM).

 From the given document it is possible to be convinced that at the beginning of 1918 mutual relations between these two countries were only good-neighbourliness between independent countries and nothing more.

In Tiflis, on the eve of creation of the Transcaucasian seim (representative assembly), a joint session of the Presidium of NCG and АNС led by its ­ chairman A. Sharvashidze took place on February 9th, 1918. At this meeting  was developed the: “Agreement about an establishment of mutual relations between Georgia and Abkhazia” which ­ recognised the existence of "uniform inseparable Abkhazia”. The Abkhazian delegation aspired, as they say in the document, to the political independence of Abkhazia,­  “having with Georgia only good-neighbourly mutual relations, as with an equal neighbour”, and also discussed questions on “principles of national self-determination” of Abkhazian people (Lit. Georgia, 1989, № 11. p. 146).

Three points of the Agreement of February 9th, 1918 said:

“1. To recreate uniform inseparable Abkhazia in limits from river Ingur to river Mzymta, into which structure will enter actual Abkhazia and Samurzakan, equating to the present ­ Sukhum district;

2. The form of the future political system of uniform Abkhazia should be developed ­(in conformity) with the principle of national self-determination, by the Constituent assembly of Abkhazia elected on democratic principles;

З. In the event that Abkhazia and Georgia should wish to enter into political agreements with other national ­ states, they are mutually obliged to have preliminary negotiations between themselves” (the Extract from NCG­ Executive Committee report ­№ 30 from 1918).

This Agreement produced the important official document legally confirming the presence for Abkhazia of its own territory from the river Ingur to the river Mzymta, and limited by the upper course of the river Kodor and the Caucasian ridge.

The "Agreement" was signed when "Georgia" was represented by "the Tiflis government”, even before the  “Independent Georgian ­ Democratic Republic” was declared. During this period, this country together with Armenia and Azerbaijan was a part of the Transcaucasian Democratic Federal Republic (TDFR). In these conditions Georgia could not present ­ a so-called “wide autonomy” for Abkhazia, as Georgia itself­ simply did not exist as a state, and Abkhazia continued to remain the sovereign ­ state in the structure “The Union of Mountaineers of the Caucasus”. (The Statement of Claim..., p. 6).

This "Agreement":

- Confirms the sovereignty of Abkhazia;

- Shows the good-neighbourliness of the independent sovereign ­ states defined “as the union of two state formations”;

- Specifies the indivisibility of Abkhazia;

- Legally confirms and fixes the territory of Abkhazia in limits from the river Ingur to the river Mzymta into which enter actual Abkhazia and Samurzakan. Hence the official document, confirming the presence for Abkhazia of its own territory from the river Ingur to the river Mzymta and ­ limited by the upper course of the river Kodor and the Caucasian ridge, is the specified ­"Agreement", signed before the formation of the Georgian Democratic Republic (or in fact Georgia) as a state­­;

- Confirms that Abkhazia during this period was not connected with Georgia. In the point “Concerning the establishment of mutual relations between Georgia and ­ Abkhazia” the sovereignty of Abkhazia is proved to be true;

- Confirms that sovereign Abkhazia at that moment was legally a part of "the Union of Mountaineers of the Caucasus” and “South - East Union” and, except for good-neighbourliness, had no other relations with the states of Transcaucasia;

- Proves that the signing by Abkhazia of any pact or agreement with the future state "Georgia" had no validity, as at the moment of their signing of the Agreement the state "Georgia" did not exist; during that time the historical right of the Abkhazian people to ­ Abkhazia in limits from the river Mzymta to the river Ingur was not called into question­. (The statement of claim..., p. 6).

Considering these points, if Abkhazia had been part of Georgia during this period there would have been no need for this Agreement.

The question of the development of the future political system of Abkhazia was not mentioned in the Agreement. Some Georgian historians assert that at that moment Abkhazia became a part of Georgia, which has presented it with a wide autonomy. The juggling of the facts is obvious.

Firstly, in the Agreement the question of autonomy was not considered. Secondly, at the moment of signing of the Agreement Georgia did not exist as an independent ­ state. The Agreement was signed by the so-called “Tiflis government”. By itself NCG de jure was a public association (organisation). Thirdly, before and after signing the Agreement, Abkhazia continued ­ to remain as a part of the Union of Mountaineers of the Caucasus de jure and de facto, having kept its sovereignty and independence. Fourthly, the second point of the Agreement says that “the form of the future political system of uniform Abkhazia should be defined... by the Constituent assembly of Abkhazia”, i.e. as ­ an internal matter for the people of the country.

The Georgian party considered this "Agreement" as a “Treaty” that ­ did not follow from the document text. After signing of the specified agreement ­ the question of frontiers of Abkhazia was removed from the agenda. This document, having international legal force, had again confirmed the sovereignty and territorially outlined borders of Abkhazia. From this document it follows that from the moment of the announcement by Georgia about its independence ­from  Russia, Abkhazia was not included within its structure. Relations which ­ existed between the countries were being built on the basis of equality of the parties (the Statement of Claim..., pp. 6-7).

A week after February 9th, Bolsheviks made an unsuccessful attempt to establish Soviet power in Abkhazia. From February 16th until February 21st, 1918 Sukhum was in the hands of the Bolshevist Revolutionary-Military Committee (­chairman E. Eshba). On February 17th the ANC was categorically ordered to liquidate Bolshevist authorities and after several days the new power fell.

The influence of the October revolution in the given region was already considerable­. A revolt started in  Sukhum, which after repeated attempts was successful, with the result that by April 11th, 1918 Soviet power had been established everywhere in Abkhazia,­ except for the Kodor (Ochamchira) site. Soviet power in Abkhazia did not exist for long. The Transcaucasian and ­ Tiflis governments at a meeting on May 14th, 1918 made the decision ­ to address a request to Germany to send armies for the suppression of­ revolutionary movements­ in the territory of Transcaucasia. According to the decision ­ of the Transcaucasian Seim, armed groups of Red Guards were simultaneously sent to Abkhazia, without the agreement of the ANC, and for the purpose of destruction of a young Soviet republic, to capture and attempt the annexation of the territory of Abkhazia under the pretext of struggle against Bolsheviks. Military troops were sent as one of the parts of TDFR under the command of Colonel Koniev and V.Djugeli.

On May 10th on the Kodor site there was a military landing of 600 ­insurgents with the task “by all means to take Abkhazia”. The Menshevist government had taken all measures to destroy claims of ­ independence by Abkhazia. Armies of the Transcaucasian government under ­ V.Djugeli's command ­ took Sukhum on May 17th, 1918. The Soviet power in Sukhum fell on May 17th, then New Afon was taken and troops approached Gagra. In Samurzakan the Soviet power held on till September 1918. Russia did not show any reaction to a call for help, and Abkhazia once again remained alone with its troubles and problems. In this situation the destiny of the Soviet power in ­ Abkhazia was predetermined.

As a result of intervention in Abkhazia the Soviet power was liquidated­. This act broke all norms of international law, represented an act of aggression, military expansion, and intrusion of armed forces of the adjacent ­ state onto the territory of an independent country, and was the first step in the aggressive policy of Georgia. In the given situation, i.e. the action of the Transcaucasian Seim, it is necessary to consider the occupation and annexation of the country as a military action against a sovereign ­ state. It was an attempt at the annexation of Abkhazia, ­an independent sovereign state which was in  “the Union of Incorporated Mountaineers of the North Caucasus and Dagestan”. From the “Union” side an immediate protest followed, concerning the illegal occupation of Abkhazia (one of the republics of the Union) by Georgia with the assistance of Germany. (the Statement of Claim, Appendix 10, 11).

ANC noted that it had applied to the National Board ­of Georgia “about rendering assistance in the matter of  leaving the government in Abkhazia at the disposal of the Council with the detachment  of Georgian Red Guards which is at present in Sukhum. As to the orders of the Georgian government published in the territory of Abkhazia, which are decrees about legal proceedings in the name of the Georgian ­ Republic and a decree about mobilisation, the Abkhazian National Council believes that these ­ orders grow out of a misunderstanding which could aggravate relations between two peoples,with damage to the interests of Georgia and Abkhazia. The Abkhazian National Council ­ hopes that the Government of the Georgian Republic will cancel the above-stated orders ­ and in the future will refrain from similar steps” (Archive of external politics of the USSR).

Hence, the input of military formations under V.Djugeli's command ­ in the middle of May 1918 was not only  an act of aggression, but also illegal intervention and occupation of the country, contradicting international law. But the most important fact was the beginning of the annexation of the country, ­ as under the pressure of the armed formations  the alien power had started to carry out military rule of occupied territory; namely, to publish orders on changes of legal proceedings, ­decrees about military mobilisation and so forth, i.e. had started the illegal government of a foreign state under the pressure of force.

In March 1918 in Abkhazia the second Congress of Farmers took place, in which­ questions of Bolshevist movements, mutual relation with TDFR, etc. were discussed. As the Abkhazian farmers did not support revolutionary ideas, a move towards Menshevik ideology took place, which had been introduced at this congress. From the report on work of the second Congress of Farmers of the Sukhum ­ district on March 4th - 9th, 1918:

“Up to three hundred delegates were at the Congress. There were representatives of peasants of all ­ nationalities living in the Sukhum district... One thing is absolutely clear: the peasantry ­ of the Sukhum district has turned away from the Bolsheviks, and rescue of our country is seen from the Transcaucasian Seim. Abkhazia has decided to enter into the general family of the Transcaucasian nations as ­ a member equal in rights, and to shape its destiny and best future together with democratic ­ Georgia”.

At the Batumi peace conference, the independence of the Mountain Republic within the territory from the Caspian Sea to ­ the Black Sea was proclaimed­ on May 11th, 1918. This act was presented “by the Declaration of the announcement of independence ­ of the Republic of the Union of Mountaineers of the North Caucasus and Dagestan (Mountain Republic)” which, along with Dagestan, the Chechen Republic, Kabarda, Adygea and other countries, also included Abkhazia.

As this act was a logical continuation of the confirming of Abkhazia as having been a part of the Union of Mountaineers (SOGK) since October 1917, the conclusion was that the country remained an independent sovereign state, the subject ­ of international law as part of the Mountain Republic and, accordingly,­ that Abkhazia, with the support of Turkey, Germany and Austro-Hungary, had obtained ­ international recognition. This follows from the “Treaty on an establishment of friendly relations between the Imperial German government and the government of the Mountain Republic”:

“Point 5. The Imperial German government itself recognises the independence of the Mountain people of the Caucasus, and renders diplomatic assistance to a recognition of this independence by other states.

Point 6. The Imperial German government similarly undertakes ­ to support the government of the Mountain people of the Caucasus, by diplomatic means, towards ­ an establishment of the borders of their republic on the basis of national principles, and in particular to an establishment in the north of the border which passes through Gelendjik - Kuban (20 ­ versts to the north of Armavir), Stavropol, the Sacred Cross (Karabalik), and along the river Kuma until its mouth, and in the south of the border which passes along the  river Ingur, on the main ridge of the Caucasian mountains (on a watershed) and including within it the Zakatal district and the Dagestan region” (the Union of Incorporated Mountaineers... pp. 121 - 123).

As Abkhazia was a component of the Mountain republic, this international document confirmed its borders and its de facto sovereignty. From a legal position, considering the situation post factum, it is necessary ­ to recognise that in 1917 - 1918 in Abkhazia its statehood was being formed­. The society had not yet made a definitive choice regarding its form of development, and had no firm belief in the choice and  recognition of  legitimate power.

All subsequent documents between the formation of the Republic of Abkhazia and the association of some princedoms of Transcaucasia into the Georgian Democratic Republic on May 26th, 1918, did not mention questions of the borders of Abkhazia, and as Abkhazia remained an independent state the problem of territorial disputes, both with Russia and with Georgia, was absent. Abkhazia was outside the territory and limits of influence of both Georgia and Russia. (T.Shamba, A.Neproshin,  p. 248; the Statement of Claim..., p. 13).

In Sukhum, the declaration of independence of Georgia on June 2nd, 1918 became known. Recognising the right of the Georgian people to self-determination, the ANC ­declared: “in view of the current position, to completely take up all power within Abkhazia”, and concerning independence, noted that Abkhazia and "Georgia" were considered as  sovereign states, and the­ inadmissibility of “encroachments on the sovereign rights of the people by neighbours­” was underlined­­. At the beginning of the document the illegality ­ of the stay of the Georgian armed formations in the territory of Abkhazia is quite definitely noted­:

“From the moment of disintegration of the Transcaucasian Federal Republic and the announcement ­ of the independence of Georgia Abkhazia lost a legal basis of connection with Georgia, and a group ­ of the Transcaucasian Red Guards, being now a military part of the Georgian Republic, has appeared outside of the borders of the state, but all complete power actually ­ is in its hands” (AGM Archive Fund № 3).

This document confirmed the absence of any connection between Abkhazia and Georgia, following the exit of the latter from the Transcaucasian Federation, and noted the illegal ­ presence of its military divisions on the territory of Abkhazia and the intervention of the Georgian military authorities in the internal affairs ­ of the sovereign state of Abkhazia.

Thus, the ANC took diplomatic measures to counteract the starting annexation, and continuing capture and ­ occupation, of Abkhazia. For the purpose of streamlining the arising international conflict between Abkhazia and Georgia, as two independent sovereign states, there was the question of preparation of the corresponding document in ­ the development of the "Agreement" from February 9th, 1918. (AGM Archive Fund № 3). The June Agreement became such a document.

Under the conditions of the occupation and annexation of Abkhazia, the new second ANC was organized at the end of May 1918 under ­ the control of the Georgian occupational armies, and included  deputies from the Abkhazian population and from the Georgian enclave in Abkhazia on an equal footing. As a result of intensive settling ­ by migrants from the Central Transcaucasia, their number became equal to the­ number of the indigenous population. Accordingly, the numerical structure of the ANC contained a prevalence of Gurian - Mingrelian delegates ­ representing immigrants. It was torn apart by serious contradictions, and it immediately entered into a conflict with the first ANC, which was continuing to function. Representatives of the first ANC at the Batumi conference in May addressed the Turkish government and declared that Abkhazia did not wish to enter into a group of the Transcaucasian people, and was a part of and referred itself to the North Caucasian ­ association of Mountaineers which would have formed a special state ­ under the protection of Turkey. This was the most serious basis of contradictions ­ between the managements of both ANCs. Another reason for opposition was the acceptance by the Parliament of Abkhazia of the Agreement with Georgia from 8th – 11th June, 1918, ­ which led Abkhazia to catastrophic consequences.

The government of Georgia understood that with the termination of the existence of TDFR the continuity of statehood with the new Georgian state was lost, and the Agreement with ANC of Abkhazia from February 9th, 1918 had lost legal power8. Therefore it decided to reanimate the pact, having signed the new treaty on its basis. The delegation of ANC, headed by the representative ­ from Samurzakan, R.Kakuba, after its arrival in Tiflis faced ­ extended misinformation about ostensibly preparing for a Turkish intrusion into Abkhazia. The strongest pressure was put upon it on purpose, to concur, at least verbally, with the conclusion of the bilateral Agreement developed from the previous one of February 9th, 1918. The opinion of the ANC on this question was negative. Members of parliament understood that conclusion of the Agreement would inevitably lead to consequences “disastrous for Abkhazia” and “would be used to the detriment of interests of statehood” of the country (S.Lakoba, 2001. pp. 29 - 30, 32 - 33).

The head of the Abkhazian delegation signed on June 8th, 1918 a “Treaty” offered ­ by Georgia (the original of the Treaty is absent). This was ­ illegitimate, as at the same time ANC made a decision on the conclusion ­ of the interstate Agreement in a different edition, which was confirmed by it on June 10th,1918. (S.Lakoba, 2001, pp. 33 - 34).

But also the signing of the last edition of the Agreement caused serious objections within the ANC. In particular, S.Basaria, first chairman of the ANC and one of its founding fathers, in his special opinion stated: “In view of the fact that the  draught is categorical, depriving us of the possibility of considered free discussion, and whereas an important document like the future agreement ­ of Abkhazia with Georgia is being compiled hastily with a limited quantity of members of ANC and without the knowledge of ­ the population of Abkhazia who would think of political freedom without any guardianship from anyone, I suggest the Abkhazian National Council answers the ultimatum of Georgia by requesting that the population of Abkhazia is given the chance to arrange for the Abkhazian National Congress  competently to define a political system ­for Abkhazia, having assured the Georgian Republic that Abkhazia, as an independent ­ national organism, will necessarily enter into good-neighbourly unions and ­ agreements with Georgia. I ask for the present special opinion to be transferred on a direct line to the Abkhazian delegation”.  (History of Abkhazia, 1993, p. 297).


8Reminder - the Agreement had been signed two months prior to the formation of  TDFR.

As a result two variants of the Agreement took place, one of which ­ represented “political forgery” and “treachery of interests of Abkhazia”. In them there are points of difference in content and meaning. In themselves these items do not refer to territorial aspects of Abkhazia, but subsequently they were used by Georgia for the definitive occupation and annexation of Abkhazia.

The following items are from the Agreement of June 8th, 1918 signed ­ by the Abkhazian delegation and by the Georgian party:

“Item 4. For the prompt establishment of revolutionary order and the organisation of strong ­ power to help the Abkhazian National Council, by order the Government ­ of Georgia sends a group of Red Guards to be at the disposal of the ANC.

Item 5. In Abkhazia the international group which is at ­ the disposal of the Abkhazian National Council will be organised­.

Item 7. A congress of the population of Abkhazia on democratic principles will be convoked whenever possible ­ in the near future for a definitive decision on questions connected with the statehood ­ of Abkhazia.

Item 8. The agreement is to be reconsidered by the National Assembly of Abkhazia which will definitively decide the political system of Abkhazia, and also mutual relations between Georgia and Abkhazia” (Archive of GSSR; Lit. Georgia, 1989, № 11, pp. 150-151).

From the Agreement of June 11th, 1918:

“Item 6. For the prompt establishment of revolutionary order and the organisation of strong ­ power, the Georgian Democratic Republic is sending a group of Red Guards to help the Abkhazian National Council, which will be at its disposal until it is no longer needed.

Item 7. In Abkhazia the Abkhazian National Council is organising army units, and ­ equipment necessary ­ for these units. Uniforms, equipment and means are being provided by the Georgian ­ Democratic Republic and are at the disposal of the Council”.

Both variants of the specified "Agreements" provided: from June 8th - ­ introduction by Georgia of army units, but only for the necessary ­ period established by the Abkhazian ­ government, for the maintenance of order during the   establishment of power in the country; these units should be at the disposal of, and submit only to, the Government of Abkhazia. According to the document of June 11th, the time of stay of the Georgian army units is limited to their necessity, the terms of which are also defined only by the Government of Abkhazia.

The "Agreement" defined the subsequent mutual relations of the sovereign states of Abkhazia and Georgia. The government of the Georgian republic, having verbally promised ANC the widest autonomy, immediately signed this so-called treaty between Georgia and Abkhazia in “development and ­ addition” agreements on February 9th, 1918 (Archive AGM; Archive of GSSR). It is a surprising circumstance that both variants of the Agreement are signed by the same ­ signatories: G.D.Tumanov and R.I.Kakuba (Archive AGM).

In the specified agreement there were points contradicting ­the political course both of Abkhazia and of the Union of Incorporated Mountaineers:

- Term of convocation of the Congress of the population of Abkhazia for “the definitive decision” on the question of the political system of Abkhazia was not actually established;

- Item 4 assumed the introduction of groups of the Georgian Red guards for help in the organisation of strong power in the country;

- Reasons according to which the external management of Abkhazia ­ was transferred in Georgia to “the minister of affairs of Abkhazia” are not clear­;

- All points of the Agreement radically differed from earlier declared ­ postulates of Abkhazia, which was a member of the Union of Incorporated Mountaineers.

According to one of the points in the Agreement, it should have been reconsidered ­by the National Assembly of Abkhazia for the purpose of reaching a definitive decision on a political system for Abkhazia, and also mutual relations between Georgia and Abkhazia. The plenipotentiary representative of the Republic of Georgia ­ assured the population of Abkhazia and its Legislature that Abkhazia, ­ if it wished, had the right to leave the federal union with Georgia­. Also, the "Agreement" from February 9th, 1918 and the "Agreement" from June 8th and 11th, 1918 did not provide for Abkhazia, which was already a part of "the Union of Mountaineers”, to be considered as a part of Georgia in any respect. (The report of ANC session, June 23rd, 1918).

Georgian historians consider that after signing of the treaty on June 8th 1918 Abkhazia definitively became an "autonomy" as a part of Georgia, which allowed­ it to enter military formations on its territory and this, in their ­ opinion, was not occupation, but a protection of the integrity of Georgia in its struggle ­ against Bolsheviks. However, neither the specified "Agreements", nor any other documents possessing legal force, testified about the consent of Abkhazia to its inclusion in the structure of Georgia, nor to the autocratic actions of the Georgian government and the uncontrolled input of its military divisions. Moreover, Abkhazia during the same time was a member of “the Union of incorporated Mountaineers of the North Caucasus and Dagestan” and actions of the Georgian armies in its territory, according to international law, were direct aggression and occupation which turned into political annexation of the country (the Statement of claim..., pp. 8 - 9).

Historians and politicians have argued until now on the legitimacy of this document and on its substitution. The main thing is that on June 17th-22nd, literally a week after its signing, on the basis of item 4 under the pretext of ­ helping ANC in the struggle against Bolshevism, armies of General G.Mazniev (Mazniashvili) which had occupied the coast as far as Sochi and Tuapse began to arrive (Archive of Abkhazia). Such actions of the Georgian ­ government perfidiously broke items 2 and 4 of the treaty just concluded, as all power was concentrated in the hands of Mazniev, instead of ANC. There could ­ be no discussion about submission of the General to the Abkhazian National Council­. Contrary to the "arrangement" military divisions were not at ­ the disposal of ANC, and in the second half of June 1918, in an infringement of the essence and spirit of the "Agreement", completely occupied Abkhazia.

There was a military coup d'etat. Full-scale occupation of Abkhazia and its annexation by Georgia had been achieved­. No action was forthcoming from international law, and the right of force which caused legal anarchy for many years and decades generated from Georgia a genocide ­ of the Abkhazian people, annexation of the territory of Abkhazia and the beginning of the destruction ­ of the Abkhazian ethnos.

Is it possible after that seriously to say that Abkhazia received,­ on the basis of this document, the widest autonomy as a part of Georgia­? Certainly not! Firstly, in the text there is no mention of autonomy, and secondly, in the document there is no basis for acceptance of the state, administrative and territorial ­ changes to the sovereign state which Abkhazia was at that time­. And how could Georgia give autonomy to Abkhazia, ­ which was a sovereign state as a part of the Mountain Republic?

The Mountain Republic in the summer-autumn of 1918 conducted very active work towards obtaining recognition by western countries, getting invariable support from the government of Turkey and from the sultan personally. In its field of vision constantly ­ there was “the Abkhazian question”. The diplomatic representative in ­ Turkey, G.Bammatov, in a letter from Constantinople on August 31st informed T.Chermoev about the Cherkessk club in Constantinople, at which delegates Tassun-bei, Rashad-bei and Isa-pashi had visited the German Ambassador Count Bernsdorf in person on August 29th, 1918 and had mentioned the problem of Abkhazia. G.Bammatov wrote:

“I have received some materials from our representative in Abkhazia S.Basaria, of the most major importance concerning the Georgian actions there – there is a campaign against Georgia here in the newspapers for this reason, by Circassian journalists... It is necessary to submit a protest on behalf of the government concerning the action of Georgia within Abkhazia. I have transferred this protest to the Georgian government, with copies to representatives of Germany, Austria and Turkey in Tiflis ... But a written ­ protest is necessary in the future”.

He also informed the powers of the Fourfold ­ Union about his protest, and demanded that they took necessary measures towards the withdrawal of the Georgian armies from Abkhazia. The same position in “the Abkhazian question” ­ was also taken by official Turkey.

Upon the intrusion of the Georgian troops into Abkhazia, the government of the Mountain Republic immediately reacted. The chairman of the Mountain ­government Tapa Chermoev declared: “I, on behalf of my Government, ­ protest most categorically against the type of action by Georgia in Abkhazia, a component of the Federal Republic of the Union of Mountaineers of the Caucasus, and in order to avoid serious consequences­ which could result from the specified policy of the Georgian Government, my ­ Government believes it necessary to immediately disengage Georgian troops, officials and emissaries from Abkhazia” (the Union of Incorporated Mountaineers..., pp. 133-135).

Simultaneously, the Mountain Republic which also included sovereign Abkhazia, requested the world community to take measures against the­ aggression of Georgia in the territory of Abkhazia, “which will bring the Abkhazian people to complete  annihilation” 9. When Georgia sent military divisions into the territory of Abkhazia, there was an immediate protest from the Union of Mountain Republics concerning the illegal occupation and attempt at annexation with the assistance of Germany. In the letters it is stated that “the February revolution has allowed the Abkhazian people, according to historical traditions and to the clearly expressed national will, to reunite their historical ­ destiny with the related people of the North Caucasus” and to enter into “­ the Union of Incorporated Mountaineers of Caucasus”, as “has been ratified by the General ­Congress of the Abkhazian people, taking place in the city of Sukhum”. On ­ the illegal act of intrusion of the Georgian troops the Union government sent protest № 53 to the Minister-Chairman of Georgia on June 1st, 1918, in which was underlined the excesses of the Georgian troops, committing outrages  against the peaceful population of Abkhazia. In the letter “it is ascertained that as a part of ­ the Georgian army operating in Abkhazia, there are regular ­ German troops”.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Mountain Republic, Gaydar Bammat, sent a note to the head of the German diplomatic mission in the Caucasus concerning the intrusion of German troops in Sukhum. We give quotations from this document:

                                                                                                                                               “June 13th, 1918.

Mr. Minister! Following the message received by me about the occupation of the city of Sukhum by German ­troops, I have the honour to send herewith to Your Excellency ­ a copy of my protest addressed to the President of Georgia on 1st June this year.

I have the honour to ask You, Mr. Minister, not to refuse to notify the Imperial government in Berlin of the point of view of the Government of the Union of Mountaineers of Caucasus on Georgian gangs being in Abkhazia and on the actions of agents of the Georgian Government in this district”.



9 Letter from the Abkhazian representative of the government of the Mountain Republic, S.Basarva, to the representative of the Turkish army, Gaydar-Bei, about illegal actions of the Georgian government in relation to the Abkhazian people.




In the protest it is underlined that the occupation of Abkhazia by German troops grew out of a misunderstanding into which the German command was led by the Georgian government. The given document also testifies about the Sukhum district (Abkhazia) being a part of the Mountain ­ Republic, about the gangster attack by Georgia on independent Abkhazia, and about German imperialists supporting Georgia in this. Even then it was already clear that the people of the North Caucasus republics, without consideration of whether Abkhazia was in this commonwealth or not, or whether it would be the will of the central ­ government or not, would reject pressure from any aggressor, as ­ occurred in 1992-1993.

After the May declaration of independence of the Mountain Republic, imperial Germany, believing that Abkhazia would be a part of the future ­ state of Georgia, began to take an absolutely different ­ position, unlike Turkey. The treaty on recognition of the Mountain Republic by Germany was not ratified, as Germany changed its policy about the “North Caucasus” question­. Having entered into an agreement with Soviet Russia, Germany received freedom of actions in Transcaucasia, “separation of which from Russia is being recognized by Bolsheviks in exchange for non-interference by Germany in “North Caucasus” questions” (the Union of Incorporated Mountaineers... p.141).

On August 8th  the ANC took the decision on creation of the commission for the preparation ­ of elections for the Abkhazian Constituent Assembly, in which Abkhazia had to completely define the political system and solve the problem ­ of mutual relations with Georgia. Under conditions of occupation and political annexation of Abkhazia, on December 17th, 1918 the Georgian government took its one-sided decision on the preparation of new elections to the ANC.

At this time General Mazniev inconsiderately trampled on “the independent rights” of Abkhazia. On July 4th,  1918 the Chairman of the National Council reminded the Georgian ­ government that Mazniev had been given “extensive powers, up to the right to announce the introduction of a state of siege, but exclusively when conducting military operations” (against Bolsheviks - authors). He demanded ­ cancellation of the order of the military minister in which Mazniev “without the  permission and ­ consent of the National Council” had been appointed as the Governor of Abkhazia and the chief ­ of the Sukhum garrison (Central Archive of Abkhazia).

However ANC not only could not control Mazniev, but soon, on August 15th, 1918, was itself disbanded by the armed forces of the Georgian ­ government. From October 1918 till March 1919 all civil management ­ of Abkhazia was carried out with the direct intervention of Georgian control. The country was under another's government.

To exclude any undesirable development of events from ANC deputies, the Georgian administration again found a simple way out: deputies were accused of “Turkophilia” and, the ANC having been disbanded, were replaced with more appeasable people of Pro-Georgian orientation. Simultaneously, honourable old men of Abkhazia were arrested by Georgians. A reorganised ANC was turned into a body convenient in every respect for the carrying out ­ of Georgian policy in Abkhazia and approval of the most severe retaliatory measures in relation to the indigenous population of the country. A growing discontent ­ with Georgian policy was felt not only by the population of the country, but also by deputies within the newly-created ANC, as its Georgian members had started to consider the question of the inclusion of Abkhazia as an autonomous formation within the structure of Georgia.

If one considers that at the moment of acceptance of this decision the numbers of Abkhazians and Kartvelians in the population of the country were approximately equal, it is hardly probable that they voluntarily selected 80 % of the ANC deputies as Georgians. It is obvious that this structure did not represent the population of the country, which (taking into account ­ Russians, Armenians, Greeks, etc.) did not wish to join Georgia. Similarly, the Georgians had no historic, ethnographic or economic basis for their claims on the Sukhum district. There were only attempts by Georgia to grasp a very valuable and expensive province from a temporarily weakened Russia. Georgia, free and young, and not yet having been recognised as independent, while preaching the rights of small nationalities to self-determination, applied all forces towards­ incorporating the whole neighbouring country within its borders, i.e. completely absorbing the Abkhazian people, who were not related ­ to Georgians.

The Georgian annexation of the territory of sovereign Abkhazia was triumphant. In the occupied territory of Abkhazia under the influence of external force there was a change of government. In the new Council only Georgian citizens were admitted, and all Abkhazians, Armenians, Russians and others not wishing to be recognised as citizens of Georgia were excluded. Violent change of structure of the government of Abkhazia, infringement of the rules of election of governmental bodies of the country, deprivation of the right of participation in activities of directing bodies of the state and change of demographic ­ structure of these bodies, banning people from participation in power structures ­ according to a citizenship principle – all of these confirm the illegitimacy of such authorities. Actions of the Georgian government and its military troops ­ in the territory of Abkhazia, regarding the replacement of power structures in the state, led to the situation that since August 15th, 1918 the existence of the legitimate government, ANC, had stopped. All subsequent Abkhazian documents of state were created by means of external military force, were not legitimate, and from the legal point of view were insignificant.

Violence, committed by Georgian guardsmen, overran all Abkhazia. Georgians occupied all administrative posts in the territory of Abkhazia,­ supervised all state organisations, and pursued a policy not corresponding to the interests of the Abkhazian people. Antagonism went deeper and deeper, and promised to turn into open ­ rebellion against the usurpers. Aversion to Georgian policy and to the actions ­ of its troops in Abkhazia was felt at all levels of civil society. The recreated Abkhazian National Council had not justified the hopes­ of the government of Georgia. On September 2nd, 1918 the Chairman of the ANC, Varlam Sharvashidze (Chachba) wrote indignantly to the minister of affairs of Abkhazia, R.Chkhotua, in Tiflis: “The arson of houses by the governmental troops, in the opinion of the population and from the point of view of the state, cannot be justified by any means” (Central Archive of Abkhazia).

The second Council was also disbanded by Mazniev on October 9th, 1918, and its most respected members were arrested and sent to Metehsk prison in Tiflis... Across all Abkhazia troops took punitive actions.

At the session of the third ANC on October 9th, 1918 which passed very argumentatively, attention was brought to the question of the originators and accomplices in the dispersal of the first ANC on August 15th. Deputies  demanded “to re-establish ­the violently dismissed National Council which has the full confidence ­ of the Abkhazian people, and is its lawful presidium”. The Council building was there and then surrounded ­ by Georgian guardsmen, and the next day the third ANC was disbanded by force. The minister of affairs of Abkhazia was dismissed from his post by the Georgian ­ government, and together with the district commissar of Abkhazia, I.Margania, was accused of a plot against the Georgian Republic, and also a number of ANC leaders (S.Ashkhatsava, D.Alania, V.Chachba, G.Adjamov, etc.)  finished up in Metehsk prison.

The commander of allied armies in the Caucasus, the English General Thomson, addressed the government of Georgia on this matter on December 5th, 1918. As is told in a document from the archive of Harvard university, he demanded ­ the immediate release of members of the Abkhazian National Council, as the arrest of these persons “is illegal, without any presentation of charges” (Archive of. Georgia, 1989, № 11, pp. 152-153).

The Abkhazian government, which had fallen into a trap, undertook vigorous ­ measures towards the breaking of the deadlock in the country. At last Abkhazians ­sent their representatives to the command of the Voluntary army with the request to help them to obtain release from their new conquerors... This action led to the political and administrative management of Abkhazia being arrested ­ under instructions from the Central power. The representative of the Georgian government, E.Gegechkori, informed Tiflis from Sochi on September 15th, 1918 that “the Abkhazian delegation” from ANC had approached General M.V.Alekseev with a request ­ to release Abkhazia from the armed intervention of Georgia (Archive of the USSR).

Then in September, a meeting took place between representatives of the Georgian republic, the Regional Kuban Government, and the Voluntary army, in which General N. V.Alekseev and Kuban representative N.Vorobyov participated. The latter declared that: “Georgia should begin its ­ borders behind Abkhazia whose aspiration to self-determination cannot be ignored ­ although some hundreds of Georgians live there” (Archive of Georgia, №11, p. 151).

The government of the Union classified these actions as a partnership of Germany in support of weapons in the hands of the imperialistic desires of Georgia directed against the North Caucasian Republic, and complicity ­ in violence committed by the Georgian troops against the tiny Abkhazian nationality. It demanded an immediate withdrawal from Abkhazia of the Georgian troops, officials and emissaries, and also of the German troops which had illegally entered there. In the second document it says that after the ANC session on August 4th, 1918, the Abkhazian delegation was sent to Tiflis with a protest against the actions of Georgia, which considered Abkhazia as a part of itself and ­ had directed its troops against Abkhazians and Kodorians, whilst German and Cossack troops had been directed against Gudaut Abkhazia. After the disbandment of the second ANC and arrest of its members, Extraordinary Commissar Chkhivikishvili was appointed ­by the Georgian government to rule the country­, and immediately organised the looting of some Abkhazian and Armenian villages. His appointment coincided with elections for the new ANC, where by “new rules” for elections ­ during the conditions of occupation he introduced non-Abkhazian representatives who were not connected with ­ the interests of the territory. During this period there was a complete rejection by the people ­ of Abkhazia of everything Georgian, including its policy (Archive of AGM).

Georgian politicians saw that elections for the ANC could not be entrusted to Abkhazians. Regarding the conditions of occupation of Abkhazia and its political annexation, on December 17th, 1918 the government of Georgia took the decision to prepare new elections for the ANC and to give autonomy to Abkhazia as a part of Georgia. Item 7 of "Regulations" defined the state language of Abkhazia as Georgian. This project was confirmed ­ by the parliament of Georgia on December 27th, 1918. Amendments to the law on elections as indicated above were approved,­  that ANC deputies could be selected from citizens ­ of Georgia who were not living in Abkhazia, and from those who had acquired the right to a residence in ­ Abkhazia after July 19th, 1914. Clearly, the results of elections had been predetermined ­ - the Abkhazian National Council consisted of an overwhelming majority of Georgians, and Abkhazians there were “a suppressed minority”. This unilateral decision was the definitive action on the violent ­ joining of Abkhazia to Georgia, contrary to all norms of international law.

Representatives of the Abkhazian people continued to search for an exit from the situation which had developed. In January 1919 they held active negotiations with General A.I.Denikin ("Nashe Slovo", January 16th, 1919) and asked for­ ANC elections by Georgian rules and under supervision of the Georgian military to be suspended. In a special message on February 1st, 1919 General А.I.Denikin ­informed English Generals Forester, Walker and Milne:

“Official representatives of the Abkhazian people have addressed to me the under-mentioned ­ application signed by members of the National Council­: the Abkhazian people make ­ a majority of the population of the Sukhum district situated on the  Black Sea coast between ­ the rivers Bzyb and Ingur. They were compelled to ask for help from the Georgians against Bolsheviks­. Taking advantage of this, Georgians moved their troops into the Sukhum district, installed their administration, and in compliance with their usual methods have started to interfere with internal affairs and have led the most ruthless persecution against outstanding ­ influential politicians of the Abkhazian people.... Therefore the Abkhazian representatives ask me to firstly suspend elections to the Council whilst under the influence of Georgian ­ authorities, and, secondly to approach allied command about an immediate departure ­ of the Georgian army from Abkhazia, to relieve the Abkhazian people of violence which could cause strong disorder and to give them the chance to start peaceful activities”.

General A.S.Lukomski noted: “... Misunderstanding continued because of the attitude­ of the Georgian authorities to the Armenian and Abkhazian population in the neighbouring Sukhum district”. On February 26th, 1919 General A.I.Denikin wrote to the chief of the British ­ military mission, General Briggs: “Official representatives ­ of the Armenian national union of the Sochi district have approached me with a request to protect the Armenian ­ population of the Sukhum district...”.

General A. I.Denikin demanded: “1) immediately to declare the Sukhum district (Abkhazia­) neutral; 2) to remove the Georgian troops to behind the river Ingur; 3) to remove Georgian administration from Abkhazia; 4) to assign the maintenance of order to freely chosen Abkhazian authorities”.

Then general A.S.Lukomski wrote to the British command:

“Transformation of the Sukhum district, occupied ­ mainly by the Abkhazian people, to a neutral zone would be the best exit from the created position, as English command has been informed, because Georgia had no rights of possession in this area. It would resolve all misunderstanding, and the loud but powerless Georgian government would, of course, obey this decision­. But it has not been made...” (Denikin-Judenich-Vrangel. Мoscow, 1927, pp. 96 - 98).

In January 1919 Denikin’s Voluntary army began a campaign on Sukhum, putting forward the claim for Abkhazia as a part of “uniform, indivisible Russia” to the government of Georgia. The Georgian troops constrained this attack, and the pro-Georgian ANC responded to it as follows:

From the Declaration of the social democratic faction of the ANC, March 18th, 1919:

“With the slogan of ... Self-determination of small nationalities, the democracy of Georgia, under the true guidance of the   social democratic labour party of Georgia, has brought brotherly democracy to the Abkhazian people.

The democratic territory of  Abkhazia is inviolable, and the Gagra site, as an integral part of it, should be within the territorial limits  of its historical and natural borders (river Mzymta), and should ­ now be in the hands of those self-determined people who wish to see within the territory a full celebration of revolutionary,­  democratic principles.

Proceeding from these preconditions, the Social-Democratic party of Georgia will support the following state system for Abkhazia in the Abkhazian National Council:

1. Abkhazia is a part of the Democratic Republic of Georgia, as an autonomous unit.

2. State affairs: foreign policy, armies, finance, monetary ­ system, customs offices, general judicial establishments and the Senate, civil and criminal legislation, mail, telegraph, railroad and highways, except for local roads, concern central ­ legislative and  government agencies of the Republic of Georgia.

3. In all other affairs in the area of management, and the internal life of Abkhazia in general,­ regarding: education and general culture in Abkhazia; management of local governments - rural and urban; courts, except for  general judicial establishments and the Senate; administration; local taxation­; medicine and sanitary; maintenance of the rights of national minorities living ­ in the territory of Abkhazia, etc., Abkhazia is autonomous, and all this is included within the competence of the Abkhazian National Council.

4. Until the development of the general Constitution of the Republic of Georgia, a minister of affairs of Abkhazia will be a member of the government of Georgia.

5. The democratic faction of the Abkhazian National Council will ensure that the stated positions have been included in the Constitution of Georgia”.

New elections for ANC were again conducted under the pressure of armed force. However, the Abkhazian representatives categorically declared that ­they would not accept any ­ participation in elections controlled by Georgia, and flatly refused ­ to recognise the right of Georgia to arrange their destiny. “Democratic principles were sacred for Georgia”, therefore N.Zhordania gave the order to the Georgian faction of the ANC to prepare “a Decree about the  autonomy of Abkhazia”, which was immediately produced. In the conditions of occupation ­ of Abkhazia by Georgia, on March 20th, 1919 at the first session of the newly-elected “on a democratic basis” ANC which under the decision of a session of Council was renamed National Council of Abkhazia - NСА (­even the Councils were started from scratch  by the Georgian government, specifying that ­ the previous Abkhazian ANC meant nothing to it), with the prevailing majority of delegates being of Georgian nationality (with the input of military formations from Georgia there was an intensive settling of Abkhazia by migrants from the central and boundary regions of Georgia), the decision on the entering of Abkhazia into the structure of  the Democratic Republic of Georgia as ­ an autonomy was accepted­.

The text of this decree contains only two points and 15 lines: “the First Abkhazian ­ National Council elected on the basis of general, direct, equal and secret ­ suffrage, at the session on March 20th, 1919 on behalf of the people of Abkhazia has decided:

1. Abkhazia is a part of the Democratic Republic of Georgia as an autonomous unit, and the government of the Republic of Georgia and its ­ Constituent Assembly are to be informed of this.

2. For the drawing up of the constitution of autonomous Abkhazia and the definition of mutual relations ­ between the central and autonomous powers, a mixed commission with equal numbers of members from the Constituent Assembly of Georgia and the National Council of Abkhazia  is selected, and the positions developed by it, after acceptance by the Constituent Assembly ­ of Georgia and the National Council of Abkhazia, should be included in the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Georgia”.

The original was signed: NCA Chairman Emukhvari

                           Affairs secretary G.Korolyov

                           Stamped: “Operating office NCA”.

                           October 27th, 1920

 (“Nashe Slovo”, March 21st 1919; Archive of Georgia, 1989, № 11, pp. 155 - 156).


That’s it, simply and clearly. It should be noted that the developed positions “after acceptance by the Constituent Assembly of Georgia and the National Council of Abkhazia, should be included in the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Georgia”. But positions under the constitution should have been developed ­ together with NСА, whereas actually, as will be shown further, this did not occur.

As a result of "elections" Georgian Mensheviks made the majority in NСА (27 deputies), and Abkhazians representing basically “independents” (R.Kakuba, S.Chanba, etc.) a minority (8 deputies). The representative of Georgian Mensheviks, Abkhazian prince D. Emukhvari, was selected as Chairman of the NCA (“Nashe Slovo”, March 20th, 1919). At this session the decision was accepted­ that NСА would have a legislature, and a commissariat­ executive, and according to article 7 of "Regulations"­ the state language of Abkhazia was declared Georgian. ­ The draft decree “about granting Abkhazia the rights of an autonomy within Georgia” was sounded and prepared ­ on December 27th, 1918 by the Constituent assembly of Georgia. (An article by D.Gamarkhia, Z.Papaskirn, and V.Chania in the newspaper “Sabchota Abkhazeti” of 3-4 August, 1990 was written in the Georgian language). This unilateral decision should be considered the definitive action on the forceful joining of Abkhazia to Georgia, contrary to all norms of international law.

By March 20th the Decree about the autonomy of Abkhazia ("Nashe Slovo", March 21st, 1919) had already been accepted. ­ Political annexation, including ­ intervention of military Georgian administration in the activity ­ of the machinery of state of Abkhazia and directed towards change of the political system of the country, became the main element of expansion, rather than the military element, which was of secondary importance. The capture was not just of a part of the country, but of all of its territory, which was subsequently joined to Georgia.

After the signing in the АNС of the “Decree about the autonomy of Abkhazia”, the faction of social democratic internationalists revolted against illegalities ­ concerning Abkhazia, and left the Social-democratic party ­ of Georgia in connection with disagreement over a number of constitutional questions (Archive of AGM).

In May 1919 at the Parisian conference Georgian delegates presented ­a report containing the territorial claims of Georgia. The Georgian government also tried to give a historical substantiation of their ­ interests in the Black Sea province. In the document it was specified that in the times of tsar David the Builder and tsarina Tamara the territory of Sochi and partly Tuapse districts were a part of "Georgia" or “Abkhaz-Kartvelian kingdom”, forgetting to say that the kingdom was Abhaz-Imeretian, instead of Kartvelian, and especially not Georgian. As a substantiation, ­ the fact was  also given that the territory of the Sochi district was at some time under the control of the Imeretian kingdom and the Abkhazian ­ princedom, up to its capture by Turks and Adygs in XVII century, though this fact has no relation to Georgia or to Kartalinia.­­ The territory of Abkhazia, completely occupied at that time by Georgian troops, was also included in “historic, ­ ethnographic and strategic substantiations of the future borders ­ of Georgia”.

In the report it was said that “during almost three hundred years the border of Georgia at the Black Sea ­ coast passed behind Anapa, reaching the mouth of the river Kuban; further, throughout XIV century the border gradually departed back to the river Makopse, and from XV century till XIX century, i.e. before the joining of this part of Georgia to Russia, the river Makopse (to the south of Tuapse) was always the border”.

These claims were presented as follows: “Defining their borders, the government of Georgia demands only those territories which always ­ belonged to the Georgian people and which have vital value for them, but thereby do not concern the vital interests of other people...”

Proceeding from these general reasons and certain administrative possibilities,­  the delegation asserted that the territory of Georgia should include: “Tiflis ­ and Kutais provinces, the areas Sukhum and Zakatal, the area Batum, two areas to the west of Kars (Olti and Ardagan) and some parts of the Black Sea area, and also Trapezund (Trebizond)” (Occupation and actual annexation.... pp. 61 - 62).

The town of Sochi appeared as  purely Georgian, and all the Black Sea district as an ancient Georgian province. The most improbable fact in this history was­ that claims for this territory were put forward on behalf of ­ Abkhazia, so it thus appeared that the northern border of Abkhazia passed near to Tuapse, and that this territory was occupied by the wish of the Abkhazian people who had a historical right to it (this document was created contrary to the opinion of the first АNС). Тhus Georgia showed its territorial claims, particularly on Abkhazia, which never (except for the period of its occupation from 1918 to 1921) belonged to it. Georgia did not mention the opinion of the government ­ and  people of Abkhazia, or the decisions accepted by them concerning their joining ­ to Georgia.

One of the basic infringements in acceptance of the above-stated ­ document was that the decision of the question on the future of Abkhazia, according to ­ item 7 of "Agreement" from June 8th, 1918, was represented only to the Congress of the population of Abkhazia. In the conditions of occupation and country annexation, and in infringement of the specified regulations, this document was accepted at a session of the non-legitimate ­NСА by a conciliatory commission of 5 persons from NСА and NSG, which initially defined “the Decree about the autonomy of Abkhazia as a part of Georgia” as not legitimate, and a legally insignificant document. However this Decree was ratified at once by the  parliament of Georgia, but the­ business did not go further, because of contradictions between ­ the Constituent Assembly of Georgia and the National Council of Abkhazia (even though this included a majority of Georgians).

At the opening of the renamed “National Council of Abkhazia” the representative of the Democratic Republic of Georgia, I.Ramishvili, declared: “We know the aspiration of reactionary groups of the people (Abkhazian - authors) to ‘independence’, but for this purpose the small nation is not yet ready and ­ enslavers could take it ­ and from this loop the people could not be released... (­ Prophetic words. For already more than eight decades Abkhazia has tried to be released ­ from the Georgian loop, a loop of so-called “colleagues in the struggle to the great future” in which under plans of the Georgian colonizers there should be ­  a genocide of Abkhazians). We are not similar to conquerors and the local land is not necessary to us, we search for colleagues in the struggle in which we will go together to great noble­ future socialism” (“Nashe Slovo”, 21st  March, 1919).

Next day in the local mouthpiece of Sukhum Mensheviks, the newspaper “Nashe Slovo”, an amendment to I.Ramishvili's declaration was given: “The aspiration ­ of the Abkhazian people to independent existence is quite natural. But this small nation is still not ready for this step, and under the name of independence ­ different enslavers will throw a loop on its neck from which ­ it will take many efforts to be released. When Abkhazia will feel capable of independent existence then our help behind it to the realisation of this ­ step will be provided” (“Nashe Slovo”, 22nd  March, 1919).

And we have had the opportunity throughout almost a century to be convinced that these words were nothing more than lies, shameless lies from several ­ generations of  Georgian politicians and their helpers the historians.

Grass roots diplomacy in “the Abkhazian question” had not played its last role. A "Memorandum" signed by the official representative of the people of Abkhazia, Lieutenant Alexey Hasaya, was addressed to the British Military Mission in Ekaterinodar on 10th June, 1919, ­ and was directed for transfer to the British government. It contained the request: “to disengage the Georgian army and administration from the territory ­ of Abkhazia”, then “a new election for АNС which will solve the destiny of Abkhazia” would be held. It was a question of infringements by Georgia of items in the Agreements from June, 1918. Requirements of this document were the following:

“1. Because Georgia had broken items 1 and 3 of the Agreement from June 11th, the Agreement had become void.

2. Because citizens had been excluded from elections, those who did not wish to recognise themselves as Georgian citizens as required by the decision of the АNС considered the  new Council illegal ­ and not expressing the will of the people.

3. Until a decision on the question of the re-selected Council, and guarantees of free elections, Georgian military divisions should be withdrawn from Abkhazia...” (Materials from Archive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Great Britain. “The Abkhazian question, 1919”;  "Republic of Abkhazia" newspaper ­№ 86, from 28 - 29 July, and № 130 from 13 - 14 September, 2001).

To understand the position of the Georgian politicians in relation to the country and statehood of Abkhazia, we give quotations from speeches by deputies of the supreme body of Georgia, and it can be seen that these statements are greatly penetrated by lies and hatred and that the aims of the speakers are monstrous­.

From the shorthand report of the session of the Constituent Assembly of Georgia on 2nd August, 1919, a discussion of conditions in Abkhazia:

“Our government has concluded the agreement which gave many different rights to Abkhazia and did not give any rights to Georgia. This is a big crime of our ­ government. In the agreement there is more than one unclear article, and according to these articles people ­ say that Abkhazia is already independent. What can we see? What is today's political ­ position in Abkhazia? It has the highest legislature, the National Council, it has the territory, has the government, and this means all elements of an independent state. From this rostrum it should be declared: the independence of Abkhazia­ is an absurdity. There, in our opinion, no government is necessary, ­ and the body possessing functions of the Constituent Assembly as it takes place today is also unnecessary­. There is Abkhazia, there is a territory of Abkhazia, and in this territory we should have created a certain ­ management and when we created such a body, we made a mistake, naming it not National Council of Abkhazia, but Abkhazians. If Abkhazia represents the territory, instead of the people, such a name even for this legislature is inadmissible...

Even if all the noblemen of Abkhazia become bandits or robbers, even if ­they write letters to Clemenceau, Lloyd-George and everyone, all the same it is necessary to exert tough measures against them...

It is necessary to adopt the same policy towards Russians who have settled in Abkhazia and extend all their support there. At the same time, we have carried on negotiations with them, and we are at fault in this.

Abkhazia is among the most dangerous suburbs. It is dangerous because the statehood ­ and independence of Georgia is threatened from there by our northern enemy - Russia.

The Abkhazian people are incited against the Georgians and, God forbid, at the military front our position will become complicated, and we could suffer an accident in Abkhazia. ­ Bolshevik meetings where propagandists oppose ­ Georgia are often held in Sukhum and in other settlements of Abkhazia and accept corresponding resolutions... Such hostile action ­ against Georgia is conducted even in the Abkhazian National Council...

This Abkhazian council is selected by a strange system in which suffrage was also given to non-subjects11 of Georgia... If we leave the formal side and we look at the matter with eyes of real interest, I am sure that for us the present ­ selective rule is rather harmful and unprofitable... In the National Council of Abkhazia our state interests must be reliably protected because the majority in this establishment is in the hands of our ruling party, and there should be a guarantee of our state and political durability in Abkhazia.

In general, in Abkhazia the situation is unsteady. There is a big Anti-Georgian movement over which supervision by Russian-Armenian Bolsheviks, Denikins and one part of the Abkhazian intelligentsia deepens.”



11 So in the text. The lecturer has forgotten that subjects exist only in monarchies, and in republics the people are citizens.


Georgian Mensheviks committed excesses in Abkhazia and on September 29th, 1919 fourteen deputies from NСА send a letter about this addressed to ­ the government of Georgia. But that government, since 1918 and practically from the very beginning of its existence, had pursued a policy of purposeful ­ intrusion into all spheres of the life of Abkhazia, breaking all rules of law. It did not keep assurances declared by it about the stability of an autonomy, and created in the people deserved mistrust not only of Georgia, but also of the local ­ legislature – the NСА. Deputies of Council I.Margania, D.Alania,­  M.Tarnava, M.Tsaguria, etc. wrote unambiguously on September 29th, 1919 about the inadmissibility of the annexation of Abkhazia by Georgia, having noted the arbitrariness and violence of the Georgian authorities and army.

“By a malicious irony, - they wrote, - the great Russian revolution which has given freedom and independence to almost all nationalities of the Caucasus has bypassed small Abkhazia,­  and in our country the great principles of revolution were absolutely smothered by the arbitrariness and violence of the authorities. And as all this violence was conducted in the name of the Georgian ­ Government, in the Abkhazian mind there is a representation of Georgians as tyrants and enslavers” (Archive of Abkhazia ; Archive of AGM).

During this period, thousands of Greek and Armenian families left the country in ­ which the Georgian aggressors committed excesses. In October 1919 at a session ­of NСА the question about “the criminal secret policy of the Georgian ­ government, leading to cancellation of the autonomy of Abkhazia” (“Nashe Slovo”,­ November 9th, 1920) was considered­­. From November 1919, at schools in Abkhazia where teaching was conducted in Russian, the teaching of all subjects in the Georgian language was started with the aim of Georgian nationalization (“Nashe Slovo”, November 20th, 1919).

It became obvious that the government of Georgia contradicted the items in “the Decree about the independence ­ of Georgia” adopted on May 26th 1918, in which they guaranteed to all people “ample opportunities for free development”. The so-called “autonomy of Abkhazia” appeared as­ fiction. The government of Georgia strengthened its reactionary policy in the field of international relations.

The National Council of Abkhazia, proceeding from the agreements, decrees and government assurances set forth above, repeatedly sent delegations to ­ the Constituent Assembly for definitive registration of mutual relations between Georgia and Abkhazia, it being known that Extraordinary Representatives of the Republic of Georgia took part in the spadework in the National Council. The desired­ result was not achieved. Proclamations from the government about the stability of an autonomy ­ were in practice far from the truth. In essence, ­ since 1918 the Georgian government had expanded its­ area of intrusion more and more into all spheres of  Abkhazian life, breaking even those rights ­ about which there was no dispute e.g. in the commissions developing the draft of the Constitution of autonomous Abkhazia. The contradiction was expressed­ on the one hand by numerous assurances of representatives of the Georgian ­ government about the stability of an autonomy, and on the other hand by ­ intervention in the internal affairs of Abkhazia. This created mistrust in Abkhazia not only of state power, but also of the local legislature - ­ the National Council of Abkhazia.

In the spring of 1920 the Abkhazian people boycotted elections for the Constituent Assembly of Georgia, demonstrating by this ­ their political position and the legal status of the country as independent of Georgia (“Nashe Slovo”, March 23rd and April 7th, 1920). Hence there were no legislative grounds ­for the registration of the so-called "autonomy" of Abkhazia as a part of Georgia. On May 6th 1920 the newspaper “Nashe Slovo” reported: “The Menshevik party gives the strong impression of regret at its dissociation from the Abkhazian intelligentsia, as a result of nonacceptance by the Abkhazian population of participation in elections for the Constituent Assembly”. Despite this, at the Constituent Assembly of Georgia on July 20th, 1920, the drafts of “Regulations about the management of autonomous Abkhazia” and “Constitution of autonomous Abkhazia” were approved. Based upon articles 129-131 in the draft of the Constitution ­ of Georgia, the territory of Abkhazia was recognized within the borders ­ offered by commissions of NCA. In particular, it was written: “Abkhazia ­ in borders: from the northwest to the southeast from the river Mekhadyr to the river Ingur”.

In a statement from some NCA deputies to the Government of Georgia it was emphasised that three variants of the Constitution developed by the Constitutional Meeting­ did not reflect the real picture and did not match the  requirements of the people of Abkhazia. The unreasonable policy of the Georgian government ­ in relation to Abkhazia, directed towards the rupture of brotherly relations between the countries, was thus indicated,­  and led to violence, arson of houses, and genocide ­ in relation to Abkhazians.

Before acceptance of the Constitution of the Republic of Abkhazia, the Constituent assembly of Georgia published the temporary Regulations below, about the control of autonomous ­ Abkhazia:

“1. Abkhazia from the river Mekhadyr to the river Ingur and from the coast of the Black Sea to the Caucasian ridge is an integral part of the republic of Georgia and within these borders autonomously ­ operates its own internal affairs.

2. Autonomous Abkhazia has its own local legislature - the National Council selected for two years by citizens of both sexes on a general, direct, equal, secret and proportional electoral system.

3. All lands and possessions ­ within Abkhazia and all persons living there, according to the general laws of the republic are subject to the autonomous control of Abkhazia­. The state possesses all bowels of the earth, according to the general laws of the republic.

7. The state language of Abkhazia is Georgian. But the National Council has the right to allow the use of local languages.

11. Members of the National Council of Abkhazia, representatives of its executive power, and also civil servants of autonomous Abkhazia promise to swear fidelity to the Constitution of the Republic of Georgia.

25. The right of general or partial revision of the Regulations about autonomous Abkhazia ­ belongs both to the Parliament of Georgia and to the National Council. Amendment and ­ confirmation of the Regulations are carried out by the Parliament of Georgia in ­ the manner defined by the law”.

At its discussion at the NCA session on May 21st, 1920 opinion on the inexpediency of the autonomy of Abkhazia as a part of Georgia was expressed. ­ Abkhazian deputies warned that the autonomy would be followed by a merging, with the­ absorption of Abkhazia by Georgia (Zukhbаi). Menshevik deputies, represented as a majority in NСА by Georgians, Mingrelians, Svans, etc., supported the autonomy. The assurance was not at all convincing that if autonomy with the normal number of rights did not take place, it would always be possible to separate. ­ Today it can be seen that this was nothing more than the short-sighted illusions of incompetent politicians (Archive of AGM}.

Struggle concerning the constitution and autonomy of Abkhazia continued. The work begun ­ on drafts of “the Decree about autonomy” and “the Constitution of Abkhazia” met difficulties, owing to disagreements between NСА and the Georgian ­ government. In Constitution drafts it was said that Abkhazia was a part of the GDR as an autonomy, but:

“It, Abkhazia, is independent in so far as as its independence is not limited by the present Constitution and, as that, it possesses all rights which have not been transferred to the Central power” (Dzapshba 1995, p. 116).

It is necessary to pay attention to the reasonable performance of deputy Kakuba in the course of the NCA session on September 20th, 1920. Confirming that ruling circles of Georgia receded from the co-ordinated order of consideration of drafts of the Constitution of Abkhazia, he asked the question: “What does this Decree represent? Yes, we united on an autonomous basis, but on what basis... Those conditions on which Abkhazia is a part of Georgia should be certainly noted­. These conditions are not fully discussed, not developed, not accepted. We name these conditions Constitutional­. It is hardly probable that this is correct. It is simply an agreement between Georgia and Abkhazia. An agreement concludes if there are two parties. When the agreement concludes, they should be equal, and if different there will not be an agreement, but a fiction...

All of us assert that Abkhazia voluntarily enters as a part of the Republic of Georgia. The voluntary decree is made according to how profitable it is to those making this decree. Abkhazia makes it as it is profitable to it, and develops conditions under which it wishes to join with Georgia. Georgia too has an inalienable right to say no, I don’t need you,­ go away. It is not only logical, it is a method used throughout history...

According to the Decree (from March 20th, 1919 - authors), the commission is created on an equal footing, mixed in equal numbers, both parties are represented in equal numbers...  The Commission reaches a certain decision, which is represented to the Constituent assembly (­ Georgia - authors) and in NСА. Neither of these can change these decisions. But they can reject ­ them entirely.

Decisions are subject (to confirmation and ratification - authors) in Legislative institutions­. The Constitution draft should be simultaneously presented to NСА and to ­ the Constituent assembly and should be confirmed by both”.

NСА made the following decision after this speech: “Recognizing in the question of the order of acceptance of the Constitution that it is obligatory to be guided by 2nd point of the Law from March 20th” (Archive of AGM, Report 21: About ­ NCA session  from September 28th, 1920, pp. 99 - 210).

In one of the detailed "notes" addressed to the chairman of the government ­ of Georgia, a delegation from the National Council of Abkhazia under V.Sharvashidze's presidency (members of delegation I.Pashalidi, A.Ubiria, V.Gurdjua, D.Zaharov, M.Berulava, M.Tarnava, D.Alania. M.Tsaguria) declared in November 1920:

“During the existence of the Special Transcaucasian Committee, Abkhazia and Georgia concluded an agreement on 9th February, 1918 mainly defining their mutual relation ­ as the union of two state formations... These mutual relations have been further formulated in the agreement between Abkhazia and the government of the Republic of Georgia on June 8th, 1918”.

However, “the Decree about autonomy...” remained on paper, and three various drafts of the Constitution were not approved and accepted owing to disagreements between ­NСА and the Georgian government.

The NCA delegation arrived in Tiflis on November 6th, 1920 for work on the draft of the Constitution of Abkhazia in the mixed commission, on an equal footing together with representatives of the Constituent Assembly of Georgia ("Nashe Slovo", November 9th, 1920). The Georgian government flatly refused to consider and accept the future Constitution of Abkhazia in the Constituent Assembly and National Council, unless the NCA delegation did not participate, even in its discussion. The Constituent assembly (Chairman V.Lomtatidze) and the Government of Georgia (N.Zhordania) rejected the proxy status of “the constitutional delegation” of the NСА in Tiflis, did not allow the “commission mixed in equal number (from Abkhazian and Georgian)” to be generated, and did not permit this commission “on a parity basis” to consider “the Constitution of Autonomous Abkhazia” which was actually co-ordinated by the NCA. Regarding a "Note" ­ from the NCA delegation dated November 7th, 1920 to the Government of Georgia, the latter did not even find it necessary to answer. The Constituent Assembly of Georgia announced on November 28th, 1920 in the Georgian language (ref. №4461) the unacceptability of the “existence ­ of the mixed conciliatory commission on (parity) ­ basis equal in rights”. It considered that such a commission would actually appear above “the sovereign supreme body” - the Constituent Assembly of Georgia, and therefore that Assembly  “unilaterally... has counted... has made itself... it is the unique and ­ competent organ of legislation in the field of the Republic Constitution,­  in particular for autonomous Abkhazia”. As for questions about the “existence of an Autonomous region and its relation to the Centre”, they could be considered after “acceptance of the general Constitution”, and could “become a separate ­ chapter of basic Laws” (Archive of AGM). In this way, item 2 of the Certificate from March 20th, 1919 was totally violated.

Due to this, members of the constitutional delegation from NCA made their last statement on December 5th, 1920, in which they said: “Because of such a radical ­ divergence of the points of view of National Council of Abkhazia and the central power relating to the working out and acceptance of the Constitution of Abkhazia, the delegation is leaving” (“Lit. Georgia”, 1989, № 11, p. 157).

The delegation returned with nothing. At the NCA session on January 4th 1921 the report of the returned constitutional delegation was heard and approved. As the process of preparation, consideration and the statement of “Constitution ­ of Abkhazia”and “Regulations about the management of autonomous Abkhazia” occurred without the participation of the Abkhazian party, it did not find approval at the NCA session where a protest in connection with infringement of the legislative rights of the NCA was made because of consideration of these documents by the Constituent Assembly of Georgia. These ­ documents could not have any validity, as they also contradicted item 2 of the NCA Decree from March 20th, 1919, which was recognised during that period by­ the Constituent Assembly of Georgia. Besides, Abkhazia boycotted elections for the Constituent Assembly of Georgia in the spring of 1920, which did not give Georgia ­any legislative basis for decision-making concerning the "autonomy" of Abkhazia. The NСА, at the session, made the definitive decision: “About an immediate recall of the delegation, in connection with infringement of an order of discussion of the Constitution according to item 2 of “the Decree...” from March 20th, 1919 (Archive of AGM; Report № 36 of NCA sessions, December 4th, 1920).

The political background during the working out of three variants of Constitutions of Abkhazia ­ in 1918 - 1921 was the occupation and annexation­ of the country by Georgia, and according to the press and the government of Georgia, it had all been done in the interests of the people, of whom the majority in Abkhazia during that period were already Georgians - such documents were not passed by any legislature of Abkhazia and did not receive any approval from the people of the country. In Tiflis on December 29th, 1920, the small Constitutional Commission of the Constituent Assembly of Georgia unilaterally presented the definitive drafts of “Regulations ­ about the management of autonomous Abkhazia” and “Constitution of autonomous Abkhazia”. This fourth variant of the Constitution of Abkhazia was accepted ­ unilaterally by the Constituent Assembly of Georgia on February 21st, 1921 under the conditions of annexation and the Georgian occupation, in infringement of norms of international law as well as the previous agreements between Abkhazia and Georgia, so was by ­ definition not legitimate. It also should not have been put into effect, as it was not  ratified or confirmed by the basic law of the country - the Constitution ­ of Abkhazia.

In Georgia, Soviet power was established on February 25th of the same year. The document concerning Georgia’s relation ­ to Abkhazia was imposed during conditions of military occupation and annexation of the country, against the will of the Abkhazian people and government, and was not legitimate. Articles concerning Abkhazia in the Constitution of Georgia did not come into force,  and from the legal point of view are insignificant­.

It is necessary to consider the events occurring in Abkhazia in the context of civil war. In 1917 - 1921 there were attempts at the construction ­ of statehood in several different ways:

1. The republic of Abkhazia was included within the Union of the Mountain people of the North Caucasus. This movement was headed by S.Basaria. Statehood had been defined by the Constitution ­of the Mountain Republic and it had been legitimate since 1917. The official termination of its existence is not available. It is thought that its ­ formal existence terminated with the signing of a treaty between the Russian Federation and Georgia on May 7th, 1920. Legally Abkhazia was a component of the Russian state for all of the period until May 1920, remaining formally a member of the Mountain Republic which under the decision of the All-Russia Central Committee was transformed on January 20th, 1920 into the Autonomous Mountain ­ Socialist Soviet Republic which was a part of RSFSR. Considering that the real facts about the withdrawal of Abkhazia from the structure of the Mountain Republic are not known, two infringements of international law took place:

a) Military expansion of Georgia against sovereign Abkhazia, a member of the Union of the Mountain people, which led to annexation;

b) Exclusion by Russia of Abkhazia from the structure of the Union of the Mountain people, in infringement of the Allied Agreement of October 20th, 1917 (the Statement of claim..., p. 10).

2. Abkhazia became a part of Georgia as an autonomous republic. Ideologists in this direction were deputies of the АNС, later NСА (Kakuba, Emukhvari, Sharvashidze). Realisation of the given project started after the arrival of Georgian military formations on the territory of Abkhazia, and its annexation in June 1918, after which the supervising body of the country, ANC, became non-legitimate. During this period the NСА accepted a number of political documents, namely: “the Decree about the autonomy of Abkhazia”, “the Constitution of Autonomous Abkhazia”, “Regulations about the management of Autonomous Abkhazia”. As a consequence the listed documents, accepted by the illegitimate ­highest ruling body of the country, the National Council of Abkhazia, during the period of occupation of the country by Georgian troops and political annexation, are insignificant and should be disavowed.

3. Independent Abkhazia. A number of ANC deputies of pro-Abkhazian political orientation (Alania, etc.), adhering to this viewpoint, were in a minority in the illegitimate АNС. This political line had found support since 1918 among ethnic Abkhazians - makhadjirs, Turks and the Turkish ­government.

4. The pro-Russian, Bolshevik direction which arose after the October ­ revolution in Russia. It was headed by E.Eshba etc., and it appeared to be the most popular among the people of Abkhazia who in 1921created the legitimate ­ government, which headed the country throughout the next 70 years of Soviet ­ power and provided continuity with the  modern government of the country­.

Throughout all the period until the overthrow of the Menshevik government in Georgia, the relation between Georgia and Abkhazia had not been confirmed ­in an appropriate way, and hence was not legally obligatory for either party. The population of Abkhazia possessed Russian citizenship, whilst Georgia, which proclaimed independence and  separated in 1918 ­ from the Russian Republic, presented to its population only ­its own Georgian citizenship. Therefore  a full distinction between the countries, in terms of ethnic structure of their populations, statehoods, and citizenship of their inhabitants, resulted. They were different countries. Thus, Abkhazia since that period has remained a sovereign state, the subject of international law.

It should be stressed that in the absence of any consolidation of Abkhazian society, leading to confusion in the minds of the population, conditions arose in the country which allowed criminals and fraudsters to prepare a basis for  seizing power, territories, and even the culture of the Abkhazian people. An important ­ role in this process was also played by so-called leaders of the Abkhazian ­ state of all ranks, guided by momentary benefits or empty promises of their Georgian patrons, and totally forgetting about their fatherland. A major factor was also the passivity of the Abkhazian people,­ who frequently were not informed about sudden changes in these historical processes which directly concerned them. As history has shown, the above situation continued throughout all XX century,­ and still continues up to the present time.

Throughout the relevant period of approximately three years, changes in the administrative power of Abkhazia, constant attempts at decision-making by the pro-Georgian or pro-Abkhazian sides, and mutual recriminations occurred repeatedly, until, at last, in 1920 the Georgian troops were expelled from the territory of Abkhazia by the forces of the Voluntary army of General A.I.Denikin. This had no influence upon any change of statehood of Abkhazia. Under the conditions of the Georgian annexation ­ the question of independence of the country could not be solved. It is necessary to note that all extremist actions in relation to Abkhazia were taken by a country which did not exist until May 26th, 1918, had gained independence only one year previously,­ and for that period had not yet been recognised as a state by any country in the world.

In Georgia there was an active revolutionary process, and on 11-12­ February, 1921 a Bolshevik revolt overthrew the Menshevik power in Georgia, and the Revolutionary Committee of Georgia was formed on February 16th, 1921.

As is known, the first attempt to establish Soviet power in Abkhazia in 1918 had no success, because it had not been supported by the population. But when the country had endured the deadly embraces of Georgia, the point of view of the people on ­ such "friendship" changed. Up to 1921, there were a number of events in which Abkhazia, in conditions of occupation by Georgian troops, tried to be released from the death grip of its neighbour and "friend". During all­ of the Georgian occupation of the country, activities of the Bolshevik­ movement were observed­. In March 1920 the District Committee of the Russian Communist Party of Bolsheviks – RCP(b) - appealed for a boycott in the  territory of Abkhazia of elections to the Constituent Assembly ­ of Georgia, and in many areas of the country this occurred. From­ September 25th, 1920 a partisan movement against ­ the Georgian aggressors developed­ in Abkhazia.

The Kodor Revolutionary Committee (Revcom) of RCP(b) at its session ­ on February 17th, 1921 made the decision to prepare for armed revolt, which proves there was no voluntary reunion of Abkhazia with Georgia. As confirmation, an Appeal on February 20th, 1921 from the Revcom of Abkhazia to the Abkhazian people, calling for an armed revolt against ­ the Georgian invaders, said:

“When Soviet Russia proclaimed the full autonomy of all small nationalities of the former Russian Empire - Bashkiria, Kirghizia, Turkestan, ­ Azerbaijan, Dagestan and all the mountain people of Terek, the Menshevik Georgian ­ government with blood and iron suppressed the lawful aspirations of Abkhazian, South Ossetian and Adjarian people to autonomy”.

And, as subsequent history has shown, these words are fully applicable to later events, especially after 1990 when Abkhazia again began the struggle for restoration of its sovereignty.

Events in Transcaucasia from February 1921 developed with ­ kaleidoscopic diversity: a telegram on February 17th, 1921 from the Extraordinary Commissar of the south of Russia, G.K.Ordjonikidze, spoke about the readiness of the Red ­ Army to come to the aid of the risen Abkhazian people in their struggle ­ against Georgian Mensheviks. The Constituent Assembly of Georgia quickly accepted on February 21st the “Constitution of the Georgian Democratic Republic” and unilaterally confirmed the “Regulations about the management of autonomous Abkhazia” as a part of Georgia. At this time, fights with Menshevik Georgian aggressors began in Abkhazia - on February 24th, the 31st division ­ of the 9th Kuban Red Army freed Gagra, on February 26th freed Gudauta, and on February 25th parts of the 9th army occupied Tiflis. After ­ the Constituent Assembly had been disbanded, ­ the decree about creation of the Georgian Soviet ­ Socialist Republic was accepted­.

Abkhazian armed groups, supported by parts of the 9th Red Army, together crushed Mazniev and freed Sukhum on March 4th, 1921. By March 8th all territory of Abkhazia to the Ingur had been released ­ from aggressors, and at the 1st Congress of Soviet delegates of farmers and workers there was a declaration of the independent Soviet Socialist ­ Republic of Abkhazia within its historical borders. This event was­ confirmed by a radio message on March 31st, 1921 to V.I.Lenin, I.V.Stalin and G.V.Chitcherin (the Union of Incorporated Mountaineers..., pp. 372, 373).

The motives for acceptance of such a decision were the fact that the chauvinistic policy of Georgian Mensheviks strengthened the tendency towards the restoration of full independence of the country, and national self-determination among the Abkhazians making the majority of the population of the Sukhum district. The same policy created among Abkhazians a mass desire to cast in their lot with Soviet Russia. Therefore at a meeting of ranking officers on March 4th, 1921,  the following unanimous decisions were reached:

“- Abkhazia should be declared a Soviet Socialist republic;

-  Soviet Abkhazia should enter into the all-Russian federation directly;

- The general policy in Abkhazia should be moderately cautious in relation to the bourgeoisie and peasantry”.

The new Revcom of Abkhazia was created on March 6th, and its structure included E.Eshba (chairman), N.Lakoba and N.Akirtava. Then the Organisation Bureau of RCP(b) was created in Abkhazia. At the second Regional Congress of working Mountaineers on March 8th, ­ the message “confidence is expressed to Abkhazia, that there will be no return to the menshevik-bourgeois government” was addressed to the Revcom. As soon as March 31st, 1921, independence of the state was declared in Abkhazia in the form of the Abkhazian Soviet Socialist Republic, and the idea about political, national and ­ state sovereignty was realised­. On May 21st, 1921 the Revcom of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia recognised the independence of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Abkhazia. Abkhazia also continued ­ to remain a sovereign state, the subject of international law, after 1921.

The establishment of Soviet power in 1921 was perceived by the people of Abkhazia as a deliverance from the Georgian occupation and the repressive rule of the Menshevik party. Also, if in 1918 Soviet power had not received ­ support in the country, after the three-year occupation of Abkhazia by Georgia during which period the military Georgian administration disbanded the legitimate government of the country (ANC) and installed its own management, the situation had changed. The people saw Bolsheviks as the force which promised to relieve the country ­ of aggressors, and believed it. And Bolsheviks, after the establishment of Soviet power, at once declared the independence of the Abkhazian state in the form of the Abkhazian Soviet Socialist Republic, having embodied the basic ideal for the sake of which the Abkhazian people throughout long years conducted a fierce struggle for political ­ self-determination.

With the declaration of Abkhazia as an independent, sovereign republic, both the territorial integrity of the country within its historical borders and their inviolability were again confirmed. Apparently from the above ­ material, activities of the Georgian government during all periods of its mutual relations with Abkhazia were aimed at the destruction of a stable ­ society and of the integrity of this state. These activities concerned the military expansion of Georgia to Abkhazia, occupation of the country and its political ­ annexation.

On the basis of these historical materials relating to the beginning of XX century, it is natural to come to the following conclusions:

1. Abkhazia in a struggle for independence formed military and political ­ unions with neighbouring countries. This confirms the fact that Abkhazia de jure and de facto remained the subject of international law, i.e. a sovereign state­.

2. After disintegration of the Russian empire in November, 1917 ­ the Mountain Republic (the North Caucasian Republic) was proclaimed­. Along with other North Caucasian ­ countries it also included Abkhazia. Thereby de facto ­ the Abkhazian statehood abolished in 1864 was restored­.

3. At a congress of the Abkhazian people on November 8th, 1917 in Sukhum the first parliament - the Abkhazian National Council - which accepted the Constitution and the Declaration of the Abkhazian people was selected.

4. Even before the moment of formation of the Georgian Democratic Republic (GDR), Abkhazia as the subject of international law had concluded the Agreement with the Tiflis­ government on February 9th, 1918 which confirmed the sovereignty ­ and territorial integrity of Abkhazia within borders from the river Mzymta to the river Ingur. Mutual relations were developed on the basis of equality of the parties.

5. In the agreement from February 9th, 1918 “concerning the establishment of mutual relations ­ between Georgia and Abkhazia” there are no words about autonomy, and all attempts by Georgian ­ politicians and historians to confirm otherwise have no basis.

6. Georgia, which proclaimed itself an independent republic on May 26th, 1918, occupied the territory of Abkhazia in the second half of June, 1918, on the basis of the treaty of June 11th, 1918 imposed upon Abkhazia, and with the direct ­ support of Germany. The government of the Mountain Republic made a protest to Georgia, and regarded ­ these actions as aggression against Abkhazia and all North Caucasian ­ states.

7. Up to the moment of formation of the Georgian Democratic Republic, Abkhazia was independent, not a part of Georgia, thus the territorial borders of Georgia had not been defined. Hence, at the moment of signing the Decree about the independence of Georgia on May 26th, 1918, in which in general ­ there is no mention of Abkhazia, that independent country was de jure and de facto outside the limits of Georgia and remained a sovereign state.

8. The agreement between Abkhazia and Georgia from June 11th, 1918 de jure and de facto confirmed the full sovereignty of Abkhazia.

9. Throughout three years (1918-1921) Georgia, whilst occupying Abkhazia, tried to create legal documents confirming the joining of Abkhazia to its territory. This action was carried out by the unilateral decision ­ of the Constituent Assembly of Georgia which accepted on February 21st, 1921 “Regulations about ­ the management of autonomous Abkhazia”, but this did not mean sovereignty loss de jure, as all undertaken actions were made without the consent of the people of the country, and ­ territorial borders remained unchanged. Besides, a change of status of the independent sovereign state was not reflected in the Constitution of Abkhazia – the official document. As mutual relations between the countries had not been officially confirmed, they legally were not obligatory for either­ party.

10. In struggles against its enemies, Abkhazia as a sovereign state asked neighbouring countries for help:   Russia at the beginning of XIX century, the states of the North Caucasus in 1917-1918, and also, in the struggle against Bolsheviks in 1918, - Georgia. These countries understood the reason behind their help in their own way.  ­In particular, Georgia under the pretext of military help undertook the annexation of Abkhazia. ­ Occupation proceeded from 1918 to 1921, till the moment of the termination of existence of the Georgian Democratic Republic. During this period in Abkhazia the legitimate government was liquidated,­  any display ­ of independence was choked,­  severe retaliatory operations ­ in relation to the people of the country constantly took place,­  dispersal of the authorities of independent Abkhazia occurred, and colonisation of the country by the aggressor - Georgia - took place.

11. All treaties and  agreements concluded between Abkhazia and Georgia ­ within the years from 1918 to 1921  could not have any validity, as they were imposed during the occupation and colonial enslavement of Abkhazia ­ by Georgia. Thus, Abkhazia from 1917 to 1921, remaining de jure a sovereign state and the subject of international law, could not take advantage­ of the rights of a sovereign state de facto, as it was in the position ­ of being an occupied, annexed country. Treaties, agreements and decisions ­ of the state bodies of Georgia in relation to Abkhazia in 1918-1921 (including confirming the sovereignty of Abkhazia) cannot be considered legitimate and legal, as:

a) Abkhazia had at that time a transition period during which there was ­ a search for its form of statehood whilst confronting both internal­  and external forces, and the state structures and their decisions were formed ­ under the pressure of these primarily external forces;

b) Depending on the influence of external forces, which were the occupation, ­ annexation and colonization of the country by Georgia, the expansion of Turkey, the development of the revolutionary ­ Bolshevik movement, the intrusion of the Voluntary army of A.I. ­ Denikin and support from the Union of Mountain people, each of these events formed different political views in Abkhazian society. In the country, inconsistent political and international decisions regarding the formation of the state were made­;

c) The countries which were neighbours of Abkhazia were in a similar position. Georgia, for example, originally was a part of TDFR, then became independent, and in 1921 ended its existence as an independent state. Those ­ agreements which were accepted during the occupation each time lost their force at a change of political regime or form of statehood, due to the absence of political and state continuity. For this reason they cannot be recognised as operating at the moment of termination of the transition period with its chaos and instability. Therefore all events which were taking place in Abkhazia during 1918-1921 should be considered in the context of civil war and ­ statehood formation­.

12. The treaty between Soviet Russia and Georgia on May 7th, 1920, which recognised the Sukhum district (but not Abkhazia) as a part of the Georgian state, had no legal force as Abkhazia two years prior to the signing of this ­ document was occupied by the Democratic Republic of Georgia as a result of military intervention. Thus, this document is a recognition by one party of the fact of its annexation by the other party. The treaty itself lost ­ force after the occupation of Georgia by Soviet Russia. At the same time it is necessary to note that after the treaty was concluded on May 7th, 1920, the Entente countries, primarily England, were compelled to recognise Georgia as being under the influence ­ of Soviet Russia.

13. The "autonomy" of Abkhazia was not legally drawn up. Only during the last days of the republic’s existence, on February 21st, 1921 to be exact, did the Constituent Assembly of Georgia (whose elections the Abkhazian population boycotted) accept the Constitution ­ of Georgia, having completely ignored item 2 of the Decree from March 20th, 1919. In the Constitution some kind of autonomous government of Abkhazia (the Sukhum area), Batum territory and Zakatal area was mentioned (Article 107).

14. The Constitution of Georgia did not come into force. On February 25th, 1921, Tiflis became Soviet.

15. The accepted Constitution of Georgia, with the articles concerning Abkhazia, did not create any rights or duties for the latter, as these articles ­ were not accepted by legitimate order and are not reflected in the Constitution of Abkhazia ­ or in any other legal documents expressing the sovereign will of the people of the country.

16. The policy of the occupational Georgian authorities in Abkhazia resulted in the extreme discontent of the multinational population of the country, which promoted the establishment there of Soviet power on March 4th, 1921. The new regime was perceived ­as providing deliverance from the armed intervention, occupation and colonial ­ government of Georgia in Abkhazia.

So, in 1918 the intervention which led to the occupation and political annexation of Abkhazia was carried out by Georgia­. According to its definition, annexation (from Latin - joining­) means an aggressive kind of violent capture of all or parts of the territory of another ­ state or nationality, and also the violent retention of a nationality ­ within the borders of another's state. It is the acquisition by one state ­ of the sovereignty over the territory of another, with or without the consent­ of the latter and without any treaty, as a result of either conquest or actions ­ which may not lead to war, but trample on the will of the other state. Having an aggression component, in this case it covers a wide spectrum of actions, for example, “application of an armed force by the state against ­ the sovereignty, territorial inviolability or political ­ independence of another state, or otherwise incompatible ­ with the United Nations Charter”. Thus the listing of infringements of the constitutional norms ­ of the annexed country is not obligatory, because the presence of the invader in the annexed territory  is important as the factor which interferes with the will of the people.

All agreements concluded between Abkhazia and Georgia within the  years from 1918 to 1921, even confirming the sovereignty of Abkhazia, could not have any validity as during this period the annexation of Abkhazia by Georgia took place­. Annexation is illegal  if it has occurred  after ­ formation of the relevant nation or national state, which occurred in Abkhazia. International law does not recognise the legality of domestic or international documents accepted during military occupation and political annexation of a state. Abkhazia, from June 1918 until 1921 was in ­the condition of being an annexed state, and  all decisions of its  state bodies  were accepted with  the participation of, and under pressure from, the Georgian military authorities­. Therefore all decrees and decisions accepted by Georgia concerning ­ the sovereign state of Abkhazia, and also those accepted by the state of Abkhazia itself, are void and insignificant, having lost their validity because of contradictions to the imperative norm. They should be disavowed by ­ the Government of Republic Abkhazia  (the Statement of claim..., p. 15).

International law, referring to annexation and intervention, especially the armed ­intrusion of one state into the internal affairs of another and directed against its territorial integrity, political ­ independence, etc., allows the annexed state the right to struggle against such intrusion.  The actions of Abkhazia, ­ which took place during its struggle against Georgian domination in 1918-1921 when the Abkhazian people were periodically rising in a struggle for freedom and independence, were violently suppressed by chastisers. Thus “state intervention into the affairs of another” is understood as the concept of   “intention to force another state to operate according to the intervener’s will”.

Bringing Georgian divisions into Abkhazia in April and from the middle of June, 1918 in infringement of items of the Agreements from June 8th and 11th, 1918 led to:

- Illegal military occupation of the country proceeding till February 1921;

- Political annexation by Georgia;

- Violent change of political power and of the political system;

- Compulsory decision-making in the Parliament of Abkhazia, by the subordinates of the military power, directed towards the joining of the country to Georgia;

- The beginning of the genocide of Abkhazians, following a mass resettlement in the country of ethnic Georgians from areas of central Transcaucasia for the purpose of change­ to the demographic situation in the country, etc. (the Statement of claim...,p. 14);

- An attempt by violence to deprive the population of Abkhazia of their ­ own Russian citizenship, and to turn the people of the country into ­ Georgian citizens.

The fact of occupation did not mean any transfer of sovereignty of an occupied territory ­ to the occupying party, as all these actions were made without the consent of its people, and its territorial borders remained unchanged. Military occupation does not permit distribution of the sovereignty of the occupying ­ state across the territory occupied by its army (Item 22 of the Appendix to ­ the Hague convention of 1907 on the laws and customs of overland war). Item 7 of resolution 34/103 of 1979 “calls for the removal of all occupation forces from territories, to give the chance to the people of all states ­ to define and solve their own affairs”. Because only people have the right of sovereignty, they   should also possess the right to define their own destiny and the destiny of their state.

Change of the status of the independent sovereign state Abkhazia in 1918-1921 is not reflected in one official bilateral document. Moreover, the state whose territory was occupied was formally considered ­ as keeping de jure its sovereignty, as well as being subject to international law. This is the acknowledged position of international law,­  i.e. the imperative norm. Loss of such rights, according to classical ­ international law, can take place only after the formal ­ certificate of annexation.

In cases of infringement of the imperative norm the basic principle "agreements should be carried out” loses its force and such agreements should be reconsidered concerning the exclusion of questions falling under the imperative norm, or cancelled completely. Thus unlike usual revision or denouncement at which the consent of the parties is required, such consent of the signing ­ parties is not necessary. At the same time the legality of an agreement is based on a presumption ­ of the validity of the agreement,, and it can be challenged only on the basis of ­ international law.

If a national liberation struggle using political means proceeds,­ the  forces of national resistance or ­ allies of the annexed country do not recognise annexation and continue to struggle for  liberation. The question can remain in a condition of legal ­ uncertainty for many years as has happened in Abkhazia. As ­annexation is at present defined in international law as  illegal,  any action associated with it,  from the point of view of the international community, has no validity and does not lead to loss of the sovereignty of the state or its status as a subject of the law.

The resolutions accepted post factum by the Supreme Council of the GSSR on November 18th, 1989, on March 9th, 1990 and on June 20th, 1990, which disavowed earlier confirmed official decrees and state decisions since 1921, ­ recognised them as illegal and void, having­ now lost their validity, according to the Georgian politicians. This essentially makes our work, on revealing ­ and confirming the necessary conditions for the sovereignty and statehood of Abkhazia, much easier. Only three years, from 1918 to 1921, were considered, as until that time Georgia as a state ­ did not yet exist, and after that time by its own admission ceased to exist as a legitimate, independent,­  sovereign state, which formed the basis for cancellation of all legislative documents of that period. (the Statement of claim ..., p. 11).

2.5. The Soviet Abkhazia - the sovereign state.

Under the conditions of Georgian occupation the Abkhazian people rose to an armed ­ struggle which had the character of a national liberation. Achievement of this purpose was assisted by the approach of the Red Army and the establishment ­ of Soviet power in the states of Transcaucasia. It is natural that in this situation the interests of Moscow and the Abkhazian national liberation ­ movement coincided. In Abkhazia Soviet power was established on March 4th, 1921. At a meeting of ranking officers of Abkhazia ­ the question of the country’s future was considered,­  and delegates  unanimously voiced the same opinion:

a) Abkhazia should be declared a Soviet Socialist Republic­;

b) Soviet Abkhazia should enter into the all-Russian federation directly;

c) The general policy in Abkhazia should be of moderate caution ­ in relation to the bourgeoisie and peasantry.

At a mass meeting in Sukhum on March 8th, 1921 the following resolution was accepted, and later directed to V.I.Lenin­:

“Today the workers of Abkhazia who were exhausted under the heavy yoke of autocracy from­ Georgian Mensheviks, footmen of imperialists, celebrate their freedom, ­ welcome the Red Army which has come to the aid of the insurgent people of Abkhazia, and send warm greetings to the leader of world proletariat, comrade Lenin... and to the staff of the world proletarian revolution - the Third Communist International. The chairman ­of the Revcom of Abkhazia, E.Eshba.

Note by E.Eshba: From all settlements in Abkhazia, salutatory resolutions are sent from  farmers’ meetings­. Workers enthusiastically welcome the Red Army”.

On the basis of this resolution only, it already becomes clear what the relation of the Abkhazian people to the Georgian invaders was during annexation of the country by Georgia in 1918-1921, and also how the force was defined which after the difficult years of Georgian enslavement rallied the people of Abkhazia to beat out their aggressors beyond the limits of the native land.

Being guided by the Declaration of the rights of the people of Russia, on March 26th, 1921 at an expanded session of the Organisation Bureau (orgburo) of the RCP(b) and Revcom of Abkhazia it was decided to declare Abkhazia a Soviet Socialist Republic. The independent Soviet Socialist Republic of Abkhazia was proclaimed on March 31st, 1921. The report of the Batumi meeting on the structure ­ of Soviet power and the Communist Party in Abkhazia said:

“Heard:  about the structure of Soviet power and Communist Party in Abkhazia.

Decided: until the Congress of Councils of Abkhazia, the question of a federation of Soviet Abkhazia with Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) or the Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia (GSSR) is left open, and Abkhazia is declared a Soviet Socialist Republic.

The party organisation before the conference carried the name orgburo of RCP in Abkhazia and worked under the direction of the Caucasian bureau of the Central Committee of RCP. Orgburo took necessary measures to overcome national hostility sown by Mensheviks between the people of Georgia and Abkhazia”.

On May 21st, 1921 the Revcom of the GSSR recognised the independence of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Abkhazia (ASSR) and accepted the Declaration of the Revcom of GSSR on the independence of ASSR. We show items from the text of this document:

“Menshevik power, being in essence the power of the Georgian bourgeoisie, ­ along with oppression of workers in Georgia, with especial force suppressed any display of revolutionary activity by national minorities, which created terrible ­ antagonism among different nationalities in Georgia, nationalities living in this territory­ from time immemorial.

Soviet power replaces oppression by equality and the brotherly union of all workers without distinction of nationalities. The  unique true means of overcoming national prejudices and strengthening the rightful union of workers is the right of   nations to self-determination, as proclaimed by the Great October ­ revolution.

Proceeding from this, the Revolutionary Committee of the Soviet Socialist Republic ­ of Georgia recognises and welcomes the formation of the independent Soviet Socialist Republic of Abkhazia... Revcom of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia”.

However, danger of an encroachment by Georgia on the sovereignty and territory ­ of Abkhazia remained. This  was understood both by politicians of free Abkhazia, and emissaries of the government of RSFSR, who saw in Abkhazia not only a problem of mutual relations ­ of two neighbouring countries, but also an interlacing of interests of the Entente countries,­ as well as a question of international policy in the broad sense. As an example, we give the following report:

From P.P.Sytin's report to the Soviet government “Measures of localisation of danger from Georgian chauvinism” on April 22nd, 1921:

“Undoubtedly, it is necessary to approach this question cautiously, but it is impossible to make the essential interests of the International a victim of the chauvinism of a small nation taking such an important territorial position (as a gateway to India) between RSFSR on the one hand, and Turkey and the Entente on the other... It should not be forgotten that the diplomacy of the Entente, which has met persistent counteraction to its ­ imperialist plans from Soviet Russia, looks at Georgian chauvinism as one of its ­ integral chances in its struggle against Soviet Russia, especially if the Entente will be able to reach agreement with Turkey. To defeat Germany and Russia, the Entente has already made concessions and, wishing to break the unity of its enemies, has selected a line of   least ­ resistance, i.e. Turkey, caressing in every possible way its nationalist dreams of full restoration of the Caliphate with Constantinople at its head. Payment from Turkey must be its betrayal of Russia. Confrontation on this issue is rather probable, and as this could occur in the territory of Georgia this territory is becoming of major strategic value.

Thus, keeping enough strong groups of the Red Army of RSFSR within Georgia, and especially along the southern ­ coast of the Black Sea and on the border with Turkey, should be one of the precautionary measures against local chauvinists, these measures also having a general political character....

The second measure weakening Georgian chauvinism, both territorially and financially,­ I would consider to be the separation of Abkhazia. It is necessary to confess that, as earlier in the Armenian question, Russia’s error in ignoring ­ the Kurds could always be seen­. We will note, by the way, that in Turkish Armenia it would be quite possible to involve Kurds on the Russian side. After all, Kurds have never considered themselves as citizens of the Turkish ­ sultan, and have always hated Turkish administration... The Soviet power has ­ many chances to win people round, and Georgians have paid little attention ­ to Abkhazia. Hardly anybody is interested in the sad destiny of these two peoples being wiped off the face of the earth by the chauvinism of Armenians and Georgians. The certain gravitation ­ of Abkhazians to Soviet Russia has been well considered by Georgian Mensheviks and for this reason they have artificially separated Abkhazia from directly bordering with Russia, having occupied a small coastal strip to the north of the river Bzyb. It is necessary ­ to immediately move the border of RSFSR to the right coast of the Bzyb, i.e. to ­ the immediate vicinity of Abkhazia. If a question on the desired form of their state is put to the Abkhazian people, for example by plebiscite (it is possible to organise this in a very short time), there is no doubt they will take the decision to fully join with RSFSR, and such an action, in addition to its huge strategic and political value for RSFSR, will transfer into Russian hands the huge national riches of this country currently ruined by Georgians. Even if it is Soviet, Georgia itself (or especially Abkhazia alone), ­will never cope with the problem of the correct exploitation of the huge wood and mountain resources of this country, or even with the correct organisation of tobacco production, fisheries ­ etc.

On population structure, Abkhazia cannot be under the authority of Georgia at all, ­ because they (Georgians) are least in the total of inhabitants...

The separation of Abkhazia cannot adversely affect the foodstuffs of Georgia as one sometimes has to hear, because Abkhazia, plentiful with natural riches ­(till this moment almost unused, because only RSFSR has enough power to do it), hardly feeds itself...

After Abkhazia, it is necessary to pay attention to Mingrelia, a country also differing from Georgia in language and nationality and always burdened with Georgian sovereignty. Mingrelia directly borders Abkhazia on the river Ingur and stretches south to the river Rion. This territory includes the mouth of the river Rion, at which ­the building of a big port, able to replace Batum, has been projected for a long time... the territory is­ extremely big in strategic relations, and also can be subordinated to the direct influence of RSFSR if, as with Abkhazians, ­autonomy will also be given to Mingrelians­...

This created position will probably be found to address one measure, namely: the strong seizure by RSFSR of the Transcaucasian railways, and not only in the sense of military protection but also concerning management, as in this ­ last sense the underlined exaggeration of the value of narrow Georgian interests brings huge damage to Russia...”.

Independence was also received by other states of Transcaucasia. However,­ the central party leaders forced rigid submission to their ­ influence and decisions, the states having accepted the corresponding document:

From the resolution of a meeting of the Caucasian Bureau of the Central Committee of RCP(b) on 2nd-3rd July, 1921, about the political position of the Transcaucasian ­ republics:

“1. To admit the necessity of confirming the independence of the Caucasian republics ­(Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia), with the unconditional preservation of existing party relations between Central Committees of  Communist Parties of these countries and the Central Committee of RCP”.

Using the slogan of Soviet power "Authorities should be local", Revcom of Abkhazia became the full owner of the country, and gave the necessary political and economic rights to the indigenous population­. The Abkhazian intelligentsia, having believed in the independence of the country promised by Bolsheviks, supported this power. An economic upsurge in the country began at that moment.

After the declaration on March 31st, 1921 of the independent Soviet ­ Socialist Republic of Abkhazia (the SSR Abkhazia) and its recognition on May 21st, 1921 by Revcom of Georgia, “the  Workers' and Peasants' Union Treaty between the Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic and the Socialist Soviet Republic of Georgia” was concluded that very day. This treaty had no relation to SSR Abkhazia, which­ was not mentioned in it at all,­ thus confirming the sovereignty of Abkhazia and its independence from­ Georgia in the spring of 1921.

With the initiative of  Georgian national chauvinists both in Georgia and in Abkhazia, intensive propaganda activities directed towards the formation in the country of a pro-Georgian atmosphere, with the purpose of creating favourable conditions for the joining of Abkhazia to Georgia, again began­­. In the press ­ there were articles proving the political, economic and ­ cultural unsoundness of Abkhazians as a nation and Abkhazia as an independent ­ state.

From correspondence to the newspaper "Socialist-Federalist" about discrimination against Georgians in Abkhazia:

“Many new events have occurred in Abkhazia after the establishment of Soviet ­ power. It is known that the so-called “independence of Abkhazia” was declared here, which in practice means the establishment of domination by Russians. It is completely   impossible to describe the orgy reigning here. Russian politicians, "admirers" of Abkhazians, and some persons who have fallen in love with Russia, having all become privileged, have presented “the independence” ­ of Abkhazia ­ as hatred of Georgia...

Almost all posts are occupied by Russians. Georgians suffer from prosecution and oppression. The words "Georgia" and "Georgian" have been transformed into abusive terms”. (­ the signature “Sukhum Georgian”).

From the report in the newspaper "Socialist-Federalist" on E.Eshba's meeting with the public of Gali district about local population requirements, July 20th, 1921:

“Eshba’s answer, that for the Bolshevik party the question of an addition of Abkhazia to Russia or to Soviet Georgia is unimportant, did not satisfy the­ public. At the meeting propensity towards the union with Georgia was obviously shown. It is necessary ­ to note one fact which caused a big protest. After Eshba had answered questions, a certain Jason Agumava spoke, and started to prove to those present that the native language of Samurzakans is ostensibly Abkhazian, and therefore demanded introductory training in elementary schools in the Abkhazian language; all the meeting unanimously declared their protest to the impudent speaker”.

From P.Mirianashvili's article “Apropos the “independence” of Abkhazia”:

“The Abkhazian separatists motivated their isolation, and separation from their native brothers, by considering that they ostensibly were not Georgians... Abkhazian national statehood ­ did not exist yet, and neither did any Abkhazian national culture. We considered and consider nowadays the possible creation of Abkhazian national culture without a declaration of independence... The rescue is unity with Georgians, with Georgia”.

From correspondence in the newspaper “Socialist-Federalist”:

“The party in power should at least now rectify this error, and remind the Revcom of Abkhazia that independence was then the means of freedom from Mensheviks and introduction of the Soviet system within Abkhazia. Well, the independence of Soviet Abkhazia from Soviet Georgia is not now meaningful, and is rather harmful to both ­ parties. We will look at what arguments will be put forward after that by leaders of Abkhazia in favour of ­ independence.

We know that Abkhazians differ from other Georgians in their features, customs, belief and language.

We are deeply sure that a wide autonomy will quite satisfy the labour peasantry ­ of Abkhazia, and whoever demands more should firstly ask the people”.

From V.Kotetishvili's article “To the integrity of Georgia” in the newspaper “Socialist-Federalist”:

“Today we wish to call the attention of the working people of Georgia to “independent ­ Abkhazia” where dubious persons develop old methods and sow rage to the detriment of Georgia.

And in such a corner, by what right can any "politicians" subordinate the majority? What reasons justify such impudent behaviour? Who has so inconsiderately granted the right to appropriate the larger part of the Georgian land? In the "Abkhazian" alphabet they have published a newspaper... Is this the independence of Abkhazia? Is it self-determination? Is it demanded by the working people of Abkhazia? No... Abkhazia both ethnically and linguistically, both historically and culturally, is a part of Georgia, and its question should be decided on the scale of Georgia, at the will of the working people of all Georgia.

Do not give the chance to the regenerated Abkhazians and Georgians to conduct any ­ wild policy which will give a bad fruit for the territorial integrity of Georgia, for its national existence! In the interests of the working people we resolutely demand ­ to clear Abkhazia of a different sort of adventurers. We demand to cancel the Declaration written somewhere in an "office" on the "independence" of Abkhazia and to reestablish live communication and the integrity of our country”.

Under this pressure and with a change of policy of the central party ­leaders in Moscow, pressure upon Abkhazia was deliberately increased with the aim of incorporating it within the structure of Georgia. Leaders of the country, being  in an ambiguous situation, started to incline towards this idea. Being Abkhazians, they were obliged to carry out the will of the people. But as representatives of the multinational people of Abkhazia, there was a continuous Georgian influence on them both from within and from the outside. But most importantly, submitting to instructions from the central office of the Bolshevik party, they ­were obliged to carry out its decisions which contradicted the national policy and selfconsciousness of Abkhazians. It was a tragedy for the government of Abkhazia. The evidence for the above is contained in texts of speeches by the leaders of the country.

From a speech at the meeting of ranking officers of Abkhazia on July 23rd, 1921:

“... N.Lakoba has specified the necessity for a federal union between Soviet Abkhazia and Soviet ­ Georgia owing to their   ethnography, history and common way of life, and has also specified that Abkhazia cannot have a federal union with Soviet Russia because it is lagging behind Russia by four years. Besides, Soviet Georgia and Abkhazia are independent economically but in political terms they submit to the centre through RCP in the name of the Central Committee of the party of Georgia and Caucasian bureau of Central Committee of RCP; that is why it is absolutely irelevant whoever Abkhazia will have a federal union with, the fact is to keep the idea of the Soviet power”.

From the report of the Chairman of the Council of National Commissars (CNC) of Abkhazia, N.Lakoba, at the third session of the All-Georgian  Central Executive Committee in Sukhum on June 13th, 1926:

“Some people understand the Abkhazian republic in the sense that the Abkhazian republic is the republic for Abkhazians. Such a situation does not correspond to the reality of business in Abkhazia and this is why: though we are called Abkhazia, in Abkhazia we deal not only with Abkhazians.

Here the main peoples, by their numerical weight, are the following: Abkhazians, Georgians, Armenians and Greeks. But the Abkhazian should not argue thus: if I was oppressed earlier more than others, I now have the right to more freedom, and to more privilege in comparison with other nationalities.

... Some of our opponents always build their tactics on the weakening of the government of the republic of Abkhazia thus: Abkhazia will leave Georgia if it wants, will remain with Georgia if it wants... From Soviet Georgia, Soviet Abkhazia is not going ­ to leave for anywhere,­  but together with Soviet Georgia, as a part of Soviet Georgia, Abkhazia will go, even to the next world if necessary...

For the majority of workers in Abkhazia the answer once and for all is: the destiny of Abkhazia is the same as for­ Georgia… Abkhazia has included itself in the structure of Georgia...” (“Labour Abkhazia”, 19th June, 1926).

Seeing the threat to the independence of the country, the government of Abkhazia made a­ desperate attempt to save the situation. The variant of entering the Soviet Socialist Republic of Abkhazia directly into the Transcaucasian Federation (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan) as the fourth union republic was suggested, without first joining Georgia. This did not occur. Soon, under Stalin's instruction, steps towards the­ liquidation of the independent Abkhazian Soviet Socialist Republic were undertaken­. At a session of the Central Committee of the Caucasian Bureau on July 5th, ­ in the presence of Stalin, the decision on the question “About the situation in Abkhazia” was made, including the following points:

“1. To consider the existence of independent Abkhazia as economically and politically inexpedient.

3. To invite Comrade Eshba to present his definitive decision on the occurrence of Abkhazia ­within the structure of the Federation of Georgia as an autonomous region ­ in the Russian Soviet Socialist Federal Republic (RSFSR)”.

The accepted decision obliged the Orgburo of RCP(b) in Abkhazia and the Revkom of the Republic to work on the basis of economic unity with  Soviet Georgia. Such a decision was based on the supposition that Abkhazia as an independent republic could not separately exist economically, although Abkhazia, both during that time and at present, despite having economic difficulties, was and is a self-sufficient country. To achieve the necessary result, RSFSR began an economic and financial blockade of Abkhazia. Strong pressure was also applied by channels of party and administrative powers.

The decision of the higher party body had no formal validity, but E.Eshba as a communist was compelled to consider the decision of the Caucasian Bureau and he chose association of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Abkhazia with the Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia on the basis of ­the agreed federation. It was a compromise, because Abkhazia remained as a union republic (ASSR).

On October 15th, 1921 at an expanded plenary session of Orgburo RCP(b) in Abkhazia, with ranking officers from Revcom, the decision ­ about the independence of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Abkhazia was accepted­:

“Proceeding on the one hand from the program of RCP on a national question, and from the new economic policy approved by 5th congress of RCP, and on the other from the facts developed during the domination of Menshevik national mutual relations between Georgian and Abkhazian peoples, the meeting completely approves decisions of the Batum meeting on March 28th of this year, and the declaration of the Georgian Revcom from May 21st about independence of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Abkhazia.

At the same time, considering not only the disproportionate economic power ­ of Abkhazia, the small size of its population, and its historical connection with ­ the Georgian people, but also the similarities of the economies and corresponding ­ economic policies of Georgia and Abkhazia, the meeting finds the establishment of a close connection between both republics to be necessary and in view of the Sovietisation in the near ­ future of these republics, the meeting considers it necessary now to register the specified connection of Georgia and Abkhazia by the official  agreement of two union republics equal in rights”.

On December 16th, 1921 SSR Abkhazia and SSR Georgia, as subjects ­ of international law, signed the Alliance  Treaty according to which there was ­ an association with SSR Georgia on an agreed federal basis, and ­ through it Abkhazia was included into the Transcaucasian federation. A number of responsibilities­ of the Republic of Abkhazia were transferred into joint jurisdiction with Georgia. However, both the sovereignty of SSR Abkhazia and its territorial integrity remained­.

It should be noted that during the specified period Abkhazia continued to formally remain a member of Mountain Republic, which under ­ the decision of the All-Russia Central Committee was transformed on January 20th, 1920 ­ into ­ the Autonomous Mountain Soviet Socialist Republic which was a part ­ of RSFSR. Legal confirmation of an exit of Abkhazia from the structure of the Mountain Republic ­ is absent.

The status of Abkhazia as an independent state did not last long. Russia once again betrayed the people of Abkhazia. Despite favourable ­ political conditions in Russia after the ending of the rule of tsars and the proclaimed right of the people to self-determination, the national ­ policy of Bolsheviks in relation to the people of Russia was false from the very beginning. Division of nations into big and small, important and unimportant, advanced and backward proceeded. For various reasons the Soviet government ­ created new state formations for some non-native ­ people of the country and even raised their status, but limited the level of statehood for many native people, and for Abkhazians even ­  lowered it.

The independent Soviet Socialist Republic of Abkhazia existed from March 31st, 1921 till February 17th, 1922. It was really independent as during this period it did not enter either Soviet Russia or Soviet Georgia.

We give quotations from the Alliance Treaty between SSR Georgia and  SSR  Abkhazia, December 16th, 1921:

“The Government of SSR Georgia­  and the Government of SSR Abkhazia, proceeding from the deep strength of national bonds connecting the workers of Georgia and Abkhazia... have decided to conclude the present treaty.

SSR Georgia and SSR Abkhazia conclude between themselves a military, political, financial and economic ­ union.

Foreign affairs remain entirely under the authority of SSR Georgia.

Railways pass under the direct management of Transcaucasian Railways. Foreign trade goes under the control of a united Ministry of Foreign Trade of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia.

In all regional associations, in particular in the Federation of Transcaucasian republics, ­ Abkhazia enters through Georgia which gives it one third of its places”.

According to this treaty, SSR Georgia and SSR Abkhazia decided to conclude between themselves only a military, political, financial and economic union. To fulfill these aims, the two sides declared themselves united in a number of directions which ­ thereby became areas of joint management. Thus,­ legal state relations between Abkhazia and Georgia ­ arose on an agreed  basis, and at the moment of signing of the above-mentioned Alliance Treaty Abkhazia and Georgia were two states equal in rights which were not connected with each other in any legal manner. They remained with the same equality of rights after signing of the Alliance Treaty, until February 1931.

In the Treaty it was also said that Abkhazia would be included into the Transcaucasian Federation ­ through Georgia which would give it one third of its places. This treaty was ratified by 1st Congress of Unions of Abkhazia in February 1922. There it ­caused serious arguments. The leaders of Abkhazia, who were under pressure from the central Bolshevik government, were compelled to convince delegates that the treaty did not threaten the independence of Abkhazia. So the Chairman of the Council of Peoples’ Commissars, N. Lakoba, in his speech to calm congress delegates, assured them:

“Georgia does not take away the independence of Abkhazia. If Georgia takes that away, we ­shall appeal to the revolutionary staff of RCP, to the Central Committee, to Comrade Lenin. ­ Nobody is able to take away the independence of workers ­ of Abkhazia, as long as Soviet power exists”.

Objectively speaking, this treaty was imposed upon Abkhazia under pressure from the government of RSFSR. Of that fact, there are incontestable proofs. The government of Georgia was interested in this treaty, as was Stalin, who directly supervised national policy in RSFSR. Being Georgian himself, he shared the national ­ prejudices of his fellow-tribesmen towards Abkhazia and lobbied the interests of Georgia. Even though a number of activities of the Republic of Abkhazia were conducted jointly with Georgia, the sovereignty of the Abkhazian SSR remained,­  as well as its territorial integrity. But at the same time, the joint colonisation of Abkhazia by Georgia and Soviet Russia began.

Nevertheless, SSR Abkhazia participated as a sovereign state in the creation of the Union of SSR, and in December 1922 its representatives signed the treaty on the formation of the USSR. Then the Congress of Councils of Abkhazia charged the Central Executive Committee of SSR Abkhazia to develop a new treaty with SSR Georgia, ­similar to the alliance ­treaty between the republics of Transcaucasia. Work on this treaty started ­ after acceptance of the 1924 Constitution of the USSR. The association ­ of the sovereign republics of Abkhazia and Georgia (entering at that moment in the structure ­ of the association of the Transcaucasian states) was fixed on an equal rights basis in the Constitution of SSR Abkhazia (April, 1925):

“Article 5. SSR Abkhazia is a sovereign state which holds state power in the territory independently and irrespective of other any ­ power. The sovereignty of SSR Abkhazia, in view of its voluntary joining into the Transcaucasian ­ Socialist Federal Soviet Republic (TSFSR), is limited only by the subjects specified in constitutions of these Unions”.

This meant that in the specified documents it was a question of an association ­ of republics equal in rights in the federation, but not about the entrance of one ­ republic into another. The conclusion of the Alliance Treaty was fixed ­ by the Constitution of Georgia from 1927, in which article 83 said:

“SSR Abkhazia owing to the special treaty (­ chosen by us - authors) enters into SSR Georgia and through it into TFSFR”.

The constitutions of all ­union republics, including SSR Georgia and SSR Abkhazia, were based upon the Constitution of the USSR ­. In them there were headings devoted to the mutual relations of the two republics. These texts in each constitution were identical. Both constitutions were adopted at Congresses of the Republics in 1927.                                  

In the second Constitution of Abkhazia, the territorial integrity of SSR of Abkhazia was also fixed; article 5 said:

“The territory of SSR Abkhazia cannot be changed ­without its consent”.

A feature of these constitutions is that in them ­were legally fixed and agreed federal state-legal mutual relations equal in rights for the first time, and these were legislatively fixed. Thus, Abkhazia continued to remain an independent, sovereign, territorially integral state, being ­ thus de jure the subject of international law. After the election of a new ­ structure of the Supreme Council, all political struggles for the restoration ­ of real Abkhazian statehood proceeded within the precincts of parliament.

During this period, especially after 1925, the Georgian and pro-Georgian press in Abkhazia again began to show great activity, proving the necessity ­ of a unification of Abkhazia and Georgia. But leaders of Abkhazia had also come to this idea a long time previously, which follows from their statements:

From N.Lakoba's speech at the 4th Congress of the Communist Party of Georgia on December 2nd, 1925:

“Comrade Kakhiani was right when he said that some ranking officers had thought about the direct entrance of Abkhazia into the Transcaucasian Federation…

 We have forgotten about this once and for all... In Abkhazia the idea that it is really independent and somehow wishes to leave Georgia to go somewhere will lead to its break-up like a house of cards. Comrades, our errors concerning the­ carrying out of a national policy within Abkhazia are not deliberate. They were mistakenly made ­ during our practical work...

The first error concerns the question of mutual relations of Abkhazia and Georgia. We have made a bad constitutional mistake believing that Georgia is a corridor through which Abkhazia can enter the Transcaucasian Federation, and the Transcaucasian ­ Federation, according to the same Constitution, should be a passage to get to the Union of Republics.

Our second error concerns language... The study of the numerical, cultural and economic situation of the nationalities occupying Abkhazia does not satisfactorily permit the use of only one Russian language...

The third error concerns the nationalities of the administrative authorities. Mingrelians, Armenians and Greeks have lately begun to say that they don’t mind Lakoba or someone else,  but do not agree that all the management in Abkhazia should be exclusively in the  hands of Abkhazians...

We have honestly confessed to these errors and undertaken their correction...”.

On February 19th, 1931 SSR Abkhazia was transformed into an autonomous republic and included within the structure of Georgia. The reduction in status of the republic was explained using the slogan “reorganisation of the state machinery of autonomous republics and areas”. Objections were useless as deviations from the principles of the national policy proclaimed in October, 1917 had begun in the country at the end of the 1920s, and centralisation and the power of the party machine were established. In April, 1930 at a session of the Central Executive Committee of Abkhazia ­ the question of the Alliance Treaty between Abkhazia and Georgia was considered, and the conclusion was that the treaty had lost its value, except for one point - the association of Abkhazia with Georgia. Stalin's opinion on the Abkhazian question was important, as were ­ reprisals which developed in the country­.

Thus, the narrowing of the sovereign rights of the agreed ­ republic of Abkhazia begun in the 1920s was finished. Heads of the country E.Eshba and N.Lakoba paid for this activity with their lives. After the death of Nestor Lakoba, in the years of Beria’s control in Transcaucasia,12 the Abkhazian Аutonomous SSR ­actually ceased its existence, and the territory of Abkhazia from 1936 to 1953, as a matter of fact, was again occupied by Georgia. These years saw a massive, at times violent, resettlement in Abkhazia of peasants from areas of  Western Georgia, mainly in  Abkhazian villages in Ochamchira, Gudauta and Gagra regions for the purpose of the dissolution of Abkhazians in a  Georgian environment. Even during the war (1941-1942) this planned resettlement on which huge sums were spent, not only did not stop, but on the contrary increased. At the expense of such unnatural mechanistic gain, the Georgian population in Abkhazia between the censuses of 1939 and ­1959 increased by­ almost 70 thousand persons, whilst native Abkhazians only increased by 5 thousand persons.

Since 1988 a third wave of immigrants has strengthened the Georgianisation of Abkhazia, and the­ suppression of Abkhazians has increased­. In 1990 in the autonomous republic the stream ­ of immigrants from all areas of Georgia was directed­. (In 1886 Abkhazians were 85.7% of the entire­ population of Abkhazia, and Megrels 6%, and in 1989 Abkhazians were 17.8%, and Georgians 45.5%). The purpose of this planned demographic aggression was to create an absolute majority of the Georgian population in Abkhazia at the expense of the strengthened ­ immigration and outflow of Russians, Greeks, Armenians and other people living in ­the autonomous republic.

As a result of intensive resettlement in Abkhazia of people from Georgia, a demographic imbalance was artificially created, with the number of the majority ­Kartvelian nationality more than five times that of Abkhazians. Georgia has opposed Abkhazian requirements for self-determination, declaring that Abkhazians have no rights, as their number is below the number of Georgians in Abkhazia.

The reduction of the independent republic of Abkhazia to an autonomous status and ­ violation of its sovereign rights was a hard blow to the people of the country. ­ For several decades it has been deprived of the possibility of defining the course of political, economic, demographic, cultural and other ­ processes proceeding in Abkhazia, which for the native people has had, in essence,­ an ethno-destroying character. The reduction of the status of the republic was considered ­ by the Abkhazian people in a national referendum on February 18-26th, 1931 ­ as the latest treachery by Russia, and the referendum failed to trust either Soviet power or the government. The struggle of the Abkhazian people for independence ­ by the carrying out of mass actions continued, taking place in 1957, 1965, 1967, 1978, and 1989. It is necessary to note the all-national peoples’ movement in 1978, connected with acceptance of Brezhnev's Constitution of the USSR. National referenda and strikes occurred in practically all large cities of Abkhazia. The Abkhazian people demanded to include in the text of the Constitution a­ point on the right of a free exit by the Abkhazian SSR from the structure of the Georgian SSR.

Mass national protests reached their peak in 1989, when they resulted in direct interethnic conflicts. Ruling circles of Georgia and Russia irrespective of political orientation were not in touch­ with reality, remaining uniform in their imperial ambitions.


12 In 1931 Beria became the first secretary of the Central Committee of the CP(b) of Georgia, and in 1932 the first secretary of the Transcaucasian Regional Committee of the Russian CP(b), holding these posts till 1938.


Originally, facing aggression and large-scale genocide of Abkhazians by Georgia, the Abkhazian national movement wanted the country to leave the structure of the Georgian SSR and enter the RSFSR. But after a number of betrayals by Russia of the Abkhazian ­ people, their view of the problem changed. The requirement of receiving sovereignty, with state and political ­ independence, was formulated by Abkhazia. This requirement was stated on March 18th, 1989 at a gathering in Lykhni, where more than 30 thousand people demanded a revision of the status of Abkhazia, to restore it to what it was during the period from 1921 to 1931.

It should be noted that all decisions across Abkhazia in the 1920s, including the changing of its statehood and political status, were made only by party leaders, mostly not being considered at Congresses of Councils of the Republic. And even if these matters were discussed, such pressure was put upon decisions by the higher party ­ management of Georgia, the Transcaucasian regional committee of RCP(b), and sometimes the Central Committee of RCP(b), that the leaders of Abkhazia, submitting to these authorities on party lines, made decisions contradicting the interests of the country and its people.

Considering the interval of time from 1922 onwards, we are convinced that the struggle for historical justice during all these years has not stopped, as the Abkhazian intelligentsia have never lost their belief in the restoration of the sovereignty of the country. During this struggle by the people, only lawful­­ resistance methods, including parliamentary, were used, namely: mass meetings of people,­ demonstrations and strikes, hunger-strikes, protests, picketing, and letters to authorities. Powerful protests by Abkhazian society were provoked by various sorts of legislation and constitutions ­ which confirmed the non-independence of Abkhazia, or its accession ­ to Georgia. Actually the Abkhazian national movement has not stopped ­ all these years, though it was more secret for obvious reasons during the years  of Beria, and has become more open recently. Memories of sovereignty were transferred from generation to generation, giving people confidence in the correctness of the struggle for restoration of the independent sovereign state.

A comparative analysis of all existing constitutions of Abkhazia allows us to estimate those difficulties which faced the country in its struggle for the preservation of its status as a sovereign state, and the struggle which was conducted by its ­ people throughout the century for the preservation of its independence. In table 2 substantial extracts from these constitutions, defining the status of Abkhazian statehood, are given.


Table 2



From the Alliance Treaty of the Southeast Union of the Cossack Armies, Mountaineers of the Caucasus, and Free people ­ of the Steppes.

October 20th, 1917












From the constitution of the Abkhazian National Council.

November 8th, 1917













 “We the undermentioned Cossack armies, Mountain peoples of the Caucasus and  Free peoples of the Steppes, conclude a union among ourselves with the purpose of promoting an establishment ­ of the best political system, external ­ safety and order in the Russian State, and also ­ to provide security to members of the union, to support internal calm, to lift the general well-being and to ensure ­ the blessings of freedom won by revolution­.

 I. Structure of the union.

Item 1. The union is made by the Cossack armies: Don army, Kuban army, Tersk army, Astrakhan army, the Kalmyk people adjoined to the Astrakhan army, and united in the special union of Mountaineers of the Caucasus following Mountain and Steppes people:

c) the Mountain people of the Sukhum district (Abkhazians);

Item 2. Each member of the union keeps full ­ independence concerning their internal life and has the right independently to enter relationships and treaties not contradicting the  union purposes...”.



“1. The Abkhazian National Council is ­ the national-political organisation uniting the Abkhazian ­ people.

 2. The representative and the spokesman of the will of the Abkhazian ­ people in communications with both governmental administrative agencies and political ­ organisations is the Abkhazian National ­ Council.

 4. Tasks of the Abkhazian National Council:

c) Spadework on self-determination ­ of the Abkhazian people;

d) Maintenance and strengthening of communication of the Abkhazian people with the Union of Mountaineers of the Caucasus and carrying out the general political slogans, decisions and actions of the Central Committee of the Union”.






From the Constitution of the Georgian ­ Democratic Republic - about autonomous control of Abkhazia.

 February 21st, 1921






From the Constitution of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia. February 28th, 1922










From the constitution of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Abkhazia.





Chapter 11, Independent ruling

 Article 107,

Abkhazia (the Sukhum district), Muslim Georgia (the Batumi territory) and Zakatal  (Zakatal district), ­ being integral parts of Georgia, are given autonomous control in local affairs.

 Article 108,

The positions of the autonomous boards mentioned in the previous article will be defined by a separate law.



Chapter 1 General regulations...

1. Having dethroned the government of the Constituent assembly and all central and local bodies ­ of the former Georgian Democratic Republic, workers,­  labour peasantry and Red Army of Georgia... establish in all territory of the country the sovereignty and proletariat dictatorship, having transferred all central and local government power  to Councils of the deputies.

Note: the structure of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia includes on the basis of voluntary ­ self-determination the Autonomous Soviet Socialist­ Republic of Adjaria, the autonomous region of South Ossetia and the Soviet Socialist Republic ­ of Abkhazia which unite with the Soviet ­ Socialist Republic of Georgia on the basis of a special alliance treaty ­ between these republics.



Chapter 1

 General regulations of the Constitution of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Abkhazia

1. Having dethroned the government of the former Georgian ­ democratic republic in the territory of Abkhazia,workers, peasants and Red Army men of Abkhazia ­ have formed the Abkhazian SSR and have established the sovereignty and proletariat dictatorship,­  having completely transferred all aspects of the government ­ to Councils of workers, peasants and Red Army ­ deputies.

4. The SSR of Abkhazia, having united on the basis of a special “alliance treaty” with the SSR of Georgia, through it is included within the Transcaucasian Socialist Federal Soviet ­ Republic and, as a part of the latter, in the Union ­ of Soviet Socialist Republics.

 At the same time the SSR of Abkhazia declares its firm ­ readiness to be a part of a uniform International ­ Socialist Soviet Republic as soon as ­ conditions for its occurrence are  created.

 Chapter II

 5. The SSR of Abkhazia is a sovereign state ­ which is carrying out the government in the territory ­ independently and irrespective of other any power.

 The sovereignty of the SSR of Abkhazia, in view of its voluntary occurrence in the TSFSR and USSR, is limited only by the subjects specified in Constitutions of these unions.

 Citizens of the SSR of Abkhazia, keeping republican citizenship, are citizens of the TSFSR and USSR.

The SSR of Abkhazia reserves the right of a free ­ exit from the TSFSR and from the USSR

The Territory of the SSR of Abkhazia cannot be changed without its consent.

 6. The official language of state bodies of the SSR of Abkhazia is Russian.

Note. All nationalities occupying the SSR of Abkhazia are provided the right of free development ­ and use of the native language  in ­ national, cultural, and government  ­ establishments.

 7. The residence of all central official bodies of the SSR of Abkhazia is the city of Sukhum.

Chapter XII

About subjects concerning Congress of Councils of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Abkhazia and the Central Executive Committee:

 65. This Congress is responsible for all questions of a general meaning, except for those carried to  the ­TSFSR and the USSR , namely:

 a) the general management of all internal policy ­ of the SSR of Abkhazia;

b) the general administrative division of territory ­ of the SSR of Abkhazia;

c) the publishing of general decisions about the acquisition and ­ loss of rights of  Abkhazian citizenship;

66. To exclusive conducting by Congress of Councils of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Abkhazia are submitted:






From­ the Constitution of the Soviet Socialist ­ Republic of Abkhazia

October 27th, 1926, Sukhum
































From the Constitution of the Autonomous SSR of Abkhazia.

January 7th, 1935

From the Constitution of the Autonomous SSR of Abkhazia.

August 2nd, 1937


















a) establishment, addition and change of the basic contents of the Constitution of the SSR of Abkhazia;

b)  consideration of a question on change of borders of the SSR of Abkhazia according to  basic laws ­ of USSR and TSFSR.


Chapter II

About agreed mutual relations of the SSR of Abkhazia with the SSR of Georgia.

17. The SSR of Abkhazia owing to the special treaty is included in the SSR of Georgia and through it in the Transcaucasian ­ Socialist Federal Soviet ­ Republic.

20. Congress of Councils of the SSR of Abkhazia, the Central Executive ­ Committee and its Presidium, and local authorities of the SSR of Abkhazia ­ will be organised on the basis of the Constitution of the SSR of Abkhazia.

21. The National Economy High Council, submitting to the Central Executive Committee and Council of National Commissars of the SSR of Abkhazia, carries out the instructions of the High Council of the National Economy of the SSR of Georgia.

22. Codes, decrees and the decisions accepted by the All-Georgian Executive Committee, with ­ distribution of their action on all territory ­ of the SSR of Georgia, have a binding force in territory of the SSR of Abkhazia, and the Supreme authorities of the SSR of Abkhazia in development of and addition to these decrees can publish legislative decrees having a binding force in territory of the SSR of Abkhazia.

23. In questions of general (finance, labour and workers' and peasants' inspection) and incorporated (national economy) state management in the territory of the SSR of  Abkhazia, all decisions and orders of the All-Georgia Central Executive Committee, its Presidium and the Council of National Commissars ­ of the SSR of Georgia have a binding force...

Chapter VII

About the state emblem, flag and capital of the SSR of Abkhazia.

 101 - The State Emblem of the SSR of Abkhazia has the image of a gold ­ sickle and a hammer against a landscape of Abkhazia. In the top part the red five-pointed star in sun beams is represented. The emblem is framed by an embellishment representing ­ a wreath from corn, tobacco and grapes and surrounded by a red border with an inscription in three languages - Abkhazian, Georgian ­ and Russian “The SSR of  Abkhazia” and “Workers of the world, unite!”

102 - The national flag of the SSR of Abkhazia has a red or scarlet ­ panel with the image in its top corner nearest the flagstaff ­ of a gold sickle and a hammer, and over them a red five-pointed ­ star framed with a gold border, under which are the four letters “SSRA”. The relation of width to length is 1:3.

103 – The capital of the SSR of Abkhazia is the city of Sukhum.


Chapter I, General regulations

 2. The Republic of Abkhazia is a socialist state of workers and labour peasantry, entering as an autonomous republic in SSR Georgia and through it in the TSFSR...


Chapter I.  The Social system.

 Article 1. The Abkhazian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic is a socialist state of workers and peasants.

 Article 6. The land, its bowels, waters, woods, factories, mines, railway, water and air transport, banks, communication facilities, large state-organised agricultural enterprises (state farms, farm vehicle stations, etc.), and also the municipal enterprises and the basic available housing in cities and industrial towns are state-owned, which means national property....

Chapter II.  The State system.

 Article 13. The Abkhazian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic enters the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic with the rights of an autonomous republic.

 Out of limits of article 14 of the Constitution of the USSR and article 14 of the Constitution of the Georgian SSR, the Abkhazian Autonomous SSR implements   government with autonomous rights...

 Article 16. Laws of the USSR and the Georgian SSR are obligatory in territory of the   Abkhazian ASSR. In any divergence between the Abkhazian ASSR laws and laws of the USSR and the Georgian SSR, laws of the USSR and the Georgian SSR operate.Article 17. Each citizen of Abkhazian ASSR is a citizen of the Georgian SSRand the USSR. Citizens of the Georgian SSR and all other union republics on the territory of Abkhazian ASSR have identical rights to citizens of Abkhazian ASSR.

Even at first sight the surprising frequency of acceptance and brevity of the period of existence of the main basic ­ document of the country, the Constitution of Abkhazia, is obvious­­. So, from 1921 to 1937, for this small country   five versions of the constitution were accepted­. And if one considers that during the period from 1918 to 1921 there were three more variants of the Constitution of Abkhazia which were never accepted, it is possible to draw the   conclusion that the constitutional situation in the country was abnormal.­ The reasons for this abnormality are partly given in our work, and we ­ have made an attempt to clarify some details about the situation.

With the  downfall of the Georgian state in 1921,  history  gave Abkhazia  a  chance  to restore its statehood and independence, although  this ­ did not occur. The short-sightedness of politicians and ­ heads of Abkhazia, and possibly other reasons, led to the people of the country again being downtrodden under the Georgian yoke. Though Abkhazia obtained the status of a soviet socialist republic, having kept its territory, its statehood was ­ incomplete as the control of and responsibility for a number of powers were transferred to Georgia on the basis of "the special treaty”. But this had already happened in 1918, and we know how it all ended. History tought Abkhazians nothing.

Constitutions of 1925 and 1926 confirmed the status of Abkhazia, and the country continued ­ to remain sovereign with limited statehood in the TSFSR, through SSR Georgia. Being in political and legislative chains, Abkhazia step by step made desperate attempts to break free of them, entering into the Constitution a unique item - the right of free exit ­ from under the guardianship of Georgia. This did not mean that Abkhazia would immediately take advantage ­of this right, but there would be a freedom of choice which people have in the majority of countries. But Georgia, like a tick in the body of Abkhazia, did not spare even a thought about granting the slightest freedom, carrying out a complete genocide ­ in relation to the Abkhazian people, by conducting a policy directed towards their utter annihilation.

It is known that in Soviet Russia there were no elementary principles ­ of democracy, there was a dictatorship by the central party leaders,­  and from the middle of the 1930s came an epoch of repressive methods ­ of ruling. In these conditions each leader was obliged to be a member of the unique communist party and strictly to execute its decisions. Thus advice and  recommendations of "the leader of the peoples” Stalin were the order for their irreproachable execution. For this reason, ­ against the will of the people of Abkhazia, and only on the basis of a decision at 3rd Session of Central Executive Committee RCP(b), the country was compelled to be a part of Georgia as an autonomous republic. On February 11th, 1931 the sixth Congresses of Councils of the Georgian ­SSR and the Abkhazian SSR made the decision on transformation of the "agreed" ­ Abkhazian SSR into the Abkhazian Autonomous SSR as a part of the Georgian SSR, as was reflected in the constitution of Abkhazia of 1935. This decision by the heads of the country   caused an instant reaction from the Abkhazian people. A protest against the decision was made at a meeting in Duripsh which lasted from February 18th until February 26th, 1931, and the people of the country failed to trust the government of Abkhazia. After acceptance of the new Constitution of the USSR at 8th­ Extraordinary Congress in 1936, and the termination of existence of TSFSR, Abkhazia’s autonomy status in the Georgian SSR was definitively fixed­.

In 1937-1938 in Abkhazia there passed a wave of severe political ­ reprisals. The chairman of the Central Executive Committee of Abkhazia N.Lakoba, presumably poisoned ­ during a supper with L.Beria, posthumously appeared as “the enemy of the people”.­ All his relatives ­ and colleagues were subjected to arrests, tortures, and physical destruction­. The place of the chairman of the Central Executive Committee of Abkhazia was occupied ­by Beria’s protege  Alexey Agrba (he was arrested on September 18th, 1937 and shot on April 21st, 1938). In the autumn of 1937 in Sukhum, open litigation concerning 15 “followers of Lakoba” took place. However, the reprisal process continued afterwards. On incomplete data, 2186 persons were arrested, and of them 748 were shot. In August-September 1941 the second wave ­ of reprisals began,­  and it fell upon the rest of the Abkhazian intelligentsia who had escaped ­ during 1937-1938. Over this period the mass ­ deportation (eviction) of Abkhazians from their historic native land occurred­. On March 13th, 1945 the­ Abkhazian Regional Committee (and after it - on June 13th – the Central Committee CP of Georgia) accepted the decision: “About actions for improvement of the quality of teaching and educational work at  Abkhazian ASSR schools”. This actually ­ destroyed the Abkhazian national schools, cancelled teaching of the Abkhazian language, and provocatively opposed the Abkhazian and Georgian ­ cultures against each other. The genocide of the Abkhazian nation began from that moment.

In the country, discontent with the policies of the Georgian government, who occupied ­ all key party and state posts, ripened­. The people sated with mockeries and humiliation from the "superior" Georgian nation, already representing ­ the majority of the population in Abkhazia by then, were ready to act on uncompromising decisions. In 1957 ­ the Abkhazian intelligentsia addressed the central Russian authorities for the first time about the question of a transition of Abkhazian ASSR to the jurisdiction of RSFSR, and in 1967 representatives of Abkhazian society repeatedly brought up ­ a question before the Central Committee of the CPSU and other authorities about an exit of the country from the structure of the Georgian SSR.

Counteraction against the central power by the Abkhazian people,­ concerning infringement of statehood, was most severely shown in 1978 ­ after acceptance in the USSR of "Brezhnev's" Constitution. The constitution of Abkhazia had been the last to be accepted. This acceptance occurred at an Extraordinary session of the Supreme Soviet in a building of the Abkhazian Regional Committee of the Communist Party of Georgia, surrounded by troops. Discussion of the Constitution was accompanied by indignant people holding meetings in all Abkhazian cities and by strikes. The Abkhazian ­ people demanded inclusion, in the text of the Constitution, of an item about the right ­ of a free exit of the Abkhazian ASSR from the structure of the Georgian SSR, i.e. realisation ­ of the basic requirement for which the country had struggled since 1918, from the moment of the beginning of the annexation of Abkhazia by Georgia.

Naturally, nobody considered the will of the people, and the Constitution was accepted with preservation of its former text. The Abkhazian people were deprived of the opportunity to create a state, and under the decision of party leaders the sovereign territory of Abkhazia was transformed into an appendage of Georgia. This was all contrary to the declared slogan of Bolsheviks that all oppressed nations have the right to ­ self-determination, up to separation. Because of suppression by the ruling Georgian party leaders, “the Abkhazian letter” was written and sent to the XIX All-Union conference of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). Its authors - representatives of the Abkhazian artistic and scientific intelligentsia - brought up a request for a change of the statehood of Abkhazia, i.e. its transformation from an autonomy as a part of Georgia into a union republic. As no decision was found to this question, the Abkhazian ­ community created a national Peoples’ Forum of Abkhazia “Idgylara” (Unification) which took this question to a  meeting of thirty thousand in Lykhni. This meeting sent a request to M.S.Gorbachev to remove Abkhazia from the ­ structure of Georgia, to give it the status of a union republic, and to introduce into the territory a form of “special management” from Moscow.

The above actions of the Abkhazian people underline and sum up the­ more than 70-year-old struggle of the country for freedom, independence and ­ sovereignty. The people of Abkhazia in their attempts to free themselves of annexation by Georgia, saw the decision to the problem of statehood as unity with Russia, confirming and supporting a policy of the Bolsheviks offered to them in 1917.

Since 1989, Georgia has carried out actions directed towards ­ an exit of the country from the structure of the USSR. Considering developing political ­ conditions, a forum of “Idgylara” on July 8th addressed the Supreme Soviet of the USSR about the immediate introduction in Abkhazia of “special management”. ­ Work on an association of progressive forces of all North Caucasus was simultaneously conducted. On August 25-26th in Sukhum 1st Congress of the people of the Caucasus took place, with participation ­ of representatives of informal public organisations (national movements) of Abasinians, Abkhazians, Adygs, Ingushes, Kabardians, Circassians, Chechens. The decision was taken to create the Assembly of the Mountain People of the Caucasus, for the purpose of a reconstruction of the Caucasian Mountain state, with its capital in Sukhum. At congresses and assemblies in republics of the North Caucasus,­ the requirement was expressed to the government of the USSR of “acceptance of immediate measures” on the protection ­ of constitutional rights of the Abkhazian people, and presentation to Abkhazia of the status of “special management”.

In connection with decisions of the Supreme Soviet of Georgia, directed towards its exit from the­ structure of the USSR, a meeting of thirty thousand representatives of the mountain peoples of Caucasus on May 31st, 1990 in Sukhum demanded the exit of Abkhazia from Georgia. On November 1st-3rd in Sukhum the Congress of the mountain peoples of Caucasus confirmed a unification ­ of the people of Abkhazia with the peoples of the North Caucasus.

In February 1992 the government of Georgia cancelled the Constitution of the Georgian ­ SSR of 1978 and announced a transition to the Constitution of 1921, ­ according to which Abkhazia unilaterally was entered into its structure and “is ­ an integral part of Georgia with  autonomous rights in local affairs” ,and  thus  did  not appear as a  subject of legal state relationships. All aspects of the Soviet period introduced in Georgia since April 25th, 1921 were declared illegal. In this connection it was necessary to revise the legal ­ documents forming the basis of present treaties, certificates and agreements between Georgia and Abkhazia, concluded during the period from the moment of formation ­ of the state of Georgia until the present time. These actions actually also denounced the Alliance Treaty concluded in December 1921. In the overall USSR, Georgia and Abkhazia were connected only by the Soviet legislative and standard documents, and all of them now lost their legal force. Accordingly,­ the items of the Constitution of Georgia from 1922 and 1927,­ defining the entrance of Abkhazia into the Georgian SSR, and through it  into TSFSR, lost their validity. The decision of the Soviet government from 1931 about transformation of the Union Republic of Abkhazia to an autonomous republic as a part of the Georgian SSR  also became invalid. Besides, Georgia left the structure of the USSR, absolutely ignoring all ­ Soviet laws.

By the moment of conducting a referendum in Georgia on March 31st, 1991, concerning ­the restoration of  state independence (Abkhazia did not accept participation in it), there was a law regulating the exit ­ of a union republic from the USSR. According to this law, autonomous republics ­ had the right to solve the question of their legal status independently.

It is necessary to note that according to the Constitution of the USSR of 1977 autonomous republics were proper states. They had their own constitutions, and supreme bodies of legislative, executive and judicial power. Besides, according to the constitution, autonomous republics possessed exclusive sovereignty on their territories, hence the sovereignty of Georgia did not extend to the territory of Abkhazia ­ even during Soviet times, i.e. each of them had their own territory.

Thus during this period Abkhazia possessed both ­ administrative and territorial sovereignty, though  its foreign policy was limited - not in favour of Georgia, but conducted according to ­ the competence of the USSR which solved all international questions for allied and ­ autonomous republics.

Autonomous republics, according to the Constitution of the USSR, participated in the decision of questions considered by the government of the USSR, and it therefore follows that they were subjects of the USSR. Further to this, in the law of the USSR from April 26th, 1990 “About differentiation of powers between the USSR and subjects of  the federation” it is directly said that “autonomous republics are Soviet socialist states which are subjects of the federation - the USSR”. Thus, in spite of the fact that Abkhazia was an autonomous republic in the structure of the GSSR, relations between ­ Georgia and Abkhazia were relations between states ­ which were subjects of the USSR.

In an all-Union referendum on March 17th, 1991 the majority of the population of Abkhazia supported the continuation of the USSR on the basis of ­ the updated treaty.

In a counterbalance to wrongful actions of Georgia, the Supreme Soviet of Abkhazia on July 23rd, 1992 by a simple majority of voices (36 out of 65) accepted ­ the resolution “About cancellation of the Constitution of Abkhazian ASSR of 1978”, having restored the Constitution of the Abkhazian Soviet Socialist Republic of 1925. Thereby ­ the orientation of actions on maintenance of the sovereignty of Abkhazia and on preservation in Abkhazia of the Soviet socialist system was underlined. The State Council of Georgia accepted on July 25th a decision declaring this  resolution void ­ and without legal validity.

On the basis of the above material it is possible to make the following conclusions­:

1) The leapfrog of acceptance of an uncountable quantity of Constitutions of Abkhazia ­ testifies to the infringement of human rights in the country, and the continuous struggle of the native ­ people for their rights,  territory, statehood and sovereignty.

2) From March 31st, 1921 to February 17th, 1922 there existed the independent Soviet Socialist Republic of Abkhazia. It was called “independent” as within this period it did not enter into either Soviet Russia or  Soviet Georgia, and on May 21st, 1921 Revcom of Georgia recognised its independence.

3) Two independent states with equal rights, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Abkhazia and the Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia, signed the Alliance Treaty on December 16th, 1921, and entered a military, political, financial and economic union. In this treaty it was stated that the sovereignty of the Abkhazian Soviet Socialist Republic remained (item 4). In February 1922, 1st Congress of Councils of Abkhazia ratified this Treaty.

4) Abkhazia, as a sovereign state, participated on December 30th, 1922 ­ in the creation of the USSR, and the representative of Abkhazia signed the Treaty on ­ the formation of the USSR.

5) The character of interstate relations between Abkhazia and Georgia was reflected in the Constitution of Abkhazia of 1925. The sovereignty of the Abkhazian Soviet Socialist Republic was fixed in item 5 of this Constitution.

6) The territorial integrity and  sovereignty of Abkhazia were fixed in the Constitution of Georgia of 1927, in which it was underlined that the Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia ­was a state which was under construction on a federal basis.

7)The "agreed" Soviet Socialist Republic of Abkhazia, by the resolute decision of party ­ functionaries, was transformed into an autonomous republic, and included in the structure of Georgia, on February 19th, 1931. The Abkhazian people protested against this decision at a national meeting lasting from February 18th to 26th, 1931 and failed to trust ­ the government or Soviet power. Though according to the Constitution ­ of the USSR the Abkhazian Soviet Socialist Republic dejure possessed both administrative and  territorial sovereignty, and relations with Georgia had the character ­ of mutual relations between states which were subjects of the USSR, de facto the sovereignty ­ of Abkhazia was reduced and seriously limited.

8) The violent inclusion of Abkhazia within the structure of Georgia ­was wrongful, as this was not legitimate, and did not express the will of the people of Abkhazia.

9) In Abkhazia genocide and discrimination proceeded with renewed force, the colonial policy of the Georgian goverment having begun from­ the moment of occupation of Abkhazia by Georgian troops in 1918.  It appeared  in numerous actions, including:

a) Ideological war against the Abkhazian people;

b) Intensive settling of the country by Georgians;

c) Change of ethno-demographic balance in the country;

d) Transformation of Abkhazians into a national minority in their own country;

e) In connection with the excess of the Georgian population, the­ transfer of all supervising posts in the country into the hands of Georgians;

f) Introduction in the country of the Georgian alphabet and replacement of Russian and Abkhazian languages by Georgian;

g) Large-scale infringements of the rights of  the native ethnos;

h) Assignment and joining of territory of Abkhazia to Georgia;

i) Suppression of attempts at restoring the sovereignty and deprivation of any possibilities for its return;

j) Attempts to transform the sovereign state into a province or region within Georgia, in which the small nationality of Abkhazians live.


10) Throughout all the period during which Abkhazia was a part of Russia and the USSR, the Abkhazian people represented themselves as an independent sovereign state, and conducted a constantly uncompromising struggle against Georgian chauvinism, attempts ­by Georgia to capture the territory of Abkhazia, and the colonial enslavement of Abkhazians.

11) Starting in 1917, after the annexation of Abkhazia by Georgia and the overthrow by military Georgian administration of the legitimate government (the Abkhazian National ­Council) in 1918, Bolsheviks supported the creation of an independent Abkhazia. They took up all force and responsibility in the struggle against the Georgian ­ interventionists, and in 1921 freed the country. The legitimacy of the Bolshevik government was  confirmed by both Georgia and Russia, and this ­ government, which existed before the disintegration of the USSR, was given the name ANC, which ­ nowadays corresponds to the Parliament of Abkhazia.

12) Having appreciated the "friendship" of the Georgian revanchists, Abkhazians undertook ­ desperate steps to refuse the "embraces" of their neighbour and for almost ­ a century counted on Russian help in this struggle against Georgian invaders, and assistance in establishing the full statehood and sovereignty of their country.

2.6. The Abkhazian statehood during the post-Soviet period.

Disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 sharply changed the political situation in the country and its statehood. The government of the USSR, understanding that an­ irreversible process had occurred under the influence of centrifugal forces and, aspiring ­ to give it a civilised character, developed the law defining rules for the exit of republics from the structure of the USSR. The Constitution of the USSR provided such rules, but the method of implementing them had not been developed. The legalised method of exit of republics from the structure of the USSR ­ applied to both union and autonomous republics which were a part of­ such union republics, and was regulated by the Law of the USSR from April 3rd, 1990 “About ­ the order of decision of  questions connected with an exit of a union republic from the USSR”.

“Article 3. In a union republic incorporating autonomous republics,­  autonomous regions and autonomous districts, a referendum is conducted separately for each autonomy. The people of autonomous republics and formations have­ the right to an independent decision on the question of staying in the USSR or remaining with a union republic leaving the USSR, and also on the question of the legal status of their states.

Article 6.... In a union republic incorporating autonomous republics,­  autonomous regions, autonomous districts or places of compact residence­ of  national groups mentioned in the second part of article 3 of the present Law, referendum results  are considered by the union republic Supreme Soviet together with the Supreme Soviet of the autonomous republic and corresponding Councils of People’s Deputies.

Article 9. Referendum results in a union republic about an exit from the USSR, and also opinions of the governments of union republics, autonomous republics,­ autonomous regions and districts, are considered by the Congress of People's Deputies of the USSR on presentation from the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, in coordination with the Supreme Soviet of the leaving republic. The Congress of People's Deputies of the USSR establishes a transition period not exceeding five years, during which time questions arising in connection with the exit of a republic ­ from the USSR should be resolved­.

Article 20. Upon termination of a transition period or at the prescheduled settlement provided by the present Law, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR convokes the Congress of People's Deputies of the USSR to make the decision confirming the end ­ of the process, with agreement of interests and satisfaction of claims of the leaving ­ republic, and also of the USSR, union republics,  autonomous republics,­  independent formations and the national groups mentioned in the second part of article 3 of the present Law.

From the moment of acceptance of such a decision by the Congress of People's Deputies of the USSR the exit ­ of a union republic from the Union is considered to have taken place, and People's Deputies of the USSR from the leaving republic lose their powers. The Congress of People's Deputies of the USSR makes corresponding alterations to the Constitution of the USSR”.

As follows from this document, all actions necessary for the achievement of sovereignty for each union or autonomous republic of the former USSR were specified. The resolution ­ of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on April 3rd, 1990 “About putting into action the Law of the USSR “About the order of decision of questions connected with an exit of a union republic from the USSR” was also accepted­.

It should be explained that the exit of republics from the structure of the USSR or from union republics (with reference to autonomous republics) was possible ­ before the commissioning of the specified Law, but only if the  interests of the parties involved - the USSR and the union or autonomous republics – were not thereby harmed. If infringement of the rights or freedom of one of the interested parties occurred, or if there was an infringement of the required steps to exit from an agreed relationship by one of the subjects ­ of international law, documents on the basis of which illegal actions were made were considered illegitimate and void ­ from the very beginning. Georgian “law creations” concerned such cases.

On the basis of the Law relating to secession from the USSR, autonomous republics,­ in the case of an exit of the union republic from the structure of the USSR, possessed the right to independently  solve the question regarding their remaining in the USSR, and the legal  status of their republic. Georgia, having broken the Law of April 3rd, 1990 and having taken a unilateral decision for itself and for autonomous ­ formations within its structure,­  left the Soviet Union. Leaving the USSR, it illegally included ­the independent state of Abkhazia in its area of interests, having broken Article 3 of the Law on secession from the USSR and having trampled on the basic norms of international law. At the same time, the government of Georgia denounced all legislative documents accepted since 1921 during the ­ existence of the USSR and RSFSR.

The Abkhazian АSSR, which entered into the structure of the former Georgian SSR in 1931 as an  autonomous republic, should have been excluded from this structure, especially as Abkhazia, following Item 3 ­ of the Law on an order of secession from the USSR, made the decision to remain as a part of ­ the Soviet Union. According to Item 2 the decision was taken in favour of the participation of Abkhazia in ­ a referendum on March 17th, 1991 “about the necessity of preservation of the USSR as an­ updated federation”. In that referendum with 318 thousand people having the right to vote, more than 166 thousand people (52.3 % of the population­) took part, and 164,231 people, i.e. 98.6 %, voted for preservation of the USSR. According to Item 24 of the Law of the USSR “About national voting (referendum) in the USSR” the Central Commission of a referendum of the USSR established that in the Republic of Abkhazia the majority of voices of the population had voted ­ for preservation of the USSR, and accordingly for staying within its structure.

Here it is necessary to report that even without the Georgian enclave of Abkhazia, who did not accept participation in the  referendum, 51.6 % of all citizens having the right to vote supported Soviet Union preservation.

It is known that before the disintegration of the USSR, Abkhazia put a question about restoration of its status as a union republic, which had been lost due to Stalin’s decision, and ­ stated it was not going to leave the USSR, having voted for Union preservation­. The Supreme Soviet of the Abkhazian SSR, realising the incompetence of actions by Georgia, accepted on August 25th, 1990 the Declaration on the state sovereignty ­of ASSR and the Resolution on legal guarantees of protection of the safety ­ of Abkhazia.

“The declaration on the state sovereignty of the Abkhazian Soviet ­ Socialist Republic is accepted by the tenth session of the Supreme Soviet of the Abkhazian АССР XI convocation on August 25th, 1990

... The Abkhazian Soviet Socialist Republic is a sovereign socialist ­ state created on the basis of realisation by the Abkhazian nation of its ­ inalienable right to self-determination, and leadership of the people in determination of their destiny. ­ The  sovereignty of the Abkhazian Soviet Socialist Republic extends across all territory of the Abkhazian SSR.

The Abkhazian Soviet Socialist Republic possesses all completeness ­ of  government power on its territory outside of limits of the rights voluntarily transferred by it to the USSR and the Georgian SSR on the basis of treaties concluded with them...”.

In the resolution of the Supreme Soviet of the ASSR “About legal guarantees of protection of the statehood of Abkhazia” from August 25th, 1990 facts­ confirming the illegitimacy of Georgian claims in relation to the territory and statehood of independent Abkhazia, based on the historical development of mutual relations between these countries, are given­­:

“1. To recognise that the Democratic Republic of Georgia, having broken the Treaty from ­ June 11th, 1918, and also the Agreement concluded earlier between the Abkhazian National Council and the National Council of Georgia from February  9th, 1918,  carried out military intervention in the second half ­ of June 1918 for the purpose of the violent joining ­ of the territory of Abkhazia and liquidation of the independence of the Abkhazian people.

This action, which broke an international legal principle  forbidding the­ joining of other territories by force, was illegal.

2. To recognise as illegal and void the part of the  Treaty between Georgia and RSFSR which concerns the territory of Abkhazia, because this treaty was concluded on May 7th, 1920 under conditions of military ­ occupation of independent Abkhazia.

3. According to the Resolutions of the Supreme Soviet of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic from November 18th, 1989,  March 9th ­ and  June 20th, 1990 all state structures, existing and having existed in Georgia since February  1921, are recognised as illegal and void, from which it­ logically follows that all agreed relations between Georgia and Abkhazia, concluded by former public authorities, are also illegal, and the situation ­ of Abkhazia being within the structure of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic is deprived of legal validity. Hence, the lawful form of statehood of Abkhazia is the Soviet Socialist Republic of Abkhazia created by the free ­ will of the people of Abkhazia and proclaimed on March 21st, 1921”.

Relations between Soviet Georgia and Soviet Abkhazia arose in a certain historical situation, and they  naturally  lost their force at the same time as the disappearance from the historical arena of the Soviet Union.

It is necessary to note one more essential factor defining the adherence of Abkhazia to the USSR – the citizenship of its people. To understand this, it is necessary to look back into history. It is known that Abkhazia, in the form of­ a district, department, or independent princedom, was a Russian province in Transcaucasia, along with Tiflis, Erivan and ­ other provinces of the Russian Empire. The people of these territories were citizens of Russia and any question about citizenship of other countries or about double citizenship did not apply, and could not apply. However, the ethnic component ­ of the people living there was preserved.

With the wreck of the Russian Empire and the creation of a new statehood i.e. the Russian Republic (which occurred on September 1st, 1917), the Provisional Government, being a legitimate body, introduced the institute of citizenship in the country, covering all territories of the former Russian Empire. This was the largest-ever change in legal regulations concerning ­ citizenship. All former subjects of the Russian state, such as inhabitants of Transcaucasia, including Abkhazia, from this date obtained a new status as citizens of Russia. From this moment the principle of receiving Russian citizenship “by the right of blood” began to operate,­  i.e. if parents are citizens of Russia, the citizenship of those parents is automatically extended to children born to them.

After the October revolution, the reformed state­ was identified as the inheritor of both the Russian Empire and the subsequent Russian Republic, and retained the created institute of citizenship­. The decree of November 11th, 1917 cancelled the division of inhabitants of Russia into ranks and estates, and the privileges corresponding to these categories were withdrawn. The same term was simultaneously confirmed for all inhabitants of the reformed state i.e.  the Russian Federation, which was the name­ “citizen of RSFSR”. On July 10th, 1918 the Constitution of the RSFSR was accepted, which proclaimed all who earlier had citizenship of the Russian Empire as citizens of the new state. There was an identification of the new state which confirmed its continuity both from Imperial Russia,­  and from the Provisional Government. On October 25th, the very day after concluding the October ­ Revolution, V.I.Lenin on behalf of Petrograd Temporary Revolutionary Committee appealed “To citizens of Russia”, confirming the continuity of the republican power of the Provisional Government­.

Governors of separatist countries, in particular Georgia, which established sovereignty on May 26th, 1918 and created an independent state, refused ­ Russian citizenship. At the same time, an agreement with Georgia which would have provided an option for creation of its own ­ Georgian citizenship upon its secession of the Russian Republic,­ was not signed ­­ by the representatives of Georgia. ­ Suitable treaties were signed only with Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. They, under the conditions of the Brest-Litovsk treaty, were given independence. ­ In this instance, Georgia broke the norms ­ of international law concerning the method of exit of a country from the structure of another state­.

Abkhazia as an independent sovereign state through ­the institute of citizenship­ continued to remain as a part of the RSFSR, and its inhabitants possessed ­only Russian citizenship. This citizenship was retained during the period from 1918 to 1921, during the annexation and occupation of Abkhazia by Georgia, as inhabitants of Abkhazia during this period did not declare a refusal of the citizenship of the RSFSR or take Georgian as its basic citizenship (or double, along with Russian). If such a choice had been made, but had taken place under the conditions of annexation, it would have been ­ legally insignificant.

In Abkhazia, Soviet power was established on March 4th, 1921, and at the same time ­ the independent Soviet Socialist Republic of Abkhazia was proclaimed and formed at the 1st Congress of Councils of peasants’ and workers’ ­ deputies­­. From the moment of releasing Abkhazia from Georgian occupation, i.e. March 1921, the country made a choice in favour of staying in the structure of the RSFSR as ­a Union Republic, thus keeping the status of “citizens of Russia” for the population of Abkhazia.

The sovereignty of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Abkhazia, in view of its voluntary joining the Transcaucasian ­ Soviet Federal Socialist Republic (RSFSR) ­ “is limited only by the subjects specified in Constitutions of these Unions”... Firstly, inhabitants of Abkhazia upon joining the RSFSR did not lose their Abkhazian citizenship and  did not acquire Georgian, and secondly,­ voluntary membership on an equal rights basis provided the possibility, in case of need, of an exit of Abkhazia from this ­ association, as defined by the equality of the parties.

The regulation about citizenship of the USSR from 1931 confirmed that ­ each person who was in the territory of the USSR was recognized as a citizen of the USSR if not a subject (citizen) of a foreign ­ state. The same document included the additional point that ­ if a citizen firstly of the USSR was also a citizen of the union republic where he lived, the choice of citizenship of that union republic was a personal prerogative for each citizen of the USSR. The people of Abkhazia mainly made the choice in favour of: a) preservation of their citizenship of the USSR; b) receipt of citizenship of Abkhazia, which they possess ­ hitherto.

The law on citizenship of the USSR from 1978 confirmed an accession to citizenship of the country, meaning   Russian citizenship, for those persons who had it at that time, i.e. confirmed the citizenship principle “by the right of ­ blood” and “by the right of birth”. Citizens of Russia by “the birth right” were the persons who were born in the territory of Russia until the moment of signing ­ of the Treaty on the formation of the USSR (till December 30th, 1922), at  which signing Soviet Abkhazia, as a sovereign state subject to the law, participated and thus was one of the founders of  the USSR even if they have subsequently lost this status. ­ The Law on citizenship from May 23rd, 1990 was also the same. Both of these laws­ accordingly confirmed the status of  Russian citizenship for the people ­ of Abkhazia.

Laws of 1978 and 1991 gave citizens of the USSR the right to reside in any part of it, i.e. in any union republic, whilst remaining a citizen ­ of the USSR, and the right to have in addition an accompanying citizenship. These laws allowed for moving to and resettlement in union or­ autonomous republics with a special ethnic structure and their own republican citizenship by persons having an ethnic type unusual for these countries. Under these laws, immigrants to Abkhazia from regions of Georgia who had Georgian (additional) citizenship streamed in and created conditions there for the   destruction of its ethnos and state structure. However it is necessary to note that legal ­ registration of republican and autonomous citizenship in the country was formally absent, therefore throughout all the period of Soviet ­ power only Russian citizenship existed in Abkhazia.

Citizenship is a legal condition. The uncontrollable change of a demographic situation connected with the settling in a country of persons of other citizenship, as events of the last decade of the 20th century have shown, leads to irreparable consequences, up to a change of the form­ of statehood, replacement of ethnic structure of the population of the country, genocide, and, most importantly, creation of a fifth column attempting the overthrow of the existing political system, as took place in Abkhazia­.

The laws stated above, confirming Russian citizenship for the people of Abkhazia, officially­ did this by “citizenship acquisition in a procedure for registration”. The people of Abkhazia had the right to Russian citizenship, as did the population of other former republics of the USSR (nowadays the CIS), and were by definition citizens of the Russian Federation as no other option­ had been chosen in a referendum on March 17th, 1991. For reception of the document confirming Russian citizenship, a simplified ­procedure was introduced­. Registration of this document is undertaken only by law-enforcement bodies.

By 1991 in the territory of the ex-GSSR which also included the Autonomous SSR of Abkhazia, there appeared   two states not connected with each other: Georgia, which had declared its independence and secession from the USSR ­ and refused Russian citizenship by this declaration, and Abkhazia, which continued ­ to remain a subject of the USSR and whose citizens had kept Russian citizenship. Hence, the legal state relations between Abkhazia and Georgia, created and regulated by Soviet ­ legislation, ceased also on the basis of  Soviet ­ legislation.

It is a fact that from the moment of acceptance by Georgia of “the Decree about Independence” on August 25th, 1990 till the moment of disintegration of the USSR on December 21st, 1991, ­ Abkhazia remained a subject of the USSR, and in this capacity it participated in negotiations ­during which the question of reforming the USSR was being solved. During this period, the chairman of the Supreme Soviet of Abkhazia was a member ­ of the Federation Council of the USSR (after its abolition - a member of the State ­ Council of the USSR) and a member of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR.

Abkhazia did not accept participation in presidential elections in Georgia and in the work of its authorities, because it could not be a subject of the USSR and at the same time be a part of independent Georgia. ­ Moreover, according to regulations about the exit of republics from the structure of the USSR, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR did not make a decision regarding ­ the allocation of autonomous Abkhazia to the separated Georgia. After the termination of existence ­ of the USSR the Supreme Soviet of Abkhazia on July 23rd, 1992, according to regulations about secession from the USSR, made the decision to cancel the Constitution of 1978 and revert to the Constitution of 1925, according to which Abkhazia was a sovereign state, the subject ­ of international law.

It should be noted that actions of the Abkhazian SSR in this case were defined ­ by the Law of the USSR “About differentiation of powers between the USSR and subjects of the federation” from April 26th, 1990, articles from which granted it the following rights:

“Article 1... Autonomous republics are Soviet socialist states, and­ are subjects of the federation of the USSR. Autonomous republics and autonomous formations ­ enter into union republics on the basis of free self-determination of their peoples, and possess all completeness of state power in their territories outside of the limits ­ of  powers transferred by them to the USSR and union republics.

Relations of autonomous republics and autonomous formations with union republics ­ into the structure of which they are included, are defined by agreements and treaties ­ concluded within the limits of the Constitutions of the USSR, Constitutions of union and autonomous republics, ­ and the present Law.

Article 6. The exclusive management of the Union of Soviet Socialist ­ Republics in the name of its supreme bodies of state power relates to:

Item 2) acceptance into the structure of the USSR of new union republics, and confirmation of any­ new or amended status of existing autonomous republics, regions or districts;

Item 3) the resolution of disputes between union republics, or between union and autonomous republics or formations, if the question is addressed to bodies of the USSR;

Article 11.... In case of contradiction between the Constitution of a union or autonomous republic ­ and the Constitution of the USSR, the Constitution of the USSR operates. In case of  contradiction of laws ­ and other decrees of the supreme bodies of state power of union or autonomous republics with the Constitution of the USSR, the laws of the USSR and other decrees of the supreme bodies ­ of state power of the USSR, the decrees published by corresponding bodies ­ of the USSR operate”.

The position of the Abkhazian side which had supported the creation of the updated Union, did not contradict either with international legal norms, or with the current legislation of the USSR. The Republic of Abkhazia at the moment of formation of the Georgian Democratic Republic (on May 26th, 1918) ­ was a sovereign state. Whereas legal state relations between Abkhazia and Georgia had arisen from the Treaty of ­ June 11th, 1918 and from some later treaties and agreements, Georgia could not unilaterally change the character of mutual relations with Abkhazia, and, especially, considered it as a vassal region dependant upon Georgia. It also contradicted the legislation of the USSR regulating the relations between union ­ and autonomous republics. Thus, actions of the authorities of Georgia led to a   rupture in legal state relations between Georgia and ­ Abkhazia. The documents accepted by the Supreme Soviet of Abkhazia show that as a result of earlier decisions accepted by the Supreme body ­ of the Georgian SSR, the entrance of Abkhazia into the structure of Georgia under any conditions lost its legal basis.

As a result of the denouncement by Georgia of all legislative decrees and other legal documents accepted during the period from 1921 to 1991, concerning mutual relations ­ with Abkhazia, and also as a result of the unilateral acceptance of the decision by Georgia ­ about secession from the USSR and creation of an independent state, the treaty about the entrance of Abkhazia into the structure of Georgia automatically lost its validity. It contradicted ­ agreed relations between Abkhazia and Georgia. Occurrence of the Abkhazian ­SSR in the structure of the GSSR started under the conditions of Georgia entering into the structure of the TSFSR and the USSR. As Abkhazia continued to remain as a part of the Union, it accordingly continued to also remain a sovereign state within its 1918 borders as a part of the USSR, and the subject of international law.

In historical and political literature covering the period of the exit of Georgia from the structure of the USSR, reference is made to documents denouncing legal ­decrees and mutual relations of the specified states. Originals of these ­ documents are not always accessible, however we will dare to give excerpts from them and to give short comments   about their contents.

One of the documents which led to the cancellation of all mutual relations between Georgia and the countries which were in the  USSR included the decision of the Extraordinary 13th Session of the Supreme Soviet of the GSSR on  March 9th, 1990 “About guarantees ­ of protection of the State sovereignty of Georgia”. On the basis of ­ the resolution of the committee of  the Supreme Soviet of the GSSR, a conclusion was reached about infringement ­ of the treaty of May 7th, 1920 by  Soviet ­ Russia, which had allowed troops to enter into the territory of Georgia. This troop movement was   classified by Georgia thus­:

“…from the legal point of view as military intervention and occupation­... and from the political point of view as actual annexation. Condemning the occupation and annexation of Georgia by Soviet Russia as an international crime, Georgia aspires to the cancellation of consequences of infringement of the Treaty... and to restoration of the rights of Georgia recognised by Soviet Russia in this Treaty.  The Supreme Soviet of the Georgian SSR declares illegal and void the Alliance Workers' and Peasants' Treaty between the GSSR and the RSFSR from May 21st, 1921 and the Alliance Treaty on the formation of the Federal Union of the SSR of Transcaucasia  from March 12th, 1922”.

We cannot dispute the actions of  the Georgian side, although it is necessary to note that:

a) Russia did not legally recognise the annexation of Georgia, or therefore their denouncement of the specified treaties, which is why the actions of Georgia were ­ unilateral;

b) discussion of any question of the legitimacy of  the above treaties is groundless, as they were concluded between Russia and ­ the legitimate Government of Georgia which ruled the country ­ for  a long period from 1921 to 1991;

c) the recognition of the legitimacy of those or other treaties in the case of a change of  political system of the country is its right. However, this action ­ inevitably involves a chain of political and legal consequences, including mutual relations with neighbouring and other countries. By its actions, Georgia broke the confidential additional item of the Treaty from May 7th, 1920, containing the demand about the right of existence of the Communist Party in Georgia. Furthermore,  the previously-mentioned facts about the wrongful­ inclusion of  the territory  of the independent sovereign state of Abkhazia into the structure of Georgia allow the right of revision and denouncement of this treaty.

In the amendment to the specified Resolution from March 9th, 1990 the Supreme Soviet of the GSSR decided on June 20th, 1990:

“To add the following paragraph to the Resolution:

... The Supreme Soviet of the GSSR declares illegal and void all the documents abolishing political and other institutes of the democratic Republic of Georgia, and also replaces all  political and legal establishments which were supported by an external force”.

This amendment together with the basic document from March 9th, 1990 confirmed (according to the modern Georgian government and ­ parliament) the non-legitimacy of all ruling bodies of Georgia working in its territory from February 1921 to March 9th, 1990, without any exception. It also disavowed all decisions of those "illegal", "illegitimate" authorities in its territory. This means that ­ documents about the conclusion of treaties with Abkhazia are illegal,­  namely: the Alliance Treaty  from December 16th, 1921 about association on an agreed  basis of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Abkhazia and The Georgian Republic, and inclusion through it of Abkhazia in the Transcaucasian ­ Federation (ratified by 1st Congress of Councils of Abkhazia on February 17th, 1922); items of the Constitution of Abkhazia from April 1925; Constitutions of Georgia, ­ the Transcaucasian SFSR and the USSR, concerning the inclusion of Abkhazia in these structures on any basis; the decree about transformation of the Abkhazian Soviet Socialist Republic to an autonomous republic ­ in the structure of the GSSR from February 19th, 1931 and all subsequent decrees, resolutions and decisions of state, party and other authorities at all levels.

It is especially necessary to underline the illegality and illegitimacy of all decrees and ­ actions of the government of Georgia regarding the resettlement of the ethnic Georgian population from areas of the administrative territory of Georgia to Abkhazia during this period. This action was no more than a purposeful anti-Abkhazian ­ policy of the GSSR management co-ordinated with the Georgian management in Abkhazia,­  which led to a change in the demographic situation  in Abkhazia, by a replacement ­ and destruction of the Abkhazian ethnos.

The legitimacy of our conclusion is confirmed by the termination on January 2nd, 1992 of the Constitution of Georgia which had legal force during ­ the period from 1921 to 1992, defining the political and statehood status of Georgia as a part of the USSR and Abkhazia as a part of the specified states. This fact is underlined in the Declaration of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia on February 21st, 1992 which put a definitive end to the definition of its mutual relations ­ with Russia and Abkhazia. This declaration underlines that the Republic of Georgia is the legal successor to the only Democratic Republic of Georgia of 1918-1921 under its Constitution of February 21st, 1921.

Having liquidated all legal bases defining its mutual relations with neighbours, the government of Georgia, from the moment of its declaration of independence, confirmed the absence of its legal state relations ­ with Abkhazia, i.e. the absence of legal state continuity­. Firstly, in connection with its infringement of conditions of the aforementioned alliance ­ law on the exit of a union republic from the structure of the USSR; secondly, because although in the 1921 Constitution of Georgia Abkhazia also appeared as a subject, this document had been developed and accepted by the Constituent Assembly of Georgia unilaterally without any agreement from the Abkhazian side. It had not been ratified by the Abkhazian parliament, and therefore did not come into force; thirdly, the Alliance Treaty with Abkhazia from December 16th, 1921 lost its legal force by the Georgian denouncement of all legal documents concluded after April 25th, 1921 and with infringement by Georgia of all aspects of the Treaty.

Drafts of the new Constitution were prepared and published in Abkhazia. They were discussed by the public in the mass media. For August 14th, 1992 a Supreme Soviet session was appointed where ­ discussion of these drafts and of a Treaty about mutual relations between the Republic of Abkhazia and Georgia was planned. This Treaty was­  developed by one of the authors of the present work, and presented as a draft13­. These documents might or might not be accepted­. But it was the civilised, parliamentary way - not only non-aggressive,­  but also non-separative. Georgia  answered it with an escalation of violence.

An eyewitness of these events describes them so:

“Having answered by aggression and genocide an appeal by the Abkhazian party to solve a problem within the limits of political, parliamentary discussion, Georgia trampled on the main principles of international law. And one can hardly believe that one hundred thousand Abkhazian people were interested in this unequal war, or that violent actions by Georgian invaders from the first minutes of their intrusion into ­ Abkhazia would force everybody to take up arms. Perhaps the people of Abkhazia taking weapons in their hands to protect themselves is called aggressive separatism?” 14.

“The war in Abkhazia began with invasion there by the Georgian army on a day when the parliament of this republic planned to discuss the above-named draft of the federal treaty which would be presented to the Georgian party. Georgia brought down to Abkhazia all the power of its military potential, including fighting aircraft and armoured units. In reply to the standard civilised, parliamentary methods of settlement of mutual relations which were offered by Abkhazia, Georgia applied brute force. For thirteen months the people of Abkhazia were exposed to destruction, monuments of culture were ruined, and all the economic ­ infrastructure of the republic was completely destroyed and plundered­. During the occupation of most of Abkhazia, hundreds of thousands of people were compelled to flee the country, including Jews whose evacuation was organised by the government of Israel, and Greeks by the government of Greece. Abkhazia was reduced to a condition when the only possibility of self-preservation was armed resistance to an aggressor”15.

This military intrusion was undertaken to put into practice the proclaimed slogan “Georgia - only for the Georgians” using the force of a weapon, though, as is known, Abkhazia is not Georgia.

Initiated by the government of Georgia, the rigid policy of Russia in relation to Abkhazia was to urge and compel it to reunite with Georgia. However a blockade of Abkhazia by Russia which proceeded for some years­ did not serve the interests of the Russian or Abkhazian people and did not given ­the expected results. The people of Abkhazia incurred, in the war imposed upon them, incalculable destructions and were victims subjected from outside to anti-humane deprivations. They did not show the slightest wish to associate with Georgia. At the heart of this modern social and political reality lies the­ historical experience of relations between Abkhazia and Georgia which in many respects ­ apportion forces and interests in the formed geopolitical ­ triangle.

After the war the parliament of Abkhazia, taking into account the above-stated, accepted the new 1994 Constitution which proclaimed the Republic of Abkhazia to be­ a sovereign, democratic, legal state, historically affirmed in 1917­ by the right of the people to self-determination, and confirmed ­ the present-day sovereignty of the country by  putting the new Constitution ­ into action.

With the question of the sovereignty of Abkhazia there was an unsolved problem - namely, its recognition by   the world community - ­which required examination of the legal situation connected ­ with the claim of Abkhazia to its statehood and sovereignty. The necessary documents were sent to the specialised international ­ non-governmental organisation “Commonwealth of lawyers for cooperation in АТR”. This organisation executed an independent expert appraisal and prepared ­ the following document: “The conclusion from a legal estimation of the essence of “Statements about measures towards a political settlement of the Georgian-Abkhazian ­ conflict”. As a result of this analysis of the legal situation in Abkhazia and its mutual relations ­ with the world community, authors of the Statement reached the following ­ conclusions:

“Statements about measures towards a political settlement of the Georgian-Abkhazian ­ conflict” is the international (interstate) treaty.

Both conflicting parties act in it with equal rights as subjects ­ of international law who have not been connected with each other in  legal state relations­.

In content, the Statement testifies to the intention of the parties to establish relations which are formulated as confederative.

The professor of international law R.A.Tuzmuhamedov”.



13 Shamba T.: The  draft  of a treaty about mutual relations between the Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of Georgia. Abkhazia, June 1992, №23.

14 Shamba S.: To a question on the legal, historical and moral substantiation of the right of Abkhazia to independence. International law, 1999, № 4, p.225.

15 Shamba S.: The negotiation process: hopes and disappointments. Abkhazia - Georgia: Obstacles in the way of peace. Sukhum, 2000, pp. 4-12.


The results of the present authors’ consideration of the latest period of existence of Abkhazia are ­ the following:

1) In connection with the apparent disintegration of the USSR, Georgia, declaring independence of the state, left the structure of the Soviet Union, unilaterally having broken off all bilateral, multilateral and international treaties defining its stay in the Union structure.

2) During the period since 1989 Georgia has accepted a number of state documents ­ denouncing all international treaties and agreements with both Russia and Abkhazia which­ came into force since February 24th, 1921.

3) Georgia, on leaving the structure of the USSR, unilaterally made ­ the illegal decision to include Abkhazia in this action, which was, on the basis of the documents presented above, a sovereign and independent state having the right to an independent decision of the question of staying in the USSR; on the right to be defined as an independent state or to remain ­ as a part of the union republic leaving the USSR. Therefore, contrary to international law, the current legislation of the USSR and the obligations taken up according to the treaties signed by it, Georgia illegally declared Abkhazia to be within the state structure of its own territory.

4) The Supreme Soviet of the ASSR and the Abkhazian government, not concordant with this illegal decision, made a decision to remain as a part of the USSR, ­as the Constitution of the USSR of 1977 allowed, and the Law of the USSR from April 3rd, 1990 confirmed the right of autonomous republics to independently solve the­ question about the   destiny of the sovereignty of their country.

5) According to the Law of the USSR dated April 3rd, 1990, the Supreme Soviet of Abkhazia defined the   statehood of the country - since August 25th, 1990 Abkhazia ­ has been proclaimed as a sovereign state.

6) Abkhazia, being under the jurisdiction of the USSR, held a referendum on March 17th, 1991 according to ­ the legislation, which confirmed that the majority of the population of the country expressed a will to remain as a part of the USSR. Since September 1st, 1917 the Abkhazian people have had Russian citizenship­ which has never been interrupted. The population of Abkhazia have never refused this citizenship officially, through a referendum or in any other way, and have never accepted citizenship of another country.

7) According to referendum data, being based on the decision of the people about the declaration of Abkhazia as a sovereign state and on the basis of ­ the people of the country belonging to Russia through a citizenship institute, the Supreme ­Soviet of Abkhazia accepted the decision about cancellation of the 1978 Constitution ­ of Abkhazia and about temporary use of the 1925 Constitution of Abkhazia.

8) During the moment when discussion of the Treaty on the basis of mutual relations between the Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of Georgia, prepared ­ by one of the authors of this book should have begun,­  Georgia started a  military expansion against Abkhazia, proceeding from August 1992 till September 1993.

9) After the war the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Abkhazia, according to the­ will of its people, accepted   the Constitution on November 26th, 1994 in which article 1 says: “The Republic of Abkhazia (Apsny) – a sovereign, democratic, legal state which has historically affirmed the right of the people to free self-determination”. Since this moment the people of the country have confirmed their second citizenship ­ - Abkhazian.

The Georgian side has refused to recognise decisions of the government of Abkhazia, directed towards confirmation of its sovereignty belittled because of ­ Georgia, and opposes the existence of the Republic based on the Constitution of 1925 in all possible ways. The question is, why is Georgia permitted to return to its 1921 Constitution proclaiming its sovereignty and independence, but Abkhazia cannot return to its 1925 Constitution? It appears that ­ the reason is that the Constitution of 1925 provides the SSR of Abkhazia with­ independence and sovereignty, i.e. the usual double standards are being applied.

It is necessary to consider this problem from the point of view of current Georgian legislation in respect of the   examination made of it by the Institute of  State and Law of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The full text of “An expert judgement about current  legal state  relations between Georgia and Abkhazia”  is given in one of our works16.

Quotations  from this document are given below:

“... According to the 1995 Constitution of Georgia, Abkhazia is a territorial unit of Georgia (part 3, article 4) with undefined  status, and the status of Abkhazia will be defined after “full restoration of the jurisdiction of Georgia in all territory of the country” (part 3, article 2). At the same time it is necessary to remember that the specified Constitution of Georgia was accepted when Abkhazia already actually was not in the structure of Georgia, and the overwhelming majority ­ of citizens of Abkhazia, either directly or through their representatives, accepted no participation in production or acceptance of the Constitution of Georgia. World history ­ knows separate examples of attempts to decide through a constitution the destiny of a people who were not accepting participation in the process of approval of such a constitution; however, as a rule, similar attempts have ended without results. For example, in the 1958 Constitution of France, the section devoted to the Commonwealth which France hoped to create under its aegis from its former colonies in the process of their receiving independence. But the young independent states were rather cool concerning the given unilateral initiative of France, and statements in the corresponding chapter of the French constitution remained invalid until at last they were cancelled in 1995.

In the same way, the Constitution of Georgia has an item about “jurisdiction restoration in all territory of the country”...



16 Shamba T. : National relations and the state-legal policy of Russia. Мoscow, 1999, p. 121.


Note that at the moment of acceptance of the Decree about the independence of Georgia on May 26th, 1918, Abkhazia was a sovereign state and was not within the structure of Georgia. It was occupied by Georgian troops later, at the end of June 1918. Moreover, in February 1918 an agreement was concluded between the authorities of Georgia, ­ preparing for the declaration of state independence, and the authorities of Abkhazia. In this agreement, the existence ­ of uniform and inseparable Abkhazia, with ­ limits from the river Ingur to the river Mzymta, was admitted.

However, Georgia believes in the infringement of all international rules of law, and that it has the right to accept in relation to Abkhazia unilateral documents dictating the conditions of its existence, as is occurring against ­ the background of the international community and the indifferent attitude of the former Soviet republics. Considering the   situation, the authors of “the Expert judgement...” make the conclusion that “from the point of view of the legislation of   Georgia which was accepted in 1989-1991 and has received amendments in the latest documents, Abkhazia ­ cannot be considered as a subject defined in legal  documents as a part of Georgia, and the legal state relations between ­ Abkhazia and Georgia have stopped”.

In 1995 Georgia accepted a constitution in which the­ legal registration of the development of its statehood,­ formed from the Constitution of 1921, set the legalised inclusion of Abkhazia in the structure of Georgia as its purpose. This was despite the existing rule of law that unilateral ­ acceptance by any state of a constitution fixing laws  about the occurrence in the structure of the given state of any territory without the approval of the population of this territory, having its own authorities,­  cannot have any legal consequences. In the same way, conclusions by other states of treaties with a state considering ­any territory as its own (without the approval of the population of this ­ territory) does not mean that the population of this territory cannot ­ carry out the right to self-determination and separate from the structure of the given state­. So, international treaties concluded, for example, with Great Britain ­or France before the disintegration of their colonial empires did not prevent the creation of  new independent states in place of their colonies. International treaties (only if they did not exclusively concern colonies) did not automatically stop their validity after liquidation of British or French colonial domination, though it is obvious that the territory under the control of British and French governments was reduced. These governments cannot have responsibility for the execution ­ of treaties in the territory of former colonies. It is impossible to solve the destiny of the population of any territory without considering the opinion of the population. The will defined by representatives of this population has found expression in the fact that a Russian military contingent with a peace-keeping function is located in Abkhazia, under the tripartite decision ­ of the governments of Russia, Georgia and Abkhazia.

In a legitimate attempt to consider Abkhazia as a part of the territory ­ of the Georgian state, the Georgian side refers to the Russian-Georgian ­treaty of May 7th, 1920 recognising the border between the RSFSR and Georgia on the river Psou, with inclusion in the structure of Georgia of the Sukhum district. But from an international legal position the fact of its signing was an infringement ­ of the international rules of law, and its content from the legal point of view is insignificant.

Further, in “the Expert judgement...” it is written:

“As Georgia (as can be seen from the legislative acts of 1989-1991 given above) does not simply put into question all the decisions concerning itself during the existence of the USSR, but legislatively disavows them,­  there appeared a question of the legitimacy of the territory of Georgia under  Soviet power, including a question on the legitimacy of the occurrence of Abkhazia in the structure of Georgia. International law recognises the transformation of administrative borders into state borders in the   situation of any definitely isolated part of the state existing at some borders, and transformed into a new independent state. However, world history knows a lot of examples when at the transformation of any part of the state into an independent ­ state new borders appeared. For example, Ireland, both before its gain by England and as a part of the British Empire, was understood to be a territory of the whole­ island. But when Ireland was granted the status of a dominion (officially called The Irish Free State) in 1920-1922, and then at the declaration of the independent Irish Republic in 1937, the northern part of Ireland remained as a part of the United Kingdom of  Great Britain and Northern Ireland. At the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918-1920 a number of independent states were formed. In particular, Czechoslovakia appeared. Meanwhile Czechia before its occurrence in the structure of the state of the Hapsburgs was an independent state, but as a part of ­ the Empire had certain administrative borders. Slovakia ­ was included administratively ­ into Hungary before the formation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and, as a part of that Empire, was also considered as a part of Hungary. At the same time Transylvania, which had traditionally been a part of Hungary, was transferred to Romania under peace treaties. From more recent examples it is possible to mention the Dayton agreements ­ which provided for the creation in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina of the Republic of Serbia and the Muslim Croatian Federation­. Thus between them appeared practically new borders not existing previously... World history knows the division into independent states of any part of a state which was a uniform ­ administrative and territorial unit. So, India was under the sovereignty of the British Crown ­ from 1877 to 1947, and then at the declaration of its independence three states were formed in its place: Burma, the Indian Union and Pakistan (later, the state of Bangladesh was separated from Pakistan). There is no basis to the belief that international law guarantees the preservation of  uniform states formed from ex-union republics after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, contrary to the will of the people ­ living in them. The presence of settled administrative ­ borders of Abkhazia allows the belief that it can form an independent ­ state in these borders. Usually, the right to self-determination ­ of the people in the form of  an independent state is easier to realise and ­quicker to organise if the people, within the limits of the territory which is a part ­ of another state, already having self-government, have formed effectively operating power structures. As already mentioned, independent power structures in Abkhazia began to be formed in December 1917 (let alone during the centuries-old history of Abkhazian statehood), and again after Abkhazia became an autonomous republic as a part of Soviet Georgia within the Soviet Union. In particular, under the Constitutions of the USSR of 1936 and 1977 and under the Constitutions ­ of the Georgian SSR of 1937 and 1978, the Abkhazian ASSR, as well as other autonomous republics, had a variety of attributes of the state: its own Constitution, legislation,­  state symbols, etc.”.

Today historical justice is restored. The Abkhazian people have a state with strictly outlined territory, the Constitution, a government system ­ and political power, legislation, concrete national ­ interests and priorities in foreign policy. De jure the sovereign ­ Republic of Abkhazia is independent. It asks nothing from anyone and does not restrain anyone's interests. It insists only on recognition by the world community of its de facto natural right to exist and to be included in the system of normal international relations.

It is necessary to consider one more question. After the exit of Georgia from ­the structure of the USSR and restoration of its own statehood, Georgia has refused Russian citizenship and has restored its own Georgian citizenship. Abkhazia, having found, on the basis of the circumstances given above, its independence, sovereignty ­ and own statehood, has kept Russian citizenship and has introduced the institute of Abkhazian citizenship. Attempts to restore the sovereignty of Abkhazia always caused military aggression from Georgia, and only ­ the victory of Abkhazians in 1993 has radically changed the political situation ­ and ethnic structure in the country. Military actions in a conflict zone  compelled a considerable number of Abkhazians, Armenians, and Russians to leave Abkhazia. ­ Considering the question of the population composition in Abkhazia with respect to international law,­  it is necessary to note that only Abkhazians, Abazinians and other representatives ­ of the indigenous population of countries possessing both Russian and Abkhazian ­ citizenship are citizens of the state by right of birth, plus right of blood, plus right of soil.

However, in the territory of the independent sovereign state of Abkhazia, there appeared persons of Georgian nationality with Georgian citizenship, who refused Russian citizenship and did not wish to receive Abkhazian citizenship. A similar situation took place in practically all states in post-Soviet territory. The problem was solved everywhere thus: persons who do not have the host state’s­ nationality should define their citizenship themselves, without dependence ­ on their number in the newly-formed sovereign state. This ­ proves to be true in practice in the state of Kazakhstan where representatives of that nation make only 40% of the population. Possible variants ­ are acceptance of citizenship of the country of residence; departure to the country ­ of one’s own citizenship; further residence in the country without its citizenship, like apartheid (with a number ­ of restrictions to one’s rights). It is a problem which Abkhazia should have solved a long time ago, as arrival to the country of persons of other nationality, in particular Georgian, without their acceptance of  Abkhazian citizenship, is fraught with new excesses and problems.