Central Asian Survey
To cite this Article Clogg, Rachel (1995) 'Documents from the KGB archive in Sukhum. Abkhazia in the Stalin years', Central Asian Survey, 14: 1, 155 — 189
Abkhazia is situated on the shore of the Black Sea and bordered by the Caucasus mountain range to the North, the Russian Federation to the West and Georgia to the East. Its territory is small, less than that of Scotland, and in the census of 1989, the entire population numbered just over 525,000. Abkhazia came to world attention in August 1992, following the invasion by Georgian forces which led to a bloody war. This lasted more than one year and resulted in thousands of casualties and tens of thousands of refugees and displaced persons.
The reasons for this conflict are many and complex. One of the primary factors in precipitating the outbreak of the war was the violent resurgence of Georgian nationalism which accompanied the demise of the Soviet Union. Zviad Gamsakhurdia came to power in Georgia in 1989 on a wave of anti-Russian sentiment and vehement nationalist rhetoric. Minority ethnic groups, which made up at least 30 per cent of the population of Georgia, included Armenians, Russians, Azeris, Greeks, Ossetians and Abkhazians. These last two groups had both had a degree of administrative and cultural autonomy under the Soviet system, as did the Adzharians (Muslim Georgians). The very existence of such proportionately large minority groups was identified by Gamsakhurdia and other nationalists as a threat to the prospects for an independent unitary Georgia, and a systematic campaign against non-Georgian minorities began.
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See also: Appendix to Documents from the KGB archive in Sukhum. Abkhazia in the Stalin years, Translation by B. G. Hewitt (1996)