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Revelations of forgotten voices

Abkhazians 1867

Abkhazians who took part in the 1866 Lykhny uprising. Photo by D. I. Yermakov (1867)


‘The Russian tsarist government did not have the time to Russify the Abkhazians, but we, as a related tribe, must Georgianise the Abkhazians through our own culture.'
 
Noe Zhordania, the leader of the Georgian Mensheviks (1918-1921).

 
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' Abkhazia , October 10 ', A. Dzhugheli (Gadaghmeli) 

'... Abkhazia , as the very name of the place suggests, belonged and belongs to the Abkhazians ... In this last war (1877-1878 -- Ed.), this country was almost completely emptied. The vacated lands of the Abkhazians were distributed among all who desired them. This country, as a country of the covenant, had a famous name. Everyone who had vaguely heard that in Abkhazia land was being divided and given away upped and moved here . Within 5-6 years Greeks, Russians, Bulgarians, Germans, Mingrelians, Imeretians, Armenians, etc. flooded into Abkhazia. And the authorities refused no-one.'

Newspaper "Droeba”, 1883, N 216.

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In 1873, the Georgian writer and public activist G. Tsereteli wrote : 'The former population of Circassians and Abkhazians is no more ... So, what are our people thinking? Why have they still not thought to move to this country?... Is not the Caucasus our region? The entire Caucasus is our land, our country."

Newspaper “Droeba”, Tiflis, 1973 . № 399.

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I. CHICHINADZE, telling of the operation to relocate Mingrelian families from the Zugdidi district to Abkhazia, judged this phenomenon to be one 'of the most beautiful in the new life '. I. CHICHINADZE closes his publication with the call: '... Send here more Rachans, Lechkhumians, Upper Imeretians, and Megrelians from mountain sites, and you will see that these countries will be covered more blooming villages, fruits of the land, and cattle than in the days of the Circassians and Abkhazians.'

Newspaper “Shroma”, Tiflis, 1882. № 15.

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The article by prominent Georgian publicist I. Gogebashvili 'Who occupy Abkhazia?', published in 1877 in the newspaper “Tiflis bulletin” (27.09.1877, № 209), can be considered a programme-piece. 'This resettlement is, without a doubt, not temporary but permanent. Abkhazia will never see her sons again,' writes Gogebashvili. 'Getting down to business' the publicist talks about which Georgian tribe should occupy Abkhazia and concludes it should be the Mingrelians. ‘Overcrowding and lack of land in Mingrelia, which forces its inhabitants to leave their homeland and go to different parts of Transcaucasia to work, without a doubt, make resettlement in Abkhazia very desirable for many Mingrelians,’ Gogebashvili affirms.

Such indoctrination could not but lead to the formation at all layers of Georgian society of the firm conviction that any attempt by the Abkhazians to call this Abkhazian land must be punished in the most brutal manner. And the occupation of Abkhazia after the collapse of the Russian Empire in 1918-1921 seemed the natural result of this ideology and policy. Not doubting the correctness, Georgian activists did not hide the openly chauvinist, imperial character of their policy. The leader of the Georgian Mensheviks, Noe Zhordania, was frank: ‘The Russian tsarist government did not have the time to russify the Abkhazians, but we, as a related tribe, must georgianise the Abkhazians through our own culture." In 1918, the Mensheviks passed through Abkhazia with fire and sword. As pointed out in his famous book “On the Groundless Claim of the Georgians to the Sukhum District (Abkhazia )”, N. Vorobyov: “Free and young Georgia, before succeeding in gaining recognition for their own independence, while preaching the rights of small nations to self-determination, is making every effort to incorporate, to include in its borders the whole country [of Abkhazia] and to absorb in its entirety the Abkhazian nation, which is not at all related to the Georgian people, under a flag of the highest, most esteemed slogans of justice and self-determination; in Georgia betrayal, violence and robbery are on display to the widest extent."

Op. cit., Rostov-on-Don, 1919

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