Summary of Historical Events in Abkhazian History, 1810-1993

Abkhazia (quite separately from any region belonging to Georgia) comes under the protection of Tsarist Russia, and administers its own affairs until 1864.

Tsarist Russia finally crushes North Caucasian resistance, and the majority of the Abkhazians (along with related Circassians and all the Ubykhs) go into exile in Ottoman lands, leaving the Northwest Caucasus decimated of its native population.

Further expulsions of Abkhazians to Turkey occur after trouble connected with land-reform in Abkhazia following the Russo-Turkish war.

Population of Abkhazia: Abkhazians 58,961, Mingrelians 3,474, Greeks 2,056 Armenians 1,337, Russians 972, Estonians 637, Georgians 515, Others 1,460

Soviet commune exists for 40 days in Abkhazia before it is forcibly annexed by the Georgian Mensheviks. (see C. E. Bechhofer "In Denikin's Russia and the Caucasus", London 1921.)

Soviet power is re-established on March 4. Abkhazian Soviet Republic is recognized by Georgia's revolutionary committee on May 21. Special "contract of alliance" is signed between Abkhazia and Georgia on December 16.

December 13, 1922
Abkhazia and Georgia together enter the Transcaucasian Federation

Adoption of the Abkhazian Constitution, enshrining its republican status with treaty ties to Georgia.

February 1931
Stalin reduces the status of Abkhazia to that of an autonomous republic within Georgia.

Start of Beria's anti-Abkhazian drive, involving forced immigration of thousands of non-Abkhazians (especially Mingrelians), placing the local administration in Kartvelian hands, changing the Abkhaz alphabet to a Georgian base, closure in 1944-45 of Abkhazian schools, replacing them with Georgian schools, banning the Abkhaz language; post-war plan to deport the entire Abkhazian nation, using Pavle Ingoroqva's "theory" of their supposed arrival in Abkhazia only in the 17th century as "justification".

Deaths of Stalin and Beria mean reversal of the anti-Abkhazian drive; new script based on Cyrillic is devised, Abkhazian schools reopen, and administration put back in Abkhazian hands.

130 Abkhazian intellectuals write to Brezhnev to request permission for Abkhazia to secede from Georgia and join Russia because of ongoing Georgian encroachment on the rights of Abkhazians. In compensation, the Abkhazian State University is opened (with Georgian, Russian and Abkhazian sectors) to serve the needs of higher education in Western Georgia. The 130 signatories of the letter loose their jobs.

As a result of agitation by Kartvelian nationalists (Gamsakhurdia, Kostava, Chanturia), ethnic clashes take place in Abkhazia over attempts to open a branch of Tbilisi University in Abkhazia's capital, Sukhum, aimed at undermining the official university established in 1978.

As in other autonomous republics throughout the USSR, the Abkhazian Supreme Soviet declares sovereignty over its territory.

An absolute majority of the entire eligible electorate of Abkhazia vote in March to remain within Gorbachev's proposed restructured USSR rather than run the risk of joining a chauvinistically inclined Georgia in its bid for independence.

Following the abolition in Tbilisi of all Soviet legislation affecting Georgia and the reinstatement of Georgia's 1921 pre-Bolshevik Constitution, Abkhazia reinstates its 1925 Constitution as a temporary measure since no formal status was assigned to Abkhazia in the 1921 Georgian Constitution, whereas the 1925 Abkhazian Constitution allowed for a federative relationship between the two equal republics of Abkhazia and Georgia.

August 14, 1992
While negotiations on the nature of future federal ties between Abkhazia and Georgia are in progress, Shevardnadze, head of the State Council that had come to power in Tbilisi as a result of an illegal coup which ousted Pres. Gamsakhurdia in January 1992, launches the invasion of Abkhazia. His excuse is that ministers kidnapped by Gamsakhurdia's supporters are being held in Abkhazia, whereas they are actually in Mingrelia. A few days later Georgian Defense Minister Kitovani admits that the real reason behind the invasion is to bring down the Abkhazian administration of Vladislav Ardzinba.

September 30, 1993
Allied troops, composed of Abkhazians, other non-Kartvelian residents of Abkhazia, and North Caucasian volunteers, expell Shevardnadze and his fighters.




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