I slept badly in the Hotel Ritsa in Abkhazia. I had an unsettling dream in which I walked through an old house with an elderly Stalin, muttering malevolently to himself. In the morning, wondering who had disturbed my sleep, I had a long list of suspects from the other world.
Thomas de Waal is a Senior Associate for the Caucasus at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. The Caucasus is often depicted as a region of peoples locked in enduring and invariant nationalist enmity. The reality is more complex and therefore more hopeful, says Thomas de Waal.
Gudisa Vardania, the State University of Abkhazia, 2007
The author takes a look into the past in order to shed light on some of the still painful issues relating to the emergence of the Abkhaz-Adighe element of the Caucasian diaspora, the ups and downs of the Caucasian War Russia waged in the Caucasus for many years, the deportation of huge numbers of local people, and their arduous integration into Ottoman Turkey.
In the period 1922—1930 Abkhazia enjoyed the status of a union republic associated with but not subordinate to Georgia. On February 19, 1931 the Sixth All-Georgian Congress of Soviets decided, presumably with Stalin’s consent, to deprive Abkhazia of this status and incorporate it into Georgia as an autonomous republic. In several Abkhaz villages there were mass protests against this change as well as against forced collectivization, then underway across the Soviet Union. Georgian leader Lavrenti Beria mobilized a security police detachment to suppress the protests, but Nestor Lakoba, the first leader of Soviet Abkhazia, managed to defuse the confrontation and avert bloodshed.