When most of Abkhazia was denuded of its native population in the wake of (a) the end of the Great Caucasian War in 1864 and (b) the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, the question arose as to who would make the most appropriate substitute-population.
In June 1861, on the initiative of the Ubykhs, a 'mejlis' (parliament) was constituted not far from Sochi; it was known as 'The Great and Free Assembly'. The Ubykhs, the Circassian Shapsughs and Abadzekhs/Abzakhs, and the Abkhazian tribes of Ahchypsy, Ajbga as well as the coastal Sadzians strove to unite the mountain tribes into 'one huge barrage'. A special deputation from the mejlis, headed by Izmail (Ismael) Barakay-Ipa Dzapsh, visited a range of European states.
The legendary Prince Inal is a key-figure for the Circassians, Abazinians and Abkhazians, a unifier of lands who founded the main princely generic branches of the plain Circassians. Let's see how legendary the figure of Prince Inal is and who he really was.
On 8 November 1917, the Abkhazian People's Congress in Sukhum elected the first parliament, the "Abkhazian Peoples Council" (ANS) and the following vital documents were approved: "Declaration by the Abkhazian People's Congress" and the "Constitution of the Abkhazian People's Council". It is interesting to note that the representative of the Abkhazian Parliament gave the following address on 19 November 1917 in Tiflis at the opening of the first Georgian parliament (the Georgian National Council):
Austin Jersild. Orientalism and Empire: North Caucasus Mountain Peoples and the Georgian Frontier, 1845-1917. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2002.
Conquest and Exile
In this year of 1864 a deed has been accomplished almost without precedent in history: not one of the mountaineer inhabitants remains on their former places of residence, and measures are being taken to cleanse the region in order to prepare it for the new Russian population.
Main Staff of Caucasus Army, 1864
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After most of Abkhazia’s indigenous Abkhazians were expelled to Ottoman lands firstly at the end of the Russian-Caucasian War (1864) and then following the Russo-Turkish War (1877-78), their vacated lands immediately started to attract colonisation from such diverse incomers as: Mingrelians, Armenians, Greeks, Estonians, Bulgarians, Germans and Modavians — leading Georgian activists at the time (such as the educationalist Iakob Gogebashvili) argued that the Abkhazians’ immediate neighbours in Western Georgia’s province of Mingrelia would most easily cope with the prevailing natural conditions, making them the ideal colonisers. However, the initial, rather desultory process of migration was to reach its apogee during the years of the Stalinist-Beriaite repression of the Abkhazians, namely 1937-53. In accordance with a decree of the Communist Party’s Central Committee of 27 May 1939, land was set aside and domiciles specially constructed to house the collective farmers and their families transported into Abkhazia from various regions of Western Georgia (principally Mingrelia).