The Abkhaz–Georgian conflict involves ethnic conflict between Georgians and the Abkhaz people in Abkhazia, a de facto independent, partially recognized republic. In a broader sense, one can view the Georgian–Abkhaz conflict as part of a geopolitical conflict in the Caucasus region, intensified at the end of the 20th century with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The conflict, one of the bloodiest in the post-Soviet area, remains unresolved. The Georgian government has offered substantial autonomy to Abkhazia several times. However, both the Abkhaz government and the opposition in Abkhazia refuse any form of union with Georgia. Abkhaz regard their independence as the result of a war of liberation from Georgia, while Georgians believe that historically Abkhazia has always formed part of Georgia. Georgians formed the single largest ethnic group in pre-war Abkhazia, with a 45.7% plurality as of 1989 but as of 2014 most Georgians left in Abkhazia want to remain independent of Georgia. Many accuse the government of Eduard Shevardnadze (in office 1992-2003) of the initiation of senseless hostilities, and then of ineffective conduct of the war and post-war diplomacy. During the war the Abkhaz separatist side carried out an ethnic cleansing campaign which resulted in the expulsion of up to 250,000 ethnic Georgians and in the killing of more than 15,000. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) conventions of Lisbon, Budapest and Istanbul have officially recognized the ethnic cleansing of Georgians, which UN General Assembly Resolution GA/10708 also mentions. The UN Security Council has passed a series of resolutions in which it appeals for a cease-fire.
|Commanders and leaders|
Vladislav Ardzinba |
Givi Gumbaridze |
|1Involvement prior to 2008 disputed; discussed in the articles about the conflict, particularly here|
Both Abkhazia and Georgia were annexed into the Russian Empire in the nineteenth century, and remained part of it until the Russian Revolutions of 1917. While Georgia initially joined the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic and subsequently became independent as the Democratic Republic of Georgia (DRG) in 1918, Abkhazia was initially controlled by a group of Bolsheviks, before ultimately joining the DRG, though its status was never clarified. In 1921 the Red Army invaded Abkhazia and Georgia, eventually incorporating them into the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic. Initially Abkhazia was formed as an independent Soviet republic, the Socialist Soviet Republic of Abkhazia (SSR Abkhazia), though it was united with the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic by a treaty; in 1931 the SSR Abkhazia was downgraded to an autonomous republic within the Georgian SSR, to much opposition from the Abkhaz.
Throughout the Soviet era the Abkhazians called for their quasi-independent status to be restored. Demonstrations in support of this occurred in 1931 immediately after the dissolution of the SSR Abkhazia, and again in 1957, 1967, 1978, and 1989. In 1978, 130 representatives of the Abkhaz intelligentia signed a letter to the Soviet leadership, protesting against what they saw as Georgianization of Abkhazia.
The conflict involved a war in Abkhazia, which lasted for 13 months, beginning in August, 1992, with Georgian government forces and a militia composed of ethnic Georgians who lived in Abkhazia and Russian-backed separatist forces consisting of ethnic Abkhazians, Armenians and Russians who also lived in Abkhazia. The separatists were supported by the North Caucasian and Cossack militants and (unofficially) by Russian forces stationed in Gudauta. The conflict resulted in an agreement in Sochi to cease hostilities, however, this would not last.
In April–May 1998, the conflict escalated once again in the Gali District when several hundred Abkhaz forces entered the villages still populated by Georgians to support the separatist-held parliamentary elections. Despite criticism from the opposition, Eduard Shevardnadze, President of Georgia, refused to deploy troops against Abkhazia. A ceasefire was negotiated on May 20. The hostilities resulted in hundreds of casualties from both sides and an additional 20,000 Georgian refugees.
In September 2001, around 400 Chechen fighters and 80 Georgian guerrillas appeared in the Kodori Valley in extremely controversial conditions. The Chechen-Georgian paramilitaries advanced as far as Sukhumi, but finally were repelled by Abkhaz and Gudauta based Russian peacekeepers.
While at a Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) summit it was decided to exclude any contact with separatists; the trans-border economic cooperation and transport between Abkhazia and Russia grows in scale, with Russia claiming that all this is a matter of private business, rather than state. Georgia also decries the unlimited issuing of Russian passports in Abkhazia with subsequent payment of retirement pensions and other monetary benefits by Russia, which Georgia considers to be economic support of separatists by the Russian government.
In May 2006 the Coordinating Council of Georgia’s Government and Abkhaz separatists was convened for the first time since 2001. In late July the 2006 Kodori crisis erupted, resulting in the establishment of the de jure Government of Abkhazia in Kodori. For the first time after the war, this government is located in Abkhazia, and is headed by Malkhaz Akishbaia, Temur Mzhavia and Ada Marshania.
Currently, the Abkhaz side demands reparations from the Georgian side of $13 billion in US currency for damages in this conflict. The Georgian side dismisses these claims. On May 15, 2008 United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution recognising the right of all refugees (including victims of reported “ethnic cleansing”) to return to Abkhazia and their property rights. It "regretted" the attempts to alter pre-war demographic composition and called for the "rapid development of a timetable to ensure the prompt voluntary return of all refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes."
On July 9, 2012, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly passed a resolution at its annual session in Monaco, underlining Georgia’s territorial integrity and referring to breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia as “occupied territories”. The resolution “urges the Government and the Parliament of the Russian Federation, as well as the de facto authorities of Abkhazia, Georgia and South Ossetia, Georgia, to allow the European Union Monitoring Mission unimpeded access to the occupied territories.” It also says that the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly is “concerned about the humanitarian situation of the displaced persons both in Georgia and in the occupied territories of Abkhazia, Georgia and South Ossetia, Georgia, as well as the denial of the right of return to their places of living.” The Assembly is the parliamentary dimension of the OSCE with 320 lawmakers from the organization’s 56 participating states, including Russia.
On August 10, 2008, the Russo-Georgian War spread to Abkhazia, where separatist rebels and the Russian air force launched an all-out attack on Georgian forces. Abkhazia's pro-Moscow separatist President Sergei Bagapsh said that his troops had launched a major "military operation" to force Georgian troops out of the Kodori Gorge, which they still controlled. As a result of this attack, Georgian troops were driven out of Abkhazia entirely.
On August 26, 2008, the Russian Federation officially recognized both South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states.
In response to Russia's recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the Georgian government announced that the country cut all diplomatic relations with Russia and that it left the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Relations between Georgia and Abkhazia have remained tense after the war. Georgia has moved to increase Abkhazia's isolation by imposing a sea blockade of Abkhazia. During the opening ceremony of a new building of the Georgian Embassy in Kiev (Ukraine) in November 2009 Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili stated that residents of South Ossetia and Abkhazia could also use its facilities "I would like to assure you, my dear friends, that this is your home, as well, and here you will always be able to find support and understanding".
The 2001 Kodori crisis was a confrontation in the Kodori Valley, Abkhazia, in October 2001 between Georgians (who were supported by ethnic Chechen fighters) and Abkhazian forces. The crisis was largely neglected by the world media, which was focused on the concurrent US attack on Afghanistan. The fighting resulted in the deaths of at least 40 people.2006 Kodori crisis
The 2006 Kodori crisis erupted in late July 2006 in Abkhazia's Kodori Gorge, when a local militia leader declared his opposition to the Government of Georgia, which sent police forces to disarm the rebels. The upper part of the Kodori Gorge was at that time the only portion of Abkhazia, Georgia's breakaway republic, not controlled by the Abkhaz authorities.Abkhaz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic
The Abkhaz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (Russian: Абхазская Автономная Советская Социалистическая Республика; Georgian: აფხაზეთის ავტონომიური საბჭოთა სოციალისტური რესპუბლიკა; Abkhazian: Аҧснытәи Автономтә Советтә Социалисттә Республика), abbreviated as Abkhaz ASSR (Russian: Абхазская АССР; Georgian: აფხაზეთის ასსრ; Abkhazian: Аҧснытәи АССР), was an autonomous republic of the Soviet Union within the Georgian SSR. It came into existence in February 1931, when the Socialist Soviet Republic of Abkhazia (SSR Abkhazia or SSRA), originally created in March 1921, was transformed to the status of Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic within the Georgian SSR.
The Abkhaz ASSR adopted its own constitution on 2 August 1937. The supreme organ of legislative power was the Supreme Soviet elected every 4 years and its Presidium. The executive power was vested with the Council of Ministers appointed by the Supreme Soviet. The Abkhaz ASSR had 11 representatives in the Council of Nationalities of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR.Battle of the Kodori Valley
The Battle of the Kodori Valley was a military operation during the Russo-Georgian War in the Upper Kodori Valley of Abkhazia, a breakaway region of Georgia. It was the only part of Abkhazia under Georgian control before this military conflict. On 9 August 2008, the Abkhaz military, with support by Russian forces, launched an operation to remove the remaining Georgian troops from the disputed gorge. After three days, the Georgian military left the Upper Kodori Valley.Daur Akhvlediani
Daur Akhvlediani (Russian: Даур Ахвледиани; 10 October 1964 – 22 September 1993) was an Abkhaz professional football player. He took part in the War in Abkhazia (1992–93), subsequently died and was posthumously awarded the order Hero of Abkhazia, the highest honorary title of the disputed territory of Abkhazia.Daur Akhvlediani Stadium
Daur Akhvlediani Stadium is the central stadium of Gagra city. It is located on Nartaa Avenue. During the Abkhaz–Georgian conflict the stadium was seriously damaged and ceased to function. In 2007 it was reconstructed, 1500 plastic benches were installed and drainage works carried out on the football field. The stadium was reopened on July 10, 1997 and was named after the hero of Abkhazia, Daur Akhvlediani.Enguri River
The Enguri (Georgian: ენგური, Abkhazian: Егры, Egry Russian: Ингури, Inguri) is a river in western Georgia. It is 213 kilometres (132 mi) long, originates in northeastern Svaneti near the region of Racha and plays an important role providing hydroelectric power to the area.
The river emerges from the high Caucasus near the highest mountain in Georgia, Shkhara, and winds through the mountain valleys to the northwest before turning southwest to empty into the Black Sea near Anaklia.
Since the Abkhaz–Georgian conflict, both Georgia and Abkhazia keep troops on the river; Russia also keeps peacekeeping troops. The only legal crossing-point is the 870-metre (2,850 ft) long Enguri Bridge, which was built by German prisoners of war from 1944 until 1948. There are also a number of illegal connections across the river.
The river plays an important role in the Georgian energy production. In 1988 the Enguri Dam was built at a height of 240 metres (790 ft). At 750 metres (2,460 ft) across and 271.5 metres (891 ft) high, it is the largest construction in the Caucasus. It has a capacity of 1.1 million cubic metres (39,000,000 cu ft) of water. The underground water works produces 4.5 million kilowatts of energy yearly, about 40% of the national energy production. The capacity is 1,300 megawatts.Frozen conflict
In international relations, a frozen conflict is a situation in which active armed conflict has been brought to an end, but no peace treaty or other political framework resolves the conflict to the satisfaction of the combatants. Therefore, legally the conflict can start again at any moment, creating an environment of insecurity and instability.
The term has been commonly used for post-Soviet conflicts, but it has also often been applied to other perennial territorial disputes. The de facto situation that emerges may match the de jure position asserted by one party to the conflict; for example, Russia claims and effectively controls Crimea following the 2014 Crimean crisis despite Ukraine's continuing claim to the region. Alternatively, the de facto situation may not match either side's official claim. The division of Korea is an example of the latter situation: both the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea officially assert claims to the entire peninsula; however, there exists a well-defined border between the two countries' areas of control.
Frozen conflicts sometimes result in partially recognized states. For example, the Republic of South Ossetia, a product of the frozen Georgian–Ossetian conflict, is recognized by eight other states, including five UN members; the other three of these entities are partially recognized states themselves.Index of Abkhazia-related articles
This is an alphabetical list of Abkhazia-related articles.Index of Georgia (country)-related articles
For articles (arranged alphabetically) related to Georgia, see Category:Georgia (country)Irma Inashvili
Irma Inashvili (born 6 July 1970) is a Georgian politician and journalist. She has been a member of the Parliament of Georgia since November 2016, representing the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia. She is the current deputy chairperson of the Parliament of Georgia. She has also been the general secretary of the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia since 2014.Inashvili attended high school in Borjomi before studying journalism at Tbilisi State University. She was a director of 1TV from 1993 to 2005, and was a correspondent on the ground during the Abkhaz–Georgian conflict. In 2005, she co-founded the Objective Media Union, an opposition media outlet. OMU both recorded television programs and published newspapers; it was blocked from holding a broadcasting license and forced to distribute programs online from 2006 to 2009, but later regained its broadcast license. Inashvili served as both editor (2015-2010) and program director (2010-2014) of the organisation.Inashvili became involved in the Resistance Movement against President Mikhail Saakashvili in 2010, and was involved in breaking stories about the abuse of prisoners under the Saakashvili government. She later left the Objective Media Union to enter politics, co-founding the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia and from 2014 serving as its general secretary. She was elected to the Parliament of Georgia at the 2016 parliamentary election, and serves as deputy chairperson of parliament and a member of the Human Rights And Civil Integration Committee and State Constitutional Commission.Mingrelians
The Mingrelians (Megrelian: მარგალი, margali; Georgian: მეგრელები: megrelebi) are an indigenous Kartvelian-speaking ethnic subgroup of Georgians that mostly live in Samegrelo region of Georgia. They also live in considerable numbers in Abkhazia and Tbilisi. In the pre-1930 Soviet census, the Megrelians were afforded their own ethnic group category.The Mingrelians speak the Mingrelian language, and are typically bilingual also in Georgian. Both these languages belong to the Kartvelian language family.Pskhu-Gumista Strict Nature Reserve
Pskhu-Gumista Strict Nature Reserve (Georgian: ფსხუ-გუმისთის სახელმწიფო ნაკრძალი) is a protected area in the Sukhumi District of Abkhazia, Georgia.
Reserve main goal is protecting flora and fauna in surrounding mountainous region.Ritsa Strict Nature Reserve
Ritsa Strict Nature Reserve (Georgian: რიწის დაცული ტერიტორია) is a protected area in the Gudauta District of Abkhazia, Georgia.
Reserve main goal is protecting Lake Ritsa and flora and fauna in surrounding mountainous region.Shamil Basayev
Shamil Salmanovich Basayev (Chechen: Шамиль Басаев, Russian: Шамиль Салманович Басаев; 14 January 1965 – 10 July 2006) was a Chechen Islamist Guerilla Fighter and a leader of the Chechen movement.
Starting as a field commander in the Transcaucasus, Basayev led guerrilla campaigns against Russian forces for years, as well as launching mass-hostage takings of civilians, with his goal being the withdrawal of Russian soldiers from Chechnya. Beginning in 2003, Basayev used the nom de guerre and title of "Emir Abdallah Shamil Abu-Idris". In 1997–1998 he also served as vice-Prime minister of Chechnya in Maskhadov's government.
Basayev was considered by some to be the undisputed leader of the radical wing of the Chechen insurgency. He ordered the Beslan school massacre and was responsible for numerous guerrilla attacks on security forces in and around Chechnya and the 2002 Moscow theater hostage crisis. ABC News described him as "one of the most-wanted terrorists in the world."Basayev was killed by an explosion on 10 July 2006. Controversy still surrounds who is responsible for his death, with Russian authorities claiming he was killed in an assassination by the FSB and the Chechen separatists claiming he died in an accidental explosion.Socialist Soviet Republic of Abkhazia
The Socialist Soviet Republic of Abkhazia (SSR Abkhazia) was a short-lived republic within the Caucasus region of the Soviet Union that covered the territory of Abkhazia, and existed from 31 March 1921 to 19 February 1931. Formed in the aftermath of the Red Army invasion of Georgia in 1921, it was independent until 16 December 1921, when it agreed to a treaty uniting it with the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic (Georgian SSR). The SSR Abkhazia was largely similar to an autonomous Soviet republic, though it retained de facto independence from Georgia, being given certain features only full union republics had, like its own military units. Through its status as a "treaty republic" with Georgia, Abkhazia joined the Transcaucasian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, which united Armenian, Azerbaijani, and Georgian SSRs into one federal unit, when the latter was formed in 1922. The SSR Abkhazia was abolished in 1931 and replaced with the Abkhaz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic within the Georgian SSR.
Throughout its existence, the SSR Abkhazia was led by Nestor Lakoba, who served officially as the Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars but controlled the republic to such an extent it was jokingly referred to as "Lakobistan". Due to Lakoba's close relationship with Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, collectivisation was delayed until after Abkhazia was incorporated into Georgia. Abkhazia remained a major tobacco producer in this era, growing over half of the USSR's supply. It also produced other agricultural produce, including tea, wine, and citrus fruits, leading to Abkhazia being one of the wealthiest regions in the Soviet Union. Its sub-tropical climate also made it a prime holiday destination; Stalin and other Soviet leaders had dachas (holiday homes) in the region and spent considerable time there.
An ethnically diverse region, Abkhazia was nominally led by the Abkhaz people, who made up less than 30 percent of the population. Other major groups included Georgians, Armenians, Greeks, and Russians. Even though they did not form the majority, the Abkhaz were heavily favoured and the Abkhaz language was promoted as a result of the korenizatsiia policies of the era. An Abkhaz national identity was promoted through these policies, leading to the rise of Abkhaz nationalism. The main legacy of the SSR Abkhazia is that for the first time in modern history, it created a defined geographic entity under the name Abkhazia. Though the quasi-independent republic was downgraded in 1931, the Abkhaz people did not forget that it had existed. With the advent of glasnost and perestroika in the late 1980s, Abkhaz leaders called for their state to be re-formed and secede from Georgia, citing the SSR Abkhazia as a precedent. This led to them restoring the 1925 SSR Abkhazian constitution, which led to the 1992–1993 war between Abkhazian secessionists and Georgia, and the modern Abkhaz–Georgian conflict.Viacheslav Chirikba
Viacheslav Chirikba is a linguist and politician from Abkhazia. He was Minister for Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia between 2011 and 2016.Viktor Popkov
Viktor Alekseyevich Popkov (Russian: Ви́ктор Алексе́евич Попко́в; June 17, 1946 – June 2, 2001) was a Russian dissident, Christian, humanitarian, human rights activist and journalist.
A deeply religious Old Believer and pacifist, Popkov taught non-violence, and spent the last 15 years of his life in conflict areas of the collapsing Soviet Union, including the Abkhaz–Georgian conflict, the Nagorno-Karabakh War, and the Chechen Wars.Popkov died on June 2, 2001, after being shot during a drive-by shooting while working as an aid worker in Chechnya days earlier.
|Timeline||Abkhazian side||Georgian side|
(after Yugoslav Wars)