From 1919 to Now: The 105th Anniversary of 'Apsny,' Abkhazia’s First Newspaper

Apsny,' the oldest periodical publication in Abkhazia, is the premier newspaper in the Abkhaz language.

Apsny,' the oldest periodical publication in Abkhazia, is the premier newspaper in the Abkhaz language.

SUKHUM / AQW'A ―  A ceremonial meeting celebrating the 105th anniversary of the "Аԥсны / Apsny" newspaper was held in Sukhum. The first newspaper in the Abkhaz language, "Apsny" ("Abkhazia"), began its publication journey 105 years ago on 27 February 1919. The event, dedicated to this milestone of the Republic’s first periodical, took place in Sukhum on Wednesday, April 24.

The host of the evening, journalist Adgur Gunba, recounted the arduous and detailed efforts of Dmitri Gulia, a pioneer of Abkhaz literature, whose dedication enabled the publication of the inaugural issue of "Apsny" on that date in 1919. Gulia also served as the newspaper's first editor.

Gunba then introduced Elana Chkheidze, a student from the philological faculty at Abkhaz State University, who delivered a poignant reading of Mikhail Lakrba's famous poem, "To Dmitri Gulia."

Apsny (Abkhazia) Newspaper
"Apsny" is a socio-political newspaper in the Abkhaz language, it is the oldest periodical publication in Abkhazia.

The event was graced by the presence of Abesalom Kvarchia, the head of the Presidential Administration, who conveyed a congratulatory message from the state's head, Aslan Bzhania. Bzhania remarked on the significance of the year, which marks not only the 150th anniversary of Dmitri Gulia’s birth, a stalwart of Abkhaz culture and literature, but also the 105th anniversary of the first issue of "Apsny."

Kvarchia emphasized, "This event holds particular significance for our people. 'Apsny' was the inaugural Abkhaz-language newspaper and has played a crucial role in fostering national consciousness and advancing our language and culture. It has been pivotal in showcasing the spirituality and heritage of the Abkhaz people."

He also highlighted that from its inception, the newspaper was a platform for the country’s leading scientists and writers. The contributions of prominent authors like Iua Kogonia, Samson Chanba, and Dzadz Darsalia enriched the newspaper’s pages with poems, essays, stories, and plays.

Kvarchia added, "The publication is deeply entwined with every phase of Abkhazia’s state development. Even during the difficult times of the Patriotic War, the newspaper continued its operations, producing over 70 issues. Many staff members were directly involved in the conflict, and three tragically did not return. We forever hold them in our hearts."

Apsny (Abkhazia) Newspaper
The newspaper "Apsny" has also its own website:

Akhra Ankvab, the editor-in-chief of "Apsny" newspaper, highlighted that the periodical's launch significantly advanced the enlightenment of Abkhazia's citizens and fostered the development of education and culture. Dmitri Gulia, the newspaper's founder and editor, was supported by numerous luminaries from the Abkhaz intelligentsia, including esteemed writers and poets. Their literary works, along with those of other Abkhaz authors, were regularly featured in the pages of "Apsny," as pointed out by the editor.

During the Georgian-Abkhazian War of 1992-1993, the newspaper continued its publication without interruption. Despite the displacement of the editorial staff to Gudauta, "Apsny" was still printed at a local press, ensuring that the population maintained access to vital information.

Akhra Ankvab recalled the words of Vladislav Ardzinba: "As long as a newspaper in the Abkhaz language exists, so too does the Abkhaz state." The celebratory evening also included performances by beloved Abkhaz artists—the vocal and instrumental ensemble "Gunda," Ludmila Gumba, and Jimmy Shumenia. Moreover, a documentary chronicling the history of the "Apsny" newspaper was showcased to the audience.

The first Abkhaz-language newspaper, "Apsny" ("Abkhazia"), was inaugurated 105 years ago on February 27, 1919, a date now commemorated as the Day of Mass Media in Abkhazia. Over two years, 85 editions were published. Following the Soviet takeover in 1921, the newspaper was rebranded as "Apsny Kapsh" ("Red Abkhazia") and continued under this title until 1991, when it reverted to its original name.




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