Abkhazia: Historical Outline

From the 8th Century B.C
The Greeks established colonies in Abkhazia, a part of the Caucasian land then known as Colchis at the Eastern end of the Black Sea. Their cities, especially Dioscurias (now modern day Sukhum) grew to be prosperous trade centres.

First Century B.C.
The Romans fortified Sukhum (Calling it Sevastopolis or Sebastopolis). The people’s longevity was reported.

523 A.D.
Abkhazia became part of the Byzantine Empire. Christianity, which had come early to Abkhazia, was offically adopted by the Emperor Justinian in 543-6.

780 - 978
The Kingdom of Abkhazia flourished and the Abkhazia Dynasty extended its sway over much of what is now Western Georgia.

978-Mid - 13th Century 
Abkhazia, as a result of dynastic inheritance, is united with Georgian-speaking regions in the mediaeval kingdom whose rulers carried the title 'Sovereign of the Abkhazians and Georgians'.

Mid 13th Century - Circa 1400
The Mongols appear, and the aforementioned unified kingdom eventually splits into varios kingdoms and principalities, of which Abkhazia is one.

A portion of Abkhazia was under the Mingrelian Rule

1500 - 1680
The Abkhazian Chachba Dynasty drove the Mingrelians out and established the boundary between Abkhazia and Georgian that exists to this day.

Abkhazia was invaded by the Ottoman Empire

18th Century
Abkhazia, in alliance with Georgia, made repeated efforts to drive out the Turks.

1801 - 1804
Various Georgian areas (Kartli and Kakhetia-1801, Mingrelia-1803, Imeretia and Guria-1804) came directly under Russian Rule (voluntarily seeking protection from Ottoman Turks and Iran).

Tzar Alexander the First issued a charter to the ruling Prince of Abkhazia acknowledging Abkhazia as an autonomous principality under the protection of Russia.

After prolonged fighting across the entire region of the North Caucasus, Abkhazia was the last Caucasian principality to be forcibly annexed to the Russian Empire. Russian oppression was so severe that over the next few decades more than half of the Abkhazian population fled to Turkey and the Middle East.

1917 - 1918
Abkhazia joined the Republic of North Caucasus. The Mensheviks came to power in Georgia and succeeded in annexing Abkhazia.

March 1921
The Bolsheviks overthrew the Mensheviks in Georgia. The Abkhazian Soviet Socialist Republic was established separate from Georgia and headed by Nestor Lakoba.

Abkhazia was a signatory to the formation of the USSR acting as a sovereign Abkhazian Republic.

Abkhazia adopted its first Constitution under which it was united by a Special Treaty of Alliance with Georgia.

Stalin (Georgian) and Beria (Mingrelian) reduced Abkhazia to the status of an autonomous Republic within Georgia.

1937 - 1953
Forced mass immigration into Abkhazia was carried out from Western Georgia (Mingrelia) by Stalin and Beria. In Abkhazia, as well as other regions of the USSR, mass oppression was carried out, thousands of intellectuals were persecuted. Abkhazian schools were closed. Abkhazians were punished for speaking their own language. The Roman based Abkhazian script, which had been introduced in the late 1920s was replaced by one based upon the Georgian alphabet during this period.

1977 - 1978
In Deceber 1977 Abkhazian intellectuals signed a letter of protest to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR complaining about the status of Abkhazia and blamed the Georgian leaders for pursuing a "Beria" policy aimed at the "Georgianization" of the Republic. Major demonstrations at Lykhny ( a sacred place in Abkhazian tradition) followed in 1978. The Abkhazian campaign to be incorporated in the Russian Federation was rejected by Russia and Georgia. Instead, concessions were made to the Abkhaz, including the opening of A University in Sukhum and the introduction of TV broadcasting in Abkhaz. During that year (1978), Moscow allocated millions of rubles to help Abkhazia. The Abkhazian government never received the moneys. The sum was dispersed to restrain the Abkhazian people's protest at the existing conditions.

1988 - 1989
Leaders of the National Movement in Georgia demanded the abolition of the “Autonomies” within Georgia along with Georgia's secession from the USSR.

1989 - 1990
THE Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic unilaterally adopted a number of measures which essentially effected the secession of Georgia from the USSR and abrogated all legal acts that united Georgia and Abkhazia under Soviet legislation.

On the eve of the signing of the new Soviet Union Treaty, Abkhazia, like all of the other autonomous Republics, declared its sovereignty. On the next day Georgia declared the abrogation of the Abkhazian Declaration of Sovereignty. Georgia abrogated the autonomy of Ossetia leading to armed conflict between South Ossetia and Georgia.

Abkhazia declares its sovereignty over its own territory and proposes a federative treaty with Georgia to fill the "legal vacuum" that emerged after Georgia's unilateral abrogation of all Soviet legal documents. Exactly 20 days after being accepted by the United Nations, on August 14, Georgian troops entered the territory of Abkhazia without any notification to the Abkhazian government and launched a land and air attack on the southeast part of Abkhazia and its capital city.
Bloody fighting continued for 14 months.

On September 30, Abkhazian forces - backed by the Confederation of the Peoples of the North Caucasus and volunteers from the diaspora Abkhazian community based in Turkey finally ousted the Georgian troops from the territory of Abkhazia

In April, The Joint Declaration on the Political Settlement was signed by the parties to the conflict (Note especially this assignment of equal status of Abkhazia and Georgia) plus the UN, Russia and OSCE, in the presence of the UN Secretary General. The Declaration outlined principles for the peaceful settlement of the conflict on the basis of equality between the parties.

In May, negotiations under the auspices of the UN sanctioned the deployment of the CIS peace-keeping troops to separate the parties to the conflict.
November 26, Abkhazia ratifies its Constitution as a sovereign state, though it did not formally declare independence until late 1999.




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