Russian and Soviet domination

After dominating much of the surrounding territory (Kartl-Kakheti had been incorporated in 1801), the Russian Empire annexed Abkhazia in 1810. However, it did not fully control the territory until 1842, and only managed to subdue it in 1865, when it ended the Principality existing.

According to Historyaah, Russian rule was widely condemned by the local population, especially because of the strong religious persecution, underway at that time, against Muslims. The outbreak of the Russo-Ottoman War, which lasted between 1827 and 1828, led to the establishment of a harsh regime in Abkhazia, adjacent to the conflict zone. The rejection of the Russians was exacerbated when they used Abkhazia as a base to attack the Circassians, a people related to the Abkhaz. Finally, the Russian Empire imposed a massive exodus of Abkhaz Muslims to the Ottoman Empire. Thus, between 1864 and 1878, more than 60% of the population of Abkhazia (approximately 200,000 people) fled south. To make up for this loss, the government encouraged Georgian, Armenian, and Russian immigration.

After the Russian Revolution and the creation of the Soviet Union, the Bolsheviks promised autonomy to the people of Abkhazia. In 1931, Joseph Stalin carried out an administrative reorganization, turning Abkhazia into the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazeti. However, it was incorporated into the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. Despite having, nominally, some autonomy, it never came into force, and the central government of Tbilisi carried out a strong campaign to georgize Abkhazia. The Georgian language became mandatory, and Abkhaz was banned. Meanwhile, thousands of Abkhazians were killed as part of Soviet operations against resistance to the regime.

With the death of Stalin and the execution of Lavrenty Beria, the main leader of the repression, Abkhazia regained its autonomy. The development of Abkhaz culture and literature was promoted. Preferential quotas for the population of Abkhaz origin were also established in bureaucratic posts. However, this represented a minority within the country, so such measures generated discontent among the residents of Georgian extraction, who saw in these privileges a discrimination against their ethnic group.


Despite peaceful proposals for a solution, the idea of subduing Abkhazia by military methods remained in Georgia, especially after the fall of Aslan Abashidze, leader of the also rebel Ajaria, in 2004. Mikhail Saakashvili, President of Georgia after the Rose Revolution, proposed to reintegrate both Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the same way, although he later retracted his sayings. Saakashvili stated that the problem over Abkhazia was actually a conflict between Georgia and Russia, suggesting that the current autonomous government would be a puppet government of the Russian Federation. After strong pressure, the Russian government accepted the withdrawal of its military bases in Abkhazia during 2003, leaving only its peacekeepers.

In July 2006, the paramilitary chief of the Kodori Valley, located in the northwest of the country and the only part of the country not under Abkhaz rule, announced the rearmament of his guerrilla groups, which was rejected by the Georgian government. On the 25th of that month, the Georgian army entered Abkhazia and in less than two days, controlled the Kodori area. On September 27 of that year, with the presence of Saakashvili and the Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church, the area controlled by the army was renamed “Upper Abkhazia” and was officially established as the seat of the Georgian administration in the territory.

The ideas of subduing Abkhazia and South Ossetia by military means would resurface after a series of conflicts between Georgia and Russia, and on August 8, 2008, Georgian troops invaded the Ossetian secessionist areas. This fact caused the outbreak of the Second South Ossetia War after the entry of the Russian Army into South Ossetia and its advance towards Georgian territory. Abkhaz volunteers traveled to Ossetia to support the separatist troops in that country, while Russian military forces entered Abkhazia to support the attacks against Georgia. On August 9, the Abkhaz separatist government established a new war front by attacking Georgian forces located in the Kodori Valley. After the battle of the Kodori valley, the Abkhaz army took complete control of the valley.

After the end of hostilities, which resulted in an important part of Georgian territory under Russian occupation and Abkhazia completely under the control of the independentists, the procedures for the recognition of its independence by Russia began. The 25 of August of 2008, the two chambers of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation asked President Dmitry Medvedev [1] recognize the independence of Abkhazia and Ossetia South, which in turn has been strongly rejected by the United States and NATO member countries, straining Russia’s relations with the West. Finally, the next day, the Russian president recognized the independence of both regions.

Economic development

Traditionally, agriculture has been the most important economic activity in Abkhazia, having as its most representative products: citrus fruits, tobacco, tea and grapes. However, the meager area of land suitable for agricultural work imposed a prohibitive limit on the development of the sector. Industrial production is concentrated in meat packaging, and in the lumber industry.

In times of peace, the service area invigorates the economy with income derived from tourism, highlighting the activity of recreational enterprises installed on the coast. Abkhazia communicates with Russia and the rest of Caucasia by road and rail; the capital also has an important airport.

The economy of this republic is in a difficult situation. In recent years, with the support of Russia, it has tried to improve the quality of life of its residents. During its years of de facto independence, Abkhazia has had to cope with the economic chaos left by the collapse of the Soviet Union and, later, the bloody war against Georgia, and the subsequent humanitarian crisis.

Added to this is the embargo to which it is subjected, and which is broken only by the Russian Federation. As a way to overcome the crisis, the Abkhaz government has tried to encourage foreign investment, promoting neoliberalism and requesting various loans from Russian banks. According to a report by the United Nations Development Program, carried out in April 2004, Abkhazia’s GDP had fallen between 80% and 90% in the last fifteen years, and the unemployment rate reached 90%..

The currency used is the Russian ruble ; The US dollar can be exchanged at the Sukhumi, Gagra, Gali and Gudauta banks. The lari, a Georgian currency, is prohibited.

Abkhazia, Georgia History 2

Abkhazia, Georgia History Part II
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