President of the Republic of Abkhazia



History of Abkhazia.

Main milestones (chronology)
Ancient period
Abkhazia during the Middle Ages
Abkhazia as a part of the Russian Empire
Soviet period
Modern period

Main milestones (chronology)

Approximately 500 thousand years ago - the ancient settlement of a primitive man in Iashtukha village (north-eastern outskirts of Sukhum).

5 thousand years b.c. - appearance of proto-Abkhazian tribes on the territory of Abkhazia

III thousand b.c. - dolmen culture
Beginning of the I millennium b.c. - Kolkhid-koban metallurgical province

VIII-VII centuries b.c. - appearance of metallurgy of iron

VI century b.c. - beginning of Greek colonization. Greek colony cities Dioskuria (Sukhum), Pitiunt (Pitsunda), Guenos (Ochamchira) appear on the seacoast of Abkhazia.

64 year b.c. - the period of the beginning of Roman dominion.

I century a.c. - first mentioning of Apsilaa in the work of the roman scientist Pliny the Elder.

I century a.c. - according to the church tradition, apostles Andrey First-called, Simon Kananit preached Christianity among Abkhaz ancestor tribes.

End of III century - a new Christian community in West Caucasus is formed in Pitiunt, which is led by the participant of the First Council of Nicaea (325 AD) Bishop Stratofil.

VI century - Abkhaz seacoast is occupied by Persians for a brief period.

The first half of the 6th century - Abkhaz ancestors Apsils and Abazgs adopted Christianity as their state religion. Active construction of Christian temples started.

737 year - battle at Anakopiya fortress against Arab hordes.

786 year - formation of Abkhaz kingdom with a reigning dynasty of Leonids.

End of X century - replacement of the dynasty of Abkhaz kingdom (Bagrat III becomes the king). Formation of the "Kingdom of Abkhaz and Kartvels".

XIII century - the disintegration of the "Kingdom of Abkhaz and Kartvels".

Beginning of XIII century- middle of XV century - active development of Abkhaz seacoast by Italian merchants from Genoa, construction of Genoa trading stations, and fortresses.

The second half of the XVI century - the lands of Abkhazia are under the Ottoman Empire's influence.
XVI-XVII centuries - Islamization of Abkhazia.

1810 - Russian emperor Alexander I signed a Manifest, according to which Abkhaz princedom became part of the Russian empire as an autonomy.

The second half of the XIX century - mass resettlement of Abkhazians to Turkey ("makhadjirstvo"), active colonization of Abkhazia by Mingrelians, Greek, Bulgarians.

1864 - with the decree of Emperor Alexander II Abkhaz princedom was abolished and renamed into the Sukhum military department of the Russian empire.

1864-1917 years - Abkhazia (Sukhum department, from 1883 - Sukhum district) is subordinate to the administration of the Tsar's governor in the Caucasus.
1866 - Lykhny rebellion

1918-1921  - the occupation of Abkhazia by the forces of the Mensheviks government of Georgia.

March 4, 1921 - formation of Soviet power in Abkhazia

March 31, 1921 - formation of the Abkhaz Socialistic Soviet Republic.

May 21, 1921 - Declaration of the revolutionary committee of Georgia of the "Independence of Socialistic Soviet Republic of Abkhazia".

1925  - the adoption of the Constitution of Abkhaz SSR

1931 - Abkhazia is transformed into an autonomous republic within Georgian SSR.

1941-1942 - military actions on the territory of Abkhazia during the course of the Great Patriotic war.

1992-1993 - The Patriotic War of the People of Abkhazia for Independence.
1993 - the sovereign Republic of Abkhazia is formed.

November 26, 1994 - new constitution of the Republic of Abkhazia is adopted. Vladislav Ardzynba becomes the first President.
October 12, 1999 - as a result of a referendum the Act of State Independence of the Republic of Abkhazia is adopted.

August 26, 2008 - President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev signed the Decree "On the recognition of the independence of Abkhazia".

September 9, 2008 - The Agreement on establishing diplomatic relations between Russia and Abkhazia is signed.

September 17, 2008 - the Treaty on friendship, cooperation, and mutual assistance is signed between Russia and Abkhazia.

November 24, 2014 - The Presidents of Abkhazia and Russia Raul Khadzhimba and Vladimir Putin sign the Agreement "On Alliance and strategic partnership between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Abkhazia".

December 22, 2014 - The agreement is ratified by the People's Assembly - Parliament of the Republic of Abkhazia. January 23, 2014 - the agreement is ratified by the State Duma of the Russian Federation.

Ancient period.

The territory of Abkhazia was populated by mankind from the ancient times and numerous archeological findings of the Paleolithic period (Iashtukha settlement), Mesolithic period (Kholodniy Grot, Grot Apiancha), Neolith period (Lemsa, Kistrik settlements) testify that.

Abkhazians are one of the most ancient aboriginal ethnic groups of Caucasus, language, culture, and traditions of which are close and related to north Caucasian peoples: Abaza, Adyghe, Kabarda, Circassians, Ubykh. In linguistic relation, they all represent the Abkhaz-Adyghe group of the North Caucasian language family. Abkhaz inhabit the territory of the modern Republic of Abkhazia, which is situated in the North-Western part of Transcaucasia on the slope of Big Caucasus and Kolkhida lowland.

Supposedly, the first written mentioning of ancestors of Abkhazians was in the cuneiform texts, made during the rule of Assyrian tsar Tiglatpalasar I (approximately 1115 - 1076 b.c.), in which there is information on Abeshlaa tribes, and also kasks (possible ancestors of Adyghe people). The theory of possible kinship of ancestors of Abkhaz-Adyghe and khatts (people, living on the territory of the modern Turkish Anatolia, who influenced the culture of the biggest state of Ancient East - Khett kingdom) is widespread among linguists.

The creation of colonies of ancient Greek city-states on the territory of modern Abkhazia, which played a major role in the integration of Abkhazia to the cultural habitat of the ancient world happened in VI century b.c. The most popular of those colonies were Dioskuriada (on the territory of modern Sukhum), Pitiunt (Pitsunda), Guenos (Ochamchira).

During the first century b.c. after a long struggle with the Pontiya kingdom, the domination of Ancient Rome is established in the region. During this period the trade relations of the population of Abkhazia with the rest of the Roman empire are actively developed, rich archeological material is proof of that.

Sebastopolis is the biggest city center of Abkhazia of that period of time, which was situated on the territory of modern Sukhum. The meaning of that city can be explained by simply translating the name of the city - Sebastpolis in translation from Greek means "Honorary city".

Abkhazia during the Middle Ages.

Authentic ancestors of Abkhazians - Apsils and Abazgs, are mentioned in antique resources in I-II centuries a.c.
In VI century on the territory of modern Abkhazia, there are early feudal princedoms Apsiliya, Abazgiya, Sanigiya dependent on the East Roman Empire (Byzantine).

In 737, Arab troops invaded the territory of Abkhazia. They were defeated in Abazg capital Anakopia (modern Noviy Afon) by the troop under the command of the ruler of Abazgiya Leon I. This event led to the strengthening of Abazgiya, which united all Abkhazian princedoms. Thus, the Abkhaz kingdom was established, which acquired independence from the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine) with Leon II as a ruler. The support of the Khazar kaganat to Leon II, whose mother was a daughter of Khazar tsar, caused the separation of Abkhazia from Byzantine.

The established Abkhaz kingdom was one of the most influential state entities among Easter Black sea countries. He succeeded in placing all territory of modern West Georgia right up to Likh mountain ridge under his control. In 806 the capital of Abkhazia was moved from Anakopiya to Kutais. Abkhaz kingdom was struggling for the possession of Kartli with the Armenian kingdom. With the help of Abkhaz kings, Byzantine spread Christianity among alans and other people of Caucasus.

In 1975 with the death of Abkhaz king Feodosiy the ruling dynasty of Leonids was suppressed and the power in Abkhazia went to Bagrat III from the dynasty of Bagratids, who was the son of the sister of Feodosiy Gurandukht. This event acted as a foundation for the growth of the power of the dynasty of Bagratids (Bagrationi) and the spreading of their authority on the territory of modern Georgia. Kutais remained the capital of the joint state for a long time. In XII, Kind David the Builder appointed the son of Shah Shirvan Otago as a viceregent to Abkhazia, and later he became the founder of the new dynasty of Abkhaz rulers Shervashidze (Chachba). In XIII, as a result of Mongol conquests, the "Kingdom of Abkhazians and Kartvelians" disintegrated.

By the end of XIII - the beginning of XIV century, the Genoa republic spreads its influence on the territory of Abkhazia, which creates their trade settlements here, in particular San-Sebastian (Sukhum), Kakari (Gagra), Pitsonda (Pitsunda), Kavo di Bukso (Gudauta), San-Tamazo (Tamysh), etc. 
After the occupation of Constantinople by the Ottomans in 1453, Genoa had to leave Abkhazia. In XVI, as most of the state entities in Northern Caucasus and Transcaucasus, Abkhazia joins the sphere of the Ottoman Empire's influence. The Islamisation of Abkhazia is related to the coming of Turkey to the region.

Abkhazia as a part of the Russian empire.
At the end of XVIII and at the beginning of the XIX century, as a result of an obvious weakness of military and political potency of the Ottoman Empire and the strengthening of the role of the Russian empire, Prince of Abkhazia Keleshbey Shervashidze (Chachba) takes the course of rapprochement with Russia. However, in 1808, Keleshbeiy was murdered and his elder son Aslanbey, oriented to Turkey, becomes the prince.
In 1810, with the help of Russia, the younger son of the murdered prince Seferby (Georgiy after baptism) becomes the ruler. On February 17, 1810, the emperor Alexander I with his official document recognizes Georgiy as a prince of the Abkhaz domain "under supreme patronage, power, and protection of Russian empire". Thus, Abkhazia enters Russian empires on the rights of self-governed princedom. According to the opinion of some historians, one of the distinctive features of Abkhaz princedom was that, in contrast with the Georgian princedoms (Kartli-Kahetiya, Imeretiya, Guriya, Megreliya), did not fully lose its statehood when entering Russia.

With the Russian military support the strengthening of the authority of the Abkhaz ruler, who stands rather high in the Russian military hierarchy, takes place. In particular, the last prince Mikhail Shervashidze (Chachba) had a rank of lieutenant-general and adjutant general and the order of saint Alexander Nevskiy.

At the same time, Abkhaz rulers promoted the advancement of Russian influence in Abkhaz free mountain societies and lands of neighboring Ubykhs and Shapsugs.

At the moment of the end of the Caucasian war (1864), Abkhaz successive princedom lost its importance to the Russian administration, and it was liquidated on that same year. The Sukhum military department was created in its place, directly subordinate to the tsar administration in the Caucasus.

The second half of XIX was the most tragic period in the history of the Abkhaz nation, marked by mass evictions of Abkhazians to the Ottoman empire (so-called mahadjirstvo) under the pressure of tsar authorities. As a result of this, most of the Abkhazians had to leave Motherland, and the ethnic composition of Abkhazia changed radically. Empty lands were populated by other ethnicities - Russians, Armenians, Estonians, and above all, colonists from Georgia. If in 1886 Abkhaz made up 85,7% of the population, in 1897 it was only 55,3 %. And these dynamics continued for the future decades.

In 1917, after the disintegration of the Russian empire, a part of the public and political forces of Abkhazia advocated the integration with the Association of United Mountaineers of North Caucasus and Dagestan, which later united with the South-Eastern Association of Cossack troops, mountaineers of the Caucasus and free peoples of steppes. This association was supposed to become part of the Russian democratic republic. In November 1917, the Abkhaz National Council was created - the first representative body of authority in Abkhazia.

In May 1918, the Mountain republic was declared in Batum, a part of which, according to the plans of its creators, should have become Abkhazia. However, in June of the same year, the territory of Abkhazia was occupied by the troops of the newly established Georgian Democratic Republic. The government of GDR conducted the policy of suppression of the political and national rights of the people of Abkhazia.
The majority of the local population supported the overthrow of the Georgian government in Abkhazia, led by the units of the Red Army on March 4, 1921.

Soviet period

On March 21, the Revolutionary Committee of Abkhazia declared the creation of an independent Soviet Socialistic Republic of Abkhazia. On May 21 of the same year, the independence of Abkhazia was recognized by the Revolutionary Committee of SSR of Georgia.
Nestor Lakoba, Efrem Eshba, and other statesmen played an outstanding role in the state renaissance of Abkhazia.
In December 1921 under the pressure of Stalin and Ordjonikidze led Caucasian bureau of the Central Committee of Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks), Abkhazia had to sign the Treaty of alliance with SSR Georgia.

In December 1922, the representative of the SSR Abkhazia within the delegation of the Transcaucasian Socialistic Federative Soviet Republic (TSFSR) signed the Agreement on the creation of the USSR.

In 1925, the Constitution of SSR Abkhazia was adopted, in which it was proclaimed a sovereign state that has the right to egress both the TSFSR and USSR.

In 1931, SSR Abkhazia was transformed into an autonomous republic within GSSR. The years of the reign of Stalin were marked in Abkhazia by mass repressions and attempts of forced assimilation of the Abkhaz nation. Simultaneously, Georgian authorities conducted the policy of mass resettlement of Georgians to Abkhazia, which resulted in Abkhazians being the minority on their historical Motherland. Abkhazians repeatedly expressed discontent with the policy of national suppression conducted by the authorities of GSSR by means of gatherings and other acts of protest that gathered thousands of people in 1957, 1967, 1978, 1989.

Modern period
From the beginning of the 1990s, Doctor of Historical Studies Vladislav Ardzinba became the status leader of multinational Abkhazia (1945-2010). Being a national MP and member of the Supreme Council of the USSR, he promoted decision-making aimed at the protection of the rights of autonomous entities and small nations of the Soviet Union.
He initiated the policy of restoring the sovereignty of Abkhazia after becoming Chair of the Supreme Council of Abkhazia in December 1990.
In 1989-1990, the Supreme Council of Georgia unilaterally made a few decisions that ignored the international nature of relations between Abkhazia and Georgia and led to the abolition of the Abkhaz statehood. Tbilisi recognized as illegal all state structures of Soviet time starting from February 1921. In response, the Supreme Council of Abkhazian ASSR on August 25, 1991, adopted a Declaration of state sovereignty of Abkhazia.

Coming to power as a result of armed revolution in Tbilisi, in February 1992, the Supreme Council of Georgia made a decision on the abolition of the constitution of the Georgian SSR of 1978 and on the transition to the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Georgia of 1921, in which the Abkhaz ASSR was not stated as a subject of state-legal relations.

With the goal of overcoming legal dissonance in relations between two republics, on July 23, 1992, the Supreme Council of Abkhazia decided to restore the action of the Constitution of Abkhazia of 1925 and also adopted the new Emblem and Flag of the Republic of Abkhazia. Simultaneously, the Supreme Council of the Republic of Abkhazia appealed to the authorities of Georgia with the proposal to restore equal state-legal relations. In response to that, on August 14, 1992, Georgia conducted armed aggression against Abkhazia, accompanied by purposeful annihilation and suppression of the non-Georgian population, destruction of the material and spiritual culture of the Abkhaz nation, and other mass human rights abuse.

Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Abkhazia V.G. Ardzinba led the armed resistance against the aggressor and became Chairman of the State Defense Council.

Hundreds of volunteers from North Caucasus, South of Russia, the Cossacks, and the representatives of Abkhaz-Adyg diaspora from Turkey and Syria came to assist Abkhazia.

As a result of a war filled with bloodshed, the armed forces of Abkhazia succeeded in freeing the territory of Abkhazia from Georgian troops, and on September 30, 1993, reached the state border of Abkhazia with Georgia on the Ingur River.

In 1994, the Peacekeeping forces of Russia under the flag of the CIS entered the conflict zone in border regions of Abkhazia and Georgia.

During the postwar years, Abkhazia had to restore a peaceful life in the conditions of a destroyed economy and CIS sanctions. The goal of the sanctions was to make Abkhazia agree to the terms stipulated by Georgia. But the republic succeeded in surviving and demonstrated its viability as an independent state.

In the autumn of 1999, the policy of Russia shifted in favor of multinational Abkhazia. Russian leadership introduced a visa-free policy, started granting Russian citizenship, etc. Meanwhile, Georgia repeatedly violated the arrangements on a cease-fire and during the after-war period invaded Abkhazia three times (May 1998, October 2001, July 2006) unsuccessfully trying to gain revenge for its defeat in 1993. The current leadership of Georgia has the same aggressive policy.

Georgian-Abkhaz negotiations were conducted from November 1993 under the sponsorship of the UN, under the mediation of Russia, and with the participation of the OSCE. A range of important documents has been signed with Georgia, in particular the "Statement on the measures of a political settlement" of April 4, 1994. From May-June 1994, thanks to the UN-sponsored peace-keeping operation, the fire has ceased on the border between Abkhazia and Georgia. The process of the return of refugees to the Gal region started. As for today, almost all representatives of the Georgian population returned to the region.

On November 26, 1994, the new Constitution of the Republic of Abkhazia was adopted, and V.G. Ardzinba was elected the First President of the Republic of Abkhazia.

On October 12, 1999, based on the results of the referendum, the Act on State Independence of the Republic of Abkhazia was adopted.

In January 2005, Sergey Bagapsh (1949-2011) was elected President of the Republic of Abkhazia.

On August 26, 2008, after the aggression of Georgia against South Ossetia and after Russia implemented the operation to peace constraint, President of the Russian Federation D.A. Medvedev made a decision to recognize the independence of the Republic of Abkhazia and establishment of diplomatic relations between the two states.

This event became a turning point in the history of the people of Abkhazia, which gave the opportunity for peaceful development and guarantees of preservation of independent statehood.

Agreement on Friendship, mutual assistance (2008), Agreement on joint Russian military base on the territory of the Republic of Abkhazia (2010), and a number of other international and intergovernmental documents were signed between Russia and Abkhazia.

Besides Russia, the independence of the Republic of Abkhazia is recognized by Venezuela, Nicaragua, Nauru, Vanuatu, Tuvalu, and the Republic of South Ossetia and the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic.

Due to the death of the President Sergey Bagapsh on May 29, 2011, the Parliament called early Presidential elections.

In August 2011, as a result of the early presidential election, Aleksandr Ankvab was elected President of the Republic of Abkhazia.

In 2014, after the May political crisis in Abkhazia, which resulted in the resignation of President Aleksandr Ankvab and Parliament's call on an early election, the leading opposition party the "Forum of national unity" supported the candidacy of Raul Khadzhimba for the post of the President of the Republic of Abkhazia. The candidacy of the leader of the public veteran organization "Aruaa" Vitaly Gabniya was nominated for Vice President's post.

On August 24, 2014, Raul Khadzhimba was elected President of the Republic of Abkhazia. His inauguration took place on September 25, 2014.

On August 27, 2014, the President-elect Raul Khadzhimba met with the President of Russia Vladimir Putin. The possibility of signing a new agreement on friendship, cooperation, and mutual assistance between Abkhazia and Russia before the end of the current year was discussed. The qualitative increase in the level of integration between two sovereign states was announced as an aim of the new agreement. The readiness of Russia to increase financial assistance to Abkhazia and provide assistance in the attraction of major Russian investors was also discussed.

On November 24, 2014, in Sochi, the Presidents of Abkhazia and Russia Raul Khadzhimba and Vladimir Putin signed the Agreement on alliance and strategic partnership between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Abkhazia.
The Agreement brings the relations between Abkhazia and Russia to a qualitatively new level of strategic partnership. It foresees the creation of common defense and security space, the conduction of coordinated foreign policy, the formation of common social and economic space, the assistance to the socio-economic development of Abkhazia, the creation of new conditions for the participation of the republic in the integration processes on the post-Soviet space realized with the initiative and assistance of Russia, and the preservation of cultural, spiritual and humanitarian space.

On December 22, 2014, the Agreement was ratified by the Parliament of the Republic of Abkhazia, and on January 2015, it was ratified by the State Duma of the Russian Federation.

© 2015 Administration of the President of the Republic of Abkhazia, Sukhum, Naberezhnaya Makhadjirov, 32, phone.: +7 840 226 46 31, fax: +7 840 226 46 31