The history of Abkhazia is rooted in the depths of millennia. Fertile lands of Abkhazia was settled actively by people in the era of the late Paleolithic - 35 thousand years ago. Mesolithic sites, which arose in the 12th-7th millennium BC, are well known. People settled in caves near rivers, engaged in gathering and fishing evidenced by the bone harpoons and fish bones found near their homes.
Pottery and the first dwellings made by man appeared in the Neolithic period in the VI-IV millennium BC. People begin to cultivate the land and tame animals. At the turn of the IV-III millennium BC the population of Abkhazia has already processed metal, first copper, and then bronze. At the end of the III - beginning of the II millennium BC a dolmens culture arises. Stone tombs - dolmens - are found throughout the territory of Abkhazia. Their greatest concentration is in the vicinity of the village of Otkhara (district of Gudauta), where 15 tombs are found, weighing from 60 to 110 tons. In the burials of the Late Bronze Age, archaeologists find bronze axes, spearheads, all sorts of jewelry and ceramics.
In the VIII century BC the Abkhazian coast of the Black Sea began to master sailors from the mainland Greece. They founded the first cities - Dioskuria (now Sukhum), Pitiunt (Pitsunda), Triglit (Gagra), Gyenos (Ochamchira) and others in quiet and comfortable bays in the VI-I centuries BC. Soon the colonies turned into cultural and historical centers of the Black Sea coast, in which handicrafts developed and active commodity exchange took place.
At the same time, the territory where the Greeks founded Dioscuriada was named Akua. And the inscription "Akoi" (Akua) on gold coins (stators), minted in the 90-80s BC speak about the antiquity of the local toponym in imitation of the stats of the Thracian king Lysimachus. In addition, the Bagrat castle, located in the vicinity of modern Sukhum and called by local lore at the end of the 19th - early 20th centuries was formerly called as the castle of Agua (Akua). At the beginning of the VI-V centuries BC Greek and local settlements were as two closed and autonomous structures connected only by economic ties. Then, in the era of Hellenism (especially in the 4th-3rd centuries BC) their mutual integration took place and the population of the Dioscuriada became mixed Greek-local.
The Romans replaced the Greeks and strengthened in Abkhazia under the Roman emperor Augustus Octavian in the 1st century AD. At the same time the ancient Dioscuriada was renamed as Sebastopolis. This was the beginning of the new Roman-Byzantine period in the history of Sukhum which lasted until the 7th century AD.
According to the church legend disciples of Jesus Christ - the apostles Simon Kananit and Andrew the First-Called came to Abkhazia to preach Christianity in 55 AD . Simon Kananit took a martyr's death on the bank of the Psyrdzha River and was buried there. Christianity penetrated into Abkhazia with Roman soldiers, three cohorts (a cohort troop of number up to 500 soldiers) which were quartered in Pitiunt (Pitsunda), Sebastopolis (Sukhum) and in Ziganis (now the village of Gudava, district of Ochamchira). The most ancient Christian community was formed in the Caucasus by the end of the III - beginning of the IV centuries in Pitiunt. The Bishop Stratophilus of Pitiute represented it at the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea in 325.
Since the beginning of the VI century Abkhazia was under the rule of the Byzantine Empire. At this time the Apsils, Abazgs and Misimians formed a tribal alliance. Feudal relations began to arise in the social system. The spread of Christianity contributed their development in 548. In the VII century, Abasgia, Apsilia and Misimonia remained dependent on the Byzantine Empire, being its northeastern province. At the beginning of the 7th century the Anakopia fortress was built - the largest defensive structure on the Caucasian coast of the Black Sea.
At the end of the 7th century the Arabs invaded Western Transcaucasia. They reached Apsilia and placed their garrisons. In 738 the Arab forces led by Mervan Kru (Deaf) invaded Transcaucasia. Mervan destroyed Tskhum (modern Sukhum) and reached Anakopia (now New Afon), walls of Anakopia were protected by two thousand Abasgians and one thousand of kartlis fleeing to Abasgia with the kings Mir and Archil. Leon I, the ruler of abasgas at this time went for help to the Alans.
The army of Mervan was as "a dark cloud of locusts and mosquitoes," which was in several times larger than the army defending Anakopia. This inequality was compensated by the power of the walls of the Anakopia fortress. Its southern wall with a length of 450 m included seven towers of a quadrangular and semicircular shape. These towers stood apart from each other at a distance of 30-50 m. There were catapults and other propelling machines, falling asleep enemies with arrows and stones on the walls and towers. The gates were hidden behind the round multi-tiered corner tower approaches to which were carefully protected. There were wickets between the towers in the wall through which defenders of the fortress made sorties.
It was not a bloody fight or a long siege from the Arab side. Juansher , the Georgian historian of the XI century reports that "God sent the South heat to the Saracens and they had become ill with blood cholera." Most Arab warriors died from the disease. The Abasgians and the Kartlis stubbornly defended the fortress. Mervan had to draw back.
The Abkhazian Kingdom
An early feudal state -the Abkhazian kingdom where lived the Adygeyan and Abkhazian tribes formed on the territory of Abkhazia at the end of the 8th century. The boundaries of the kingdom stretched from the modern Tuapse to the Suramsky pass. In the chronicle of Georgia of the XI century, it is described as important event in the history of Transcaucasia: "When the Greeks weakened than eristav Leon by name the nephew of Eristav Leon to which was given Abkhazia as hereditary possession resigned from them. This second Leon was the son of the daughter of the Khazar king and by their force (Khazars) resigned from Greeks, took possession of Abkhazia and assumed the name of the king of the Abkhaz. «The Abkhazian kingdom even then received "international recognition", and Leon II moved the capital from Anakopia to Kutaisi. Economics and culture were intensively developed, palaces, temples, architectural ensembles were erected during the period of the Abkhazian kingdom.
The Abkhazian kingdom lasted 200 years; its decline began with the death of the childless Tsar Theodosius the Blind.
Italians in Abkhazia
The Genoese merchant fleet appeared in the coastal waters of Abkhazia in the second half of the 13th century. Trade settlements of Genoese - factories -arises in many places of Abkhazia: Kakari (modern Gagra), Pezonda (modern Pitsunda), Kavo di Bukso (modern Gudauta), Nykoffa (modern New Afon), Sevastopolis or San Sebastian (modern Sukhum), Kavo Zizibar (near modern Adziubzha), San Tommaso (modern Thamysh) and others. The center of the Genoese settlements was Sevastopolis, where the residence of the head of all Italian settlements in the Caucasus was located. The main occupation of the Genoese was trade, and silk was the main good that went through Western Europe .Three Transcaucasian branches of the Great Silk Road connecting Genoa with the Golden Horde passed through Abkhazia.
The Abkhazian Principality and Turkey
The Turkish fleet appeared in Abkhazia in the second half of the 15th century, after the Turks took Constantinople, and some time later the Genoese left the Black Sea coast. By this time, the Abkhazian rulers were represented by the Abkhazian clan Shervashidze (Chachba), who sought to free themselves from the dependence of the Megrelian kings.The internecine war between the Abkhaz and Megrel feudal was lasted for 30 years. It ended with the establishment of a state border between Abkhazians and Kartvels along the Ingur River, which has been preserved for more than 300 years. In the first half of the XVII century the Turks besieged Sevastopolis from the sea. The Abkhazian feudal lords were forced to agree to pay tribute. In 1634 the Turkish landing landed in the Kodori cape, the Turks devastated and plundered the surrounding territory, overlaid the feudal lords with tribute. In 1724 the Turks built a fortress on the Sevastopolis coast and called it Sukhum-kale. The city was the same called. Political and economic contacts with the Ottoman Empire led to the spread of Islam on the territory of Abkhazia. Since the end of the 18th century, with the ruler Keleshbey Chachba (Shervashidze), the Abkhazian princedom once again intensified and with the help of the fleet and it controlled the Black Sea coast from Anapa to Batum.
Abkhazia under the protectorate of Russia
The end of the XVIII - early XIX centuries in the Western Caucasus was characterized by military-political rivalry between the two empires - the Russian and the Ottoman. The influence of the Ottoman Empire in the Western Caucasus has been steadily declining since the end of the 18th century, after a number of Russian-Turkish wars, while the expanding Russian Empire has come close to the Transcaucasus seeking to gain a foothold on the Black Sea coast including Abkhazia.
The Russian-Ottoman confrontation directly affected the political situation in the Abkhazian princedom where by the beginning of the 19th century on the basis of the unresolved issue of the inheritance of the throne, two political camps emerged, one of which was headed by the sovereign prince of Abkhazia Kelesbey oriented to Petersburg, the other headed by one of Keleshbey's sons - Aslanbey, enjoyed the protection of Istanbul. While Keleshbey, the ruler of Abkhazia opted for his younger son Seferbei, his eldest son Aslanbey opposed the decision of his father, intending at all costs to become the next ruler of the Abkhazian principality. Intrigues heated outside inside the ruling dynasty led to the killing of the ruler of Kelesbey in May 1808 and the temporary occupation of Sukhum by Aslanbey.
Seferbei forced to temporarily leave Abkhazia sends Emperor Alexander I Proclaims containing the request of the prince to take the Abkhazian principality under the protection of the Russian Empire. The Manifest was published in February 1810, according to which the Russian emperor recognized Seferbei (Christian name - George) as "the hereditary prince of the Abkhazian possession under the supreme patronage power and protection of the Russian Empire." Seferbai strengthens its positions and becomes the ruler of the Abkhazian principality with Russian military support.
One of the distinctive features of the Abkhazian princedom was that unlike the Georgian principalities (Kartli-Kakheti, Imeretii, Guria, Megrelia), when it entered Russia it did not completely lose its statehood, according to a number of historians.
The power of the Abkhaz ruler is strengthening with the support of the Russian military administration in the Caucasus, which occupies the rather high place in the Russian military hierarchy. In particular, the last sovereign prince of Abkhazia Mikhail Shervashidze (1823-1864) had the rank of Lieutenant-General, Adjutant-General and the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky.
The Abkhaz rulers who enjoyed a certain authority contributed to the promotion of Russian influence in the Abkhazian free mountain communities and the lands of neighboring Ubykhs and Shapsugs.
By the time of the end of the Caucasian War (1864), the Abkhazian Grand Princedom had lost its military and political importance and was liquidated. On its territory the Sukhumi Military Department was formed, later renamed the Sukhumi District.
The second half of XIX became one of the most tragic periods in the history of the Abkhazian people. The significant part of the Abkhazians were forced to leave their homeland, due to the dramatic events of the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878 (the so-called "mahajir"). Despite the fact that individual groups of migrants later managed to return the consequence of the mahadzhirstva was a radical change in the ethnic pattern of Abkhazia. The deserted lands began to be inhabited by representatives of other peoples - Germans, Armenians, Estonians and above all colonists from Georgia. If in 1886 the Abkhaz made up 85.7% of the population of Abkhazia, by 1897 only 55.3%. This dynamics persisted in the following decades.
At the same time, the political stabilization and security brought by Russia from external threats contributed to the transition to the new stage in the development of Abkhazia. There is a revival of the economic, social and cultural life of the region. Abkhazia attracts an increasing number of entrepreneurs, scientists and artists. The Abkhazian clergy is being formed and the revival of the church life of the region is taking place. During the visit to New Afon by Emperor Alexander III with the Empress, in 1888, the first stone was laid in the foundation of the future New Afon monastery of the Saint Simon the Canaanite. Afon becomes a major religious center on the Black Sea coast.
It was the beginning of medical and resort construction. Among the pioneers in this case was Prince Alexander of Oldenburg who in 1901 laid the famous resort in Gagra, competing with many European resorts of that time.
The scientific development of the Abkhaz language was started in the second half of the XIX century. One of the founders of the creation of Abkhazian writing was Baron Peter Uslar, the Russian general, linguist and Caucasus scholar. He was the author of the major work on the grammar of the Abkhaz language.
The formation of the Abkhazian cultural elite is taking place in the same period which played an outstanding role in the transformation of the native land. The first Abkhazian writers, teachers, doctors, engineers, lawyers appear.
The Abkhazians in the "Caucasian Equestrian Division" took an active part in the First World War of 1914-1918, in particular, on the Russian-Austrian front. Wars from the "Abkhazian Hundred" were awarded to the fighting Georgievsky crosses.
New time and Soviet power in Abkhazia
After the collapse of the Russian Empire part of the socio-political forces of Abkhazia advocated integration with the Union of United Mountaineers of the North Caucasus and Dagestan in 1917, which later merged with the South-Eastern Union of Cossack troops, mountaineers of the Caucasus and free peoples of the steppes. This association was to become part of the Russian Democratic Republic but the outbreak of civil war violated these plans.
The Abkhaz People's Council (ANS) was the first Abkhaz national-political organization which was established in November 1917. One of the most important goals of the ANS was to proclaim "work on the self-determination of the Abkhaz people". The final form of self-determination was to be determined at the Constituent Assembly of all the peoples of Russia, at the same time.
The Mountain Republic was proclaimed in Batum, part of which, according to the plans of its supporters was become Abkhazia, In May 1918. However, in June of the same year, the territory of Abkhazia was occupied by the troops of the newly formed Georgian Democratic Republic. The government of the latter pursued the policy of suppressing the political and national rights of the people of Abkhazia. It is no coincidence that the significant part of the local population supported the overthrow of the power of the Georgian government in Abkhazia carried out by the Red Army units on March 4, 1921.
After the establishment of the Soviet power, from March 1921 to February 1922. Abkhazia had the status similar to that of other union republics and was called the Soviet Socialist Republic of Abkhazia. However, between the SSR Abkhazia and the Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia, already in December 1921 the union treaty was signed, according to which Abkhazia transferred part of its powers to Georgia. This concerned foreign policy, foreign trade, transport and the number of other areas.
The Third Congress of Soviets of Abkhazia adopted the first Constitution of the SSR of Abkhazia in 1925. In accordance with the draft of this Constitution, Abkhazia was declared the sovereign state. In the same year, on the instructions of the party bodies, this project was rejected. As a result, the Constitution was adopted, detailing the contractual relations between the SSR Abkhazia and the SSR Georgia.
It was decided to transform the SSR of Abkhazia from the contractual one into an autonomous republic within the SSR of Georgia, in April 1930. The Congresses of the Councils of Abkhazia and Georgia approved the adopted decision on the transformation of the SSR of Abkhazia into an autonomous republic within the Georgian SSR, in February 1931. The changes made in the text of the Constitution were approved at the Seventh Congress of Soviets of Abkhazia in January 1935. In the new edition of the Constitution of the Abkhaz ASSR adopted by the Congress the words "The Socialist Soviet Republic of Abkhazia" were replaced by the words "Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of Abkhazia".
At the same time, despite the lowering of the constitutional status of Abkhazia, in the first years of Soviet power - in the 1920s and 1930s the republic received the powerful impetus for economic, social and cultural development. Abkhazia was conceived by the Allied leadership as the high-status all-Union resort. This goal was the program of turning the republic into an "all-Union health resort". New subtropical cultures were introduced; new branches of factory production were created. A campaign was carried out to eliminate illiteracy, mass schooling was introduced. Significant efforts were made to train local specialists of various profiles. In these years the new growth of the Abkhaz intelligentsia is seen - engineers, doctors, teachers, scientists, writers.
Many people of the Soviet Union, including the Abkhazian people, connect the beginning of one of the heaviest pages in the general Soviet history, since 1937. Following the tragic death in December 1936 of the chairman of the CEC of Abkhazia, Nestor Lakoba, and the repressions that erupted, which destroyed the color of the Abkhazian intelligentsia and the management elite, a campaign was launched aimed at accelerating ethnic assimilation of Abkhazians and settling Abkhazia by migrants from Georgia.
This campaign did not stop even during the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945, in which the Abkhazians took an active part. More than 55,000 soldiers from Abkhazia stood up for the defense of the Fatherland, heroically defended the Soviet homeland in the Brest Fortress, the Caucasus, on the outskirts of Moscow, near the walls of Leningrad and Stalingrad, near Sevastopol, Novorossiisk and Odessa, liberating the countries of Europe. Twenty-two natives of the republic were awarded the high title of Hero of the Soviet Union; three were awarded the Order of Glory of three degrees.
With the onset of the "thaw", the previous repressive policy towards Abkhazia is being reviewed after 1953. The most blatant violations of the national policy were condemned. However, the tension in the Georgian-Abkhaz asymmetric relations was still preserved.
The protests of representatives of the intelligentsia of Abkhazia and broad sections of the population against the discriminatory policy of the party leadership of Georgia took the form of written appeals to the highest authorities of the USSR, as well as rallies and people's gatherings took place in 1947, 1957, 1967, 1977, 1978, 1988, 1989.
One of the most important stages in the Abkhaz national movement was in 1978. In May 1978, Sukhum hosted one of the largest rallies in the history of Soviet Abkhazia. During this period, the process of discussion and approval of new constitutions was under way in the allied and autonomous republics. One of the main demands of the Abkhazian public was the inclusion in the text of the new constitution of the provision on the possibility of the free transition of the autonomous republics from one union republic to another. This provision actually implied securing the right of Abkhazia to secede from Georgia. However, the Union leadership were not able go on reviewing the existing national-territorial structure of the USSR. Instead, the Abkhaz ASSR received certain status advantages: the Abkhaz State University was established, Abkhaz television began to operate, the release of journals in the Abkhaz language, etc. was started. The Constitution of 1978 confirmed the autonomous status of the republic within the Georgian SSR
The rise of the national liberation movement
When the national liberation movement began to rise in all the republics, by the end of the 1980s Abkhazia fought to increase its administrative status. The Supreme Council of Georgia unilaterally began to take decisions (resolutions of 1989-1990), which ignored the interstate character of relations between Abkhazia and Georgia and, in essence, led to the abolition of Abkhaz statehood. In response, the Supreme Council of the Abkhaz ASSR adopted a "Decree on Legal Guarantees for the Protection of the Statehood of Abkhazia" and "Declaration on State Sovereignty of the Abkhazian Soviet Socialist Republic", on August 25, 1990,
Coming to power as a result of the armed coup in Tbilisi, the Military Council of Georgia in February 1992 decided to abolish the Constitution of the Georgian SSR in 1978 and the transition to the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Georgia in 1921, in which the Abkhaz ASSR as a subject of state-legal relations was listed. In order to overcome the legal unsettledness between the republics, the Supreme Council of Abkhazia on July 23, 1992, decided to restore the Abkhazian Constitution in Abkhazia in 1925, according to which Abkhazia was declared a sovereign state. Simultaneously the Supreme Council of the Republic of Abkhazia appealed to the Georgian authorities with the proposal to restore equal inter-state relations.
Patriotic War of the nation of Abkhazia
Georgia, just joined by the UN, unleashed the war against Abkhazia, on August 14, 1992. Georgian troops with the support of aviation, armored vehicles, artillery invaded Abkhazia and occupied part of its territory. In addition to the physical extermination of the peoples inhabiting Abkhazia, the policy of cultural genocide was also carried out. Monuments of history and culture of the Abkhazian people were destroyed; valuable historical documents, rare books and manuscripts were lost.
Armed resistance to the aggressor was headed by Vladislav Ardzinba, the Chairman of the Supreme Council of Abkhazia who became chairman of the State Defense Council.
The entire territory of Abkhazia was liberated on September 30, 1993. The victory went at a high price - about three thousand people gave their lives for the freedom and independence of Abkhazia. Among those killed for freedom and independence of Abkhazia were representatives of all national communities living in the republic. Volunteers from the North Caucasus and the South of Russia, the Cossacks, representatives of the Abkhaz Diaspora from the Middle East and Turkey rendered enormous support to the fighting Abkhazia. In accordance with the Agreement on a Ceasefire and Separation of Forces signed in Moscow, in May 1994,by the Abkhaz and Georgian sides, Russian peacekeeping forces under the auspices of the CIS were deployed into the conflict zone in the border areas of Abkhazia and Georgia.
Republic of Abkhazia today
The Parliament of the Republic of Abkhazia adopted the new Constitution, on November 26, 1994, according to which Abkhazia was declared the sovereign, democratic state created on the basis of the realization by the people of Abkhazia of the right to free self-determination. Parliament was also elected the First President of the Republic of Abkhazia. They became Vladislav Ardzinba.
With the submission of the Georgian leadership, Abkhazia and its people were subjected to political, economic and information blockade from December 1994 to September 1999. The young republic had to restore peaceful life in the conditions of war-ravaged economy and imposed sanctions on it.
The multinational population of Abkhazia voted for the independence of the country in the national referendum by adopting the corresponding state act, in October 1999. With the coming to power in Russia of Vladimir Putin, Moscow's policy towards multinational Abkhazia began to change for the better. The Russian leadership strengthened the support of Abkhazia, established a visa-free regime for the unrecognized republic and began to grant Russian citizenship.
Sergey Vasilyevich Bagapsh (1949-2011) was elected as President of Abkhazia in January 2005
Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian President signed the decree recognizing the independence of the Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of South Ossetia, after the armed aggression of the Saakashvili regime in South Ossetia and the Russian-led operation to force Georgia to peace, on August 26, 2008.
Recognition from Russia has become the turning point in the history of the people of Abkhazia, which has received the opportunity for the safe peaceful development and guarantees for the preservation of independent statehood.
The Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance was signed between Abkhazia and Russia, In September 2008, laying the legal basis for Abkhaz-Russian interstate relations.
In 2008 Abkhazia was recognized by Nicaragua, in 2009 - by Nauru and Venezuela and in 2011 by the island states of Vanuatu and Tuvalu.
In connection with the death of President Sergei Bagapsh the Parliament appointed early presidential elections, on May 29, 2011,
Alexander Ankvab was elected as the President of the Republic of Abkhazia, in August 2011, in the course of extraordinary presidential elections.
In 2014, following the May political crisis in Abkhazia, which resulted in the resignation of President Alexander Ankvab and the early parliamentary elections by the head of state, the leading opposition party "Forum of National Unity of Abkhazia", at the congress held on July 1, supported the nomination of Raul Khajimba for the post of the President of the Republic of Abkhazia. On the post of Vice-President in a pair with Khadzhimba was nominated the chairman of the public organization of veterans of the Patriotic War of the nation of Abkhazia "Aruaa" Vitaly Gabniya.
Raul Djumkovich Khadzhimba was elected as the President of the Republic of Abkhazia on August 24, 2014. He officially took office on September 25, 2014.
Raul Khajimba and Vladimir Putin, the Presidents of Abkhazia and Russia, signed the Treaty on Alliance and Strategic Partnership between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Abkhazia on November 24, 2014 in Sochi.
The treaty takes relations between Abkhazia and Russia to the qualitatively new level of strategic partnership. It envisages the creation of the common space for defense and security, the conduct of the coordinated foreign policy, the formation of the common social and economic space, the promotion of socio-economic development of Abkhazia, the creation of conditions for full participation of the republic in the integration processes in the post-Soviet space, implemented on the initiative and with the assistance of Russia, Cultural, spiritual and humanitarian space.
The treaty was ratified by the Parliament of the Republic of Abkhazia, on December 22, 2014 and it was ratified by the State Duma of the Russian Federation on January 23, 2015., The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation hosted the ceremony of exchanging ratification documents on the agreement between Russia and Abkhazia on the alliance and strategic partnership on March 5, 2015. The treaty entered into force.
Russia has traditionally been Abkhazia's key trading partner. In 2018, trade between Russia and Abkhazia amounted to $ 258.6 million, including Russian exports - $ 192.4 million, imports - $ 66.2 million.
In January-March 2019, the volume of mutual trade amounted to $ 49.9 million, including Russian exports - $ 38.9 million, imports - $ 10.9 million.
The investment program for promoting the socio-economic development of the Republic of Abkhazia for 2017-2019 is being successfully implemented.
In September 2019, a political crisis erupted in Abkhazia.
On January 12, 2020, President Raul Khadzhimba resigned.
Extraordinary elections of the President of the Republic of Abkhazia were held on March 22, 2020.
Following the results of the elections, Aslan Georgievich Bzhania was elected President of the Republic of Abkhazia in the first round.
On May 29, 2018, the independence of the Republic of Abkhazia was recognized by the Syrian Arab Republic.
On October 6, 2020, the grand opening of the Embassy of the Republic of Abkhazia in the Syrian Arab Republic took place in Damascus.