Abkhazians - Who are they?
(An Express-Sketch) Y.N. VoronovAbkhazia, Apsny – this is a mini-republic on the Black Sea coast of theCaucasus. Its native inhabitants are the Abkhazians – Apsua, representing,although not a numerous but yet a very ancient, active, mountain nationwhose history is a mystery in many ways. Who are they? Where did they comefrom? Whom do the resemble most? What role did they play and are called uponto play today in the world community of people? Science is now alreadygiving fully synonymous and sufficiently instructive answers to these and tomany other questions.Abkhazian – a Lingorelic of the West CaucasiaThe problems of the origin of the Abkhazians and their place in the systemof the nations of the world over two centuries draw the attention ofinvestigators – travellers, ethnographers, historians, linguists,archaeologists, anthropologists and representatives of other humanitariandisciplines. Written pieces of information, from which historians draw theirconclusions, are scanty, and the times they embrace do not go beyond the2000-years boundary from our days on. Archaeology has a firm basis inethnogenetic questions only when there are suitable written sources.Ethnography and anthropology have still narrower possibilities. And here thelanguage plays its decisive role, in whose structure and vocabulary ancientpages of the history of the Abkhazian nation are preserved, the mostimportant information about its sources, the environment of the primary lifeof its people, ties and contacts with other nations, and other interestinginformation.Fame about the many languages of the Caucasian Mountains has long sincespread throughout the world. The ancient Greek geographer Timosfen in hisdays determined the number of nations gathered in Dioscuriada (today Sukhum,the capital of the Republic of Abkhazia) to be 300, while the Romanhistorian Pliniy Sekund left evidence according to which Romans conductedtheir affairs in this city with the aid of 130 translators. Masud an Arabauthor of the 9th century, wrote: “ Only Allah will be able to count thedifferent nations living in the mountains of Caucasia. The mountains ofCaucasia are mountains of languages.” There are few places in the world ableto compete with the Caucasus in the number of languages; and, as a rule,these are usually mountain regions- the Himalaya and Hindu-Kush in Asia, theAndes and Cordillera in America. It is beyond question that the contact ofmultilingual people with the mountainous conditions that maintain manyrelics of the living world, is quickly obliterated in any conditions of flatlands.The Abkhazian language, together with other closely related languages (Abazin,Ubykh, Adygei and Kabardin) form the West-Caucasian (Abkhaz-Adygei) languagegroup, today numbering over 700 000 people and connected with each otheraccording to the following diagram: parent – Abkhaz-Adygei language Ubykh Abazin Abkhazian Adygei KabardinWest-Caucasian languages are characterised by their distinctive structure,and their phonetics system reveals great divergence. Combined vowelspredominate, while there are very few independent vowels – there are 2 inthe Abkhazian language, 2 with stress in the Abazin and 1 in the unstressedsyllable, and 3 in the Ubykh. The number of consonants varies much more: inthe Ubykh language there are 82 consonants, in the Bzyb dialect of theAbkhazian language – 67, in the Adygei – 55, in the Kabardin – 48. P.K.Uslar – the founder of the first Abkhazian alphabet – wrote the followingabout the complications of pronunciation of Abkhazian words: “Not onlyEuropeans but even a native of Caucasia considers Abkhazian pronunciationthe most difficult and least accessible for the non-Abkhazian. This languagemakes a strange impression on the one who hears it for the first time. Youcan say about the Abkhazian language that it reminds you of the buzzing ofinsects”. Up till recent times West-Caucasian languages also preserved aspecial fund of lexicographic elements that functioned in the huntingenvironment (the “forest language” of the Abkhazians, the “hunting” languagein the Adygeis). Linguists succeeded in revealing over 250 of them,inherited from the parent language state of stems and affixes that were fromtime immemorial common for these languages and including appellations ofcosmic phenomena, terms of relationship the name of parts of the body, anumber of animals and plants, personal pronouns, numbers and several verb.Linguists consider the time of the existence of the Abkhaz-Adygei parent-languageto be the 3rd century B.C., i.e., its break-up into three main branches (Abkhazian-Ubykh-Adygei)began approximately 4000 years ago. The well-known Russian linguist N.S.Trubetskoy formed an hypothesis over half a century ago according to whichthe West-Caucasian languages in their origin were related to the East-Caucasianlanguages (Chechen, Ingush, Batsbi, Avar, Lezgin, Dargin, Tabassari, etc.),forming with them a single “North-Caucasian” language family. As it isbecoming ever more obvious, representatives of this family occupied a muchwider territory in ancient times than today. On the one hand, the hypothesison the relationship of the Abkhaz-Adygei languages with the Khat, whosebearers lived 4-5 thousand years ago in Asia Minor, has received wideacknowledgement in modern science. On the other hand, proof has beenestablished about the common roots of the proximity of the modern Nakh-Dagestanlanguages to the extinct languages of the Khurr and the Urart, living 5-3thousand years ago on the territories of the present Armenian uplands andcontiguous regions of East Transcaucasia and Near East. Therefore, the NorthCaucasian languages today represent a special relic of the one timeextensive language community that existed, according to specialists, about 7centuries ago, enveloping the whole Caucasus and wide regions southwards. Inthe thirties-sixties of the 20th century an hypothesis was energeticallypropagated in Soviet science according to which the Abkhaz-Adygei, Chechen-Ingushand Dagestan languages were related to the Kartvel (Georgian) and form asingle “Iberi-Caucasian family” of languages with them; however, thishypothesis has been acknowledged as scientifically groundless today.The people speaking in the parent-Abkhaz-Adygei language, were occupied, asthe data of linguists affirms, with agriculture, animal husbandry, theproduction of various handicrafts and the processing of metal. In favour ofthe idea that the bearers of the parent-language lived approximately in thesame natural conditions in which the present Abkhaz-Adygeis live and shapedwithin the West-Caucasian region is proved by their common lexicon (“sea”, “coast”,“fish”, “mountain (wooded)”, “ice”, “hoarfrost”, “cold”, “frost”, “forest (leaf-hearing)”,“forest (coniferous)”, “silver fox”, “fir”, “beech”, “cornel”, “chestnut”, “wolf”,“bear”, etc.). Toponymical data given by N.Y. Marr, I.A. Javakhisvili, S.N.Janashia, S.D. Inal-ipa, etc., were used for confirmation of this idea.At the same time, successes in lingual reconstruction lately has allowed usto glance even more deeply into the history of the Abkhaz-Adygeis. Today thefact of the distant relationship (in pronunciation) has been established(S.A. Starostin and others) between the North-Caucasian, Sino-Tibetan (Chinese,Tibet, East-Himalayan, etc.) and the Enisei (Kat, etc.) languages, on whosebasis the Sino-Caucasian macrofamily was reconstructed, including themajority of the non-stratum languages of the Old World, bringing out thedepths of relationship with the Indian (Californian, etc.) languages of thesub-American continent. At the same time, language ties have been discovered(through West-Chad languages) between the Nakh-Dagestan languages and theAfro-Eurasian macrofamily that brings up to the epoch of racial formationsand the moment of the origin of Homo Sapiens, with the African ancestral-homelandin the Middle East (about 30 centuries ago), from where their settlement inEurope, in the Caucasus and in East Asia began.In absolute figures, the division of the North-Caucasian languages accordingto the suppositions of linguists, took place somewhere in the 4th centuryB.C. From that time on the Abkhaz-Adygeis could confidently be localised inthe East Black Sea area. The disintegration of the Sino-Caucasianmacrofamily, whose cradle was located to the south of Caucasia, is datedfrom one single hypothetical parent –language, out of which all thepresently known live and dead languages had sprung, is considered beyond theboundaries of the 13th-14th centuries B.C., i.e., to the higher paleolithictimes. In that epoch, as anthropological material proves, discovered inKholodny Grot (Central Abkhazia), the local population was stillcharacterised by mark Negroid features. The constant infiltration of Indo-Europeansfrom the south and north during the following centuries changed in arelevant manner of anthropological image of the local population; however,the languages maintained their amazing archaic and original pure structureand sound, presenting a boundless source of information on the ancienthistory of the nations of the Caucasus.Ecological Recesses in the Ethnogenesis of the Abkhazians
Since man and all his creations are part of the biosphere and landscape ofour Mother Earth an account of appropriate natural peculiarities (reliefs),hydrography, etc. could be of great help in the decision of complexquestions on the lineage of nations. In the given case, it is necessary toturn the attention of the reader to the conserving and differentiating roleof the West-Caucasian ravines and mountain passes in the history of theAbkhaz-Adygeis.In discussing the question of the lineage of the Abkhazians, investigatorshave named two directions that the ancestors of this nation took to theirpresent place of abode: from the North Caucasia, where the Abazins, Adygeisand Kabardins, akin to the Abkhazians, live today, and from the south, fromAsia Minor, by way of Colchis. It is known that language disintegrations arerealised through the intermingling of parts of the bearers of a parent-languageinto the other, geographically isolated regions – ecological recesses (mountains,rivers, etc.). The structure (besides later subdivisions of the Abazins) ofthe West-Caucasian language community is 3-dimensional. That is why itsurmises no less than three stages of emigration, connected with full orpartial departure from the recesses – parent-homeland that had existed inthe 3rd century B.C. Let us glance briefly into the more possible variantsof such emigrations, taking the geographical peculiarities of West Caucasiainto account.In conformance with the first variant, the cradle of the Abkhaz-Adygeisshould have been localised on the northern slopes of West Caucasia, in theTranskuban recess (G.A. Melikishvili, M.D. Lordkipanidze, esc.), from wherein the span up to the 1st century A.D. (and in the opinion of suchenthusiastic authors as P. Ingorokva, also after 16th century A.D.) part ofthe population there intermingled with that of the Black Sea coast area,filling three ecological recesses – the north-west Bzyb mountain range (Zikhs,later Ubykhs) between the Gagra and Aj-Amgra ranges (Abazgs, later bearersof the Bzyb dialect of the Abkhazian language), and the south-eastern of thelast range up to the river Ingur (Apsils and Misimians, later bearers of theTsebeldian and the Abjui dialects of the Abkhazian language). Not having anyother real proof, some investigators strive to find confirmation of thishypothesis in archaeological materials that would prove penetration ofelements of the Maikop and dolmen cultures in the 3rd –first half of the 2ndcenturies B.C. on the territory of the present Great Sochi and north-westernAbkhazia (up to the Kodor), of bearers who hypothetically made room for andassimilated ancient population (the conjectural parent-Kartvel) of theregion. However, seeing as from the second half of the 2nd century B.C. thesouthern cultural sources predominated absolutely in West Caucasia, then thehypothesis about the migration of the forebears of the Abkhazians from thenorth at the turn of our era and, the more so, in the 17th century, isdeprived of any kind of archaeological grounds.The result of the second, southern variant, is that the parent-homeland ofthe Abkhaz-Adygeis was the Colchis ecological recess and the north-easternregions of Asia Minor adjoining it, where already at the turn of the 2nd–1st centuries B.C. supposedly related Adygei-Apsils Kashki-Abeshls lived(O.M: Japaridze, G.A: Melikishvili, V.G. Ardzinba, etc.). In this case it isnecessary to allow for the intermingling (along the coastline through theeast Black Sea area corridor and through the passes) of direct languageforebears of the Adygeis during the 2nd-early 1st century B.C. on thenorthern slopes of West-Caucasia. The ancestors of the Zikhs-Ubykhs thenoccupied the recess between the Gagra range and Tuapse, connecting theneighbouring territories with quite difficult seasonal paths. The parent-Abkhaziantribes as the initial part of the community, continued to live in Colchis,where they were found by authors of ancient times, as Apsils, Abazgs andSanigs. The wide cultural “expansion” from Colchis along the Black Sea coast(up to the modern Gelenjik to East Transcaucasia and to the northern slopesof the Central and West Caucasus reached its apogee in the 9th-7th centuriesB.C. (“Colchis-Koban metallurgical province”). The last important migrationson review were already made through the written sources of a 2000-anniversaryrange of some of the Adygeis migrating to the east (Kabardins) and some ofthe Abkhazians to North Caucasia (Abazins), while a return migration onserious scale was not observed. On the other hand, what was quite indicativewas the migration of the names: the name of Abkhazians – “Abaza” removedfrom the territory of the present Gudauta region (historical Abazgia) ontoan extensive region of North-West Caucasia, while the ancient name of Ubykhs(“Zikhs”) in the developed and late Middle Ages detoned also the Adygeipopulation of the Kuban area.The basic conclusion of the primary biologically conditioned direction ofethnic migrations to West Caucasia from the south-east to the north-west isstressed by the process of historical differentiations of the Kartvel (Georgian)language groups, which is also 3-dimensional. The Kartvel languages belong,together with Indo-European, as well as the Ural, Altai and other Eurasianlanguages in the stratum macrofamily, whose disintegration beganapproximately 12-13 centuries ago. In its turn, the disintegration of theparent-Kartvel language community, existing from the 3rd century B.C., began(according to Morris Svodesh) about the 19th century B.C. through thedivision of the Kartvel-Zan parent language. In spite of this linguistssurmise that the Svan language, longer than other Kartvel languages,remained on a level of basic language. A new segmentation from approximatelythe 8th century B.C. brought about the divisions of the youngest language inthis system, the Zan (Megrelo-Chan). The historical differentiation of theKartvel languages can be expressed in the following diagram:parent-Kartvel language Svan Kartvel Zan Megrel (Chan)
As in the case of the Abkhaz-Adygeis, investigators reconstructed twovariants of migration, which brought about the disintegration of the parent-Kartvelcommunity. The first variant orientates us again to the Colchis ecologicalrecess and offers an examination of its place in the adjoining north easternregion of Asia Minor as a universal Kartvel parent-homeland. For anexplanation of the present existing situation, we have to acknowledge thatthe Svans remained on the territory which was once occupied by bearers ofthe common parent-Kartvel language, and its Kartvel-Zan part on the boundaryof the 3rd –2nd centuries B.C., and migrated, let’s say, to the easternTranscaucasian recess through the present Likh mountain range; there, aftera thousand years one more disintegration took place, resulting in theancestors of the Megrel-Chans returning to the Colchis recess again anddriving the Svans away into the mountains. This sufficiently illogical andso far not provable variant is faced by another, a more grounded one, as itseems, and concludes that the parent-homeland of the Kartvels was not withinthe limits of West Transcaucasia in the north-eastern regions of Asia Minor,from where the region under examination the Svans had migrated to in thebeginning (either directly through the ravine of Chorokh and along theseacoast to present-day Colchis, or, which is more logical, along the Kuragorge and the region of East Transcaucasia adjoining it, and further to thewest). At the start of the 1st century B.C. a disintegration took place ofthe parent-Kart-Zan community and their intermingling to the north along tworoads – the Karts drove the Svans into the mountains north-east of Colchis,and the Zan tribes advanced to the Colchis ecological recess, having driventhe parent-Abkhazians away to the north. Both the common situation (theprimary “parent North-Caucasian” Khurrito-Urart element in Transcaucasia upto the early 1st century B.C., the localisation of the ancient Kartveltribes of Kardu - Kartys, Kulkha-Kolkhovs, Lusha-Lazovs, etc., to the north-easternregions of Asia Minor point to the historical reality of such a variant;significant traces of Kartvel-Indo-European ties, which come only from a non-stratummacrofamily, but which can also explain the locality of the Kartvel parent-homelandin the sphere of action of the Khettsk-Luvi language world, and so on), aswell as the direction of major natural migrations, experiences by thepopulation of the region during the last two centuries. It is indicative inrelation with this that the Svans, between 6th and 11th centuries migratedfrom the upper reaches of the river Rion to the west to the upper reaches ofthe Ingur, and today have reached (in separate groups) the region of Gagraand Sochi. An important linguistic indication on the difficulties ofconnecting the Svans with the ancient population of the Colchis lowlands,whose economy from time immemorial was characterised by an expressiveagricultural-animal husbandry mode of life and a developed metallurgy, isthe absence of terms in the Svan language, common with other Kartvellanguages, connected with a settled agricultural culture, and also thosedenoting “copper-bronze”, “flax”, “iron”, “horse”, etc. It was namely theKarts-Kartvels who, in the 8th-11th centuries of our era, having forced theLikh mountain range, split the Megrel-Chan (Lazs) community, forming on itsterritory the Kart-language Imeretia, Guria and Ajaria. A return migrationof human masses to Colchis on such a scale and with such results was notnoted. What was particularly indicative was that the mentioned migrations ofKartvels to the Colchis recess conceded with the Abkhazian Kingdom of the8th-10th centuries in time, when most favourable conditions had taken shapefor a return migration of the Abkhazians – to the south-east. However, thatdid not happen.All that has been said stresses the validity for the supposition of anadvantageous north-western direction of the natural migratory streams ofpopulation in this region during the ancient era and the Middle Ages. Fromthe moment man had settled in West Caucasia, the southern influencepredominated – from the side of Asia Minor and the Middle East. It was fromthere that in the old, old days, bearers of the parent-Abkhaz-Adygeilanguage had moved to the West Transcaucasian valleys, descendants who likemany other relics of live nature up to this day (thanks, I repeat, to theconservation traits of the mountains) quite firmly maintain their populationhere. The Apsils, who had given the Abkhazians their name (Apsua), and theirdirect descendants – bearers of the Abjui dialect in this chain – compriseone of the most important protective links, taking upon itself for over manycenturies the main burden of opposing assimilatory-migratory influences fromthe south east.The History of the Abkhazians Narrow Territorially and General
Just as the biography of every person is formed as a result of hisinterrelations with people and objects surrounding him, the history of everynation is shaped from facts of its interrelations with neighbouring nations.The history of the Abkhazians is no exception here. The territory they hadsettled on always served as a sort of bridge for them between North Caucasiaand the coast of the Black Sea. The second direction of contact wasdetermined by the sea – from time immemorial ships sailed towards Asia Minorand the Crimea. No small role was also played by the fact that the foundingof the triangle, occupied by the Abkhazians, was open to influence from thesouth-east, from where a lowland road led (“Abkhazian Road”), used by theconquerors and merchants. The economy, politics, culture of the populationof the area took shape in this quite intricate system of contact, reactingsensitively to all outside changes, and restructuring in accordance withthem.It is characteristic for every territory to have its own set ofarchaeological and architectural monuments. An idea of the national cultureis formed through their originality. The linking of natural ancient regionaltraits with concrete modern ethnology received dissemination in a domesticnational-administrative state system, resulting in a situation when articlesand equipment began to be used for the founding of the rights ofrepresentatives of one or another nationality to power over a giventerritory, i.e., items began to be allotted a concrete language (!). In themeanwhile, most of the works made by man are the fruit of diverse attemptsand interactions of multilingual individuals and collectives. Ethnographers(on the example of the North American Indians) have not accidentally notedregularity, according to which accumulation of characteristic substantialsings were observed not in the centre of the settlement of one or anothertribe, but in the region of intertribal ties. The Abkhazians were never anexception in this.From the moment of the settlement of this territory by man during the wholeof the Stone Age, roads were of chief importance along which an infiltrationof groups of people came here from the south-east, pertinent to experiencein working on stone, on an ancient import – the volcanic glass, obsidian. Inthe Bronze Age West Caucasia represented a remote periphery of the AsiaMinor variant of a Middle East cultural community. The Transcaucasian passroads were conductive to the spreading of the monumental tomb-dolmens onboth sides of the Main Ridge. The idea of the dolmen creations, in theopinion of a number of authoritative investigators, was brought into WestCaucasia by sea through the Mediterranean already at the end of the 3rdcentury B.C. In the early Iron Age, besides the influence from Asia Minor,the state of Urarta played a decisive part in the formation of the localmaterial culture. From the 8th century B.C. onwards the influence of theAegean world (through the Hellens) increased. Thanks to the Greeks, citiesand state structures connected with them began to appear on the Caucasianshores. By the 3rd century B.C. the entire lives of the local population,including the mountain valleys, were imbued with the elements of Greekculture. The marketplace in Dioscuriada (Sebastopol, now the capital of theAbkhazian Republic, Sukhum) won world fame. Sources inform us that duringthe Hellenic epoch (3rd –1st centuries B.C.) representatives of up to 300tribes and nations concluded business deals here. Industrial winemakingprogressed, amphoras with the Dioscuriada trade mark were manufactured, andthey even minted their own coins. Ancient Abkhazia on the Black Seapreserved its decisive role in the economy, politics and culture up to theepoch of the Iran and the Arab conquests in Colchis (6th-8th centuriesB.C.), periodically returning to that role also in subsequent times (up tothe beginning of the 20th century).Special significance was acquired by the Transcaucasian pass roads in the6th-8th centuries B.C., thanks to which a branch of the Great Silk Routewent through the territory of Abkhazia, connecting the Mediterranean Seawith India and China. The burial vaults of representatives of the ancientAbkhazian tribes of Apsils and Abazgs contain wide assortments of crockery,arms, items of clothing, adornments, coins, etc., connected by provenancewith dozens of centres of Europe, Asia and Africa and with particularobviousness stressing the predominance of the innovative possibilities ofHer Highness Dame Fashion before all manifestations of traditionalism. Thepass roads played an important role in the establishment of early-feudalAbkhazian Kingdom, when at the end of the 8th century with Byzantineweakening, the Khazar Kingdom took a hand in the matter, including by thattime North Caucasia within its limits. The subsequent history of theAbkhazian Kingdom was again connected with Byzantine, stimulating itsflowering in the 10th century and bearing influence on the life in the areaup to its very decline in the 15th century. From the end of the 11th and upto the mid-13th centuries, the Abkhazian provincial government, onautonomous grounds, entered the composition of the “Kingdom of theAbkhazians and Kartvels”, and later partially (“Upper Abkhazia”) was annexedto Megrelia, its neighbour of the east.The 14th-17th centuries are characterised in the area’s history by a revivaland deepening of the Mediterranean Sea ties. Trading stations of Genoa onthe coastline of Abkhazia played a special part in this, leaving a deeptrace in the local economy, political history and culture. In this periodthe pass roads became enlivened once again, connecting the maritime centreswith North Caucasia and Povolzhje (the Golden Horde), and in multilingualSebastopol (modern Sukhum) the mint began to function again. Imported clayand glass (including the Venetian), crockery, arms sets of belts, adornmentsand other overseas articles began to widespread in local life. It becamecustomary among soldiers in the mountain valleys to wear earrings in one orin both ears (like the European sailors).The increasing Turkish presence weakened towards the end of the 15th century,and then, in general, traditional ties broke off with Europe. The 18thcentury passed under the sign of advantageous influences in the Osman (Ottoman)Empire area, using Abkhazia as their main launching pad in the conquest ofWest Caucasia. In this period firearms, the characteristic Caucasian daggers,a certain cut of dress (Cherkess, Bashlyk, etc.), pipes for smoking, becamewidespread in the region, and an original Abkhazian style of cooking wascreated, inimitably uniting the fruits of overseas countries – corn, beans,pepper, etc. Since 1810 a process of Europeanization began intensively inAbkhazia, in the main through Russia. The Caucasian war turned into ahorrendous misfortune for the Abkhazians and particularly the mahadzhirperiod directly after it (1866-1877), when thousands of Abkhazians wereforced to migrate to Turkey, from where they scattered all over the world.On their hearths, in the second half of the 19th century, appeared thefarmsteads of Greeks, Bulgarians, Armenians, Russians, Ukrainians, Megrels,Germans, Estonians and other emigrants, imparting to the rural area andurban cultures, features of compound and variety.Abkhazia is a country of a vivid language culture, whose sources go back tothe upper paleolithic epoch. Characteristic traits of this culture are theritual hues of the body in multicoloured tattoos, traces to the early IronAge; idolisation of groves, trees, animals, the natural elements, that drewthe attention of the travellers also in those olden times and later in theMiddle Ages; the rite of the second burial in dolmens and jugs; known frommonuments of the Bronze and early Iron Age, and again receiving prevalencein the late Middle Ages in the form of the hanging of the dead from trees;the custom of cremation of the dead and burying them on special publicsquares or in jugs was noted from the early Iron Age and the late epoch ofantiquity; the variety of signs (over 80) of heathen burial customs of theApsils from the 3rd century B.C. to the 7th century A.D.; the place foridolisation of mountain spirits on the passes and on mountain paths, wherevaried offerings accumulated (the tips of arrows and other items) in the11th-15th centuries and later; facts of the revival of heathenish in the18th century and its original and diverse survival in the everyday life ofAbkhazians today.At the same time, Abkhazia is also a country of the oldest OrthodoxChristianity in thCaucasus. Here, already at the end of the 3rd centuryA.D., communities of exiled Christians formed, and in the year 325 thePitiunt Bishop Stratofil placed his signature under protocols of theVselensky Nikeisk Cathedral. Officially, Abkhazians (Apsils, Abazgs, etc.)adopted Christianity in the 6th century during Emperor Justian’s time, whenin the littoral and mountain zone many early-Christian churches were built.From the 4th up to the 10th centuries the Abkhazian church wasadministratively subject to Byzantine (Constantinople, Antioch, etc.), whilethe territory of Abkhazia itself was within the bounds of the Abkhaziankingdom autonomous – the main temples of the 10th century were constructednot in the capital of the kingdom, Kutaisi, but in the zone nearest to thesea and Byzantine, between Pitsunda and Bedia. This status was maintainedalso in the Byzantine occupation period in the 11th century, after which,supposedly, for some time the local church was dependent on the EastCaucasian (Mtskhet) Catholicity and the Alany Metropolitanate. From the mid-13thto the 17th centuries Abkhazian Catholicity preserved its independence,sustaining close ecclesiastical ties with Kartlia, Byzantine, Asia Minor,Syria and Palestine. It is not by chance that it was namely the AntiochPatriarch who arrived in Abkhazia to displace the bishops-slave-traders inthe 17th century, and the Greek written language that predominated undividedup to the 10th century on the territory of Abkhazia and was used oneparallel with the Georgian language from the end of the 10th up to the 16thcentury. In the 19th – early 20th centuries, Christian religion again putforth sufficiently deep roots in this area.Besides the Orthodox religion, Catholicism in its time also played adefinite role. At the beginning of the 14th century, for example, there wasa Catholic episcopal faculty in Sebastopol, and there was also a Catholiccemetery functioning there. The local population became acquainted in the6th century with particulars of the religion of the Iran fire-worshippers.The stone icons in the second half of the 6th-7th centuries have to mitresymbol from Tsebelda on them. Abkhazians came into contact very early withother world religions – Judaism and Islam. Jewish people had settled inlocal cities already in the period of antiquity. Their communities existedin the period of the Middle Ages in Gagra (11th century) and in Sebastopol-Sukhum(14th century). Abkhazians first came into close contact with their Islamicancestors in the first half of the 8th century. A Muslim community existedin Sebastopol-Sukhum at the beginning of the 14th century. The Islaminfluence in the area grew stronger from the end of the 16th century (tombswith inscriptions, names of princes, etc.). In the 18th – beginning of the19th centuries several wooden mosques functioned in Abkhazia, but pigs werestill bred in every village. Survivals of Islam are preserved even today inthe everyday life of the Abkhazians.Abkhazians – Blood-Relatives of All Nations on Earth
The history of man offers a whimsical twining of territorial, economic,language, cultural and psychological reality on which one more importantnation-forming layer is built, connected with the genetics of the humanfactor, on which politicians and the historians hired by them, for somereason prefer not to linger. At the same time, fixation of Negroids in theupper paleolithical strata of Kholodny Grot and a language proximity to theMongoloids directly indicate true genetic ties with representatives of theseancient human races. Today, however, Abkhazians are a clearly expressedEuropean type. This is explained by the constant penetration of bearers of arelevant anthropological type into their territory.Without touching on the compulsory, but badly documented, ties up to theperiod of the written language, I will stop at proof of those epochs whichare already sufficiently elucidated through written and archaeologicalsources. In Gienos (modern Ochamchira), founded over 2500 years ago on theAbkhazian seacoast by the Miletsys, local household utensils were found inhouses of the first settlers, brought in the homes of Greeks by their wives,who willingly welcomed the colonisers into the native environment. Greek-Abkhazianmarriage ties increased in the Hellenic epoch (end of the 4th - 1stcenturies B.C.). In the 1st-3rd centuries A.D., in the course of widepolitical and cultural contacts with Rome, the foundation of an Abkhaz-Italianblood relationship was laid. In the 4th-5th centuries A.D., during theRoman-Byzantine rule (Sebastopol, Pitiunt, etc.), suburbs were erected – thekanabas – in which the demobilised-soldiers lived with their families.Undoubtedly, quite a few men and women of the local population made up hosefamilies. In the 6th century A.D., Prokopi Kesariisky, in relations with theAbazgs – forebears of the Bzyb Abkhazians – stressed forthwith that “theRoman soldiers… long ago” had settled “among them in many ways”. Evidentlysuch settlements were accompanied also by similar marriage ties. Theinterrelations between the garrison and the people of Greek-Roman citiesservicing them and then settling among the inhabitants of the foothills andmountain valleys, often turned into punitive expeditions and pogroms (suchan episode, vividly written by Ksenofont, took place in the outskirts ofTrapezunta at the end of the 5th century B.C.). The result was alwaysviolence and the birth of “war children”. The kidnapping of women bymountain dwellers was common, too. Living jointly for 1200 years on oneterritory with the Greeks could not but leave a serious imprint in thegenetics of the Abkhazians (like their neighbours – Ubykhs, Adygeis, Megrels,etc.), making practically all of them blood relatives with the Hellens.Abkhazian contacts with the North-Caucasian tribes were long and varied, inthe first place (1st-12th centuries A.D.) with the Alanys, the forebears ofpresent-day Ossets. The presence of the Alany element in Abkhazia isdocumented through sources from the 1st to the 2nd century A.D., and in thearchaeological – from the 4th to the 6th century. The result of the Abkhaz-Alanyties was not only the spread of conformable elements of material culture (ceramics,arms, etc.) and the transference of Narty legends, but also in theappearance of many half-breeds who later infused (depending on the situation)into the father’s or the mother’s environment. A definite contribution tothe genetics of the Abkhazians was made in the 6th century by the Persians,through whose actions, pertaining to the Apsil women of the gently, turnedinto catastrophe for the Iranian garrison of Tsibilium in the year 550 A.D.In the 6th century A.D., for the first time in the internal regions ofAbkhazia, the Lazys were formalised in written sources – forebears of thecontemporary Megrels, with whom (marrimonial) relations were particularlyintensive in the contact zone along the Ingur. Infiltration of the Megrelsinto the south-eastern regions of Abkhazia was to have increased from theend of the 19th century, when the Bedia’s episcopacy was founded there,whose rule spread also along the left bank of the Ingur. At the turn of the13th-14th centuries Megrelia annexed the eastern regions of the Abkhazian (Tskhumsk)provincial government up to Anakopia. This battle lasted up to the 17thcentury, when Italian and Georgian sources placed the western politicalboundary of Megrelia at first of Kelasur, then up to the Kodor and, finally,to the Ingur river. In the late Middle Ages, as a result of theassimilationary processes in the territories conquered by the Megrels (“UpperAbkhazia”), an intermingling of the peasants, as a result of church giftsand the endless wars between the Abkhazians and the Megrels, drew them quiteclosely together in the genetic sense. Not so intensive but also resultativewere sporadic contacts between the Kartvels-Georgians (the battle atAnakopia in the 8th century, contacts in the 11th-13th centuries, etc.), andthe Svans. This process continues to this day.Apart from the indicated nations representatives of many other languages andcultures have lived and worked on the territory of Abkhazia during the lasttwo thousand years. Here we should mention Jews, Germans, Armenians, Arabs,Khazars, Turks, Mongols, Italian and even Chinese among them. The firstmention in sources of information, for example, of representatives of Slavtribes, arriving on the territory of Abkhazia, goes back to the middle ofthe 6th century. The roads and blood of Russians and Abkhazians intertwinedclosely also during the period of the neighbouring Tmutarakan and Abkhazianstates, and on the Middle Ages slave-trade roads of the Mediterranean, theBlack Sea area and Povolzhje, during the Cossak forays along the easternBlack Sea shore area. Not only the cultural but also the kinship of theAbkhaz-Russian contacts that took shape in the 19th-20th centuries aresufficiently deep. One expressive example – 27 years after the annexing ofAbkhazia to Russia there were 120 fugitive Russian soldiers who had marriedAbkhazian women and coped with the Abkhazian language in only the onemountain village of Abkhazia – Tsebelda. In that same 19th century theAbkhazian Negroes aroused great interest among those who happened to arrivehere…Class-dynastic marriages were of particular significance in the localhistory of the feudal epoch. A Kartvel woman – the wife of Leon I and aKhazar woman – the mother of Leon II were at the cradle of the Abkhaziankingdom in the 8th century A.D. In the following period, up to the beginningof the 19th century, as a rule, the wives and mothers of local tsars andprinces were Greeks, Ossets, Armenians, Polovchanins, Kartvels, Megrels, etc…but very rarely representatives of the nationality their husbands ruled. Thebride arrived at her new place of residence with a multiple retinue,comprising relatives, girl friends, soldiers, handicraftsmen, and otherkinsmen, who then scattered among the local population and countryside.However, it was not only the many representatives of the newly come nationswho left an imprint in the genetic of the Abkhazians. The latter played atransient role in the formation of the genetics of many nations of Eurasia,especially of the Mediterranean Sea region. And here slave-trade was ofbasic importance. The Black Sea littoral of the Caucasus from timeimmemorial was called the “mine of slavery”. This “mine” was intensivelydeveloped from the 6th century B.C. era up to the 19th century A.D. For 2500years dozens, hundreds and at times thousands of people were annually takenaway from here, mostly young people. During the Hellenic period slave-trademade up an important profitable part of the economy of the natives of thearea – the Geniokhys. In the 6th century A.D. the rulers of Abazgs earnedquite well on the markets of Byzantine by selling emasculated boys fromamong their kinsmen. During this period, as a result of only one raid of thePersians, 40 Abazg boys were collected as hostages and drove to Iran. Slave-tradereached a particularly high scale in the late Middle Ages. At he beginningof the 19th century Keleshbei Chachba (Shervashidze), in discussing pointsof an agreement with Russia, requested the preservation of his right totrade in people. Slave labour from Abkhazia and related territories playedan important role in the economic and cultural blossoming of the Black Seaand Mediterranean areas. Everywhere – from Damascus to Paris – the labour ofCaucasian emigrants was evident: cities were built with their participation,temples and castles erected, roads laid, ships built, and sown lands werewidened… The fate of the slaves was not always tormenting and unfruitful,however. Having settled down all over the civilised world, they forgot theirown language and became familiar with foreign ones, changed their religions,set up families and reared children and grandchildren. Some perished doingbackbreaking work, many became military leaders, while the girls became thewives of magnates and sultans. Today, innumerable descendants of those whohad once been forcibly taken away from the Black Sea coast, including,undoubtedly, Abkhazians, live among the Turks and Arabs. Jews and Greeks,Yugoslavs and Italians, French and Spanish, Iranians and Armenians, Russiansand Tatars, without being aware of their origin. Mahadzhir period made itscontribution to this process, too. Abkhazia – a Country with a 2500-year Statehood
Early-class social relations in Abkhazia were formed already at the end ofthe 3rd-2nd centuries B.C., when an increase of additional productsliberated social forces able to co-operate in the building of monumentalstone tomb-dolmens. The community gentry of the following period weresignificantly represented in the burials of the 8th-6th centuries B.C.,where many bronze and iron items were found, indicating the intensivecontacts with that ancient state of Transcaucasia, Urart, and also with theearly-class formations of Iran, Asia Minor and Balkan, the Kimmeriisk-Seythianworld.Statehood as a system of survival, based on a centralised concentration anddistribution of products, was brought to Abkhazia by the Greeks-Miletsys,who founded here the city-states of Dioscuriada (modern Sukhum), Gienos(modern Ochamchira) already at the beginning of the 6th century B.C. Theseand a number of other maritime centres (Eshera, Pitiunt) were for thefollowing 600 years decisive seats of political life in the area. The“Colchis Kingdom” in the 6th –1st centuries B.C., within whose boundariesthe territory of modern Abkhazia supposedly was, relates to the number ofhistorical myths, designed by scientists and politicians from the end of thethirties of the current century (“epoch of Lavrenty Beria”). At the turn ofthe 4th-3rd centuries B.C. (on the basis of the symbiosis of theHellenisized military-agricultural native summit and “the new aristocracy”in the visage of the trade-handicraft elite of Dioscuriada) in the maritimearea of central Abkhazia a Hellenic state (“kingdom”) sprang up with atyrannical ruling system. At the end of the 2nd century B.C. the examinedterritory was included in the composition of the Pontiisk kingdom ofMitridat VI Eupator. He aided the organisation of the Dioscuriada mint,whose products where current all over the Black Sea area.The oldest early-class states of Abkhazians were the “kingdoms” of Sanigia,Apsilia and Abazgia, noted in sources of information since the 1st centuryA.D. and enveloping the entire territory of the present Republic of Abkhazia.This state was politically dependent on the Roman Emperors, who affirmed thelocal tsars and controlled them through the maritime settlements ofSebastopolis (ancient Dioscuriada) and Pitiunt, where a garrison of Romansoldiers was quartered. After the transfer of the capital of the Empire toConstantinople, the political, economic and cultural Roman-Byzantinepresence in the area was strengthened. In the first half of the 6th centuryA.D., on the eve of the invasion of the Persians and their North-Caucasianallies into Colchis, Byzantine attempted to unite the parent-Abkhaziannationalities (Apsils, Abazgs, Misimians, etc.) and the West Kartvels (Lazks,Svans) within the framework of a vassal buffer formation – the Lazsk kingdom.For two-three decades a situation took shape in Colchis similar to that ofthe mid-20th century – the Abkhazians, on autonomous principles, entered thestate of the western Kartvels – Lazys, which in turn became practically partof Byzantine Empire. After the victory over the Persians, Byzantine sensiblyrejected the “matriarchy” principle and administratively levelled thenationalities living here within the framework of their own imperial borders.During the following 200-odd years the territory of Abkhazia was included inthe eastern Black Sea province of the Empire and was considered to be a partof the “Roman land”.Victory over the Arabs at the walls of Anakopia (modern Novy Afon), the mainfortress of the Abazgs, was conducive to a new unification forming of thewhole of Colchis under the rule of the Byzantine protégé Leon I Abazg. Thenephew of the latter, Leon II, at the end of the 8th century A.D. takingadvantage of a weakening Empire and the strengthening of the Khazar rule,proclaimed his independence and transferred the capital of the Abkhaziankingdom to ancient Kutaisi. The next 200 years were an epoch of blossomingfor the Christian Abkhazian kingdom, keeping allied relations of Byzantine,and gradually absorbing the majority of the east Georgian lands within itspolitical limits. In the 10th century Abkhazia bordered with Armenia on thesouth-east.From the end of the 10th century representatives of the South-GeorgianBagratid family were affirmed on the Abkhazian throne. They did not leaveany telling imprints on the direction and quality of the state policy andits name. “The Kingdom of Abkhazians and Kartvles” acquired a final federalstructure during the time of David IV Stroitel, when the capital of thekingdom was transferred to Semi-Muslim Tiflis. Strictly, Abkhazians, asbefore, presented a clearly expressed autonomous political structure. For abig part of the 11th century it was occupied by Byzantine, and in the12th-13th centuries Tskhumi-Sukhum served as the residence of the rulingprinces Chachba (Shervashidze).The late Middle Ages history (14th-17th centuries) of the Abkhazianprincipality is a chronicle of the desperate struggle of its administrationand people for the preservation of the independence from the Megrel andImereti rulers who repeatedly endured defeat and had to turn to the Kartliantsars (modern East Georgia) for help in suppressing the Abkhazians. Theterritory controlled by the Abkhazian princes now narrowed, now widenedagain, but not once were the demonstrative Georgians or others able toannounce that Abkhazia had ended its autonomous existence. Even the buildingof the biggest defensive-delimitation construction of the Caucasus acrossthe principality during the period of the 30-years Abkhaz-Megrel war – the60-kilometre long Kelasuri (Grand Abkhazian) wall, undertaken during thesecond quarter of the 17th century by the rulers of Megrelia with the aim offortifying “Upper Abkhazia” for themselves, could not subjugate theAbkhazians; they took this menacing obstacle by storm and restored theirancient political and ethnic borders up to the river Ingur.The 17th – beginning of the 19th centuries was a time of growing politicalcontacts with the Osman (Ottoman) Empire, whose government, with the aim ofspreading its influence in the Caucasus, placed its stake namely on Abkhazia,bearing its special position in the region in mind. The Turkish Garrison wasquartered in Sukhum-Kale and Anakopia. At the end of 18th century theAbkhazian principality was headed by Keleshbei Chachba comprising 25000soldiers out of whom 600 were on military galleys, cruising along thecoastline, keeping the inhabitants from Batumi to Gelenjik in constantterror.The far-seeing politician Keleshbei, at the cost of his own life, placed theAbkhazian principality within the bounds of the Russian state (the manifestowas signed by Alexander I in 1810) as an autonomy, which it preserved up to1864. Later Abkhazia was renamed a Sukhum military department, with a directRussian administrative rule. In 1883 the “department” now as a “province”entered the composition of the Kutaisi military region. Cities were built,roads laid, electric stations, schools, libraries, hospitals and theatresconstructed, their own Abkhazian written language was compiled on the basisof Russian graphics, and their own gifted intelligentsia appeared – teachers,literary men, artists, military men, officials. The widowed Empress MariaFyodorovna entered into morganatic marriage with Abkhazian Prince GeorgiChachba. In a special appeal, Emperor Nicholas II in 1907 lifted the “guilt”of the Abkhazians, levelling them in rights with all the citizens in theEmpire.The Abkhazian “hundred” accomplished many heroic exploits on the fronts ofthe First World War. That is how the premises of the national resurrectionof the Abkhazians were formed.In March 1917 a Provisional Government of their own was set up in the Sukhumdistrict. Seven months later the districts entered the federal foundation inthe south-east union of Cossack soldiers, the mountain dwellers of theCaucasus and the free people of the steppe. That is when the declaration onself-government and the constitution founded on this principle were adopted.In June 1918 the Sukhum district was occupied by the Georgian expeditionarydetachments of General Mazniev (Mazniashvili). A year later the name“Abkhazia” was restored, however subsequent attempts for a legalregistration of the Abkhazian “autonomy” within the framework of theGeorgian Democratic Republic were unsuccessful.In March 1921 the Abkhazian “Kiaraz” detachments, supported by units of 9thRed Army, liberated their own area, following which the independence of theAbkhazian SSR was proclaimed. A year later, under pressure of Josiph Stalin,the Abkhazian SSR and the Georgian SSR signed a federal agreement which, in1931, was violated (Stalin was actively aided in this by a native ofAbkhazia, Lavrenty Beria). The result was that Abkhazia, as an autonomousrepublic, was included in the composition of “unitary” Georgia. From thethirties a forced Georgianization of Abkhazia became one of the chieffunctions of the administrative system of Georgia: even during the heat ofbattle with the Nazis (World War II) for the Caucasus, providing forrefugees arriving in Abkhazia from the east was a primary task. To the sameaim was the eviction of the Greeks from there in 1949. About theunfavourable changes for the Abkhazians in the demographic sense in Abkhaziaduring the last 100 years can be ascertained from the following table:
|Years:|| 1886|| 1897|| 1926|| 1939|| 1959|| 1970|| 1989|
|Abkhazians|| 58,963|| 58,697|| 55,918|| 56,197|| 61,193|| 83,097|| 93,267|
|Georgians|| 4,166|| 25,875|| 67,494|| 91,967|| 158,221|| 213,322|| 239,872|
|Russians|| 971|| 5,135|| 20,456|| 60,201|| 86,715|| 79,730|| 74,913|
|Armenians|| 1,049|| 6,552|| 30,048|| 49,705|| 64,400|| 73,000|| 76,541|
|Greeks|| 2,149|| 5,393|| 27,085|| 34,621|| 9,111|| 13,000|| 14,664|
The colonial regime and systematic infringement on the national dignityaroused repeated mass protests and demands on the restoration of the statusof the twenties and of the transfer of Abkhazia into the structure of theRussian Federation. On August 25, 1990 the Supreme Soviet of Abkhaziaadopted a Declaration on the state sovereignty of the Abkhazian SovietSocialist Republic. In March 1991, at the referendum held on the future ofthe Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Abkhazia declared for an equalplace in its structure, while Georgia voted for its disintegration.* * *And so, the question: “Abkhazians, who are they?” can be briefly replied tothe following way: Abkhazians are not biologically or historically distinctfrom other people on Earth, comprising an equal part of human society. Butthe special feature of the Abkhazians is in that their language, not changedduring thousand of years, does not recur anywhere else in the world, andespecially in that they preserve the language that has long since died outon related territories of Eurasia … For millions of years nature hasgathered diverse samples of her creations in this reverse spot. These aredeposits of ancient oceans – limestone in whose compactness the deepest andwidest caves in Eurasia are hidden, and the unique flora of over 60varieties of plants that have not been preserved anywhere else, andcontaining the biggest beech and fir trees in the whole world, and theAbkhazian bee with the world’s longest proboscis. In line of these relics isthe Abkhazian language, a lingo relic of West Caucasia. In a moment of theprofound fragility of the socio-economic system of life on an enormous scale,enveloping the territory of the former USSR and its satellite, themultinational population of little Abkhazia courageously overcomes nationalbitterness “brewed” on historical forgetfulness and isolation, trusting inits prayers to God, its geographical position and its good sense, common tomankind, which so far successfully co-operates of our common survival inthis grim and yet so beautiful world.Be happy, Abkhazia!Epilogue to the Second EditionThis work was written to the order of the editorial staff of theinternational annual “Science and Humanity” at the end of 1991. But it waspublished in Sukhum on the eve of the invasion of the Shevardnadzeformations. The greater part of the edition was destroyed by the invadersand the text was subjected to the ignorant criticism in the newspaper“Democratic Abkhazia”.Recognition of all the legislative acts of the former USSR and the GeorgianSSR had became invalid, back with the realities of the civil war in Russiaof 1918-1920, Abkhazia, willing to fill the legal vacuum abolished thecorresponding Stalin’s and Berya’s document of 1931 on the Abkhazia’senjoyment the rights of an autonomous republic within Georgia putting “Thecountry of Apsuaa” (Apsny) beyond the borders of the later.The highest spheres of the world community the disintegration of the USSRhad generated from and the party administrations of Union Republics took nonotice of the former of autonomous formations beyond the Russian Federation.Consequently, the Georgian authorities had faced the problem of “territorialintegrity” with two possible ways: either to recognise the Republic ofGeorgia as a federal state or to conquer again the seceded territory.Having come to power through the blood coup the General-Traitor Shevardnadze,instead of civilised procedures has chosen the second way – by force. With asupport of the UNO and a number of the leading states (USA, Germany, Turkey,Russia) thankful to Shevardnadze for his accomplice of the chaos in the USSR,the later got his “portion” of the Soviet arms and moved his stormers toAbkhazia on 14th August of 1992 for forage and murder.Autumn, winter, spring and summer of 1992-1993 had turned the recentlyflourishing health resort republic – the “All-Union pearl” into the zone oflarge scale ecological catastrophe, having divided the 70 year peacefulAbkhazia into three parts: Gudauta and Gagra regions, blockaded mountainouspart of the Ochamchira region including Tkvarchal and the occupied seasidefrom Sukhum to Ochamchira.Shevardnadze’s envoys – Ioseliani and Kitovany, like locusts had attackedAbkhazia with a licence to shoot suppress and rob the multiethnic populationof Abkhazia, the place, where hundreds were killed, every fiftieth wounded,exiles and every fourth robbed within 8 months.Thousands of civilians were tortured for their convictions, nationalbelonging, weakness of will, being young or old age. The people were beatenup, raped, stabbed, burned out, ignored; gardens and crops destroyed,citizens were forced to loud their belongings into the plunderer’s vehicles;ransom was taken for preservation of the children’s lives and vanished ones.Many villages were wiped off, the city of Sukhum was destroyed and looted aswell. Dozens of architectural monuments were destroyed and disfigured; theAbkhazian State Archives, the Abkhazian Institute of Language Literature andHistory, the Republican Library ruined; the Russian Drama Theatre burned out;museums, institutes, schools, libraries, private archives, factories,undertakings and trade institutions looted; pianos, tape recorders, pictures,mirrors, books and furniture shot through.With the blessings of Shevardnadze the greatest tragedy had happened in theDal Gorge, where on 14th December 1992 the Russian helicopter MI-8 with morethan 60 people on board: 13 pregnant, 28 children and other ones perished.The burnt down bodies were rummaged in search for gold teeth, rings andother “trophies”. Politicians of Russia and other countries have forgiventheir social ally Shevardnadze this very crime too.All this wild rivalry to the Abkhazian land collapsed, because “Abkhazia isnot Georgia”. Abkhazians, Russians, Georgians, Armenians, Greeks and othercitizens of the republic demonstrated a rare tolerance and formed acommunity against the disintegration of the USSR. Shevardnadze’s intellecthas given birth to monsters, subjecting the population of Abkhazia totorments.But Abkhazia is alive. In these difficult conditions shortages theAbkhazians, Armenians, Kabardins, Adygs, Chechens and other representativesof ethnic groups side by side with the Abkhazians resisted the enemydemonstrating heroism and human solidarity to the country in misfortune.Collective of staple products is being organised everywhere. Moral supportof the fighting people of Abkhazia for their freedom and justice isbroadening. There will be a day on this blessed land of Apsny as soon as thealliance arose by there current redivision of the world will be settled downand all over the arc of instability and calamity will be restored from theBalkan to the Pamirs.Epilogue to the English EditionLate in April, 1993, the Parliamentary delegation of the Republic ofAbkhazia (consisting of Mr. S. Lakoba, Mrs. L. Kvarchelia and author himself)visited the UK with the aim to inform the governmental organisations on thesituation in Abkhazia and gave a file in the war communiqué. Meetings wereheld at the British Parliament, Foreign Ministry, the London, Oxford andCambridge Universities, in the Edinburgh and Kilmarnockas well with theparticipation of intergovernmental and human rights organisation. Documentswitnessing the Shevardnadze regime, that runs counter to the main principlesof the Universal Human Rights Declaration were distributed among listeners.During the talks, it was repeatedly pointed out that Abkhazia bear the samerelation to the NATO countries as the UK does; that in the 1st century B.C.both Abkhazia and England were within the borders of the Roman Empire; thatvolunteers speaking diverse languages came into fight in Abkhazia; that theywere on the same mission as the well-known poet Lord Byron, who died for theliberty of Greece; that even in 1862 the Abkhazian delegation held talkswith the Prime-Minister of the UK Mr. Lord Palmerson in London; that in 1919English General Briggs not only recognised, the right of Abkhazians todetermine their fate independently, but set up the British Representation inSukhum, the capital of Abkhazia as well.People everywhere tried to get deep into the matter and offer something tohelp the people of Abkhazia – with kind words, money, medicine and i.e.The year of hostilities made the small coastal republic known to the worldand establish fraternal relationship beyond its bounds with scholars,politicians, scientists, artists, business people and ordinary ones.As an equal member of the UNPO, Abkhazia de facto joined independentpolitical unitys of the world community.Joint efforts of the people of good will, who represent different countriesand the ability to govern had been laid down in the grounds of the Abkhazianstatehood promoted the liberation of Sukhum, capital of Abkhazia, on 27thSeptember 1993 and later reach the river Ingur, that borders neighbouringMingrelia and Georgia with Abkhazia.However the victory did not bring peace to the long-suffering land. Havingfailed to suppress people of Abkhazia, Shevardnadze called his confederatesfrom Russia and UNO for help, some of them ventured to accuse Abkhazia ofthe aggression and occupation of their own capital and territory. Thegovernment of Russia imposed the blockade having deprived the small Abkhaziawith hundred thousands of old people, women and children of electricity,bread, water, medicine, fuel and other means of vital necessity. The Russian-Abkhazianborder on the river Psou was turned into a dirty business to profit at theAbkhazians misfortunes; that is temporary closing of economic structure andpreservation of the conditions of war, criminal and gang’s activity which iscontinuation of the acts of Shevardnadze’s guardsmen in Abkhazia as robbery,violence and killings.The government of Abkhazia together with the citizens of Abkhazia, at theexpense of losses managed to stabilise the situation preventing people fromplunging them into new clashes, convincing the international missions (JEO,USA, Congress, CSCE and i.e.) of the necessity to recognise the Republic ofAbkhazia as an equal party at war, able to join the round table talks. Onthe 30th of November the first round table talks were held in Geneva to findways to establish peace in the region.The negotiations continued in Moscow, Geneva, New York, Sochi. VladislavArdzinba, head of the Republic of Abkhazia visited Switzerland and USA helda briefing at the UN headquarters in Geneva, created a favourable impressionwith his European manners and ways of thinking. In May 1994 in Krasnodar anagreement was signed on Abkhazia’s entry into the association of theRepublics, Krais and Regions of the North Caucasus and the South of Russia.At the end of June the CIS peace-keeping forces were deployed along theAbkhazian-Georgian border on the Ingur River.The Abkhazian side proceed from the very fact of the existence of theindependence from Georgia, the state that emerged after the collapse of theUSSR – the Republic of Abkhazia gained the right to self-government asGeorgia together with the world community declared all the legislative actsand the constitution of the soviet period invalid having done with thejuridical document that included Abkhazia within the bounds of Georgia.The main condition to provide cease fire, in the region is to recognise theright of Abkhazians to hold referendum to determine their own fate and thestatus and ensures the observation of the Universal Human Rights Declarationand other international acts that protect the rights of the states,communities and people. That might has been a position taken by the UNOunder the influence of the doubtful charm of Shevardnadze appraisingAbkhazia as illegitimate within the countries of terrestrial globe, but itdoes not mean that the country is to be eliminated. Abkhazia exists, thisvery fact is to be recognised in accordance with moral and culturalstandards common to all mankind.The English speaking countries today have their particular responsibilityand abilities to get knowledge on the subject, the implementation of whichserve God and the interest of people.