27 Years since War in Abkhazia

Today Georgia is commemorating the 27th anniversary of the bloody war in Georgia’s currently Russia-occupied Abkhazia Region.

The war lasted for 1 year, 1 month and 13 days (14 August 1992 – 27 September 1993) and it remains the deep and bloody wound in modern Georgian history.

On July 23 of 1992, functioning of Georgian Constitution in the autonomous region of Abkhazia was terminated. The judicial war that had begun between the Georgian capital and the region degenerated into an armed confrontation within less than a month. The war has left thousands of people dead and 250 000 Georgians banished from their homes in Abkhazia.

The War in Abkhazia from 1992 to 1993 was fought between Georgian government forces for the most part, and Abkhaz separatist forces, Soviet Russian government armed forces and North Caucasian militants. Ethnic Georgians who lived in Abkhazia fought largely on the side of Georgian government forces. Ethnic Armenians and Russians within Abkhazia's population largely supported the Abkhazians, and many fought on their side. The separatists received support from thousands of North Caucasus and Cossack militants and from the Russian Federation forces stationed in and near Abkhazia.

From 13,000 to 20,000 ethnic Georgians and approximately 3,000 Abkhaz have been reported killed during the war, more than 250,000 Georgians became internally displaced or refugees and 2,000 are considered missing.

On September 27, 1993, Sokhumi, the capital city of Abkhazia fell – thousands of Georgians were forced to flee the city. On the 27th of September, thousands of people became internally displaced.

After the Abkhaz capture of the city one of the largest massacres of the war was committed against the remaining and trapped Georgian civilians in the city. Almost all members of the Georgian-backed Abkhaz government, who refused to leave the city, including Guram Gabiskiria, Raul Eshba and Zhiuli Shartava, were murdered.

The war heavily affected post-Soviet Georgia, which suffered considerable financial, human and psychological damage. The fighting and subsequent continued sporadic conflict have devastated Abkhazia.

The situation in the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of Abkhazia had been tense since the end of the 1980s when the anti-Soviet, Georgian opposition began demanding independence from the Soviet Union. In March 1989, Abkhaz nationalists demanded in the Lykhny Declaration the official establishment of a separate Soviet Socialist Republic (based on the precedent of the existence of a separate Abkhazian SSR from 1925–1931, which was associated with the Georgian SSR by a confederative "Union Treaty").

The Declaration was signed by the rector of the Sokhumi University. Ethnic Georgian students of the university announced protests, but these were forbidden by the Georgian government. Nevertheless, the students rallied and were attacked by ethnic Abkhazians. The Georgian anti-Soviet movement was outraged by the event and included the claims of the students against Abkhazian secession into its list of slogans by several thousand Georgian demonstrators in Tbilisi.

In response to the protests, Soviet troops were dispatched to Tbilisi, resulting in the April 9 tragedy.

Photo: Refugees fleeing Abkhazia during the war   

Photo Source: National Archive 

By Ana Dumbadze 

14 August 2019 11:16