World Abaza Congress

21 July 2024
On September 30, 1993, the Abkhaz army managed to regain control over the whole territory of the republic and expel the occupation troops of the State Council of Georgia. From that moment the Republic of Abkhazia declared its full independence.
Go to death to live
The Patriotic War of the People of Abkhazia 1992-1993
Early in the morning on August 14, 1992, the troops of the State Council of Georgia, on the pretext of protecting the railway, crossed the Georgian-Abkhaz border on the Ingur River and began to move deeper into Abkhazia along the Gal-Sukhum highway. This was how the bloody war began and the genocide of the Abkhaz people, which lasted 413 days.
First day of the war, the Red Bridge,
August 14, 1992
Tbilisi's goal was to regain total control over Abkhazia, while the Abkhaz authorities advocated the expansion of autonomy rights within the Georgian SSR. August 14, 1992 on the day of the beginning of the war on the agenda of the session of the Supreme Council of Abkhazia was the question of establishing federal relations between the republics. However, the session was thwarted due to the invasion of Georgian troops.
We were answered with tanks and guns, murders and robberies to our proposals to resolve issues of our mutual relations by peaceful civilized means.
Vladislav Ardzinba
From the address to the people on August 14, 1992
Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Abkhazia Vladislav Ardzinba called on the people to resist, mobilization of adults aged 18 to 40 was announced in the republic.
Abkhazia on the eve of the war
Events that preceded the war
March 18, 1989

In the village of Lykhny, a 30,000-strong gathering of the Abkhaz people took place, which proposed the withdrawal of the Abkhaz ASSR from the Georgian SSR and its restoration as a union republic.
15 and 16 July 1989

Armed clashes took place in Sukhum. They were caused by a scandal over the illegal division of the Abkhaz State University and turned into an armed clash between Georgians and Abkhazians. As a result, according to various sources, from 14 to 17 people died, hundreds were wounded.
August 25, 1990

The Supreme Council of Abkhazia adopted the Declaration on State Sovereignty, which led to a split between the Abkhazian deputies and the Georgian faction of the Supreme Council that opposed the Declaration; representatives of national minorities were divided almost evenly between the two factions. Tbilisi stated that the Declaration is not valid.
April 9, 1991

The Supreme Council of Georgia, based on the results of a nationwide referendum in which Abkhazia did not participate, adopted the Act on the Restoration of State Independence of Georgia. The first president of Georgia was the chairman of the Supreme Council of the republic Zviad Gamsakhurdia.
September 22, 1991

In Abkhazia elections to the Supreme Council of Abkhazia were held, a deputy corps was formed on a quota basis: 28 seats for Abkhazians, 26 for Georgians, 11 for representatives of other ethnic groups. Vladislav Ardzinba was elected chairman.
December 25, 1991

President of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev announced the termination of his activities in this post "for reasons of principle." The next day the Council of the Republics of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR adopted a declaration on the termination of the existence of the USSR. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, fifteen former Soviet republics gained state independence.
6 January 1992

Gamsakhurdia was overthrown as a result of an armed coup. Soon Eduard Shevardnadze, ex-minister of foreign affairs of the USSR, became the new leader of Georgia. Civil war broke out in the republic. Supporters of Gamsakhurdia concentrated in Megrelia, the small homeland of the first president of Georgia.
February 21, 1992

The Military Council of Georgia announced the abolition of the Constitution of the Georgian SSR in 1978 and the restoration of the constitution of the Georgian Democratic Republic of 1921, but without changing the existing borders, that is, including Abkhazia and Adzharia in its composition (in 1921 Abkhazia was a sovereign state with Georgia in contractual relations ). Thus, Georgia was declared a unitary state and excluded the existence of territorial autonomies. In Abkhazia, this was perceived as the beginning of the course for the complete assimilation of a small Abkhazian ethnos.
4-17 February 1992

Under the pretext of fighting the supporters of the deposed President Gamsakhurdia, units of the Georgian National Guard entered Abkhazia. They were withdrawn from the territory of the republic after numerous insistent demands of the Supreme Council of Abkhazia and the public.
March 10, 1992

Shevardnadze headed the State Council of the Republic of Georgia, replacing the Military Council created in the course of the armed coup. The State Council controlled most of the territory of Georgia, with the exception of South Ossetia, Ajaria and Abkhazia.
May 5, 1992

Because of the increased disagreements, the Georgian faction of the Supreme Council of Abkhazia left the regular meeting. In full force, this parliament has never gathered again.
May 9, 1992

In Sukhum, the Council of National Unity of Abkhazia was created, which called on the multinational population of the republic to prevent the violation of the Constitution of autonomy, the usurpation of power and lawlessness, and the unification of all democratic forces to prevent the escalation of the ethnic confrontation.
June 1992

In Abkhazia, the process of creating armed formations began: a regiment of internal troops of Abkhazia and local Georgian units.*

*After the collapse of the Union, all internal units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs passed under the jurisdiction of those independent states in whose territory they were stationed.
July 9, 1992

In Western Georgia, supporters of Zviad Gamsakhurdia kidnapped Alexander Kavsadze, deputy prime minister and chairman of the Commission on Human Rights and Interethnic Relations.
July 23, 1992

The Supreme Council of Abkhazia abolished the Constitution of the Abkhazian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of 1978 and announced the transition to the Constitution of the SSR of Abkhazia of 1925, according to which Abkhazia was a sovereign state that had been contractual with Georgia. The arms and flag and the new name of the country - the Republic of Abkhazia were approved. This was not recognized by the central leadership of Georgia.
August 10, 1992

In Tbilisi, a decision was made to bring troops into Abkhazia. The official reasons were the release of the hostages and the need to protect the railway from Zviadists, which was used as the only route for transporting goods from Russia to Armenia.
August 11, 1992 in Zugdidi the Zviadists kidnapped 12 Georgian statesmen who arrived to them for talks. It was alleged that the hostages were held in the territory of Abkhazia, which did not correspond to reality.
Ethnic composition of Abkhazia on the eve of the war
According to the All-Union Census of 1989, the population of Abkhazia was 525,061 people, of which:
239 872 persons (45,68 %)
93 267 persons (17,8 %)
76 541 persons (14,58 %)
74 913 persons (14,27 %)
14 664 persons (2,79 %)
25 804 persons (4,88 %)
Despite the suddenness of the invasion, Georgian troops were repulsed by the fighters of the Independent Internal Troops Regiment (IITR) of Abkhazia, established in late 1991. (After the collapse of the USSR, all the internal parts of the Ministry of Internal Affairs passed under the jurisdiction of those independent states on whose territory they were stationed. The same was with the two battalions of the Eighth Regiment of the Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR deployed in Abkhazia, on their base, and an IITR was created - ed.). On the first day of the war, Georgian troops were stopped on the Red Bridge, at the entrance to the center of Sukhum.
First days of the war, Sukhum, Turbaza district, August 14, 1992
© Military archive of the Republic of Abkhazia
First battles on the Red Bridge,
August 14, 1992
Soldiers of the Abkhazian Internal Troops Regiment, who were the first to enter the battle on the first day of the war, Promenade of Sukhum, August 14, 1992
© Military archive of the Republic of Abkhazia
Red Bridge, first days of the war,
August 1992
First refugees, Sukhum Sea Port, August 1992
Commander of the internal troops of Abkhazia Givi Agrba, the first battles on the Red Bridge, August 14, 1992
As a result of the first talks of the Georgian military command with the Abkhaz leadership, the parties agreed to withdraw troops: Georgians to the village of Bagmaran, Abkhazians to the Gumista River. Sukhum in this situation would remain a demilitarized zone.
Chief of the General Staff of Abkhazia Sergey Dbar, Sukhum, Red Bridge, August 14, 1992
On August 18, the Georgian side, violating the agreements reached earlier, entered the capital and occupied the town. On the same day, Tbilisi announced the dismissal of Ardzinba and the creation of a "military council". In response, the Abkhaz authorities, who from the first day of the war moved from Sukhum to Gudauta, formed the State Defense Committee under the chairmanship of Vladislav Ardzinba.
The well-known Abkhazian narrator Mirod Gozhba, died in fierce battles for the liberation of Sukhum. © AGTRK
Volunteers of the Abkhazian Army. © AGTRK
Vladislav Ardzinba, 1992
© Charitable Foundation of the First President of the Republic of Abkhazia
Soldiers of the State Council broke the door and went in, allegedly for the seizure of weapons. At this time my sister Vasilisa and ex-husband Ustyan V.A. stayed with me. They began to demand money, insult. After drinking alcohol, they robbed the apartment, took my sister and Ustyan V.A. They tortured and raped my sister, Ustyan was beaten, then he was killed. They robbed everyone, took indiscriminately, caught girls and women, raped them
from the testimony of S. Zantaria, resident of the occupied Sukhum
The closed territory from the Gumista River to the Bzyb River remained under Abkhazian control. The town of Tkuarchal was under blockade as well as some Abkhaz villages of the Ochamchira district.
"When the guards looted things, they took all the baby food and a small gas cylinder with a reducer for cooking for an infant. The wife asked to leave it for the child, but the guard said: "Let the child eat adzhika"
from the testimony of K.Sh. Azhiba, a resident of occupied Sukhum
From the first days of the war the Gumista defensive line began to be created, later it will be called the Western Front. Arisen spontaneously partisan groups in eastern Abkhazia also gradually began to unite in the Eastern Front.
"Lykhny" tank
© From the photo cycle of Oleg Klimov "Abkhazia 20 Years Later"
Gumista Front
© Military archive of the Republic of Abkhazia
The nurse Inga Gabnia, Gumista Front, died on July 22, 1993
© Marina Bartsyts
"... In those days, the State Council soldiers killed Grisha Margania, Zurab Tournanba, Socrat Adleiba, Victor Marokhia, father and son Gvaramia, their neighbors - the Turks, husband and wife, G. Samushia and his wife, who was first raped, then her legs were cut off and burned together with the house. At the funeral of these persons and other men of Abkhazian nationality, both residents of the town and neighbors could not attend; almost all were buried in the yards.
from the testimony of the resident of Ochamchira I.Sh. Lakerbaia
Scientist-archeologist, the Hero of Abkhazia Mushni Khvartskia, died in the village of Lashkindar on December 6, 1992
Ethnic cleansing began in the occupied part of the country. The civilians were subjected to torture and violence, houses and villages were burnt down. The mass looting of non-Georgian shops, warehouses, private houses and apartments broke out.
Already on August 15, the Confederation of Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus (CMPC) called on the peoples of the North Caucasus to stand up for Abkhazia. On the same day, a group of volunteers led by Sultan Sosnaliev, head of the military department of CMPC, and professional military Muhamed Kilba arrived in Gudauta.
Now the defense of Abkhazia is our inalienable right and duty. For us it is now Abkhazia - the Motherland. And in the Caucasus there are no non-Abkhazians from this moment.
from the oath of volunteers
Chechen volunteers from the first international battalion, Novy Afon, August 1992
© Military archive of the Republic of Abkhazia
Red Bridge area, Sukhum, 1992
© Georgy Tsagareli
Destroyed Prospect Mira, Sukhum, 1992-1993
© Andrey Solovyev
Muhamed Kilba
In the case of the continuation of the occupation, to declare the beginning of hostilities by the combined military forces of CMPC against the Georgian army.
from the resolution of the special session of CMPC dated August 18, 1992
On August 18, the CMPC session demanded the immediate withdrawal of Georgian troops from Abkhazia, and on August 21, the President of the CMPC, Yuri Shanibov, the Chairman of the Confederation's Parliament, Yusup Soslambekov, issued a decree on the commencement of the transfer of volunteers to the territory of Abkhazia for armed rebuff to the aggressor. On the basis of volunteers from the North Caucasus in Abkhazia, the first and second separate battalions were formed, as well as the third reserve battalion.
I want to die for the Abkhaz people. I await your permission to cross the mountains. I will protect your small, handsome and honest people with weapons. Alexander Grishin.
telegram to the Chairman of the Supreme Council of Abkhazia
Volunteers from Turkey
On August 23, the first group of Abkhaz warriors from Turkey, consisting of 35 people, arrived in Gudauta. Volunteers from Pridnestrovie and the South of Russia arrived to protect Abkhazia.
Hero of Abkhazia Dzhemal Smyr
© Military archive of the Republic of Abkhazia
Volunteer from the North Caucasus
© Military archive of the Republic of Abkhazia
Volunteers from the North Caucasus, Kabardian group under the command of Muayed Shorov at the building of the Council of Ministers, September 27, 1993
© Military archive of the Republic of Abkhazia
Group of Abkhaz volunteers from Turkey
© Military archive of the Republic of Abkhazia
Commander of the troops of the State Council of Georgia in Abkhazia Giorgi Karkarashvili made an ultimatum demanding the Abkhazian people to lay down their arms within 24 hours. Otherwise, he promised "to these separatists" that "if 100,000 Georgians die from the total number, then 97,000 of them will die who will support Ardzinba's decision."
Georgian militants, Gagra, 1-2 October 1992
© Georgy Tsagareli
Georgian General Lanchav, Sukhum, October 1992
© Georgy Tsagareli
Georgian militants, Sukhum
© Georgy Tsagareli
I say before God that this is unfair.
Vladislav Ardzinba
From the transcript of the Moscow meeting of the leaders of the republics of the Caucasus region
On September 3, 1992, the leaders of the Caucasian republics met in Moscow with the participation of the heads of Russia, Georgia and Abkhazia, as well as the leaders of the republics of the North Caucasus and the regions of the South of Russia. As a result of tough pressure on the Abkhaz side, a document was adopted that provided for the "preservation of the territorial integrity" of Georgia and did not provide for the withdrawal of its troops from Abkhazia. As a result, the hostilities continued.
Media interview of the heads of Russia, Georgia and Abkhazia after the meeting of the leaders of the republics of the Caucasus region, Moscow, "President Hotel", September 3, 1992
Today at 6.30 our dad went for bread. The whole town gathered at the bakery. Around 500-600 persons. By 12.30 my mother went to replace him. They do not let me out, they are afraid. At 14.45 Besik went to change his mother. 16.00. Finally, Mom and Besik came with bread.
from the diaries of a student Madina Sh., who was in occupied Sukhum
Fighters of the Gumista Front
On September 25, Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze from the UN tribune accused Russia of aggression against Georgia. Moscow responded with a resolution "On the situation in the North Caucasus in connection with the events in Abkhazia," in which it demanded the withdrawal of Georgian troops from the territory of Abkhazia.
On October 2, Abkhaz formations launched an offensive and liberated Gagra, and on October 6 - the entire northwestern part of Abkhazia to the border with Russia. Georgian units of Mkhedrioni and Tetriartsivi were defeated near Gagra. Finally, the "road of life" and the land communication with the "big earth" were opened.
I still can't believe how we captured the town with one trophy military weapon and liberated the entire zone to the border. Guys feel themselves differently now! And they already learned how to fight, there is no more confusion of the first days after the invasion.
from the interview of the head of the Gagra administration Ruslan Yazychba
On October 7 and 8, the 1st World Congress of the Abkhaz-Abaza (Abaza) people took place in the village of Lykhny, where compatriots from different countries of the world spoke against the genocide of the Abkhazian people. After two days of work, the delegates adopted the Declaration, made an appeal to the UN, to the peoples of the Caucasus, to the president and the Supreme Council of Russia.
Ibrahim Yaganov, Vladislav Ardzinba, Vladimir Arshba, I. Arsamikov at the First World Congress of the Abkhaz-Abaza people, October 1992
© Charitable Foundation of the First President of the Republic of Abkhazia
Vladislav Ardzinba among the fighters during the First World Congress of the Abkhaz-Abaza people, Ibrahim Yaganov on the left, November 1992
© Charitable Foundation of the First President of the Republic of Abkhazia
Interview to journalists, Vladislav Ardzinba in the days of the First World Congress of the Abkhaz-Abaza people
© Charitable Foundation of the First President of the Republic of Abkhazia
On October 22, the Georgian military in the occupied Sukhum burned the Abkhaz Institute of Language, Literature and History and the State Archives of Abkhazia. Unique documents and materials on the history and culture of Abkhazia were irretrievably lost.
Three soldiers in a military uniform drove up to the State Archives and shot everyone with gunshots from the pistols. They carried a canister to the entrance of the building of the State Archives - apparently, with gasoline, because a few seconds later a strong fire broke out in the building. A few minutes later a fire engine appeared, but the firemen did not put out the fire. The state archive was burning all night and the glow was visible from my window. The next morning, I saw only the bare walls, and the watchman, who was stacking bricks there.
from the testimony of the eyewitness Victoria Argun. Newspaper Republic of Abkhazia No.16
Building of the National Library of Abkhazia named after Ivan Papaskir, burned in the period of 1992-93
© Personal archive of Boris Cholariya
Sukhum promenade, opposite the building of the State Archives of Abkhazia
© Military archive of the Republic of Abkhazia
Building of the Abkhaz Institute of Humanitarian Studies before the Patriotic War of the people of Abkhazia in 1992-1993
... When the Georgian guards did not hear from Leonid what they wanted, they dragged his eighteen-year-old daughter Alla into a house on the outskirts of the village. There were about twenty of them. They threatened the girl, beat, raped her. For three days, Alla was in their hands. The girl went mad. They did the same to Alla's mother, Tamara Ivanenko.
from the testimony of Zh.A. Ardzinba, residents of the village of Tamysh of the Ochamchira district
On October 26, the operation to liberate Ochamchira unsuccessfully ended, just as the first Shroma offensive of the Abkhaz troops, on November 3. Nevertheless, the Abkhaz army had successes; in particular, the village of Kochar was liberated in the Ochamchira district.
Soldiers of the Abkhazian Army
On December 14, over the highland village of Lata, Georgian military formations shot down a Russian MI-8 helicopter carrying out a humanitarian flight from the blockaded Tkuarchal. 85 people burned to death, including more than 30 children.
We unequivocally declare that the helicopter of the Russian air force MI-8 carrying refugees from Tkuarchal was shot down.
from the interview of the chairman of the commission of the Ministry of Defense of Russia, General V. Achirov
The January and March offensives on the Gumista sector of the front ended in failure. At the same time, during the offensive operation on Sukhum, launched on January 5, 1993, 37 Abkhazian fighters were killed; more than 100 people were injured. In the March operation, according to various sources, from 200 to 400 people were killed, 32 soldiers of the Abkhazian army were missing.
Gumista Front, replenishment of munitions, winter of 1992-1993
© Military archive of the Republic of Abkhazia
Fights among mandarin plantations, Gumista Front, 1992-1993
© Andrey Solovyev
"Freedom for Abkhazia!"
© Military archive of the Republic of Abkhazia
Mothers of deceased soldiers
© Military archive of the Republic of Abkhazia
Our victory is just around the corner. Our victory is near - in Sukhum! We call on all of you to remember by name on New Year's Eve all those who died in this war, to honor the memory of every our warrior, every knight who gave his life for Abkhazia's freedom. We must win, because otherwise we will be destroyed.
from the New Year's address of the Presidium of the Supreme Council of Abkhazia
Lists of the dead, Gudauta, March 1993
© Fragment of the exposition of the Abkhazian State Museum
The experience of combat operations has shown that the breakthrough of the enemy's front in one strategic direction is insufficient. Therefore, the military command of Abkhazia developed a secret operation, which provided for simultaneous offensive on all fronts and distracting combat maneuvers. Special importance was attached to mountain passages and gorges.
No matter how painful it may be, we know that our loved ones gave the dearest thing that they had - their lives - for the freedom of their Motherland. We know that they are buried in their native land. The memory of them will unite us even more. Even more strongly is our desire to come to the town to the graves of our loved ones and give them all appropriate honors.
from the appeal of the relatives of soldiers who died during the March offensive
Sultan Sosnaliev and Vladislav Ardzinba, Gudauta, 1993
© Charitable Foundation of the First President of the Republic of Abkhazia
Crossing the Gumista River
© Andrey Solovyev
Funeral of the deceased warrior
© Military archive of the Republic of Abkhazia
Soldiers of the Abkhazian Army on the Gumista Front
© Military archive of the Republic of Abkhazia
On July 2, a sea assault of 300 Abkhazian fighters landed in the village of Tamysh and blocked the transfer of Georgian military units to Sukhum. Following this, the Abkhaz forces attacked the north-western enemy grouping. The July offensive operation developed on all fronts. With fierce fighting, Abkhaz troops took Shroma village and strategically important heights of Tsugurovka and Akhbyuk. Active actions on the Eastern Front facilitated the fate of Tkuarchal, which the enemy could no longer shell.
Guardsmen, along with local Georgians, entered the village. All those found in the houses were driven away. The adults were gathered in front of the tank; the children were put on a tank and everyone was taken in the direction of Dranda. Dopua Julietta, tied with ropes to the tank, was dragged along the street. Civilians were used as a screen against the attacks of guerrillas.
from the testimony of V.K. Dopua (Adziubzha village)
Delivery of humanitarian cargo to the blockaded town of Tkuarchal, 1992-1993
© Livejournal
Eastern Front
Further offensive of the Abkhazian army had to be stopped. Tbilisi requested negotiations. The meeting of the leaders of Abkhazia, Georgia and Russia was held in Sochi. As a result of the agreements reached, Shevardnadze promised that Georgian troops would leave Abkhazia. However, it soon became clear that Tbilisi was not going to implement the agreement. Taking into account new circumstances, Abkhaz generals, Defense Minister Sultan Sosnaliev and Chief of Staff Sergey Dbar worked out an operation to liberate Sukhum and defeat Georgian troops.
Battles for the town of Sukhum
© ITAR TASS/Andrey Solovyev
Despite the fact that from the date of signing the Agreement a month and a half passed, the Georgian side instead of withdrawing troops and weapons from the territory of Abkhazia, transferred armored vehicles and artillery systems to local formations.
Appeal of the Supreme Council of Abkhazia to the Joint Commission for Settlement in Abkhazia, 11 September
© Military archive of the Republic of Abkhazia
The offensive operation on Sukhum began on September 16 after the fighters of the Eastern Front blocked the Ochamchira-Sukhum route, excluding any possibility of assisting Georgian troops in the capital. The troops of the Gumista Front broke through the deeply echeloned defense of the enemy and surrounded Sukhum. September 27, the capital of Abkhazia was liberated, and the 12,000-strong grouping of the enemy was completely defeated.
In connection with media reports that Eduard Shevardnadze is still in the town, the Abkhaz Ministry of Foreign Affairs is authorized to declare that the command of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Abkhazia is ready to provide an opportunity for the head of Georgia to leave the sovereign Abkhazia.
from the statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia on September 27, 1993
Meeting of two fronts near the Kodor Bridge
© Marina Bartsyts

On September 30, a historic meeting took place between the Gumista (Western) and Eastern fronts near the Kodor Bridge, and on September 30 the Abkhaz army reached the Ingur River - the state border with Georgia, where it hoisted the National Flag of Abkhazia.
As a result of the war that became for Abkhazia the Patriotic one, the republic suffered huge losses. According to the published data, up to four thousand people, including civilians, old people, women and children, perished from the Abkhaz side. The figure for a small number of people, a total of one hundred thousand people, was colossal. There is no family left in Abkhazia that has not lost relatives in the war. Hundreds of people are still on the list of missing persons.
The economic damage inflicted on Abkhazia as a result of the war was estimated at 11 billion dollars. During the fighting, monuments of the history and culture of the Abkhazian people were destroyed. Valuable documents, rare books and artifacts were burnt down.
Government building view
© RIA NOVOSTI Vladimir Popov

Text by – Astanda Ardzinba, picture editor – Naala Avidzba, chief editor – Amina Lazba
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