Abkhazian women

Abkhazian Women

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The constitution granted Abkhazia autonomy. In , the Bolshevik Red Army invaded Georgia and ended its short-lived independence. Under the rule of Stalin and Beria Abkhaz schools were closed, requiring Abkhaz children to study in the Georgian language.

The policy of repression was eased after Stalin's death [26] and Beria's execution, and the Abkhaz were given a greater role in the governance of the republic.

As the Soviet Union began to disintegrate at the end of the s, ethnic tensions grew between the Abkhaz and Georgians over Georgia's moves towards independence.

Many Abkhaz opposed this, fearing that an independent Georgia would lead to the elimination of their autonomy, and argued instead for the establishment of Abkhazia as a separate Soviet republic in its own right.

With the onset of perestroika, the agenda of Abkhaz nationalists became more radical and exclusive. The Georgian—Abkhaz dispute turned violent on 16 July in Sukhumi.

Sixteen Georgians are said to have been killed and another injured when they tried to enroll in a Georgian university instead of an Abkhaz one.

After several days of violence, Soviet troops restored order in the city and blamed rival nationalist paramilitaries for provoking confrontations.

In March , Georgia declared sovereignty, unilaterally nullifying treaties concluded by the Soviet government since and thereby moving closer to independence.

The Republic of Georgia boycotted the 17 March all-Union referendum on the renewal of the Soviet Union called by Gorbachev; however, Within weeks, Georgia declared independence on 9 April , under former Soviet dissident Zviad Gamsakhurdia.

Under Gamsakhurdia, the situation was relatively calm in Abkhazia and a power-sharing agreement was soon reached between the Abkhaz and Georgian factions, granting to the Abkhaz a certain over-representation in the local legislature.

Gamsakhurdia's rule was soon challenged by armed opposition groups, under the command of Tengiz Kitovani , that forced him to flee the country in a military coup in January Former Soviet foreign minister and architect of the disintegration of the USSR Eduard Shevardnadze became the country's head of state, inheriting a government dominated by hard-line Georgian nationalists.

He was not an ethnic nationalist but did little to avoid being seen as supporting his administration's dominant figures and the leaders of the coup that swept him to power.

On 21 February , Georgia's ruling Military Council announced that it was abolishing the Soviet-era constitution and restoring the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Georgia.

Many Abkhaz interpreted this as an abolition of their autonomous status, although the constitution contained a provision for the region's autonomy.

The Abkhaz leadership launched a campaign of ousting Georgian officials from their offices, a process which was accompanied by violence. In the meantime, the Abkhaz leader Vladislav Ardzinba intensified his ties with hard-line Russian politicians and military elite and declared he was ready for a war with Georgia.

In August , the Georgian government accused Gamsakhurdia's supporters of kidnapping Georgia's Interior Minister and holding him captive in Abkhazia.

The Georgian government dispatched 3, soldiers to the region, ostensibly to restore order. The Abkhaz were relatively unarmed at the time and the Georgian troops were able to march into Sukhumi with relatively little resistance [58] and subsequently engaged in ethnically based pillage, looting, assault, and murder.

The Abkhaz military defeat was met with a hostile response by the self-styled Confederation of Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus , an umbrella group uniting a number of movements in the North Caucasus , including elements of Circassians , Abazins , Chechens , Cossacks , Ossetians and hundreds of volunteer paramilitaries and mercenaries from Russia, including the then-little-known Shamil Basayev , later a leader of the anti-Moscow Chechen secessionists.

They sided with the Abkhaz separatists to fight against the Georgian government. In the case of Basayev, it has been suggested that when he and the members of his battalion came to Abkhazia, they received training by the Russian Army though others dispute this , presenting another possible motive.

Shevardnadze's government accused Russia of giving covert military support to the rebels with the aim of "detaching from Georgia its native territory and the Georgia-Russian frontier land".

The conflict was in stalemate until July , when Abkhaz separatist militias launched an abortive attack on Georgian-held Sukhumi.

They surrounded and heavily shelled the capital, where Shevardnadze was trapped. The warring sides agreed to a Russian-brokered truce in Sochi at the end of July.

But the ceasefire broke down again on 16 September Abkhaz forces, with armed support from outside Abkhazia, launched attacks on Sukhumi and Ochamchira.

Notwithstanding UN Security Council's call for the immediate cessation of hostilities and its condemnation of the violation of the ceasefire by the Abkhaz side, fighting continued.

Shevardnadze narrowly escaped death, after vowing to stay in the city no matter what. He changed his mind, however, and decided to flee when separatist snipers fired on the hotel where he was staying.

Abkhaz, North Caucasian militants, and their allies committed numerous atrocities [62] against the city's remaining ethnic Georgians, in what has been dubbed the Sukhumi Massacre.

The mass killings and destruction continued for two weeks, leaving thousands dead and missing. The Abkhaz forces quickly overran the rest of Abkhazia as the Georgian government faced a second threat; an uprising by the supporters of the deposed Zviad Gamsakhurdia in the region of Mingrelia Samegrelo.

Only a small region of eastern Abkhazia, the upper Kodori gorge , remained under Georgian control until During the war, gross human rights violations were reported on both sides see Human Rights Watch report.

Before the War , Georgians made up nearly half of Abkhazia's population, while less than one-fifth of the population was Abkhaz.

The campaign of ethnic cleansing also included Russians, Armenians, Greeks, moderate Abkhaz and other minor ethnic groups living in Abkhazia.

More than 20, houses owned by ethnic Georgians were destroyed. Hundreds of schools, kindergartens, churches, hospitals, historical monuments were pillaged and destroyed.

Of about , Georgian refugees, some 60, Georgian refugees subsequently returned to Abkhazia's Gali District between and , but tens of thousands were displaced again when fighting resumed in the Gali District in Nevertheless, between 40, and 60, refugees have returned to the Gali District since , including persons commuting daily across the ceasefire line and those migrating seasonally in accordance with agricultural cycles.

The United Nations and other international organisations have been fruitlessly urging the Abkhaz de facto authorities "to refrain from adopting measures incompatible with the right to return and with international human rights standards, such as discriminatory legislation Presidential elections were held in Abkhazia on 3 October Russia supported Raul Khadjimba , the prime minister backed by the ailing outgoing separatist President Vladislav Ardzinba.

However Raul Khadjimba lost the elections to Sergei Bagapsh. The tense situation in the republic led to the cancellation of the election results by the Supreme Court.

After that, a deal was struck between former rivals to run jointly, with Bagapsh as a presidential candidate and Khadjimba as a vice presidential candidate.

In July , Georgian forces launched a successful police operation against the rebelled administrator of the Georgian-populated Kodori Gorge , Emzar Kvitsiani.

Kvitsiani had been appointed by the previous president of Georgia Edvard Shevardnadze and refused to recognise the authority of president Mikheil Saakashvili , who succeeded Shevardnadze after the Rose Revolution.

Although Kvitsiani escaped capture by Georgian police, the Kodori Gorge was brought back under the control of the central government in Tbilisi.

Sporadic acts of violence continued throughout the postwar years. Despite the peacekeeping status of the Russian peacekeepers in Abkhazia, Georgian officials routinely claimed that Russian peacekeepers were inciting violence by supplying Abkhaz rebels with arms and financial support.

Russian support of Abkhazia became pronounced when the Russian ruble became the de facto currency and Russia began issuing passports to the population of Abkhazia.

This coincided with the South Ossetia war where Russia decided to support the Ossetian separatists who had been attacked by Georgia. On 10 August , an estimated 9, Russian soldiers entered Abkhazia ostensibly to reinforce the Russian peacekeepers in the republic.

Russia recognised the independence of Abkhazia on 26 August Since independence was recognised by Russia, a series of controversial agreements were made between the Abkhazian government and the Russian Federation that leased or sold a number of key state assets and relinquished control over the borders.

In May several opposition parties and war veteran groups protested against these deals complaining that they undermined state sovereignty and risked exchanging one colonial power Georgia for another Russia.

In the spring of , the opposition submitted an ultimatum to President Aleksandr Ankvab to dismiss the government and make radical reforms.

The opposition said these policies could endanger Abkhazia's ethnic Abkhazian identity. After Ankvab fled the capital, on 31 May, the People's Assembly of Abkhazia appointed parliamentary speaker Valery Bganba as acting president, declaring Ankvab unable to serve.

It also decided to hold an early presidential election on 24 August In November , Vladimir Putin moved to formalise the Abkhazian military's relationship as part of the Russian armed forces, signing a treaty with Khajimba.

Venezuela recognised Abkhazia in September A majority of sovereign states recognise Abkhazia as an integral part of Georgia and support its territorial integrity according to the principles of international law , although Belarus has expressed sympathy toward the recognition of Abkhazia.

In early , then-UN Special Representative of the Secretary General Dieter Boden and the Group of Friends of Georgia, consisting of the representatives of Russia, the United States, Britain, France, and Germany, drafted and informally presented a document to the parties outlining a possible distribution of competencies between the Abkhaz and Georgian authorities, based on core respect for Georgian territorial integrity.

The Abkhaz side, however, has never accepted the paper as a basis for negotiations. On 18 October , the People's Assembly of Abkhazia passed a resolution, calling upon Russia, international organisations and the rest of the international community to recognise Abkhaz independence on the basis that Abkhazia possesses all the properties of an independent state.

Georgia accuses the Abkhaz secessionists of having conducted a deliberate campaign of ethnic cleansing of up to , Georgians, a claim supported by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe OSCE; Budapest, Lisbon and Istanbul declaration.

It "regretted" the attempts to alter pre-war demographic composition and called for the "rapid development of a timetable to ensure the prompt voluntary return of all refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes.

On 28 March , the President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili unveiled his government's new proposals to Abkhazia: the broadest possible autonomy within the framework of a Georgian state, a joint free economic zone, representation in the central authorities including the post of vice-president with the right to veto Abkhaz-related decisions.

The resolution calls on the Russian authorities to refrain from maintaining ties with the breakaway regions "in any manner that would constitute a challenge to the sovereignty of Georgia" and also urges Russia "to abide by OSCE standards and generally accepted international norms with respect to the threat or use of force to resolve conflicts in relations with other participating States.

On 9 July , the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly passed a resolution at its annual session in Monaco , underlining Georgia's territorial integrity and referring to breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia as "occupied territories".

The resolution "urges the Government and the Parliament of the Russian Federation, as well as the de facto authorities of Abkhazia, Georgia and South Ossetia, Georgia, to allow the European Union Monitoring Mission unimpeded access to the occupied territories.

In late October President Saakashvili signed into law legislation on the occupied territories passed by the Georgian Parliament.

The law covers the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali territories of former South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast.

In particular, according to the law, foreign citizens should enter the two breakaway regions only through Georgia proper. The legislation, however, also lists "special" cases in which entry into the breakaway regions will not be regarded as illegal.

It also bans air, sea and railway communications and international transit via the regions, mineral exploration and money transfers.

The provision covering economic activities is retroactive, going back to The law says that the Russian Federation — the state which has carried out military occupation — is fully responsible for the violation of human rights in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The Russian Federation, according to the document, is also responsible for compensation of material and moral damage inflicted on Georgian citizens, stateless persons and foreign citizens, who are in Georgia and enter the occupied territories with appropriate permits.

The law also says that de facto state agencies and officials operating in the occupied territories are regarded by Georgia as illegal.

The law will remain in force until "the full restoration of Georgian jurisdiction" over the breakaway regions is realised. Currently Georgia considers all residents of Abkhazia its citizens, while they see themselves as Abkhaz citizens.

In the summer of the Parliament of Georgia adopted a package of legislative amendments providing for the issuance of neutral identification and travel documents to residents of Abkhazia and the former South Ossetian autonomous province of Georgia.

The document allows travelling abroad as well as enjoying social benefits existing in Georgia. The new neutral identification and travel documents were called "neutral passports".

According to Georgian officials, the "neutral passports" lacked any symbols of Georgia and only bore a registration number and an individual number.

Moscow argued it was Georgia's "cunning ploy" because the passports contained Georgia's code and the Georgian Interior Ministry as the issuing body.

Abkhazia's Foreign Ministry expressed concerns about some countries recognising the "neutral passports. According to Russian media, the President of Republic of Abkhazia, Alexander Ankvab threatened international organisations that accepted neutral passports, saying during a meeting with the leadership of the foreign ministry that "international organizations that suggest the so-called neutral passports, will leave Abkhazia.

During the Georgian—Abkhaz conflict , the Russian authorities and military supplied logistical and military aid to the separatist side.

Russia has also issued passports to the citizens of Abkhazia since as Abkhazian passports cannot be used for international travel and subsequently paid them retirement pensions and other monetary benefits.

Moscow, at certain times, hinted that it might recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia when Western countries recognised the independence of Kosovo , suggesting that they had created a precedent.

Following Kosovo's declaration of independence, the Russian parliament released a joint statement reading: "Now that the situation in Kosovo has become an international precedent, Russia should take into account the Kosovo scenario However, on 16 April , the outgoing Russian president Vladimir Putin instructed his government to establish official ties with South Ossetia and Abkhazia, leading to Georgia's condemnation of what it described as an attempt at "de facto annexation" [] and criticism from the European Union , NATO , and several Western governments.

Later in April , Russia accused Georgia of trying to exploit NATO support in order to control Abkhazia by force and announced it would increase its military presence in the region, pledging to retaliate militarily against Georgia's efforts.

Russia has started work on the establishment of a naval base in Ochamchire by dredging the coast to allow the passage of their larger naval vessels.

The extent of Russian influence in Abkhazia has caused some locals to say Abkhazia is under full Russian control, but they still prefer Russian influence over Georgian.

The UN's position has been that there will be no forcible change in international borders. Any settlement must be freely negotiated and based on autonomy for Abkhazia legitimised by referendum under international observation once the multiethnic population has returned.

The OSCE has increasingly engaged in dialogue with officials and civil society representatives in Abkhazia, especially from non-governmental organisations NGO s and the media , regarding human dimension standards in the region and is considering a presence in Gali.

The USA rejects the unilateral secession of Abkhazia and urges its integration into Georgia as an autonomous unit. The USA has in recent years significantly increased its military support to the Georgian armed forces but has stated that it would not condone any moves towards peace enforcement in Abkhazia.

On 22 August , Senator Richard Lugar , then visiting Georgia's capital Tbilisi, joined Georgian politicians in criticism of the Russian peacekeeping mission, stating that "the U.

Acknowledging that the "new and tense situation" resulted, at least in part, from the Georgian special forces' operation in the upper Kodori Valley, the resolution urged the country to ensure that no troops unauthorised by the Moscow ceasefire agreement were present in that area.

It urged the leadership of the Abkhaz side to address seriously the need for a dignified, secure return of refugees and internally displaced persons and to reassure the local population in the Gali district that their residency rights and identity will be respected.

The Georgian side is "once again urged to address seriously legitimate Abkhaz security concerns, to avoid steps that could be seen as threatening and to refrain from militant rhetoric and provocative actions, especially in upper Kodori Valley.

Calling on both parties to follow up on dialogue initiatives, it further urged them to comply fully with all previous agreements regarding non-violence and confidence-building, in particular those concerning the separation of forces.

Regarding the disputed role of the peacekeepers from the Commonwealth of Independent States CIS , the Council stressed the importance of close, effective cooperation between UNOMIG and that force and looked to all sides to continue to extend the necessary cooperation to them.

At the same time, the document reaffirmed the "commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders.

The HALO Trust , an international non-profit organisation that specialises in the removal of the debris of war, has been active in Abkhazia since and has completed the removal of landmines in Sukhumi and Gali districts.

It declared Abkhazia "mine free" in Abkhazia was an unrecognised state for most of its history. The following is a list of political entities that formally recognise Abkhazia.

To the east and southeast, Abkhazia is bounded by the Georgian region of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti ; and on the south and southwest by the Black Sea.

Abkhazia is diverse geographically with lowlands stretching to the extremely mountainous north.

Abkhazia's landscape ranges from coastal forests and citrus plantations to permanent snows and glaciers in the north of the region.

Although Abkhazia's complex topographic setting has spared most of the territory from significant human development, its cultivated fertile lands produce tea, tobacco, wine and fruits, a mainstay of the local agricultural sector.

Abkhazia is richly irrigated by small rivers originating in the Caucasus Mountains. Chief of these are: Kodori , Bzyb , Ghalidzga , and Gumista.

The Psou River separates the region from Russia, and the Inguri serves as a boundary between Abkhazia and Georgia proper. There are several periglacial and crater lakes in mountainous Abkhazia.

Lake Ritsa is the most important of them. Because of Abkhazia's proximity to the Black Sea and the shield of the Caucasus Mountains, the region's climate is very mild.

Also, due to its position on the windward slopes of the Caucasus, Abkhazia receives high amounts of precipitation , [4] though humidity decreases further inland.

The mountains of Abkhazia receive significant amounts of snow. The world's deepest known cave, Veryovkina Cave , is located in Abkhazia's western Caucasus mountains.

The lowland regions used to be covered by swaths of oak , beech , and hornbeam , which have since been cleared. There are two main entrances into Abkhazia.

The southern entrance is at the Inguri bridge, a short distance from the city of Zugdidi. The northern entrance "Psou" is in the town of Leselidze.

Owing to the situation with a recognition controversy, many foreign governments advise their citizens against travelling to Abkhazia. Abkhazia is a semi-presidential republic , and the second elected president of Abkhazia was Sergei Bagapsh.

Bagapsh came to power following the deeply divisive October presidential election. The next election was held on 12 December Bagapsh was re-elected as president with Legislative powers are vested in the People's Assembly , which consists of 35 elected members.

Ethnicities other than Abkhaz Armenians, Russians and Georgians are claimed to be under-represented in the Assembly. Most refugees from the — war mainly ethnic Georgians have not been able to return and have thus been excluded from the political process.

Abkhazian officials have stated that they have given the Russian Federation the responsibility of representing their interests abroad.

According to a study published by the University of Colorado Boulder , the vast majority of Abkhazia's population supports independence, while a smaller number is in favour of joining the Russian Federation.

Support for a reunification with Georgia is very low. The Government of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia is the government in exile that Georgia recognises as the legal government of Abkhazia.

This pro-Georgian government maintained a foothold on Abkhazian territory, in the upper Kodori Valley from July until it was forced out by fighting in August This government is also partly responsible for the affairs of some , IDPs , forced to leave Abkhazia following the War in Abkhazia and ethnic cleansing that followed.

During the War in Abkhazia , the Government of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia at the time the Georgian faction of the "Council of Ministers of Abkhazia" left Abkhazia after the Abkhaz separatist forces took control of the region's capital Sukhumi and relocated to Georgia's capital Tbilisi where it operated as the Government of Abkhazia in exile for almost 13 years.

During this period, the Government of Abkhazia in exile, led by Tamaz Nadareishvili , was known for a hard-line stance towards the Abkhaz problem and frequently voiced their opinion that the solution to the conflict can be attained only through Georgia's military response to secessionism.

These districts remain mostly unchanged since the breakup of the Soviet Union, with the exception of the Tkvarcheli district , created in from parts of the Ochamchira and Gali districts.

The President of the Republic appoints districts' heads from those elected to the districts' assemblies. There are elected village assemblies whose heads are appointed by the districts' heads.

The administrative subdivision of Abkhazia used by Georgia is identical to the one outlined above, except for the new Tkvarcheli district.

The basis of the Abkhazian armed forces was formed by the ethnically Abkhaz National Guard, which was established in early Most of their weapons come from the former Russian airborne division base in Gudauta.

Russia has at present around 1, troops stationed in Abkhazia. The economy of Abkhazia is heavily integrated with Russia and uses the Russian ruble as its currency.

Abkhazia has experienced a modest economic upswing since the South Ossetia war and Russia's subsequent recognition of Abkhazia's independence.

About half of Abkhazia's state budget is financed with aid money from Russia. Tourism is a key industry and, according to Abkhazia's authorities, almost a million tourists mainly from Russia came to Abkhazia in Electricity is largely supplied by the Inguri hydroelectric power station located on the Inguri River between Abkhazia and Georgia proper and operated jointly by both parties.

Russia also called on other CIS members to undertake similar steps, [] but met with protests from Tbilisi and lack of support from the other CIS countries.

Despite the controversial status of the territory and its damaged infrastructure, tourism in Abkhazia grew following the Russian recognition of Abkhazian independence in due to the arrival of Russian tourists.

After the tourist boom many Russian businesses began to invest money in Abkhazian tourist infrastructure. With the main highway of the country being rebuilt in many damaged hotels in Gagra are either being restored or demolished.

In , 1. According to the last census in Abkhazia has , inhabitants. The exact size of Abkhazia's population was unclear. According to the census carried out in it measured , people, [] but this is contested by Georgian authorities.

The Department of Statistics of Georgia estimated Abkhazia's population to be approximately , in , and , in the last year when such estimates were published in Georgia.

The ethnic composition of Abkhazia has played a central role in the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict and is equally contested. The demographics of Abkhazia were very strongly affected by the — War with Georgia , which saw the expulsion and flight of over half of the republic's population, measuring , in the census.

At present the population of Abkhazia is mainly made up of ethnic Abkhaz Greeks constituted a significant minority in the area in the early s 50, , and remained a major ethnic component until when they were deported to Central Asia.

At the time of the census, Abkhazia's Georgian population numbered , forming around Thousands of Abkhaz, known as muhajirun , fled Abkhazia for the Ottoman Empire in the midth century after resisting the Russian conquest of the Caucasus.

Today, Turkey is home to the world's largest Abkhaz diaspora community. According to the constitutions of both Abkhazia and Georgia, the adherents of all religions have equal rights before the law.

The official language of the Republic of Abkhazia shall be the Abkhazian language. The Russian language, equally with the Abkhazian language, shall be recognized as a language of State and other institutions.

The State shall guarantee the right to freely use the mother language for all the ethnic groups residing in Abkhazia.

Despite the official status of Abkhaz, the dominance of other languages within Abkhazia, especially Russian, is so great that experts as recently as called it an " endangered language ".

After the breakup of the Soviet Union, many Abkhazians kept their Soviet passports , even after a decade, and used them to eventually apply for Russian citizenship.

Before , Russian law allowed residents of former Soviet Union to apply for citizenship if they had not become citizens of their newly independent states.

The procedure was extremely complex. The new citizenship law of Russia adopted on 31 May introduced a simplified procedure of citizenship acquisition for former citizens of the Soviet Union regardless of their place of residence.

In Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the application process was simplified even further, and people could apply even without leaving their homes.

Russian nationalist non-governmental organisations with close ties to Russian officialdom simply took their papers to a nearby Russian city for processing.

Abkhazians began mass acquisition of Russian passports in It is reported that the public organisation the Congress of Russian Communities of Abkhazia started collecting Abkhazians' Soviet-era travel documents.

It then sent them to a consular department specially set up by Russian Foreign Ministry officials in the city of Sochi.

After they were checked, Abkhazian applicants were granted Russian citizenship. By 25 June , an estimated , people in Abkhazia had acquired the new passports, joining 50, who already possessed Russian citizenship.

The Sukhum authorities, although officially not involved in the registration for Russian nationality process, openly encouraged it.

Government officials said privately that President Putin's administration agreed with the passport acquisition during Abkhazia's prime minister Djergenia 's visit to Moscow in May The "passportisation" caused outrage in Tbilisi, worsening its already shaky relations with Russia.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry issued a statement insisting that Abkhazians were citizens of Georgia and calling the passport allocation an "unprecedented illegal campaign".

President Eduard Shevardnadze said that he would be asking his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin , for an explanation. The speaker of parliament Nino Burjanadze said that she would raise the matter at the forthcoming OSCE parliamentary assembly.

According to the staff of Abkhazia's passport and visa service, there were about two to three thousand mostly elderly people left with Soviet passports who had no chance of acquiring new documents.

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The Republic of Abkhazia unilaterally declared independence on 23 July , but Georgia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory.

Abkhazia has received formal recognition as an independent state from 7 out of United Nations member states , 1 of which have subsequently withdrawn their recognition.

Retrieved Caucasian Knot. Library of Congress. In Cornwell, Neil ed. Reference Guide to Russian Literature. The region also has excellent seacoast resorts.

The short distance between the coast and the mountains creates a landscape of striking contrasts. The two largest cities are Sukhumi, the capital of the region, and Tkvarcheli, an industrial center.

Abkhazian belongs to the northwest Caucasian family of languages spoken by the Abazins, Adyghey, Kabardians, and Circassians.

There are very few words borrowed from other languages. Much of the vocabulary consists of concrete images. These include "helping leg" for a cane, and "mother's blood" for one's uncle.

According to legend, when God was distributing land to all the peoples of the earth, the Abkhazians were entertaining guests.

Because it would have been impolite to leave before their guests, the Abkhazians arrived late. All that God had left was some stones.

Out of these he created a land of mountains that was hard to farm but very beautiful. The oldest Abkhazian folk tales are about the Atzan midgets and the giant Narts.

The Atzans were so small that they could walk on the stems of leaves. The Narts were one hundred giant sons of the same mother, Sataney-Guasha. They were warriors who fought, hunted, feasted, and engaged in military games.

The Nart epic poems are shared by peoples throughout the North Caucasus region. Both Christianity and the Sunni sect of Islam are practiced among the Abkhazians.

However, traditional beliefs still remain very strong. Families may mark both Islamic and Christian holidays and also conduct rituals in the traditional religion.

According to the ancient Abkhazian religion, the supreme god is Antzva the plural form of the word for "mother". Afy rules the thunder and the weather.

Azhvepshaa is the spirit of the forest, wild animals, and hunting. This is a time for family gatherings. Another popular holiday is called the lykhnashta Lykhny Meadow.

Celebrated after the fall harvest, it brings people from all over Abkhazia to the village of Lykhny. There spectators watch breathtaking horse races and equestrian games.

Since , September 30 has been celebrated as Liberation Day. It marks the departure of Georgian armed forces from Abkhazia.

On this day, there is a parade of Abkhazian military forces and there are song and dance festivals. Rites of passage are not a traditional part of Abkhazian culture.

Until the Soviet era began in the s, Abkhazians did not celebrate their birthdays or keep track of their chronological age.

However, there are terms in the language that name various stages of life. All relationships are guided by an ancient code of honor known as apsuara.

Abkhazian etiquette focuses on showing and expecting respect. The most common greeting is "Good health to you. Similarly, a person on horseback must be first to greet someone on foot by raising himself on his stirrups.

When men meet, they greet each other by raising their right hands. Handshakes are customary among younger people. It is also necessary to ask about the other person's health, business, and relatives.

Relatives greet each other with a gentle hug and a kiss on the left shoulder above the heart. Abkhazians maintain a space of at least a foot and a half between them when they are facing each other and speaking.

Other than salutations, it is inappropriate for people to touch in most circumstances. Abkhazians believe that guests bring wealth and good fortune, so they go to great lengths to please their company.

A common saying is, "A guest brings seven pieces of good luck. The ability to make eloquent speeches is a highly prized skill.

It is the main requirement for elders and community leaders. Ordinary people are also expected to make long speeches and toasts at family gatherings and public events.

Most Abkhazians still live in rural areas. They occupy spacious stone or brick single-family houses. Usually, a house has several bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, and a kitchen.

The homestead is usually shared by three and four generations. Traditionally, an Abkhazian kitchen was a separate structure.

Now, however, kitchens are usually in the main house. The old-fashioned kitchen has been replaced by a large building where dozens of guests can be served at long tables.

More and more, Abkhazians have settled in cities and towns.

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Abkhazian Women Video

War in Abkhazia (Georgia) in 1993 and Russian Role

Abkhazian Women -

Abchasische Beharrlichkeit und der Konfrontationskurs des von den USA aufgerüsteten Georgien hatte Russlands durchaus risikoscheue Führung motiviert, dem kleinen Land allmählich und unspektakulär zu helfen, auch finanziell. Ascherson R. Georgia is not an electoral democracy.

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