Abkhazia

   An autonomous republic of Georgia. During the Soviet era, Abkhazia existed as an Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR) within the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. Due to its geographic location on the Black Sea coast and warm climate, the region functioned as the “Soviet Riviera” during the second half of the 20th century. During 1989, tension over educational policy in the region between Orthodox Georgians and the Abkhaz—a Muslim Caucasian people closely related to the Cherkess—sparked ethnic violence, resulting in more than a dozen deaths. Georgia’s boycott of the March 1991 all-Union referendum and overwhelming Abkhazian support for remaining within the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) further enflamed tensions as the Soviet Union collapsed.
   In 1992, Georgia’s restoration of its pre-Soviet 1921 constitution triggered fears among the Abkhaz that their region’s autonomous status was in jeopardy. Abkhazia’s Supreme Soviet then declared the republic’s independence from Georgia, prompting an invasion by the Georgian military. After an initial Georgian victory, volunteers from the Confederation of Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus rallied to the Abkhaz cause. The separatists also received tacit support and covert military aid from Russia. A year later, separatists retook the Abkhazian capital Sukhumi in a bloody battle that nearly took the life of then-Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze. Ethnic cleansing of Georgians followed the Abkhazian victory, with nearly the entire Georgian and Mingrelian population fleeing the republic. The 1994 Agreement on the Ceasefire and Disengagement of Forces turned Abkhazia into a state within a state, allowing the region de facto sovereignty. On 30 November 1994, Abkhazia’s new constitution declared its independence from Georgia. Sanctions imposed by the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in 1994 hobbled the economy during the mid-1990s. However, Russia’s informal opening of trade in 1997 funneled money and tourists into the region. Moscow exercised increasing influence over the region during the administration of Vladimir Putin, granting Russian Federation citizenship to nearly 90 percent of the republic’s population and expanding trade and transportation links. The presence of CIS peacekeeping troops in the region, principally comprised of Russian soldiers, also served to place Abkhazia in Russia’s sphere of influence within the Caucasus.
   Mikheil Saakashvili, who came to power after the 2003 Rose Revolution, made Tbilisi’s reassertion of authority in the breakaway republics of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Ajaria a central plank of his presidential administration. However, his condemnation of Moscow’s meddling in Georgia’s internal affairs, combined with the country’s push to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), resulted in Russia’s expansion of its backing of both the Abkhazian and South Ossetian regimes (Saakashvili reestablished control over Ajaria in 2004 and oversaw the departure of Russian troops in 2007). Tensions between Moscow and Tbilisi were further strained in 2006 by Georgia’s move into the Kodori Gorge, in violation of the 1994 cease-fire agreement.
   After the 2008 South Ossetian War between Russia and Georgia, Russian President Dmitry Medvyedev formally announced his country’s recognition of Abkhazia as an independent state. While the decision to recognize Abkhazia’s statehood was condemned in many Western capitals, the move was backed by Belarus and other Russian allies. To date, Guatemala and Venezuela are the only other United Nations members to formally recognize Abkhazian statehood. In mid-September 2008, Russia further solidified its relationship with the breakaway republic by signing a military agreement to guard the republic’s borders and making plans to build a military base in the region.
   See also Color revolutions; Ethnic violence.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Abkhazia — → Abjasia …   Diccionario panhispánico de dudas

  • Abkhazia — [äb kä′zē ə] autonomous region in NW Georgia, on the Black Sea: cap. Sukhumi …   English World dictionary

  • Abkhazia — Republic of Abkhazia Аҧсны / Apsny (Abkhaz) Абхазия / Abkhaziya (Russian) State with limited recognition …   Wikipedia

  • Abkhazia — /ab kay zheuh, zee euh/; Russ. /ub khah zyi yeuh/, n. an autonomous republic in the Georgian Republic, on the E coast of the Black Sea. 506,000; 3360 sq. mi. (8600 sq. km). Cap.: Sukhumi. Also, Abkhasia. Formerly, Abkhaz Autonomous Soviet… …   Universalium

  • Abkhazia — Admin ASC 1 Code Orig. name Abkhazia Country and Admin Code GE.02 GE …   World countries Adminstrative division ASC I-II

  • Abkhazia — geographical name autonomous republic NW Republic of Georgia on Black Sea capital Sukhumi area 3320 square miles (8599 square kilometers), population 533,800 • Abkhas noun • Abkhazian or Abkhasian adjective or noun …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Abkhazia — noun a) A region in the Caucasus. b) A de facto country in the Caucasus …   Wiktionary

  • Abkhazia — n. autonomous republic in the European country of Georgia …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Abkhazia — Ab•kha•zi•a or Ab•kha•si•a [[t]æbˈkeɪ ʒə, zi ə, ˈkɑ [/t]] n. geg an autonomous republic in the Georgian Republic, on the E coast of the Black Sea. 537,000; 3320 sq. mi. (8600 sq. km) Cap.: Sukhumi Ab•kha′zi•an ˈkeɪ zi ən, ʒən adj. n …   From formal English to slang

  • Abkhazia — /abˈkaziə/ (say ahb kahzeeuh) noun an autonomous republic in Georgia, on the east coast of the Black Sea; formerly the Abkhaz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in the Georgian SSR within the Soviet Union. 8600 km2. Capital: Sukhumi. Also,… …   Australian English dictionary

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