The statehood of Abkhazians is defined by most historians as existing at the beginning of II-I centuries BC. However, the first legal confirmation of their statehood was ­ the official  document (manifesto) known as “Throne of the Abkhazian Tsars”, produced by the governor of the Abkhazian kingdom Bagrat III in XI century. The manifesto specifies the existence of the Abkhazian kingdom from the beginning of VIII century and, naturally, the presence of the Abkhazian governors and the Abkhazian ethnos who, whilst occupying their local territory of modern Abkhazia,   extended both their influence and rule over all the territory of modern Georgia.

The official legal document confirming Abkhazians as autochthons is Results of census of 1886, from­ which, according to statistical data, the Abkhazian princedom was occupied by about ­ 70 thousand persons, 59 thousand of whom were Abkhazians (Tab. 1). The census shows that 4166 Georgians lived in Abkhazia at that time, but as is known, the Georgian ethnos did not exist then, so for the sake of justice it is necessary to specify that they were Mingrelians (inhabitants of a neighbouring country) ­ partially occupying Samurzakan.

The next similar official document is Results ­ of population census of the Abkhazian princedom in 1897, which ­confirmed that the same number of Abkhazians (about 60,000 persons) were residing in the country, but the number of Georgians had increased almost fivefold relative to 1886. The reason for this phenomenon has already been given.

The presence of Abkhazian statehood is also confirmed in the Charter from February, 17th, 1810, according to which ­ the protection of the Russian empire had been given to Abkhazia­. The Charter includes:

“... We confirm and recognise you as our kindly loyal hereditary Prince of the Abkhazian possession under the Supreme protection of our great and glorious Russian empire, and include you, both your house and all inhabitants of your Abkhazian possession, in our loyal number”.

Hence, these four legal documents ­ confirm that during different periods of time, since VIII century AD, the Abkhazian ethnos living in its­ own territory was a monoethnic autochthon. Historical science, being based on annalistic ­ sources from V century BC to the middle of XIX century, does not confirm any change, destruction or replacement of the Abkhazian ethnos by any other peoples. All statements of Georgian politicians and historians that Abkhazians were never in Abkhazia and that it was a Georgian kingdom, and that Abkhazians is a name for Georgians, as well as fabrications that Abkhazians came down two centuries ago from mountains in Transcaucasia – all these are nothing more than myths which have in themselves neither actual nor legal historical grounds.



20 Data from K. Lye, World Factbook, N.Y., 2001.


Fig. 4. A map of "Georgia" when Kartli and Kakhetia were in the structure of the Caucasian region controlled by a Governor-General (beginning of  XIX century).


Confirmation of the territorial integrity of Abkhazia is contained in Kartlis Tshovreba where data on the transfer of complete power from the Byzantian Caesar (the ruler of the Western Black Sea Coast) to the Abkhazian ­ Tsar Leon I is given, covering all territory from Klisur to the Kuban river.­ A little bit later, when Leon II (nephew of Leon I) with the help of Khazars separated ­ from Byzantines, he added northern areas of Colchis to Abkhazia. This happened in VIII century.

The document confirming that Abkhazia was an­ independent state until XVIII century is the map “Plan of operations of the troops of Major-General Sukhotin in Asia in the campaign of 1771” (Fig. 2). Analyzing this document, it is possible to draw the conclusion that 12 years prior to the signing of the Georgievsk treaty, i.e. during the time when possessors of princedoms of Transcaucasia called themselves Tsars of Kartli, Kakhetia, Tao-Klardjeti etc., the Russian military leaders gave the name “Georgia” to Kartli. Georgia, as follows from the map, was situated only in the central part of Transcaucasia. In XVIII and previous centuries, neither Imeretia, Guria, Mingrelia, nor especially Abkhazia had anything in common with so-called Georgia, which was given that name by Russian tsars and military men.

Another legal document of international value is “the Highest manifesto on the joining of Georgia to Russia”, in which the representation of Russia shows the clearly defined border of so-called Georgia, which by 1801 consisted of  two princedoms, namely: Kartalinia (Gori, ­Lori and Dushet districts) and Kakhetia (Telavi and Signakh districts). These two princedoms were all that comprised Georgia. There was no Imeretia, Guria, Mingrelia, or particularly Abkhazia. These listed districts made a Russian region in Transcaucasia, controlled by a Governor-General, during this period (Fig. 4).

The document confirming that the territory of Abkhazia was defined between the borders of Samurzakan (river Ingur) and the country of Djigets (Sochi area) is the book “Data on conveniences of apartment accomodation for all kinds of troops in Abkhazia (Short military-statistical review with apartment map)”, representing the military-political research of Military authorities ­ of the Governor-General of Transcaucasia, which was published by the 1st branch of the  Department ­ of the Joint Staff of Russia in 1843.

Besides these materials, there are sources which state that Russian authorities in Caucasus made the decision in 1864 to cut from the Abkhazian district (Princedom) in favour of Russia a site adjoining Sochi and belonging to Abkhazia, and to attach it to the Black Sea district. This ­ attachment was confirmed in 1904 by the decree of the emperor of Russia. The border of Abkhazia was thus displaced from the river Mzymta to the river Bzyb (later this decision ­was cancelled).

“The New and full geographical dictionary of the Russian state, or Lexicon”, 1788, was an important document which also defined the borders of Abkhazia, stating that “... Abkhazians are the free and numerous people living in the Caucasian mountains... The land on which these people live is called Absny in their own language. During former times these people lived only on the western side of the Caucasian mountains adjoining to the Black Sea, along the rivers going directly to this sea between Kuban and Engur. This latter river separates them from Mingrelians”.

Thus, by 1788 the border of Abkhazia had been outlined. As for its southern border, it is known from historical sources that Samurzakan, situated­ on the right bank of the river Ingur, was a territory disputed between Abkhazia and Mingrelia up to the 1880s, and later prince Michael Sharvashidze, the governor of Abkhazia, confirmed that this territory, to the river Ingur, belonged to Abkhazia.

The relevant legal document confirming that Abkhazia owned the territory from the river Ingur to the river Mzymta, and was limited ­ by the upper courses of the river Kodor and the Caucasian ridge, was signed on February 9th, 1918, even before the  formation of the Georgian Democratic Republic (or actually Georgia as a state). This document was “Agreement” between the National Council­ of Georgia and the Abkhazian National Council. One of its items accurately established the borders of Abkhazia as a sovereign state, from the river Ingur in the south to the river Mzymta   in the north. No subsequent documents from the period of formation of the Republic of Abkhazia, or from the incorporation of some princedoms ­ of Transcaucasia into the Georgian Democratic Republic on May 26th, 1918,   mentioned the borders of Abkhazia, and the problem of territorial disputes, both with Russia and with Georgia, was also absent.

All given documents confirm the absence of any ­ legal obstacles to the self-determination of the Abkhazian people, and also the presence of the already existing sovereignty, territorial integrity and ­ political independence of the Republic of Abkhazia, as a state and the subject ­ of international law.

However, on May 7th, 1920 Georgia concluded the union with RSFSR, and one of its items attached Abkhazia to Georgia’s territory, without the consent of Abkhazia. Representatives of Abkhazia were not invited to the discussion and signing of this contract,­ and were not informed about it at all. We will give ­ the full text of some articles from this contract, directly concerning Abkhazia, with our comments:

“Article 1. Proceeding from the right, proclaimed by the RSFSR, of all peoples to free self-determination, up to full separation from the state into whose structure they are included, Russia unconditionally recognises the independence of the Georgian ­ state and voluntarily refuses any sovereign rights which ­ Russia had in relation to the Georgian people and land”­.

It is necessary to notice that in this article there is no concrete definition peculiar to international ­ contracts. On the one hand, where the­ main principles of self-determination are mentioned, all is correct. But on the other hand, when the sovereign rights of Russia are included “in relation to the Georgian people and land”, questions ­ which, undoubtedly, should have been considered by career diplomats involuntarily arise­: who are meant by “the Georgian people”? The answer is clear - the population ­ of that territory in which Russia has established sovereignty,­  naming it “Georgia”. However, if Georgian diplomats named the territory of occupied Abkhazia as a Georgian state, such treatment  contradicted international law. A very important question is why Russia, declaring the right to self-determination for ­ Georgia, did not confirm and has not confirmed it concerning the independent ­ state of Abkhazia, recognising in 1920 the annexation of this country by Georgia and ­ continuing to recognise it till now? What justifies Russia’s unwillingness to put its declared principles into practice, confirming the free will ­ of the people of Abkhazia?

“Article 2. Proceeding from the proclamation in previous article 1 of the present ­ contract of principles, Russia undertakes to refuse any intervention in ­the internal affairs of Georgia”.

The treaty between Russia and Georgia and its decisions concerning Abkhazia were ­ unexpected not only for the newly-formed state of Georgia, but also for the world community as a whole. During this period the Entente states   were taking part in the re-partition of the territories of Transcaucasia. They issued strong-willed orders which resulted   


Fig. 5. “Border between Turkey and Armenia”. A map of the Joint Staff of the USA Army.


from the map of borders of Armenia defined  in his own hand by US president Woodrow Wilson in 1920, presented as Fig­ 5. The map contains rather curious and valuable information. On the extract from it presented as Fig. 6, the reader can see that Georgia at that time ­ consisted only of Tiflis province and Batumi region. Neither the Kutais province (an   Imeretian princedom) nor Abkhazia, were in the structure of Georgia.

As we have already noted, on February 25th, 1921 Tiflis was occupied by the Red Army. During this period, when the Caucasian countries, including Abkhazia and Georgia, were a part of the USSR, Abkhazia in practice possessed territorial inviolability as a sovereign or autonomous republic. Nevertheless, in 1990 when Georgia unilaterally   left the structure of the USSR, it appeared that this treaty presented the territory of Abkhazia to Georgia, and  ­ self-evidently gave the statehood of Abkhazia to Georgia also, and it therefore was an element in the capture and occupation of the country and its political annexation. Since that moment even the truncated sovereignty of Abkhazia de jure has appeared to be completely ­ cancelled.



Fig. 6. Extract from a map of the Joint Staff of the USA Army concerning Georgia, the Kutais province and the Abkhazian district (Abkhazia).