Georgia. In the breakaway republic of Abkhazia, re-election to the presidential post was held in January, after the previous election results were appealed and protests erupted. Russia had sent military to quell the unrest. Opposition candidate Sergei Bagapshi won big, which was considered a hardship for Abkhazia’s ally Russia. Georgia did not recognize the election and accused Russia of unlawful interference. President Micheil Saakashvili declared that Georgia was willing to give the two outbreak republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia far-reaching autonomy, but that Russia must cease its political and military involvement.
In March, Georgia’s parliament passed a resolution declaring the Russian military presence in the country illegal unless Moscow withdrew its troops until 2006. After negotiations, however, Georgia and Russia agreed in May that the approximately 3,000 Russian soldiers should be evicted Georgia 2008. In July, the Russian retreat began from the two military bases that remained since the Soviet era.
According to countryaah, Tbilisi is the capital and one of the major cities within the country of Georgia. Negotiations on Russia’s departure coincided in the spring with the first visit by the leader of Georgia’s new ally, the United States. At Liberty Square in Tbilisi, President George W. Bush paid tribute to the bloody “Revolution of the Roses” from 2003.
The Georgian government changed dramatically during the year. In February, Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania died because of a gas leak in a friend’s apartment. Zhvania was a key figure in the “Roses revolution” and one of the most experienced politicians around President Saakashvili. The president himself took over the post of head of government until Zurab Nogaideli was appointed to succeed Zhvania.
In October, Foreign Minister Salome Zurabishvili was dismissed following a conflict with Parliament. Zurabishvili claimed that her fight against corruption was thwarted by the last vestiges of the old communist system. Zurabishvili’s resignation led to protests, and opinion polls showed she was more popular than President Saakashvili. Gela Bezjuashvili was appointed new Foreign Minister.
Archaeological finds show that the area that today constitutes Abkhazia has been populated since the early Stone Age. From the 600s before our era, immigrant Greeks founded small trading colonies along the eastern Black Sea coast. In the mountainous hinterland, with many isolated valleys, dozens of other small ethnic groups lived in different languages, but contemporary writings give no clear indication of who they were or how they related to Abkhazians today.
The area was conquered by the Roman Empire around the beginning of our era and came from the twentieth century dominated by the lasers, a Georgian people. Here in the East Roman, or Byzantine, the outskirts of the empire, during the early Middle Ages, a kingdom emerged which in Georgian documents from the 7th century is first referred to as Abkhazia.
When the Georgian kingdom collapsed in the 1400s, after being invaded by Mongols, the Abkhazians strengthened and expanded their autonomy until their country was taken over by the Ottoman Empire (with the center of today’s Turkey) in the 1570s. The Ottomans, in turn, were ousted by the Russians in the early 1800s and Abkhazia had by the 1860s become firmly incorporated into the tsarist kingdom. A large part of the local population, who converted to Islam, emigrated or were expelled to other Turkish territories after the revolts against the Russians had been fought. Russians, Georgians, Armenians and others eventually moved into Abkhazia.
At the end of the 19th century, 60-65 percent of the inhabitants of the capital Suchumi are estimated to have been ethnic Abkhazians, while Georgians were in great dominance in the rest of the area. The Abkhazians who remained remained largely loyal to the Russian force after the first Russian revolution in 1905, while most Georgians were against Russia. This contradiction gave rise to the mutual suspicion between the peoples who deepened after the 1917 revolution, the subsequent civil war and the Soviet regime after 1921.
During Soviet times, Abkhazia gained some autonomy within the Georgian Soviet Republic, but Abkhazian culture was increasingly thwarted. The Georgian alphabet was introduced, schools where Abkhazian teaching was closed and more and more public services were occupied by Georgians. The Greeks who lived in the coastal area for 2,700 years were deported to Central Asia in 1949 and the Georgians who moved in took over their homes. The repression eased after Stalin’s death in 1953 and the Abkhazian culture was strengthened again. A Cyrillic alphabet adapted to Abkhazian pronunciation was constructed. The Greeks who survived the deportation were allowed to return in 1959.