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To a problem of ethnic and interfaith tolerance at the people of modern Abkhazia

m. L. Kulova


Work is presented by department of national history of the Karachay-Cherkess state university of U.D. Aliyev.

The research supervisor — the doctor of historical sciences, professor G.V. Smyr

In article the main conclusions from a research of history and features of formation ethnic and interfaith are offered tolerance at Abkhazians and other people of modern Abkhazia.

M. Kulova


The paper presents the main conclusions of the research on the history and features of forming of ethnic and inter-confessional tolerance among the Abkhazians and other nations of modern Abkhazia.

On the history of Abkhazia it is specified in literature that prior to the beginning of the 1860th Abkhazia consisted almost only of the indigenous Abkhazian people among which there were followers of traditional (autochthonic) religion, early (before split) and orthodox Christianity on the Abkhazian diocese which was an organic part of the Constantinople patriarchal throne, and Islam of Sunni sense. After the introduction in 1810. The Abkhazian principality under political patronage of the Russian Empire among a part of Abkhazians the orthodox Christianity on post-reform Russian church was restored.

All these faiths of Abkhazians on the end result were shown not only in shape yazy - chesko - Christian Muslim syncretism and within the traditional Abkhazian culture and unity in development of ethnic originality and national-state interests, tolerance, but also interfaith consent. And the Russian Empire, of course taking into account relevancy of influence and a role of the autonomous Abkhazian principality and the possessor Mikhail Chachba-Shervashid-

ze on the people of the North Caucasus, prior to the beginning of the 1860th showed a peculiar toleration though encouraged with moral and legal and material privileges transition of Muslims to orthodox Christianity. However after completion of the Caucasian war in May, 1864 Russia began to conduct in relation to Abkhazia and its Abkhazian natives policy "especially furious" (V.A. Gurko-Kryazhin) [3, page 11] and "whip" (S.Z. Lakoba) [4, page 84].

So, for example, in June, 1864 Russia abolished the autonomous Abkhazian principality. Abkhazia was renamed into the Sukhumi military department (since 1883. Sukhumi district) Russian Empire. The tsar Alexander II approved the plan of settling by Cossacks of the territory presented by the deputy in the Caucasus Mikhail Romanov from the mouth of Kuban to the Inguri. The last possessor of Abkhazia Mikhail Chachba-Cher-vashidze was arrested in November, 1864 and sent to Voronezh where died in April, 1866. A revolt of the indignant Abkhazians in the village of Lykh-ny (up to 20 thousand people) depressed military force, and the son of the last sovereign prince of Abkhazia Mikhail Chachba-Shervashidze prince

Georgy Chachba-Shervashidze was sent in troops of the Orenburg military district. Moreover, after lykhnensky 1866 of a revolt of Abkhazians the wave of repressions fell upon Abkhazia. A part of heads of the movement was executed, many prominent Abkhazians are sent to the Central Russia and Siberia. The Abkhazian population completely left the Dalsky gorge and Tsebelda.

Active expulsion of insurgents to internal provinces of the Russian Empire happened also in 1877 — 1880. Repressive colonial policy led to a new powerful wave of forced relocation of Abkhazians to Turkey.

As a result of all these events, especially after the tragic events of 1877 known in the people under the name "big makhagir-stvo" — the forced resettlement (up to 50 thousand) Abkhazians to Turkey, in completely deserted central Abkhazia from the Kodor River to the Psyr-tskh River and in other places, Armenians, Bulgarians, Greeks, Germans, Russians, Estonians, etc. founded the villages, and the mass of landless peasants of the Western Georgia was proved in the Central Abkhazia, in the villages of Merkheul (1879), Besletka (1881), Akap (1882), Kelasur, Pshap (1883), etc. Later thanks to efforts of the Menshevist government of Georgia the Georgian settlements appeared in Gagra, Gumista (near Sukhum) and also in the mountain villages of Pskhu and Tsabal.

The resettlement policy reached mass scope also according to the plan of the government of the SSR of Georgia and the Central Committee of the RC of Georgia.

As a result Abkhazia became multinational. The following dynamics of national structure of the population of Abkhazia according to a census from 1886 to 1989 (in one thousand people) demonstrates to it (tab. 1).

Together with transformation of Abkhazia into the motley region of the Caucasus in the ethnic relation it (Abkhazia) became also multi-religious. Sharply not only the ethno-demographic situation, but also religious and confessional changed too. Each people (Armenians, Greeks Georgians, megrela, Germans, Russians, svana, Estonians, etc.) continued to trust in religion of the ancestors and on church (mosque) of the ethnic group.

Rough activity of representatives of the Georgian clergy in Abkhazia where the unclear church service and Georgian were imposed to the indigenous Abkhazian people, and many Abkhazian surnames the Mingrelian priests registered in the Georgian harmony, did not yield desirable result. Abkhazians as were not followers of orthodox Christianity on the Georgian church, did not become.

Even in Soviet period when more than 140 churches where the Abkhazian and Russian-speaking believers, and their priests went, generally Russians and Abkhazians were closed, are repressed, throughout the Abkhaz ASSR only six Georgian churches worked, the Abkhazian orthodox Christians on the Russian church did not go to church, observed is reserved some ceremonies and holidays.

Table 1

Dynamics of national structure of the population of Abkhazia according to a census from 1886 to 1989 (one thousand people)

People 1886 % 1897 % 1926 % 1939 % 1959 % 1970 % 1979 % 1989 %

Only 68.8 100 106 100 212 100 311.9 100 404.7 100 487.0 100 486.1 100 525.1 100

Abkhazians 59.0 85.8 58.7 55.3 55.9 26.4 56.2 18.0 61.2 15.1 77.3 15.9 83.1 17.1 93.3 17.8

Georgians 4.0 5.8 25.8 24.1 67.5 31.8 92.0 29.5 158.2 39.1 199.6 41.0 213.3 43.9 239.9 45.7

from them sobstvo.:

Georgians 0.5 0.7 1.9 1.7 9.9 9.4

Megrela 3.5 5.1 23.8 22.4 41.0 19.3


> 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.01 6.6 3.1

Russian 1.0 1.4 6.0 5.7 20.5 9.6 60.2 19.2 86.7 21.4 92.9 19.0 79.7 16.4 74.9 14.3

Armenians 1.3 1.9 6.5 6.1 30.0 14.2 49.7 15.9 64.4 15.9 74.9 15.4 73.3 15.1 76.5 14.6

Greeks 2.0 3.0 5.4 5.1 27.1 12.8 34.6 11.1 9.1 2.3 13.1 2.7 13.3 2.8 14.7 2.7

Others 1.5 2.1 3.9 3.7 11.0 5.2 19.2 6.3 25.0 6.2 29.2 6.0 23.5 4.8 25.8 4.9

"Meanwhile since the end of the 19th century the tsarist government in the relation, Abkhazians began to pursue new policy. Policy & #34; кнута" so characteristic of the period of 1810 — 1880, was replaced by policy & #34; пряника"" [4, page 84]. The authorities came to conclusion that instead of the Russian colonization planned in Abkhazia there was a mass Georgian settling which representatives quickly appropriated economic levers in the region. Immigrants from Georgia owned the earth as tenants generally near Sukhum and in the Samurzakansky site, quickly occupied places near roads, various seaside points connected with brisk trade.

For "protection of the Sukhumi district" from the Georgian immigrants the conductors of official policy shortly before the revolution of 1905 toughened measures against influx in it of Mingrelians who "enslave edge economically".

Masterminds of the colonial doctrine, meeting acting through Georgian immigrants a barrier on the way of distribution of the influence in Abkhazia, developed for them "special rules": limited possibilities of residence in Sukhum, Gudauta, Ochamchyre and complicated the procedure of acquisition of land property. But restrictive administrative and police measures did not bring the expected results.

On the one hand, at the end of the 1890th — the beginning of the 20th century the flow of immigrants from the Western Georgia did not stop.

To strengthening of the Russian presence imperial Russia saw considerable danger in rough activity of the Georgian church trying to extend the influence on the Abkhazian population. In this regard the decision of the Synod in 1892 founded the Commission on the translation of prayer books on the Abkhazian language. Active part in its work was taken by group of the Abkhazian priests and teachers.

In 1907 there were held solemn church services in the Abkhazian language in ancient Lykhnen-sky and Mokvsky cathedrals. Due to such situation in 1901 the bishop Sukhumi presented the project of allocation of its diocese from the Georgian exarchate to the St. Petersburg Synod.

However the Russo-Japanese war (1904 — 1905) and the broken-out revolution interfered with implementation of this already resolved issue. The project of allocation of the diocese in independent was put repeatedly — in 1907 — 1908 and 1912 — 1915. It is obvious that such independence of the diocese would isolate also the Sukhumi district, having protected it from the Georgian influence. The first step was for this purpose made by the prince A.P. Olden-burgskim who built up fine climatic instance (1901 — 1903) in Gagra. Gagra and its vicinities were allocated with his efforts in 1904 from structure of the Sukhumi district and annexed (from the river Bzyb) to the Black Sea province. Later, in February, 1914, before the deputy Caucasian the question of transformation of the Sukhumi district to the independent province was brought up. World War I prevented to carry out this reform again.

It is not surprising that after the February revolution in Russia in Sukhum in May, 1917 at a congress of clergy and elective laymen of the Abkhazian orthodox population the issue of autocephaly of the Abkhazian church was resolved. The congress addressed the Synod and the Russian Provisional government, however the proclaimed autocephaly of the Abkhazian church did not receive further registration.

The used and considered facts and the phenomena in the history of transformation of Abkhazia into one of the most multinational and multi-religious regions allow to conclude the following.

The first. Between indigenous Abkhazians and the people lodged by the Russian and Georgian authorities the international and interfaith conflicts are not recorded. All people of Abkhazia showed mutual tolerance and toleration.

The second. Irrespective of nationality and the professed religion ordinary citizens were always uniform in the solution of the main historical and cultural problems of Abkhazia.

The third. The unity Abkhazian, Armenian, Greek, Russian, a considerable part of the Georgian population of Abkhazia facilitated establishment of the Soviet power in the region

March 4, 1921. The statement of the Soviet power was perceived by the people of Abkhazia as disposal of repressions and intervention of the Georgian Republic.

And the most important, unity and tolerance of Abkhazians and other people of Abkhazia promoted that "in the remained islands of the Abkhazian world the ethnic tradition continued the full-blooded functioning" [1, page 9]. Moreover, Abkhazians, the truth with big losses, including the statehood, the Abkhazian kingdom (VII—X centuries), the Abkhazian autonomous possession as a part of Russia (1810-1864), the SSR of Abkhazia (1921-1931), despite violent and compulsory eviction of the vast majority of the population (75%) to Turkey in the second half of the 19th century [3, page 41], on continuous since the 1860th before the collapse of the USSR rough activity of the Georgian clergy, agressiv-

ache the policy of the government of Georgia the gloomy and bloody period of Stalinism and heavy consequences of the recommendation of Stalin to assimilate Abkhazians on the place, plans (1941-1942 and 1949-1951). L.P. Beria on deportation from Abkhazia to Siberia of all Abkhazian population [5, page 88-108], other historical cataclysms, lived till 90th of the 20th century

In conclusion we will notice that today searching the people of the Republic of Abkhazia of own national-state identity, the worthy place in community of the people and the states involved all factors: geopolitical, economic and economic, national cultural. The place among them is taken also by a religious factor. Constantly the role of ethnic and interfaith tolerance increases in formation of public consciousness that has a significant impact on the course of political events.


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