DEC, 4, 2011
SUKHUMI, ABKHAZIA – The Abkhaz government has officially distanced itself from the Circassian genocide. The former government of Sergei Bagapsh already did this, but now the present government is doing the same.
It is not only the government, the Abkhaz people also feel harassed by this subject. In May 2011, Georgia, as the first country in the world, officially recognized the Circassian genocide. This recognition got severe criticism from the Abkhazians. They accused Georgia of trying to hinder the Sochi Olympic Games. They even stated that Georgia invented the whole Circassian genocide story.
Abkhazia hopes to boost its economy through these games. They have offered hotels, use of airports and other facilities to the organizers. And exactly at that point, Georgia interferes with their plans by making such a statement. The Abkhaz media avoid mentioning the subject altogether.
Sochi is a sensitive location in Circassian history anyway, because exactly at that location thousands of people were murdered by the Russian Empire. In fact Abkhazians also suffered in these acts. It is therefore strange that they are not supporting the Circassians now.
A large group of young Abkhazians gave irritated reactions when asked about the Circassian genocide: “Russia recognized our independence and has helped us liberate Abkhazia from the Georgians. This Circassian genocide of some 200 years ago should not be brought up. That was the past, today is a different time.”
Reactions in Georgia are very different. In the 1992-93 conflict, over 300,000 ethnic Georgians were driven from their homes by Abkhazians with Russian military assistance. After this Russia indeed recognized Abkhazia’s independence and started to build and reinforce military bases there. Because of this, many Georgians feel a bond with the Circassians, as two peoples that suffered at the hands of the Russian empire.
However this may be, Abkhazia keeps its position on this matter.