Mark Brody

Abkhazia and Chechnya

It would be bold, or completely ignorant, the one who pretends assimilating the recent course of the two secessionist entities of Abkhazia and Chechnya, former Soviet federated subjects of wider Soviet Republics, Georgia and Russia respectively, historically rebellious, who have attempted to impose their independence on the wake of the Soviet bloc explosion in 1991.

Russians have in both cases played totally contrary roles. In Abkhazia, they have steadily supported national efforts, politically, diplomatically, economically, militarily, to separate from Georgia. They are still offering security guarantees and the new officially recognized state of Abkhazia, given the international position of their backers, enjoys a status that others, particularly Georgians, cannot ignore. In Chechnya, conversely, the story ends badly. Russia deploys its military forces heavily, crushing the armed uprising of resistance and allowed to develop a climate of terror against the population, thus cementing in blood Chechen attachment to the Federation.

Yet beyond this tragic divergence, there is a single movement combat, a similar mobilization for the construction, probably incomplete, of some form of independent state. Abkhaz have so far, apparently achieved a bit more than Chechens. Abkhazia de facto does not belong to Georgia and Legal non-recognition by a majority of states does not really impede its existence as a real state. Palestine or Taliban’s Afghanistan are another examples of such significant real non-states. No one can decently deny their existence. In the Abkhaz case furthermore, a kind of democratic commitment, shown during the last transparent presidential electoral process, has been proven, bringing that non-state, in European eyes, close to European values. Chechnya has taken another way towards independence, largely more absurd, as Kadyrov today has obtained some space for manoeuvre that only the first separatist presidents, Doudaev or Maskhadov, could only dream of. Why then those almost 250000 losses on the Chechen side and 15 years of heavy sufferings? History has not ended in both cases and it would be not surprising that within 10 years, 20 as it is said in Moscow among Caucasian experts, those two republics will be de jure independent.

Mark Brody
Independent journalist who specializes in the Caucasus. FRANCE

The Stalin-Beria Terror in Abkhazia, 1936-1953