Georgian-Russian Agreement of May 7th 1920 and the issue of Abkhazia
04/05/2010 12:09
Simon Kiladze
"Experts' Club"

(The end)

Attempt of Russian plagiarists and compilers

Among criticizers of the Russian-Georgian agreement of May 7th 1920 and active supporters the Abkhazian separatists - modern Russian expert-political scientists Anatoly Tsiganok, worker of the Institute of Political and Military Analysis who has a rank of colonel and is also a member of the Public Council of the Russian Defense Ministry.

In the course of the last two-three years Anatoly Tsiganok published several research articles in the electronic media (for example, "Historical and juridical grounds for recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia", "Mistakes of the Russian Foreign Ministry in the direction of the Caucasus" and so on) where he repeats word by word false propositions of Shamba-Neproshin and adds them his own opinions and considers Abkhazia as independent country starting from 1918.

According to the Russian military expert that the fact that the Abkhaz people's Council approved a resolution to enter "the South-eastern Union of mountaineers, Cossacks and free peoples of the steppes" that was formed in the North Caucasus means that Sukhumi okrug was already separated from Kutaisi province and became independent from Transcaucasus (or in this case form Georgia) of the time. In this case Tsiganok only manipulates with "bare facts" and does not pay any attention to either fictitious nature of that resolution by the Abkhaz People's Council or the political situation that influenced the decision to enter into the south-eastern Union. And that was the time when difficult process were taking place in Russian, and in particular in its southern part (namely, in the Caucasus). Central control was lessened in the outposts; representative bodies (councils) of political parties and public organizations were being established in places and they were institutions that represented national interests of peoples living in various parts of the territory. There were plenty of such bodies in the Caucasus though all of them consider themselves and accordingly the entire Caucasus as the part of Russia. There was so far no talk of declaration of independence of countries. More, Transcaucasus (including Sukhumi okrug) was firmly controlled by first "Ozakom" (special Transcaucasian committee – local administration of interim government of Russia) and later by executive and legislative bodies of the region – Commissariat and Seim of Transcaucasus where Georgian politicians dominated. Credit is due to Georgians for the fact that according to the resolution of December 7th 1917 of the Transcaucasian commissariat Gagra district was added to Sukhumi okrug. In other words, Abkhazia belonged to political and juridical space subordinated to the Commissariat. Apart from this united financial and legislative and communications system was retained.

So Abkhazia was really under the powers of the Transcaucasian Commissariat and Seim and with this regard claim of the Russian expert as though Abkhazia was separated from Georgia is groundless, abstract and incorrect.

Anatoly Tsiganok also exactly copied assessments of Shamba and Neproshin about the Georgian-Russian agreement of May 7th 1920. He also repeats norms of the Roman law and the 1960 Vienna conventions that were mentioned in the works of Shamba-Neproshin. It seems that the Russian scholar did not bother to study additional archive materials, did not recheck views of those professors and presented them to the reader as his own opinions. Propositions of the plagiarist Tsiganok are the same as though "in 1920 Georgia appropriated territory of another country (Abkhazia) and did it on the basis of coup with the third party (Russia)".

Another author who is trying to revise the Russian-Georgian agreement is associate professor of the comparable political science department of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) Elena Ponomariova. And at that Elena Ponomariova is not altogether original with regards to this issue. Her article that was published last December in the official website of the MGIMO titled "Abkhazia and South Ossetia: - future relations with Georgia" uses the same "arguments" that were used by her predecessors - Shamba, Neproshin and Tsiganok - presented as ultimate truth. One gets impression when reading the article by Ponomariova that the author, like the Russian colonel, simply copied from the book of Shanba-Neproshin. And that when the professor of MGIMO could have searched in the archive and see primary sources , read central Russian newspapers circa April-May 1920 , get herself acquainted with scientific literature of international law of that time and then she would have been convinced that the agreement between Russia and Georgia fully complied with international juridical norms of that period.

So that is how propositions that were artificially and groundlessly created by biased scientists that are considered undoubted truth and guidebook "travels" in the internet space of the Russian media.

Let's return to the peace agreement between Russia and Georgia of the May 7th 1920 and events connected to it.

At the end of 1920 an issue was discussed in the League of Nations - the issue of memebrship of Georgia in this organization. At the first stage of the membership process discussion of the issue was happening in the so-called fifth committee. During this special attention was paid to one of the criteria of stability of a state – control of its territories and existence of firm, stable borders, existence of territorial disputes with neighbours. During the session of the committee it was taken into account that Georgian borders with Russia were established and with this regard there was not important disputable issue with the northern neighbour. Naturally, an issue of belonging of Sukhumi okrug never arose during the committee meeting as it was clear to the members of the committee that Abkhazia was an integral part of Georgia. So together with Russia the west also recognized Abkhazia as a part of Georgia without many words. This again indicates that there was no independent Abkhazia which, if we listen to Russian "scholars of Abkhazia" became a victim of Georgia-Russia "coup"!!

Also it is interesting if Russia was involved in destroying Abkhazian "independence" on May 7th 1920 then why two months ago Abkhazians celebrated bicentenary of brotherhood with the Russians ? Maybe Taras Shamba, Alexander Neproshin, Anatoly Tsiganok and other Russian scholars should remind representatives of today's Abkhazian separatist government about this date...

Current situation on the Georgian-Russian border

Pacta sunt servanda

We have already mentioned above that the Russian-Georgian border that was officially established 90 years ago remained the same during the Soviet period although its status changed from international into inter-republican. In other words the border lost its international political meaning. In the twenties and thirties the border of the republic of Georgia in the north suffered significant changes. Several sections were defined (for example, in the Gagra district, Dusheti district etc.). In the forties, during the period of great repressions of the northern Caucasian peoples, and by decision of the government of the USSR territory of the Karachai autonomous district (starting from 1944 under the name of Klukhori district) was added to Georgia. By 1957 these territories were returned to the Russian Federation and the border became the same. Of course, there were certain changes made in the following years but they mainly were happening in the spheres of construction and land usage.

As it is known the Russian Federation de-jure recognized Georgia as an independent state on July 1st 1992 stating its territorial integrity and inviolability of its borders that existed on the 21st of December 1991 (before the collapse of the Soviet Union). Accordingly, Abkhazia was implied as the autonomous republic within the united Georgian state.

Naturally, and as it is known in the civilized international relations an issue of delimitation (exact definition and marking of the map) of the Georgian-Russian border was raised. For this purpose at the end of the nineties of the XX century a bilateral Georgian-Russian commission was established that worked really fruitfully. It established exact coordinates of the main part of the order. It also determined several disputed areas discussion and resolution of which should have been done continuously during the meetings of the commission.

As it is known those sections of the Russian-Georgian border that were controlled by Abkhazian and South Ossetian separatists were especially difficult for the Georgian side. As to the Abkhazian section, before the August 2008 war the main problem was a territory between the Akhakhchi Mountain and source of the river Psou that was differently marked on Georgian and Russian topographic maps. Unfortunately, representatives of Russia were dragging the resolution of the issue purposely and thus to some extent were supporting instigation of the Abkhazian separatism.

The situation significantly worsened between Russian and Georgian after the August 2008 war. After the war Georgian border guards were forced to leave the only Abkhazian section of the border that they were defending - Dali (Kodori) gorge and accordingly this section also appeared in the hands of the Abkhazian separatists.

According to the agreement between so-called independent Abkhazia and the Russian Federation today the Abkhazian section of the Russian-Georgian state border is controlled jointly by Russian and Abkhazian border guards (mainly at the lower part of the river Psou . Although according to leader of the Abkhazian separatists Sergei Bagapsh, seaside checkpoints would be also opened above Psou as well - at a village of Aibga and Pskhu). We should hereby note that in principle Abkhazians do not have anything to defend from Russians. If we take into account clear pro-Russian integration processes of the Abkhazian separatist regime the above-mentioned sea ports would only have symbolic and formal nature.

Nowadays work of the joint commission for delimitation of the state border that was determined by the Russian-Georgian agreement of the May 7th 1920 is suspended as the diplomatic relations between Tbilisi and Moscow is stopped. Lately, unfortunately, according to materials published in the Georgian media and statements of some politicians Russia is taking advantage of a difficult situation in Georgian and meter by meter, kilometer by kilometer gradually is appropriating Georgian lands on various sections of the border.

We believe that time will come and the Georgian-Russian state border that as determined by the Russian-Georgian agreement of May 7th 1920 will restore its primary political status – status that it had in 1992 or at least before August 2008. Agreements must be kept.


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