Policy Memos

The Circassian Question in Russian-Georgian Relations

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Russian-Georgian relations have gone through many changes, but before August 2008 one constant in this relationship was the attitude toward Georgia’s territorial integrity. In 1990-91, when Georgia made its first official steps toward independence, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev tried to stop the republic by approving of the various separatist declarations issued by the parliaments of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both formally autonomous units within Soviet Georgia. In contrast to Gorbachev’s policy, however, the first presidents of Russia and Georgia, Boris Yeltsin and Eduard Shevardnadze, tried to develop good relations between their states. When the Georgian-Abkhaz war began in August 1992, Russia expressed its support of Georgia’s territorial integrity and even deployed military troops to the Russian republic of Kabardino-Balkaria (with its titular Circassian/Kabardian population) to prevent thousands of Circassian volunteers from joining Abkhaz in their fight against Georgia. [...]

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About the author

Associate Research Professor
George Washington University