An Estonian from Abkhazia on the perspectives of the separatists

03.02.23 12:20

The Estonians had a special place among the significant ethnic communities of Abkhazia. They settled here after the de facto genocide of the Abkhaz people by the Russian Empire and the expulsion of a large part of the Abkhaz (Muhajirs), forming several villages in what is now the Gagra and Gulripsh districts. Before the separatist war in 1992-1993 more than 1.5 thousand Estonians lived in Abkhazia and Estonian schools were operating.


War and the lawlessness of the separatists led to a mass exodus of Estonians from Abkhazia. Today according to the separatist authorities only 357 people, mostly elderly people, remain in Abkhazia. Today Estonian villages Sulevo, Salma, Estonka, Upper and Lower Linda of Abkhazia are mainly populated by Armenians. The "ancient people" thereby expanded its habitat on the Georgian land of Abkhazia at the expense of another ethnic group.


Naturally, those Estonians, who live in Abkhazia as well as those who left it, but still have relatives on the separatist territory, are trying to avoid speaking out openly against the separatist regime and the occupation. They understand that their relatives and friends can have problems. Nevertheless, an article by an Estonian from Abkhazia "Arnold Rutto: Abkhazia lives again between two fires" ( ) that was recently published on a website that reflects interests of the Russian-speaking community of Estonia is interesting.


It should be recalled that the Russian-speaking community in Estonia mainly lives in the eastern part of that country in the Narva area. At a time when the KGB was fomenting separatism in almost all of the former Soviet republics, separatist sentiments were also provoked here amongst the Russian-speaking population. A separatist "second Transnistria" was openly planned here.


Fortunately there was no separatist rebellion "according to the Transnistrian scenario" in eastern Estonia. Nevertheless, the same publication mostly holds pro-Russian and pro-separatist views. If one considers that many Russian-language resources in Estonia are linked to the Russian security services, then the article by Arnold Rutto may be "that" information thrown in through a "foreign" media outlet, as if "independent" from the Kremlin, regarding the view of the future of Abkhazia. And it is addressed to the separatists as well as Georgia. We present this article in full:


"If Russia creates a new alliance after the war to somehow strengthen its position, it could use Abkhazia again to attract Georgia, whether Abkhazia itself wants this or not, writes Arnold Rutto.


Abkhazia's political status is a matter of dispute. According to Georgia, it is a constituent autonomous republic. The people of Abkhazia declared independence (1993), which was recognised by some countries (after 2008). In 1992-1993 there was a military conflict between Georgia and Abkhazia, as a result of which the territory of Abkhazia is no longer under Georgian control and Abkhazia has been under a political and economic blockade for many years.


The de facto situation is different from the de jure situation. Now Abkhazia is again living between two fires. After the recent events in Nagorno-Karabakh, both Abkhazia and Georgia realised that this is a sign and a message from Russia not only to Armenia, but also to Georgia, as well as to the people and government of Abkhazia. This message may not have reached everyone yet, but Russia's military aggression against Ukraine has had a sobering effect on many - neighbouring countries, satellite states, countries with which cooperation is ongoing and others.


What the Nagorno-Karabakh case showed was that any kind of collective defence principles - as far as they can be applied in the case of Abkhazia - do not work, and hoping that Russia will come to the rescue when it is not in its interests is not entirely reasonable either. There were and are those in Abkhaz society who condemn Russia's military invasion of Ukraine, as well as those who support Russia's actions. Among these supporters were both fugitives and Abkhazians who were called to criminal responsibility. There are also those who do not express their opinion, either because of the so-called ostrich effect or simply out of fear.


 In recent years, Abkhazia has been increasingly observing what its hostile neighbour Georgia is doing. Before the coronavirus epidemic, Georgia pursued a more active export policy, directing and increasing its exports to Russia, which, of course, did not go unnoticed in Abkhazia. Because of the coronavirus, relations between Georgia and Abkhazia were kept to a minimum, as it was feared that visitors from Georgia could cause a pandemic in Abkhazia, so the border between them was closed. However, the border with Russia was opened and from there the infection spread to Abkhazia, resulting in deaths.


After Russia launched a military invasion of Ukraine, Georgia neither imposed nor joined anti-Russian sanctions. Nor has Georgia imposed restrictions on Russian business, closed its airspace or unequivocally condemned the military invasion of a sovereign State. None of this has gone unnoticed in Abkhazia.


Georgia does not agree to return military equipment and armaments to Ukraine, which it itself received from Ukraine and the West.


 While before the coronavirus pandemic and Georgia's change of political course, Abkhaz society feared that Georgia would join NATO and the European Union, which would subsequently help Georgia to establish control over Abkhazia, the decisions and political statements of the current Georgian government and its disregard for human rights have created a sense in Abkhazia that it is not a pro-Western Georgia that should be feared, but a pro-Russian Georgia whose doctrine is increasingly similar to that of its larger neighbour.


Relations between Abkhazia and Russia also leave much to be desired. Russia has expressed a desire to acquire ownership of a former Soviet state villa and land in one of the most beautiful towns in Abkhazia, Pitsunda. It is currently used by Russia, where Federal Security Service employees and their family members holiday there. According to local legislation state land cannot be sold, especially to non-citizens. The Abkhazian community has strongly criticised the transfer of the dacha. This has divided society to a certain extent, but at the same time it has united those who do not believe that a big neighbour is equal to a big friend.


In Abkhazia, more and more people are turning to the past, when Russia pushed Abkhazia under Georgian rule in order to gain influence over Georgia. Whether this is directly feared now, it is difficult to say, but there is definitely a sense of danger in this historical pattern. In other words, if after the war Russia creates a new alliance to somehow strengthen its position, whether this alliance involves Russia's own territory or annexation of a neighbouring country, it can again use Abkhazia to attract Georgia, regardless of whether Abkhazia itself wants this or not". end of article Judging by the tone of the publication, the author, or whoever posted the article through him has no doubt that Russia will win the war in Ukraine and that as a result of this victory Russia will create some kind of "new alliance". That is, it is all about the same imperial expansion of Russia in the South Caucasus. And within the framework of this expansion, as "Kavkazplus" has already written, a full occupation of Georgia is planned in order to "break a corridor" through it to Armenia. Naturally, in this case, no one will give Abkhazia to Georgia. Putin did not take a fancy to Pitsunda for his summer house there, and not for that reason ethnic Armenians settled in massively in villages where previously lived other peoples, such as Estonians. However, for the separatists this article as a whole, sympathetic to separatism Estonian Russian-language publication, "signal" - "hurry up to agree to conditions of Russian annexation, sale of land and real estate, give the same Pitsunda or else you will be "paid back" to Georgia.




George Mazniashvili

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