Sochi, Georgia, Abkhazia

Sochi, the city in which the 2014 Winter Olympics are being held, used to be part of Georgia and Abkhaziakinda. It belongs to a region which is occasionally called Lesser Abkhazia (Russian: Малая Абхазия), Jiketi (Georgian: ჯიქეთი), or Sadzen, after the Sadz Abkhazians who used to live there. They don’t live there anymore, because they, along with most of the Northwest Caucasian peoples, were exterminated or expelled to Turkey by the Russian Empire about 150 years ago. Indeed, Sochi was originally built as a fort during Russia’s initial incursion into then-independent Circassia (or Cherkessia).

circassia cherkessia

Note that Sochi is listed in parentheses as a guardpost

In 1918, amidst the chaos of the Russian Civil War, the newly-established Democratic Republic of Georgia captured Sochi. Ostensibly this action was taken to secure the area from Bolshevik takeover, but one can’t help think that the Georgians were also motivated by the following thoughts: 1) you can never control too much of the Black Sea coast, and 2) if you already have Abkhazia, why not also have Lesser Abkhazia?

Unfortunately, Georgia’s fledgling dreams of imperialism were dashed when, mere months later, the White Army captured Sochi for itself. The Georgians had evidently assumed that the Whites would join them as allies against the Reds, but they neglected the fact that the stated aim of the Whites was to reestablish the full extent of Tsarist dominion (of which Georgia itself was a part). After several counteroffensives back and forth, the river Psou (rhymes with “hoe”, not “how”) was eventually established as the (short-lived) border between Georgian Abkhazia and Russia.

greater georgia

What territory hasn’t Georgia lost?

Personally, I don’t get the big deal about the Black Sea. I’ve been to the beach in Yalta and I’ve been to the beach in Batumi (cities roughly equidistant from Sochi) and it really just wasn’t that great. The beaches are rocky, the water is both freezing and salty, and the boardwalks and hotels are run-down and weird. On the other hand, there are dolphins. That’s something.

crimea black sea beach

A seaside massage parlor in Crimea

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18 thoughts on “Sochi, Georgia, Abkhazia

  1. I don’t know which “witty minded” wrote this but I’m Georgian and must say that Georgia had newer had imperialistic aspirations еspecially in this years. Or she/he took a wrong map for this topic. if someone is interested, maybe the author , whoever, write me on my favebook profile 🙂 Tornike Tatishvili.

    p.s. Abkhazia and Samachablo was always Georgias territory and will be.

    • Calling the move on Sochi “imperialistic” was a bit of an exaggeration, but then again Georgia has been called “the little empire” for its unusually diverse ethnic composition.

      NB: For readers who are unaware of the term, “Samachablo” is a euphemism for South Ossetia which has been in common use among Georgians only since the beginning of the Ossetian conflict.

      • That is intentional desinformation what you are doing Mr.”georgiasomethingyouknowwhatever” and you seem a bit biased on this topic in general. Neither the terms “North Ossetia” nor “South Ossetia” did exist before the early 20s and 30s of the 20th century. People who don’t educate themselves on that matter should rather be aware of this: Both are modern political terms to replace “Alania” to the north in today’s North Caucasus within the Russian Federation and create a false political indication that both regions “NO” and “SO” belong togheter, not within the jurisdiction of Georgia rather preferably into that of Russia. Those terms are modern political inventions and have nothing to do with any historical accuracy or culture. Historicaly “Ossetians” are Alanians and a certain part of the Alanian population was living in the region of Shida Kartli ( now known as “South Ossetia” that allways lied within the borders of Georgian principalities, dominions or unified kingdoms since those existed. It has nothing to do with “euphemism” but are historical facts. The one who wants to have real information should rather go educate themselves on these matters.

    • British journalist Carl Bechhofer, who visited Georgia around 1920, had far harsher words than mine:

      ‘The Free and Independent Social-Democratic State of Georgia’ will always remain in my memory as a classic example of an imperialist ‘small nation’. Both in territory-snatching outside and bureaucratic tyranny inside, its chauvanism was beyond all bounds.

      • How Ironic of British Journalist.. I don’t think there is any other nation that is more aggressor and than Great Britain… Not even Russia! Great Britain was the only one who was trying to control the whole world! they not just colonized the half of the world but practically committed genocide in many parts of the world..To not talk about slavery that was Britain’s most favorite thing to do.. So whoever the hell was Carl bechhofer had nothing to say about Georgia when he himself was from as Shitty nation as British is… My personal advice will be to not write things out of your ignorance.. you either educate yourself and use credible sources or do not write the information that is not true…

        • Of course you’re right about Britain’s murderous past. We can also add that my own country, America, was built on slavery and genocide. It would be insane to seriously compare Georgia with them or any other grand empire. But that doesn’t mean Georgia didn’t exhibit imperial tendencies on its own tiny scale.

          My point in quoting that British guy was only to show that I’m not the first person to have said such things. I don’t know much about him otherwise. He may well have been a hypocrite about the issue.

          • Its amusing that you would use quote from Carl Bechhofer. I am no expert on Georgian history during national liberation period (as its referred by Georgian historians) but British had pretty hefty imperialist interests in Caucasus at that time. That comment was made when Georgian national army refused to stay put and decided to storm Batumi, and bring it under their control. In 1919 British took over the control of Batumi and appointed general Cooke-Collis as its governor. My question is, what were British doing occupying Georgian port? And Georgians were imperialists for ceasing the control of their city? FUNNY!

            Georgia had already been attacked once, from Armenia. Armenia suffered decisive defeat (very unfortunate and sad incident in history of Georgian Armenian relations). British participated in brokering the peace agreement, and as a result, despite having repelled the assault, Georgian side was left in a disadvantageous position.

            British had their own imperialist ambitions in regards to foreign relations with Turkey, and again on behalf of Georgian necks. After British started withdrawing from Caucasus, Ottomans decided to again occupy the city. Which is when Georgian legion, led by Mazniashvili, repelled Turkish forces. When general Mazniashvili refused to repeat the past mistake, and cease the opportunity to take control of historically Georgian region, British bargain with Turkey ended up being ruined. Reality is, even under British occupation, many of Adjara’s leaders favored uniting with Georgia, which did not fit well with British imperialist plans. So here that goes…

            As far as imperialist ambitions, every country has had one throughout the history. Its political science 101. In anarchical world, self-help dominates international politics.

            • “And Georgians were imperialists for ceasing the control of their city? FUNNY!”

              No, they were imperialists for trying to capture Sochi. Read the post again. It isn’t about Batumi.

              That said, thanks for you comment. It’s a nice summary of events, and I’ll look into it further.

              • No, you read my comment again… 😀 I am not talking about the capturing Sochi (or whether that was imperialist). I responded to the quote that you used, which was used (to the best of my knowledge) when Georgians brought Batumi under their control.

                I could be wrong about some of the facts stated. I will have to brush up on my history lessons. Or maybe your next blog could be on that! That way, I could just feed of your hard work… hehe

                • Ahh okay, I understand. I don’t know the context of that quote. If he really was talking about the capture of Batumi, then I agree that he was full of shit. Maybe I should just delete that little comment about imperialism, since it has caused way more trouble than I intended 😀

                  • You always favor other countries in the Caucasus above Georgia but what you are doing is not just. You say in other posts that Mesrop made the Georgian alphabet for the Georgian people while Mesrop could not even speak a word Georgian. Plus you uploaded a picture of the Abkhaz alphabet in Georgian letters (Which everyone used in Georgia and the north Caucasus), and you called it ”Georgiafied” Abkhaz alphabet. And now you post this idiotic post about ”Georgian imperialism” and indeed you show a quote of some British slavetrading asshole who criticizes Georgia and it’s imperial ambitions? While Georgia only wants to regain it’s ancient territories. I don’t like your posts you seem to be an offensive person who thinks he knows a lot only because you digged in Georgian history, culture etc. what is exactly your problem? It’s fine if you don’t like the Black Sea coast maybe you shouldn’t go there anymore and watch your words don’t spit this crap out of your mouth when you speak it to a Georgian in real life it might come over very offensive which it is.

                    • You say in other posts that Mesrop made the Georgian alphabet for the Georgian people while Mesrop could not even speak a word Georgian.

                      This is the second time you’ve said this. READ THE POST AGAIN. Any further comments from you showing your misunderstanding will be deleted.

                      For the record: I love Georgia, Georgian culture, and Georgians. We can discuss the details of your accusations once you can convince me that you have decent reading comprehension.

  2. Pingback: Notes on Terminology | georgiasomethingyouknowwhatever

  3. Pingback: Georgia’s North Caucasian Territories, 1944-1957 | georgiasomethingyouknowwhatever

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