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A Caucasian territory which was part of the Soviet Union as an Autonomous Soviet Republic within Georgia. In April 1991 it became part of the independent Republic of Georgia, against the will of the Muslim Abkhazian population (17.8 per cent of the total population) and its Russian minority (14.3 per cent). Helped by a contingent of Muslim volunteers from neighbouring autonomous Russian republics such as Chechnya, the rebels managed to repel the Georgian troops, weakened already by civil war. Georgia had to concede defeat, and negotiations focused on extensive autonomy for a territory over which Georgia had lost all control. Negotiations between the Abkhazian government and Georgia proved futile, and a fragile peace was supervised at the border by UN observers and Russian troops. In 2006, the self-declared president of Abkhazia, Sergei Bagapsh, demanded that Georgia accept Abkhazia's independence, which was backed by Russia. During the 2008 conflict between Russia and Georgia, Russian troops went through Abkhazia to enter Georgia and still provide protection for Abkhazia's borders. After the war Russia and a few other countries recognized Abkhazia's independence. In 2009 Bagapsh was re-elected but he died two years later, aged 62.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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