ESSAY:

Abkhazia’s archive: fire of war, ashes of history
By Thomas de Waal

The documented history of the cosmopolitan Black Sea territory of Abkhazia was destroyed in war on 22 October 1992. Its Greek archivist is conserving what little remains, reports Thomas de Waal.

The Abkhazian archivist, Thomas de Waal
For me the tragic story of Abkhazia’s archive is inseparable from the story of its archivist.
I first met Nikolai Ioannidi in May 1992 in Sukhumi, then capital of the autonomous republic of Abkhazia and still firmly part of Georgia. War was about to break out between the Abkhaz and the Georgians, but I sensed this only vaguely, noticing that there was a curfew at night, a dispute over which security forces had the right to bear arms and worried speculation from the people I spent my time…
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Thomas de Waal is Caucasus editor of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting in London. He is co-author (with Carlotta Gall) of Chechnya: Calamity in the Caucasus (New York University Press, 1998) and author of Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan through peace and war (New York University Press, 2003)

Also by Thomas de Waal in openDemocracy:
The north Caucasus: politics or war” (7 September 2004)
Musa Shanib in the Caucasus: a political odyssey (12 October 2005)
Abkhazia’s dream of freedom (10 May 2006)
Abkhazia-Georgia, Kosovo-Serbia: parallel worlds? (2 August 2006)

Thomas de Waal writes about Nikolai Ioannidi and Abkhazia’s archive in:
Abkhazia: Cultural Tragedy Revisited (IWPR, 28 March 2002)

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