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How up to 5,000 civilians were slaughtered & several hundred thousand more displaced in the 1990s. Wartime crimes and population distortions at root of rebel regime’s illegitimacy; return of refugees key to resolving separatist conflicts.

The story of how Georgia’s peaceful ethnic mosaic unraveled is a story of a tinderbox set alight by calculated Russian interference. What happened in Abkhazia was not unique: Russia attempted ethnic rebellions in the Baltic states (fomenting Russian speaking minorities), Ukraine (encouraging Crimean separatism), and Moldova (supporting the enclaves of Transdniester and Gagauzia), among other places.

But it was in Abkhazia that the full horror of those policies ran their course.