Mamuka Komakhia, Research associate at the Institute of Political Science (Tbilisi, Georgia)

As citizens of the newly independent Soviet successor-states that arose after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the Slavs found it extremely hard to adjust to the new conditions. It was particularly difficult to accept the fact that Russian, their native tongue, which used to be lingua franca of sorts, had lost this function and its importance altogether. Large groups of the Slavic population found emigration the only answer; Georgia has already lost nearly all the Slavic groups that used to live on its territory.

The Russians

Slavs came to Georgia when the Russian Empire stepped up its involvement in the Southern Caucasus. Having strengthened its military and political position, Russia needed reliable local support in the form of non-military Slavic settlements, of which Russians were the largest group.

In 1865, there were 25,900 Russian newcomers in Georgia, or 2 percent of its total population; in 1886, their number increased to 42,500 (2.6 percent). By 1897, there were 92,813 Russians, or 5.3 percent. The Slavic military comprised 22.7 percent (21,113) of Georgias total Slavic population. In the latter half of the 19th century, the process continued at a good pace. Slavs settled in great numbers in Tbilisi and the coastal cities, as well as in 21 villages.

Wide-scale industrialization of Georgia unfolded in the 1920s and attracted numerous migrants from other republics. The collectivization and.

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