8. Annexation of Georgia in Russian Empire (1801-1878)

Annexation of East Georgia by Russia and adopting new forms of governing caused the discontent of wide layers of population. The important part of nobility was displeased by annulment of the kingdom and limitation of old feudal rights, and on the back o f Georgian peasants besides the heavy taxes lay the fate of national oppression. Colonial regime was of a military-police character. There was an absolute unlawfulness in the country. Russian military-men and statesmen were robbing the people and those wh o expressed even the lest protest, were cruelly punished. This fact caused the several anti-Russian armed actions in East Georgia in 1804-1812 and 1813. The leaders of these actions were the single representatives of the Georgian royal family, which hoped to revive the monarchy. It took the extreme forces for Russian armies to suppress the rebellions, but the experience forced the Russian government to soften its policy towards Georgia and to abolish the unlimited license of Russian executioners. Also, the members of Kartl-Kakheti Kingdom were exiled in Russia.

After beginning the domination in East Georgia, Russia started to extend its dominions in Transcaucasia. As the result of two wars with Iran, Russia occupied North Azerbaijan and East Armenia. As for West Georgia, the annexation was implemented by two stages: at first, Russia took under its protection the local political bodies (1803-Megrelia Princedom; 1804-Imereti Kingdom; 1810-Guria and Abkhazia Princedoms; 1833-Svaneti Princedom), and then gradually abolished them by the complete annexation of their territories (Imereti-1810; Guria-1828; Megrelia-1857; Svaneti-1858; Abkhazia-1864).

Abolition of Imereti Kingdom Russia managed only after the direct military aggression. The last king of Imereti Solomon II (1789-1810) was forced to escape to Osman Empire, where he died in 1815.

The policy of Tsarism, to abolish the independence of Georgian Church, caused a large rebellion in Imereti and Guria in 1819-1820, but the rebels were defeated in the struggle with Russians. Their villages were exterminated and burnt. Inspite of this, there happened another antirussian rebellion in Guria in 1841 but it was also cruelly suppressed.

There were permanent armed actions in Abkhazia too (in 1821, 1824, 1840-1842, 1866, 1877). Besides, North-West Abkhazian tribes haven't obeyed Russia at all, they were permanently striving and after their defeat (1864) they escaped and settled in Osman Empire. After the suppression of 1866 and 1877 rebellions, Abkhazian native population was massively exiled in Turkey.

As a result of the Russia-Turkey wars Russia Empire annexed (and thus Georgia got back) the territories, conquered by Turks in the previous centuries: Samtskhe-Javaketi with its chief town Akhaltsikhe (1829), Ajara and several regions with t. Batumi (1878). This was some kind of positive fact for Georgia, attended by negative facts too. Thousands of Georgian Muslim population inhabiting the annexed territories escaped and settled in the inner regions of Osman Empire. The main reason of their escape was unwillingness to live under Russian administration.

Thus, in 1801-1878 Georgia was almost completely annexed with Russia Empire. Afterwards, only the extreme South-West part of Georgia remained outside the borders of Russia.