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Title: Bichvinta  
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Subject: Catholicate of Abkhazia
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Пиҵунда (Abkhaz)
ბიჭვინთა (Georgian)


The view of Caucasus mountains from Pitsunda cape.
Location of Pitsunda in Georgia

Coordinates:  Georgia 43°10′N 40°20′E / 43.167°N 40.333°E / 43.167; 40.333Coordinates:  Georgia 43°10′N 40°20′E / 43.167°N 40.333°E / 43.167; 40.333

Country Georgia[note 1]
District Gagra
 • Mayor Beslan Ardzinba(separatist government)
 • Deputy Mayor Beslan Smyr (Separatist government)[1]

Pitsunda or Bichvinta (Abkhaz: Пиҵунда, Georgian: ბიჭვინთა, Bichvinta; Russian: Пицунда) is a resort town in Gagra district of Abkhazia.[note 1]

The town was founded in the 5th century BC as Pityus (Ancient Greek: Pityus, Πιτυοῦς, genitive Pityuntos, Πιτυοῦντος) or Pitiunt, a Greek colony and trade port on the coast of the Kingdom of Lazica.[2] Excavations guided by Andria Apakidze unearthed remains of three 4th-century churches and a bath with superb mosaic floors. The former "Great Pityus" harbour is now a mere lake within the town. Saint John Chrysostom was exiled there and died near the shore in 407.[2] Like Dioskurias, it remained under Roman control within the Georgian kingdom of Colchis until the 7th century. The city passed under Abasgian control and became one of the major political and religious centres of the kingdom of Egrisi (Lazica). An archbishopric of Pitiunt was instituted in 541. In medieval Georgia, the town's name was spelled as Bichvinta. At the end of the 10th century, King Bagrat III of Georgia built there the Pitsunda Cathedral which survives to this day and contains vestiges of wall-painting from the 13th and the 16th centuries. Bichvinta also served as the seat of the Georgian Orthodox Catholicate of Abkhazia until the late 16th century when Abkhazia came under the Ottoman hegemony within Georgia. It is still a titular see of the Roman Catholic Church.[2] In the late 13th century, the area housed a short-lived Genoese trade colony called Pezonda.

Pitsunda was the favourite resort of First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev. In October 1964 he happened to be vacationing in Pitsunda when he was deposed from power. Khrushchev once proposed a major dam and hydroelectric power scheme on the Bzyb River near Pitsunda, but his experts informed him that a dam built on the Bzyb River would have had catastrophic effects in causing beach erosion at Pitsunda. In the end, the dam was built on the Inguri River instead, where the impact upon the coastline was assessed to be considerably less pronounced.[3]


Town status

On 8 February 2007, after many appeals by inhabitants, the People's Assembly of Abkhazia resolved to give Pitsunda town-status. Parliamentarians expressed the hope that the decision would help Pitsunda develop as a resort.[4] Since becoming a town, the Mayor of Pitsunda is no longer appointed by the Governor of Gagra District but instead directly by the Separatist President of Abkhazia.

2011 Assembly elections

In the 2011 so-called assembly elections, separatist Mayor Beslan Ardzinba and six other so-called incumbent deputies of the Assembly stood for re-election. The winning separatist candidates were Beslan Ardzinba, Badra Avidzba, Olga Grigorenko, Chengiz Bigvava, Georgi Zardania, Gennadi Cherkezia, Gennadi Mikanba, Damia Kokoskeria and Inessa Dzkuia.[5] On 14 February, during the first session of the new convocation, Damir Kokoskeria was elected Chairman of the Assembly over Gennadi Cherkezia, by a one vote difference.[6]

List of Mayors

Heads of the Administration of the Urban-type Settlement Pitsunda:
# Name Entered office Left office Governor of Gagra District Comments
Chingiz Bigvava ≤ June 2000 Grigori Enik
Jon Dbar ≥ January 2006 Valeri Bganba
Beslan Ardzinba October 2006 [7] 8 February 2007 Astamur Ketsba
Heads of the so-called Administration of the Town Pitsunda:
# Name Entered office Left office President Comments
1 Beslan Ardzinba 8 February 2007 29 May 2011 Sergei Bagapsh
29 May 2011 Present Alexander Ankvab




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