Google Maps changes Sukhumi to Sokhumi following Georgia’s request

Agenda.ge, 10 Feb 2015 - 16:02, Tbilisi,Georgia

The capital city of Abkhazia – one of the Russian-occupied regions of Georgia – is now being referred to as ‘Sokhumi’ instead of ‘Sukhumi’ on Google Maps after one Georgian internet user challenged the online spelling.

The change, which the Google Maps administration has already approved, was initiated by Georgian man Giorgi Balakhadze.

Balakhadze asked for the spelling change and cited the oldest English-language encyclopaedia Encyclopædia Britannica for the correct spelling of the capital city. Google Maps approved the change several days after Balakhadze’s request.

"This might be a small thing but this is one of my efforts to fight against Russia’s toponymy policy,” Balakhadze wrote on his Facebook page. "And now enjoy – Sokhumi is on the map.”

Abkhazia is situated in the north-western corner of Georgia. Russia recognised it as an independent state in 2008, immediately after the five-day Russia-Georgia war over Georgia’s other breakaway region, Tskhinvali region (often incorrectly referred to as South Ossetia).

This move of Russia has been assessed numerous times as a "violation of international law” by the global community.

Over the years there has been confusion regarding the international use of the city’s name.

  • In the Georgian language the city is called Sokhumi, while Sukhumi is the name used in Russian. As long as the world agrees Abkhazia is part of Georgia, the Georgian population believes it illogical and even offensive for the city to be referred to as Sukhumi in English texts.

This has been an issue for Agenda.ge too. We wanted to use the correct name – Sokhumi – as it is spelt in Georgian, but search engines recognized ‘Sukhumi’ more easily, so we adopted a policy of using both names together, where we would write: Sokhumi (also known as Sukhumi).

From now on we will only refer to Sokhumi using this spelling.

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