This chapter lays out the backstory of the coming of Soviet power to the small region of Abkhazia, about the belated national awakening among the ethnic Abkhaz, and the appearance of a small number of ambitious local Bolsheviks, among them Lakoba and his rival Efrem Eshba. Taking advantage of enmity among the rural Abkhaz toward the Georgian Mensheviks who ruled the newly independent Georgian Democratic Republic (which claimed authority over Abkhazia), especially in the Gudauta district, the Bolsheviks mobilized resistance among the Abkhaz by appealing to traditional forms, centered around the Kiaraz mutual protection organization unified through a traditional oath-taking. The chapter concludes by showing how Lakoba was able to form the basis of his authority by combining the Kiaraz group with a cohort of Abkhaz intellectuals and revolutionaries, allowing him to present himself to the central Bolshevik leadership as the head of a viable local ethnic network.