Nestor Apollonovich Lakoba (1 May 1893 – 28 December 1936) was an Abkhaz Communist leader. Lakoba helped establish Bolshevik power in Abkhazia in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, and served as the head of Abkhazia after its conquest by the Bolshevik Red Army in 1921. While in power, Lakoba saw that Abkhazia was initially given autonomy within the USSR as the Socialist Soviet Republic of Abkhazia. Though nominally a part of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic with a special status of “union republic”, the Abkhaz SSR was effectively a separate republic, made possible by Lakoba’s close relationship with Joseph Stalin. Lakoba successfully opposed the extension of collectivization of Abkhazia, though in return Lakoba was forced to accept a downgrade of Abkhazia’s status to that of an autonomous republic within the Georgian SSR.
Popular in Abkhazia due to his ability to resonate with the people, Lakoba maintained a close relationship with Stalin, who would frequently holiday in Abkhazia during the 1920s and 1930s. This relationship saw Lakoba become the rival of one of Stalin’s other confidants, Lavrentiy Beria, who was in charge of the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, which included Georgia. During a visit to Beria in Tbilisi in December 1936, Lakoba was poisoned, allowing Beria to consolidate his control over Abkhazia and all of Georgia and to discredit Lakoba and his family as enemies of the state. Rehabilitated after the death of Stalin in 1953, Lakoba is now revered as a national hero in Abkhazia.