Vladislav Ardzinba (Abkhaz: Владислав Арӡынба, May 14, 1945 – March 4, 2010) was the first de facto President of Abkhazia. A historian by education, Ardzinba led Abkhazia to de facto independence in the 1992-1993 War with Georgia, but its de jure independence from Georgia remained internationally unrecognised during Ardzinba's two terms as President from 1994 to 2005.
He was a member of the first parliament to be elected democratically in the Soviet Union in 1989.
Vladislav Ardzinba was born in the village of Lower Eshera, Sukhumi District, Abkhaz ASSR, Georgian SSR, Soviet Union. After graduating from the Historical Department of the Sukhumi Pedagogical Institute, Ardzinba studied at the Tbilisi State University where he received a doctoral degree. He then worked for eighteen years in Moscow specialising in ancient Middle Eastern civilizations under Yevgeniy Primakov, then head of the Institute of Oriental Studies in Moscow, and later Russian foreign and Prime Minister. He then returned to Sukhumi and he served there as the director of the Abkhazian Institute of Language, Literature and History from 1987 until 1989, when he was elected a Deputy to the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union from Gudauta. From there, he was involved closely with national issues, including Abkhazia, and quickly emerged as one of the most active proponents of the Abkhaz secessionist cause. While a deputy to the USSR Supreme Soviet, Ardzinba, himself an orthodox Communist, forged close ties with the hardliners in Moscow, particularly with the parliamentary chairman Anatoly Lukyanov and other members of the hardline communist groups in Moscow that were responsible for the August 1991 coup attempt.