-------------------- News from Abkhazia --------------------


 Roskosmos chief denies Russian space junk falling on Abkhazia


Moscow, Russia has nothing to do with the possible incident with a fragment of space junk that allegedly fell onto the territory of Abkhazia on August 23, head of the Federal Space Agency /Roskosmos/ Anatoly Perminov told Mayak radio on Tuesday.


"This information is incorrect. We're closely watching all the major delivery vehicles and descent of all spacecraft, especially large ones. There were no Russian spacecraft in that area," Perminov said."We have an outer space control system in Russia; together with the Ministry of Defense we monitor all orbiting units. As of today, we monitor more than 6,000 spacecraft at altitudes of up to 40,000 kilometers. None of these units monitored by Russia have fallen within the boundaries of the territories of the Black Sea coast, Abkahzia or Georgia," he told Vesti television program.


"There're another 4,000 space objects we do not control. This variant / their falling in the designated area/ is possible. I don't see any guilt of Roskosmos or the Ministry of Defense in this event," Perminov underlined.


A report from Sukhum on Monday said fragments of a de-orbiting spacecraft had fallen onto the territory of Abkhazia. This conclusion was drawn by Abkhazia's state environment service after the questioning of eyewitnesses and an analysis of the trajectory and size of the spacecraft.


Head of this department Roman Dbar said a space object was sighted over the Black Sea at 21:35, Moscow time, on August 23. It entered dense layers of the atmosphere, caught fire and defragmented. Larger chunks fell in the area of the Main Caucasus Ridge, while smaller parts burnt down in the atmosphere.


Scientists believe these fragments were parts of de-orbiting "space junk."


08.28.2007  Itar-Tass


 6,000 take part in war games in Abkhazia


Military games have been held in Abkhazia, with around 6,000 personnel involved.


The battlefield lies in the Caucasus Mountains, several kilometres from the Kodor Gorge.


The “enemy" forces were brought up to the Abkhazian border. The strategic route between the East and West of Abkhazia was under threat.


The first day of the war games ended with success. All targets were hit and the enemy was defeated. As the second day-scenario unfolds, the enemy tries to land from the sea.


“We are satisfied. People who once lived through a war, know how important it is to mobilise quickly and to be disciplined,” said Sergey Bagapsh, Abkhazian President.


08.25.2007  russiatoday.ru


 Bagapsh hears concerns from Abkhazian Muslims


Sukhum, Abkhazian President Sergei Bagapsh heard concerns from a select group of Abkhazian Muslims over their security of life after an imam and his friend were shot down in Gudauta.


The Muslim group received official assistance from the Abkhazian Religious Directorate in meeting with President Bagapsh. The president heard from the Muslim group a formal request first to order an urgent official inquiry into the killings of both Hamzat Gitsba, the imam in Gudauta, and his friend Ruslan Assadulin and then to have criminals brought to court.


Bagapsh later told the group that both a group of prosecutors and security officers have launched an investigation into the killings. “Abkhazia has always been a multi-religious country and has always been known for its tolerance towards people with different faiths,” he said, and asked for assistance from the Abkhazian Muslim society with the investigation. Gitsba and Assadulin were gunned down on August 17 in central Gudauta.


08.24.2007  Agency Caucasus


 Georgia violated Abkhazia’s air space


Sukhum, At about 09:35 p.m. Moscow time (06:35 p.m. GMT) on August 22, Abkhazia’s air space was violated from the Georgian side by an aircraft that flied above the village of Bargyal, Gal District, Abkhazia. Approximately at the same time, the violation of the air space was registered in Kodor Gorge near the village of Tsebelda (Abkhaz President Sergey Bagapsh is today on visit their to observe Armed Forces maneuvers), a REGNUM correspondent was informed by presidential Envoy in Gal District Ruslan Kishmaria. According to Kishmaria, residents of Gal District saw the aircraft too. “They heard the sound and saw a flash. No explosions have been registered,” the envoy said.


The Abkhaz Foreign Ministry made a statement on the matter that “an aircraft appearing in the Abkhaz air space from the Georgian territory is another evidence of Georgian leadership’s unwillingness to follow the way of civilized conflict settlement.”


The ministry also states that on the background of the recent attempts of the Georgian leadership to accuse Russia in violating the Georgian air space provocative actions are taken that can result in open confrontation between the parties. “Such activity by Georgia is treated by Abkhazia as an act aimed at escalating tension in the conflict zone,” the statement says.


The Abkhaz side, while drawing attention of international mediators and participants of the negotiation process to the fact of violating air space of the Republic of Abkhazia, finds it necessary to warn Georgia that such provocations will have a proper assessment and result in adequate response from the Abkhaz side.


08.23.2007  REGNUM


 Abkhazia accuses Georgia in bioterrorism


Sukhum, “Analysis of activity of Georgian agencies to prevent from epidemic of East African swine plague brings to an idea of an act of bioterrorism,” announced Abkhazia’s Chief Veterinary Inspector Erik Anshba.


“Judge by yourself: bodies of dead animals were not utilized under current regulations, but thrown into the sea and Kodor River. As a result, even specialists from Russian agencies stress in their report danger for the whole region of Black Sea east coast,” Anshba added. He also announced a possibility of Abkhaz, Georgian and Russian specialists’ meeting, where they would discuss joint actions to combat the East African swine plague epidemic, the official website of the Abkhaz president informs.


Early August, the Abkhaz Veterinary Service reported on finding dead pigs infected by the East African swine plague in Kodor River. Rosselkhoznadzor (Russian agricultural watchdog) addressed the Georgian National  Food Safety, Veterinary and Plant Protection Service asking to take immediate measures to prevent from such incidents and observe regulations of the Terrestrial Animal Health Code of the International Office of Epizootics.


The Abkhaz government and special agencies are taking action to combat the dangerous epidemic, under which the livestock in eastern Abkhazia is to be annihilated.


Mass loss of cattle caused by the East African swine plague (Montgomery’s Disease) was registered in Kakhetia, Samegrelo, Guria, Imereti, and in Samtskhe-Javakheti in June. Overall in Georgia, more than 20,000 swine were killed by Montgomery’s Disease. On June 7, a number of countries, including Armenia, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Azerbaijan, introduced ban for exports of pork from Georgia.


08.22.2007  REGNUM


 Spiritual Board of Muslims of Abkhazia  to demand disclosure of killing of Gudauta mosque imam from low enforgement agencies


Sukhum, Spiritual Board of Muslims of Abkhazia appealed to President Sergei Bagapsh to promote disclosure of a murder of Imam of Gudauta mosque Hamzat Gitsba.


Remember, the mosque's imam in Gudauta Hamzat Gitsba together with a resident of Ufa Ruslan Assadulin was killed on Friday, 17 August in Gudauta.


According to the Muslims of Abkhazia, the method of the murder indicates that it was the pre-planned action.


Muslims Abkhazia requires law enforcement authorities to effectively investigate the killings.


08.22.2007  abkhaziagov.org


 Abkhazian imam shot down


Sukhum, Hamzat Gitsba, one of the two imams in Abkhazia, was shot down in central Gudauta around on August 17, Friday.


Ruslan Selahaddin, who comes from Ufa/Bashkiria, was also injured in the attack.  Some unidentified people fired from a car at Gitsba and Selahaddin, according to a statement from the Gudauta regional administration. As Gitsba died immediately after he was shot down, Selahaddin was hospitalized. The police later found an empty car, believed to be abandoned and burnt by attackers. The police are looking for clues as well as details to find out the reason behind the attack. Hamza Gitsba was working as an officer of the Religious Directorate of Abkhazia. There are two mosques in Abkhazia; one is in Gudauta and the other one is in Sukhum. These are actually officially allocated to the Religious Directorate; however, they were not designed to be mosques. The two mosques attract as many as 200 Muslim prayers each Friday. The Religious Directorate announced that the Abkhazian Muslims have no links to any radical organizations.


08.22.2007  Agency Caucasus


 Sukhum pursues investment from Russia and Middle East


Sukhum, The Abkhazian administration hopes to benefit greatly from the upcoming international forum on economics, scheduled to October, in addition to its efforts to attract as much foreign investment as possible amid preparations for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympiads.


With the second International Forum on Economics to be held in Sochi , the turnout is expected to be more when compared with that of last year.


Oleg Bartsis, a representative of the Abkhazian administration for its policies of investment in the, described the idea behind the Forum as offering both Russian and Middle Eastern businessmen tempting opportunities of investment in Sukhum.


Some major Russian companies will join the forum, said Bartsis. “We have begun to receive demands to join the forum. There is a good deal of interest in the forum. The Olympiads are playing an important role as well.”


Some Russian companies that joined last year the first forum in Pitsunda are currently having their projects done.


08.19.2007  Agency Caucasus


 Muslim leader in Abkhazia slain - source


Sukhum, A leading figure in a Muslim community in Abkhazia was shot dead early on Friday afternoon by "two unidentified individuals," a source in Abkhaz law enforcement services said.


"Around 13:00 [Moscow time] today, at the entrance to a Muslim prayer house, two unidentified individuals wearing masks and using handguns with silencers shot dead a so-called informal leader of a Muslim mosque in Abkhazia," the source told Interfax.


He said Abkhaz law enforcement services possessed evidence that the victim, Rokki Gitsba, had been a follower of Wahhabism, a puritanical trend in Islam.


"We have taken note of several persons who are on the territory of Abkhazia's Gudauta district and share so-called Wahhabi ideas. The man who has been killed was the leader of that group, according to our information," the source said.


He said the Abkhaz Interior Ministry possessed intelligence that Gitsba had been involved in hijacking the ferry Avrasya that was en route from Trabzon, Turkey, to Sochi, Russia, in 1996.


Interfax has been unable to obtain any official confirmation of this information.


08.18.2007  Interfax


 II-nd International economic Forum to be held in October in Abkhazia - Representation of government of Abkhazia on investment policy in Russia


In the second half of October in Abkhazia the IInd International Economic Forum will be conducted. The Forum is organized by the representation of the government of Abkhazia on Investment Policy in RF. The Forum brings together companies of Russia and other countries of near abroad that have or intend to carry out its activities, including investment in Abkhazia. According to the head of the Representation of the government of Abkhazia on Investment Policy in RF Oleg Bartsits, several major Russian companies are interested in the Forum. "We have begun to receive proposals to participate in the Forum. There is a serious interest in the event. Not least, this is due to the general increase in interest in the region in connection with the Olympic prospects," said O. Bartsits. Representation of the Abkhaz government on Investment Policy in RF notes that last year the Ist Forum in Pitsunda initiated interest of a number of Russian companies, projects of which are being currently realized.


08.16.2007  abkhaziagov.org


 New names in Pitsunda


Hibla Gerzmava


Pitsunda, Winner of Tchaikovsky festival, the world-famous Abkhaz singer Khibla Gerzmava is to hold concert "New Abkhaz Names" in Pitsunda Temple.


Kibla Gerzmava represents Abkhaz young musicians, the hope of classical music of Abkhazia.


Among others in the concert will take part tenor Alkhas Ferzba, pianist and graduate of the Rostov Conservatory, Diana Bagdasarian, Astamur Kvitsiniya and graduate of the Yerevan Conservatory Victoria Yudina, etc.


The concert will be held in the framework of the festival "Kibla Gerzmava presents".


Holding the festival in the Temple of Pitsunda once again confirms its status as a major stage of classical music in the Caucasus.


08.16.2007  abkhaziagov.org


 Memorandum of understaning between Abkhazia and Volgograd region of Russia is signed


Sukhum, The head of the Abkhaz delegation in Volgograd Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Stranichkin and Volgograd region Governor Nikolai Maksiuta signed a Memorandum of Understanding.


The memorandum noted that the Republic of Abkhazia and Volgograd region of Russia will develop cooperation in the socio-economic, scientific and technological, environmental, cultural and other spheres.


Particular attention is given to economic cooperation between the Volgograd area and Abkhazia. The Abkhaz delegation intends to convince the local business community in prospects of long-term investment in sectors such as tourism industry, agro-industry, housing, etc.


In Volgograd the Abkhaz delegation met with the Deputy Head of the Volgograd region for the construction and housing and utilities Lev Alferov, President of Volgograd Chamber of Commerce and Industry Alexander Belitskii, Chief of the Regional Department of development of Enterprising Vladimir Demidov.


08.16.2007  abkhaziagov.org


 From 1 September equity of commercial banks to be 20 million rubles – National Bank


Sukhum, President Sergei Bagapsh met with representatives of the banking community. According to the President, commercial banks must meet the standards of the global financial system. In accordance with amendments to the law “On banks and banking activities”, from 1 September equity of commercial banks should not be less than 20 million rubles. Earlier this amount was 4 million rubles. As reported at the meeting by Chairman of the National Bank Illarion Argun, of the 16 commercial banks operating in the territory of Abkhazia, 6 financial institutions have not been able to raise capital to the desired level. According to the Chief Banker of the country if the situation does not change until Sept. 1, the National Bank will be forced to take sanctions against those banks that are not working in line with the new law. Prime Minister Alexander Ankvab drew the attention of bankers to the need to enhance security systems of banking institutions. President Sergei Bagapsh said that conditions of collection of money should not be overlooked.


08.15.2007  abkhaziagov.org


 Abkhazians commemorate the war



Sukhum, Abkhazians commemorate today the war that lasted from 1992 to 1993 and left thousands dead. Public marches from three different sides of the country initiated the 15th anniversary commemorations on August 14, a date in 1992 when the Georgian occupation of Abkhazia began.


Marchers arrived in the Red Bridge today. They first stood in a one-minute silence in honour of those who died and then listened to speeches from Abkhazian President Sergei Bagapsh, war veterans, families of the war victims and some young people.


The organization is intended to bring the entire Abkhazian youth together, said Shamil Adzinba, Head of the Abkhazian Youth Committee, and stressed the importance of marching additionally in the Georgian-majority province of Gal as well.


There is a growing increase in trouble between the two governments of Georgia and Abkhazia 15 years after the war broke out, said President Bagapsh. The Georgian government intends to have the new Georgian generation accept chauvinism, the president argued, and pledged to struggle for the national independence of Abkhazians.


“Abkhazians cannot share the same roof with Georgians; Abkhazia could at best be a good neighbour to ,” said Foreign Minister of Abkhazia Sergei Shanba. Commemorators then laid a wreath at the war grave.


Georgians commemorate too


Just as Abkhazians, the Georgians commemorated in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, their own victims of the war. Vahtan Gotseridze, relative of a war victim, told Anatolian Agency that whatever happened at that time was a complete tragedy. Someone else, Tarash Gvadzabiya, also told Anatolian Agency how painful it is to remember the killing of as many as 100 000 Georgian troops. Gvadzabiya was, however, bitterly disappointed at the low turnout for commemorations.


08.15.2007  Agency Caucasus


 Future of our motherland to be in trusty hands - President


Sukhum, The Head of State Sergei Bagapsh spoke at a funeral meeting on the 15th anniversary of the beginning of the Patriotic War of the people of Abkhazia, which was held at Victory Square in Sukhum.


"Today is a very sad date. 15 years separate us from the day when the crazy hatred of nationalists came rioting, killing unarmed men, women, children, and old people. All those who felt Abkhazia their Motherland were killed," said Sergei Bagapsh.


”The enemy was trying to destroy our history. But we can not be wiped out. Young and old came to defend our land. All of us - Abkhazians, Armenians, Russian, all

communities of Abkhazia, did everything to defend freedom. Our Diaspora, volunteers came to our rescue. We will never forget your deed,” continued S. Bagapsh.


"At this sacred place where we are today, the first resist to occupation, a gang of murderers took place. And we see that our young people remember the feat of older generation, this is the mortgage of our future. Future of the Homeland is "in reliable hands," said the Head of State Sergei Bagapsh.


08.14.2007  abkhaziagov.org


 Abkhazian youths march


1992-1993 war in Abkhazia


Sukhum, Three groups of the Abkhazian youth began public marches from some borderlands of the country towards the capital city of Sukhum 15 years after the Georgian occupation started a war there in 1992.


The final destination for young Abkhazian marchers is set to be the Red Bridge region where a monument will later be erected in honour of the Sukhum war victims.


As one group is coming from the eastern side of the country, the other group is coming from the western side. A third group began marching from the Damhurts naval passage.


All three groups will have the chance tonight to listen to stories from war veterans as well.


On Tuesday morning, the young Abkhazian marchers will organize a commemorative event in the Red Bridge region, where the war started on August 14, 1992. The ending of the war will also be commemorated in the same place on September 30.


08.13.2007  Agency Caucasus


 Action devoted to 15th anniversary of Georgia-Abkhaz war begins


Sukhum, The youth action “Along the Road of Memory Towards Freedom and Independence” has begun in Abkhazia. It is timed to coincide with the 15th anniversary of the Georgian-Abkhazian war of 1992-1993. Representatives of youth organisations that have divided into three groups will follow the route from the eastern and western frontiers of Abkhazia to Sukhum. Early on Monday, one of the groups started from the border along the Ingur River and another - from the border with Russia along the Psou River. The third group will climb on the Damkhurts pass over which volunteers from brotherly republics of the North Caucasus came to help Abkhazia.


On Monday evening, the first and second groups of the march will get to Machara in the eastern direction and to Gumista - in the western direction where they will meet with veterans and participants of combat actions.


During the night, the march participants together with the veterans will light candles to pay tribute to the memory of soldiers that sacrificed their lives for freedom and independence of Abkhazia.


In the morning of August 14 when Day of Memory of the Fatherland Defenders is marked, the march participants will head towards the Krasny (Red) Bridge in Sukhum where a meeting will be held, and at 11:00 a.m., the nationwide commemoration minute of silence will be announced. It is on the Krasny Bridge that the first combat actions started on August 14, 1992 between Abkhazian militiamen and troops of the Georgian State Council. A stone in the foundation of the future monument will be laid in a square near the Krasny Bridge.


The meeting participants will lay wreaths at the Glory Monument in downtown Sukhum where the remains of the defenders of Abkhazia that were killed in the Georgian-Abkhazian war are buried.


The Georgian-Abkhazian war continued for 413 days and ended on September 30, 1993. Over 12,000 Abkhazian soldiers took part in the combat actions. According to the Abkhazian Defence Ministry, over 2,700 died and over 5,000 were wounded. Volunteers from the North Caucasus, south of Russia, representatives of the Abkhazian Diaspora and far abroad countries fought together with the Abkhazian people for their republic’s independence.


08.13.2007  Itar-Tass


 Abkhazia in geopolitical game in the Caucasus


Moscow, (Sergei Markedonov for RIA Novosti) - Fifteen years ago, on August 14, 1992, one of the worst ethnic conflicts in the Caucasus - between Georgia and Abkhazia - developed into a full-scale war, which lasted for 14 months.


Its main results were:


8,000 dead on both sides;


$11.3 billion worth of economic damage;


a changed ethno-demographic situation in Abkhazia: the Georgians have become an ethnic minority (in different estimates, between 150,000-200,000 Georgians were displaced; Georgia puts the figure at 300,000);


Abkhazia's ethno-demographic losses in 1992-1993 were comparable to the Muhajirism of the 1860-1870s.


It would be no exaggeration to say that today the unrecognized republic of Abkhazia is playing the biggest role in a major geopolitical game in the Caucasus. The Abkhazian issue is the main bone of contention between Russia and Georgia. Pro-Abkhazian sentiments of some part of the Russian military and political establishment are conducive to Georgia's pro-Western course, which is also influencing Russia's chief political ally in the Greater Caucasus - Armenia.


De jure, Abkhazia is part of Georgia. De facto, Georgian sovereignty does not extend to the territory from the Psou River to the Ingur River. The Abkhazian leaders do not control only a small part of the republic in the upper reaches of the Kodor River. Until July 2006, Georgia did not control it, either. But now Tbilisi is trying to turn this hard-to-access area into a bridgehead.


Georgia's military defeat in 1993 was not limited to geopolitical losses (Georgia lost 12.5% of its territory and 200 km of the Black Sea coast). As distinct from South Ossetia, it led to the massive Georgian exodus from Abkhazia. In different estimates, about 200,000 Georgians left Abkhazia. The Abkhazian leaders were ready to discuss the refugees -- the most urgent problem for Georgia. They merely wanted to sort out those Georgians who fought against Abkhazia in 1992-1993. Abkhazia has repeatedly voiced apprehensions that the return of the Georgian refugees and a change in the ethno-demographic balance in their favor might result in a new ethnic purge, this time by Georgia. The Abkhazian leaders were particularly concerned over the return of the Georgian (Mengrel) refugees to the predominantly Georgian Galsky region - as of 1989, Georgians accounted for 93% of its population. They have repeatedly rejected the idea of the "broadest possible autonomy" under Georgian jurisdiction. Until 1992, Abkhazia had all attributes of autonomy de jure, and the Abkhazians consider return to the autonomous status no more than idle talk.


In its approach to both the South Ossetian and Abkhazian problems, the team of the incumbent Georgian president is trying to change the format of these inter-ethnic conflicts and turn them into a Russian-Georgian issue. The ultimate goal of this transformation is to internationalize the problem and deprive Russia of its status of an exclusive guarantor of ethno-political stability in Abkhazia. Mikheil Saakashvili named the United States, Ukraine and Turkey as potential co-sponsors of the peace process.


We believe that under the circumstances, the most rational decision is to delay all issues pertaining to the republic's status until the settlement of major humanitarian problems (education, medical treatment, conduct of business, free movement and contacts between Georgians and Abkhazians). Only after progress is achieved in their resolution, it will be possible to discuss Abkhazia's status. This plan may seem cynical but this is the only chance to avoid re-division of property and spheres of influence and escalation of inter-ethnic tensions in Abkhazia. Russia and the United States could guarantee the immunity of property and power in Abkhazia. Obviously, the Abkhazian elite, which have been propelled to their current position by the military victory in 1993, will be ready to discuss the republic's status with Georgia only after receiving guarantees of keeping the acquired resources and administrative rents. In this way Russia will ensure peace and stability in its southern frontiers.


Sergei Markedonov is head of the ethnic relations department at the Institute of Political and Military Analysis.


The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.


08.13.2007  RIA Novosti


 Explosion in Abkhazia kills two Russian women


An explosion has killed two Russian women in Abkhazia, close to the Russian border. Another girl was seriously injured and had to have her leg amputated.


Ten tourists from Russia's Volga district were celebrating the last day of their vacation with a picnic on the Black Sea coast. The blast happened while they were cooking barbecue on a rusty metal tube.


The site of the blast is said to be a trench shelter dating from the Georgian-Abkhazian war of the early 1990s. Residents say the explosive device could have laid there for years.


Those lightly injured will be transferred to Russia shortly.


It is the first incident of that kind in Abkhazia - a popular summer destination among Russians.


08.10.2007  RussiaToday


 Georgia dumps ASF-infected swine carcasses in river, downstream to Abkhazia


Veterinary service of Abkhazia reported on finding in the Kodor River carcasses of swine. Laboratory examination held at the Russian Scientific Research Institute for Virology and Microbiology showed a genetic material of a virus of African swine fever (ASF), statement issued by Rosselkhoznadzor (the Federal Veterinary and Phytosanitary Oversight Service) reads.


Rosselkhoznadzor has already addressed Georgian Ministry of Agriculture and Food requesting that all necessary means are applied in order to prevent such instances and observe provisions of the Terrestrial Animal Health Code of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).


To remind, a mass mortality of swine from the African swine fever (Montgomery Disease) was registered in Kakhetia, Samegrelo, Guria, Imereti (Western Georgia), and in Samtskhe-Javakheti. All in all, over 20,000 swine have died in Georgia from the outbreak of the virus. On June 7, a number of countries banned imports of swine from Georgia, among them Armenia, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Azerbaijan.


08.10.2007  REGNUM


 Russian expedition planted Abkhazia flag on Arctic seabed


Moscow/Sukhum, The flags Russia planted on the seabed under the North Pole included an Abkhazian flag, as the self-proclaimed republic helped organize the expedition, the mission leader said Wednesday.


"An Abkhazian representative, Dmitry Purim, was a member of our expedition," said Artur Chilingarov, also a Russian member of parliament. "He raised the flag of the republic."


Russia's relations with Abkhazia have angered Georgian authorities who are seeking to regain control over the unrecognized republic. Georgia has accused Russia of fuelling separatist sentiments in Abkhazia.


Chilingarov said tens of other flags representing different regions and organizations involved in the expedition had been hoisted in the area almost simultaneously.


Last Thursday, Russian researchers made the first-ever dive below the North Pole in two mini-submarines, taking rock samples from the seabed to gather proof that Russia's continental shelf stretches out from Siberia into the Arctic across the Pole, and thereby claim the resource-rich territory.


08.08.2007  RIA Novosti


 Abkhazia: Concerns over NATO Centre


Abkhazia’s Foreign Ministry has expressed concerns about unveiling a NATO information centre in the Kodor Gorge, concerned by Georgia’s increasing military presence.


The Foreign Ministry of Abkhazia urges Tbilisi to refrain “from any moves in the upper part of the Kodor gorge, that could trigger political tension”, a ministry statement said on Thursday [02 August 2007] in connection with the unveiling of a NATO information centre in the upper part of the gorge.


According to the foreign ministry, “the opening of a NATO information centre in the upper part of the Kodor gorge testifies to an invariable bid of the Georgian side to build up and maintain military presence in that part of Abkhazia, ignoring recommendations of participants in the Georgian-Abkhazian negotiating process”.


It believes that “Georgia’s actions openly demonstrate a bid to continue a policy of provocations and intimidation, as well as destabilization of the region, which is gradually embarking on the path of a peaceful economic development ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games”.


Abkhazia urges all participants in the negotiations, as well as NATO “to give a proper estimate to moves of the Georgian side, which are at variance with principles and conditions of the Georgian-Abkhazian peace process”.


08.03.2007  ITAR TASS


 Abkhazia president expects int'l recognition after Kosovo precedent


The President of Abkhazia says that he expects international recognition for his country and for Transdniester (officially: Pridnestrovie) after Kosovo sets the precedent. Sergei Bagapsh asks for equal treatment under international law and an end to double standards. Both Abkhazia and Transdniester have stronger legal claims to independent statehood than Kosovo.


Sukhum, Claims about the so-called "uniqueness" of the Kosovo case are "unsound" and an impending recognition of Kosovo independence will accelerate the same process for Abkhazia and other unrecognized countries, says Sergei Bagapsh, the president of Abkhazia, in an interview published this week in the Russian press.


" - The fate of Kosovo has been ordained, thus our fate will also be determined in the nearest future…And if such a decision [recognition] is taken towards the end of the year, it will untie the hands of other countries for recognizing Abkhazia, Transdniester, Nagorno Karabakh, and South Ossetia," said Bagapsh, adding that his region has "even more historical and legal grounds for independence than Kosovo."


Abkhazia has been 'de facto' independent for fifteen years but is subject to an unresolved territorial claim by neighboring Georgia. In a parallel case, Transdniester (officially: Pridnestrovie) has been 'de facto' independent for seventeen years, notwithstanding an unresolved territorial claim by neighboring Moldova.


Historically, Abkhazia was a separate kingdom and not part of Georgia. It has a language and a people which are distinct from Georgia. In Soviet times, it was a separate SSR - with a status equal to Georgia - until dictator Josef Stalin, himself from Georgia, turned it into a subordinate part of Georgia against the will of the inhabitants.


In Transdniester's case, Stalin is also to blame. Historically, Transdniester has never been part of any independent Moldovan state at any time in history. From 1924 to 1940, Transdniester was an autonomous republic with Tiraspol as its capital. Moldova was part of Romania. In an act of war, Stalin took Moldova from Romania and added it onto the existing republic, while in the process moving the capital to Chisinau. In its declaration of independence in 1991, the new Republic of Moldova denounced this act as illegal.


" - How do you explain the fact that something which is possible for Kosovo, is impossible for South Ossetia or for Pridnestrovie?" asked Sergei Bagapsh in an interview with news agency New Region.


" - What are we, another skin-color? Another species?"


Double standards govern int'l relations


According to Abkhazia's president, it is obvious that double standard govern international relations in the way different unrecognized states are treated. He dishes out blame equally to the United States, the European Union and even Russia.


" - Of course the double standards in big politics influence our case as well, but Russia's position was constructive from the very beginning," Bagapsh said.


He added that while many in Abkhazia were upset that Russia favored Serbia's territorial integrity and opposed recognition of an independent Kosovo, this position of a large country towards a geo-strategic partner, in this case Serbia, "is understandable."


And now, Bagapsh said, if the international community does not heed Russia's objections, Moscow will be able to rightfully say: "We didn't want this precedent, but now that you made your decision on Kosovo recognition in violation of international norms, what hinders us from recognizing Abkhazia?"


Pointing out another case of double standards - this time by the EU - Bagapsh also commented on Georgia's most recent scheme which involves setting up a puppet phantom-government in South Ossetia, in order to create the appearance of two parallel administrations in the same territory. This fictitious government is led Georgia-funded Dmitry Sanakoyev but has no popular backing or widespread support among the voters of South Ossetia.


" - But why has Dmitry Sanakoyev been invited to speak in front of European parliament members, while the true leaders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are shunted aside? It reflects poorly on the West," says Bagapsh.


" - Neither South Ossetia's President Kokoity, nor I, nor our foreign minister have ever appeared in the European parliament. There everything is so simple: Georgia requested and Sanakoyev was offered a tribune to speak. And after that, how should we treat Europe and the US, if they are always just listening to only one side of the conflict?" he asked.


08.01.2007  tiraspoltimes


 Russia has no plans to engage Abkhazia in Olympic projects -FM


Manila, Russia has never raised the question of attracting Abkhazia for the construction of Olympic facilities in Sochi, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday.


“None of the Russian officials has ever raised such a question anywhere,” Lavrov said, responding to mass media reports.


Earlier, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Bryza said in Tbilisi, Georgia, that attempts to involve Abkhazia in the Sochi Olympic projects would be an impermissible mistake on the part of Russia.


“The Sochi Olympiad will share the destiny of the 1980 Moscow Olympiad if Russian authorities make investments in the Abkhaz region without coordination with the Georgian administration,” Georgian Speaker Nino Burdzhanadze said.


“Any investments in the Abkhaz region may be made only with the Georgian consent because Abkhazia is a part of Georgia, whose sovereignty and territorial integrity are recognized internationally.”


Russian Ambassador in Tbilisi Vyacheslav Kovalenko said Russia had voiced interest in using Abkhazia’s potential in the preparation of the Sochi Olympic Games, but did not say this could be done without Georgia’s consent.


Meanwhile, Abkhazian authorities have addressed foreign investors with a call not to be afraid to make investments in the economy of the self-proclaimed republic.


“There are no risks for them or the capital investments they make, including real estate,” the chief of the information and mass communications department under the presidential office, Kristian Bzhania, said.


He dismissed threats from the authorities in the Georgian capital Tbilisi to the effect those who invest in the Abkhazian economy may face criminal charges.


“Such threats are a bluff Georgian politicians have been using in a bid to harm Abkhazia’s image as an investor. The Georgian propaganda machine has been shifted into high gear, because Georgia has no other means to exert pressure and will not have any. All it can do is to spread disinformation.”


“Abkhazia will not be asking anybody what or when to build in its territory, or with whose help, whether it will create joint ventures in its territory and what investments it will draw. That’s our sovereign right,” Bzhania said.


Abkhazia also said it would give comprehensive support to the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, the unrecognised republic’s parliament speaker Nugzar Ashuba said.


In his words, the support will be given in the sphere of economy, culture and security.


08.01.2007  Itar-Tass


 Konstantin Zatulin: "There exists a group of countries ready to recognize PMR"


It is necessary in the process of international negotiations to gather a unique "club" of countries that could recognize Pridnestrovie, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. So says Russian MP Konstantin Zatulin, a specialist on the democratic right to self-determination. In this interview, he adds that such countries already exist.


Moscow, - Russia shouldn't necessarily be the first country to recognize Pridnestrovie and the other 'de facto' states on the post-Soviet space, believes influential Duma deputy Konstantin Zatulin. Instead, it will be necessary to bring together a small group of countries who will be ready to recognize Pridnestrovie and the others. As Zatulin confirms in this interview, these countries already exist.


Now is the time to work on preparing this group of countries for what will happen after Kosovo's expected independence declaration. Russia will address the long-pending status settlement issues surrounding Pridnestrovie, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which in the opinion of Konstantin Zatulin should have been recognized as independent states a long time ago. Konstantin Zatulin is an influential Russian MP and foreign policy specialist. Apart from being a deputy to the State Dume, Russia's lower house, he is also director of the Institute of the Commonwealth of Independent States, CIS. He is also a frequent visitor to Pridnestrovie and familiar with the internal situation of the largest of the unrecognized countries in the former Soviet Union.


Will Kosovo be a precedent for the recognition of the independence of Abkhazia, South Ossetia or Pridnestrovie?


" - Regardless of how much the West might claim that "Kosovo is unique" and sui generis, any recognition of the independence of the province against the will of Serbia is a clear and obvious precedent.


There are clear parallels with the unrecognized countries of the former USSR: Ethnic conflicts emerged in the process of disintegration of the previously existing state, wars erupted which now present an obstacle to a political solution, and the outside interest of third parties can not be excluded. Kosovo is only "unique" in the sense that the Kosovo Albanians never fought alone for their independence - they were able to state their independence claim with the backing of NATO convoys.


From the very beginning, the political goal was always to dismember Yugoslavia and its geopolitical role, and NATO's military actions against Yugoslavia followed this purpose. If we look at history, Germany has always tried to prevent a strong Slavic state from existing in the Balkans. The other day, the German Ambassador to Serbia issued a threat: allegedly, if the Serbs won't accept the independence of Kosovo, a number of other "problem areas" will appear such as Vojvodina (where there is a Hungarian minority) and the country in general will disintegrate.


For the United States, Yugoslavia became a convenient pretext to strengthen its military presence in Europe. In Kosovo they built the largest American military base in the world, outside of the United States (Camp Bondsteel, ed.). Perhaps this foreign occupation is the reason for the insistence of the recognition of "independence" of the Kosovo?


In words, Russia has always condemned the NATO war against Yugoslavia, but the actions of Russia have not always been consistent. After prime minister Primakov initially sent friendly airplanes to Yugoslavia as a sign of protest against the NATO bombings, Russia was then represented in its negotiations on Yugoslavia by Victor Chernomyrdin, who wanted to demonstrate his loyalty to Western policy.


Now it is different: Russia will not waiver from its opinion that he independence of Kosovo is only possible with Serbian consent. We possess veto rights, and no UN resolution on the independence of Kosovo will pass. This has provided encouragement for the Serbian people. Pro-Western politicians within Serbia can not, even if they want to, announce their capitulation on this issue because they will immediately become political corpses.


In this situation, the West will begin the scenario of unilateral recognition of an independent Kosovo. First, Albania will recognize Kosovo. Then, perhaps, some third country, followed in quick succession also by recognition from the USA and European countries. And inevitably, Russia is bound to raise the question of recognizing the independence of the post-Soviet republics. This is an additional fact which impels Russia to stand firm on the Kosovo issue."


Please explain...


" - In Russia there is no complete consensus regarding the timeliness of recognition of the unrecognized countries. There is a desire to delay and draw out the moment until it is necessary to take a decision on them. I personally think that they should have already been recognized as independent states, and that this recognition is now overdue. Because South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Pridnestrovie and Nagorno-Karabakh, I might add, have more historical, legal, and political grounds for independence than Kosovo.


Historically, South Osetia and Abkhazia have never been part of the composition of the State of Georgia. These territories (without the consent of the inhabitants!) were included within the administrative boundaries of the Georgian SSR in Soviet times. Ossetia, as a single whole, was part of the Russian Empire, and only in the Soviet period was it divided into north and south. Under Soviet law, Soviet republics (SSRs) could secede from the Union but in this case the autonomous republics (ASSRs) had the right do decide by a referendum to leave or to stay. This right of Abkhazia and South Osetia to self-determination has been trampled. Georgia tried to conquer the autonomous territories by force, and in response both the Abkhaz and the Ossetians defended their right to independence. Pridnestrovie has also independently maintained its military defense. Whatever the opponents might say, it is a fact that the Russian army did not take part in the conflicts in these territories.


Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Pridnestrovie have not found themselves under someone else's jurisdiction. Ever since the Soviet Union disintegrated, they have 'de facto' been governing themselves independently. Most of the inhabitants of these republics have over the years adopted Russian citizenship. An overwhelming majority. So Russia is responsible for the safety of its citizens."


If Russia recognizes the independence of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Pridnestrovie, then this will complicate its future relations not just with Georgia and Moldova, but also with the West. Doesn't this worry you?


" - This is the main argument used by enemies of official recognition. But from a legal standpoint, any unilateral recognition of the independence of Kosovo by Western countries will open the possibility for Russia to also recognize the sovereign status of the unrecognized countries in the former Soviet Union.


With regard to relations with Georgia, they are already at a freezing point and this is not the fault of Russia. Some in our leadership adhere to a dubious thesis: Reward your enemies, because for your friends the reward is the friendship itself. According to this logic, we lost a lot in Georgia: We did not intervene during the Ajarian conflict, and we withdraw our military bases. In return, we didn't even obtain as much as a thank-you.


The authorities of Georgia have always behaved dishonorably both with respect to the Russian peacekeepers and against the inhabitants of the unrecognized countries. Frankly speaking, the issue is a matter of international law and not in relations with Georgia and Moldova. But here's how much of the Russian establishment reaches its decisions: Avoid confronting the world's superpower on occasions which are not central to Russia's interests. Instead, it is desirable for Russia to assert itself with the West in order to restore the sovereignty of our country. This doesn't mean that Russia can't re-emerge without US-EU agreement. Only that if they constantly interfere with us and trigger conflicts - and the West has this option - the economic development of Russia will be slower and will cost us more."


If the preservation of Yugoslavia wasn't important enough for Russia, why do the unrecognized countries matter?


" - I am certain that if, after Kosovo, Russia does not recognize post-Soviet republics, we will have a problem for ourselves in the years ahead in the Russian North Caucasus and the general negative attitude among voters to the leadership inside the Russia itself. Our people are extremely sensitive to situations where they perceive injustice and betrayal, and will not accept any half-finished remedies.


I propose a way for us to prepare for recognition which will minimize the diplomatic fallout. Under the current circumstances we should first of all talk about the recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which both border on Russia, and then secondly about Pridnestrovie.


And I am not convinced that Russia is obligated to recognize them first. It is necessary in the process of international negotiations to gather a unique "club" of countries that could recognize them, and such countries already exist. For instance, Belarus or Venezuela, whose parliament, by the way, sent election observers to Tskhinvali.

Of course, the West will launch a shitstorm of criticism against Russia. So what? We will not cut them off from our oil and gas. It is time to stop being worried about the inferiority complex which is so obviously present among Russian politicians. Everyone knows: America is brave and patriotic against enemies which it knows are weak but tries not to engage those who can stand up to it since that comes at a higher price." (Translated from Gudok.ru)


08.01.2007  tiraspoltimes


 Abkhaz language materials get prepared for Abkhazians in Diaspora


Sukhum, The State Foundation for the Development of Abkhaz Language arranged a new set of audio-lingual materials exclusively for the Abkhaz people in Diaspora to learn their mother tongue on their own.


Arrangement of the materials for teaching the Abkhaz language emerged as a project of Maya Amichba, who received professional help from Aldon Ajiba, Adgur Shinkuba and Diana Shamba in his work.


The philologist Elis Argun translated into Turkish a set of audio material dubbed by Diana Shamba and Oktay Chkotua.


An introductory meeting at the Foundation placed focus on problems that can possibly block efforts to save the Abkhaz language both inside and outside Abkhazia.


An initial set of 300 Abkhaz language materials was prepared, said Maya Amichba, and added that this could increase if there is more demand.


“Every effort will be made to make these materials as widely available as possible in Diaspora. The Abkhaz people living in will have a good chance to learn their mother tongue far more constructively,” said Soner Gogua, head of the foreign affairs committee in the Abkhaz Parliament.


08.07.2007  Agency Caucasus