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

 Russia ready to recognize Pridnestrovie if Kosovo gets independence


Russia will have a free hand and be able to recognize the independence of Pridnestrovie if other countries do the same with Kosovo. So says Sergei Mironov, the chairman of the upper house of Russia's parliament. And Boris Gryzlov, leader of the country's lower house, is ready to proceed with recognition as early as January.


Moscow, Russia is preparing the groundwork for recognizing the 'de facto' reality of three already-sovereign, independent states in Eastern Europe if and when leading Western powers go ahead with an eventual recognition of Kosovo as an independent state, separate from Serbia. That was the message from one of the country's leading politicians, speaking to the press this week on what can happen if Kosovo declares independence and its independence declaration is recognized by others against the will of Serbia.


" - In case of the unilateral recognition of the independence of Kosovo, Russia will be entitled to change its approach to the so-called unrecognized republics in the post-soviet regions - South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Pridnestrovie," the chairman of the Council of the Federation (upper chamber of the Russian parliament), Sergei Mironov, said on Tuesday.


" - If countries start recognizing Kosovo randomly, this will be the first violent change of borders in Europe after World War Two, and the consequences will be unforeseeable,” Mironov warned at a press conference in Moscow.


According to the political leader, this will mark the beginning of a domino principle and then it will be possible to raise the issue of the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which broke away form Georgia.


" - In case of such a recognition of Kosovo, Russia will be able to say that it is free in its approach, including towards the so-called unrecognized republics of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Pridnestrovie,” Mironov said, using the official short-form name of the Pridnestrovskaia Moldavskaia Respublica (PMR).


Lower house agrees


Sergei Mironov's public statement makes it clear that the upper house of Russia's parliament is on board for a future consideration of Pridnestrovie's independence, matching earlier statements to the same effect by the leader of Russia's lower house. During the first week of December, Boris Gryzlov, the leader of Russia's largest political party, announced that Russia will be ready for formal diplomatic recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in January. As head of the Duma, and its most powerful politician, his statement is now supported by the leader of the upper house as well.


Russia is formally opposed to independence for Kosovo, with foreign minister Sergei Lavrov having suggested that it would be better for the international community to first address conflicts that have existed for far longer periods than the Kosovar wish for independence. Such conflicts include the territorial dispute between Moldova, which declared independence in 1991, and Pridnestrovie, which declared independence one year before, in 1990.


Unlike Kosovo, Pridnestrovie - which is better known under names such as Transdniestria or Trans-Dniester - already meet the requirements for statehood under international law.


The criteria for determining whether statehood has objectively been established include a reasonably well-defined territory, a permanent population, a stable government, the capacity to enter into relations with other states and substantial independence from other states, according to UN advisor James Crawford, author of The Creation of States in International Law.


The government of Ukraine reported recently that "though de jure this republic remains unrecognized by the international community, de facto Transdniestria possesses all the attributes which are inherent in independent states, such as a Constitution, national flag, anthem, coat-of-arms, bodies of state authority, army, national monetary unit, and so on."


Aid group "People in Need", an NGO, confirms in its 2006 report that Transdniestria "has all the attributes of an independent state: its president, parliament, elections, army (which is bigger than the Moldovan army), currency, custom services etc."


12.27.2007  Tiraspol Times


 Kosovo independence to spark chain reaction in Caucasus?


Serbia's parliament is threatening to cut off diplomatic ties with any country recognising Kosovo's independence. A new resolution rejects the idea of the EU setting up a 'mission' inside Kosovo and denounces NATO for supporting separatist Kosovo Albanians. But Kosovo’s independence may create a precedent for unrecognised republics such as Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transdniester.


Russia's military chief of staff, Yury Baluevskyk says if Kosovo's independence becomes a reality, other frozen conflict zones could be affected.


“If we cross the Rubicon and Kosovo gains independent status tomorrow, frankly speaking, I expect this independence to echo in other regions as well, including those close to Russia's borders. You perfectly understand what I mean - I mean Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transdniester,” Baluevsky said.


In the past, South Ossetia and North Ossetia were one. In the 1920s the Bolsheviks and Joseph Stalin separated them. They decided that South Ossetia should become autonomous within the Soviet Republic of Georgia, while North Ossetia become an autonomous republic inside the Russian Federation.


In 1992, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, South Ossetia declared independence from Georgia.


In response Georgia sent its troops to the region. A violent conflict followed.


After several months of fierce fighting, Russian peacekeepers entered the capital Tskhinvali to separate the conflicting sides.


Despite its calls for independence, and a referendum result showing that's what people living there want, South Ossetia has not been recognised by the international community.


Even with the majority of the local population being ethnic Ossetians who also hold Russian citizenship, officially the area remains a part of Georgia.


Yury Morozov, the prime minister of the self-proclaimed republic, says Ossetians have been living in this region for years and they deserve independence:


“We've got used to the double standards of the West. I believe that the people of South Ossetia have much more reason for gaining independence than the Kosovan Albanians though I do respect them of course”.


In Georgia, both government officials and opposition leaders refuse to let South Ossetia go.


Although Russia has not recognised South Ossetia's independence either, some politicians say that it should be considered. Russia's State Duma is planning to address this issue in the coming months.


If Kosovo gets its independence, it's possible that Ossetians will once again ask the world to recognise their republic as well.


12.27.2007  Russia Today


 Abkhazia faces demographic crises


Sukhum, Abkhazia, a country stricken with a demographical crisis since its occupation by Russia in the 19th century, seems to be thrown into a further crisis with the gradually decreasing annual number of births in the country.


The Abkhazian Economic Development Party, or AEDP, organized round-table talks in a bid to draw attention to the demographical crisis which is currently facing Abkhazia. Reporters learnt from the talks that annual number of births was decreasing by 47 on average, with the only exceptional increase in the year 1995.


AEDP's President Beslan Butba; his colleagues Beslan Barateliya, Ilya Gamisoniya ad Gennadi Ardzinba; Oleg Damenia, who is a representative of Aytayra as well as President of the Center for Strategic Researches; Gennadi Alamia, who is Secretary-General of the Association of World's Abkhaz-Abkhazin People; Daur Arshba, who is a member of the parliament as well as President of the Forum for National Union; Astamur Taniya, who is Secretary of this organization; Daniil Ubiriya, who is a member of the Movement of United Abkhazia as well as Vice President of the Civil Parliament; Yakub Lakoba, who is President of the Abkhazian People's Party and some journalists attended a seminar by Barateliya, who is also an economist.


Barateliya put the number of births of the year 1995 at 2679. "There has been a stable decrease in the annual number of births over the past years since it last increased in 1995. This has been a universal situation. There is an average decrease by 47 in the annual number of births in Abkhazia," said Barateliya.


Schools face the threat of closing down


The first 11 months of 2007 saw a number of 848 male and 811 female births, said Barateliya. "If this goes on like that, the annual number of births in Abkhazia will be around 1000 in the next 10 or 15 years," he added. Bareteliya also warned against the possibility of village schools closing down in the near future unless the annual number of births in the country increase. The number of first-grade students was 3564 in the mid 1990s, while it has fallen to 2762 this year. Another problem might also arise if decrease in the annual number of births continues and can both strike the future of employment and increase the demand for foreign work force.


Families should have at least 3 kids


Barateliya also pressed for the need on the part of Abkhazian families to have at least three kids if there is to be a concrete demographic growth. "One thing behind the bad demographics of Abkhazia is the absence of families with many kids while the other thing is the huge number of unmarried couples. Albeit the absence of official statistics, it is apparent that there are many unmarried couples. And we have come to view families with three kids as the ones with many kids. This is not a problem that can be solved in a few years; however, a resent survey has given us hope that many Abkhazians feel prepared to have three or four kids. The survey tells us that most people tend to link the cause behind demographic fall to economic factors such as unemployment and low income. The women of developed countries tend to find it right to have one or two kids. The women of Abkhazia are, however, prepared to have three kids. This shows that unlike many developed countries, Abkhazia still has the potential for demographic growth; however, low family incomes do not allow this to happen. Many women are prepared to have three and more kids if they are paid three thousand dollars in their first births and acknowledged certain rights in later."


Return from Diaspora is a must


Astamur Taniya, Secretary of the Forum for National Union, described the nation's demographic situation as 'severe' and added: "We don't have exact data about migration and return from Diaspora. Maybe it would be a good idea to have a funding for maternity. Even the birth propaganda is important."


Daiila Ubiriya, who attended the seminar as a member of the Movement of United Abkhazia, said that it could be a good idea to push for more births if families got financial aid from the state. Yakub Lakoba, President of the Abkhazian People's Party, stressed the need to carry out work so that more returns from the Abkhazian Diaspora could be possible: "The demographic question is impossible to solve without returns from abroad."


Gennadi Alamia said that the question of population should definitely be dealt with at state level: "However, non-governmental organizations should also be formed so that they can encourage families to have more kids." Daur Arshba said words that stressed the need on the part of government to focus on demographics, defense and education.


12.27.2007  Agency Caucasus


 Abkhazia's budget grows


Sukhum, Abkhazia, a country under partial embargo, saw a growth of 29.3 percent in his budget in only one year to a total of 1.61bn rubles.


A growth of 29.3 percent in mathematical figures equals 364.6mn rubles in financial terms. Hence, public officers will have a pay increase of 30 percent over the past one year. Pay increases will take effect as of January 1, and different rates of pay increases will apply to teachers. Class teachers who teach first-grade students and pre-school teachers will have an increase of 1000 rubles while guidance teachers will have a pay-rise of 200 rubles. The budget funding comes largely from nation-wide taxes and customs.


12.27.2007  Agency Caucasus


 Bagapsh, Kokoity discuss possible consequences of Kosovo independence


Moscow, Abkhazia President Sergei Bagapsh and South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity hope that the year of 2008 will be crucial as to the issue of the independence of the two republics.


"I met with Bagapsh in Moscow today. We discussed issues related to the Kosovo situation and possible consequences of the Kosovo independence to Abkhazia and South Ossetia," Kokoity told Interfax on Sunday evening.


"We hope that the year of 2008 will be crucial as to the attitude of the international community to recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia," he said.


"I would like to stress once again that Abkhazia and South Ossetia have more political and legal reasons to be independent than Kosovo," Kokoity said. ar


12.23.2007  Interfax


 Russia completes planned rotation of peacekeepers in Abkhazia


Moscow, Russia has completed the planned rotation of its peacekeepers deployed in the conflict zone between Georgia and Abkhazia, a spokesman for the Russian ground forces said.


The rotation is in line with a May 1994 ceasefire agreement, as well as a mandate on the peacekeeping operation in the conflict zone.


"On Friday at 10.30 a.m. Moscow time [7.30 a.m. GMT] a train with servicemen from the 15th peacekeeping brigade from the Volga-Urals Military District, which were on a peacekeeping mission in the conflict zone, departed from the Ochamchira station [on the Black Sea coast of Abkhazia]," the spokesman said.


This week on Tuesday a train carrying 500 Russian peacekeepers arrived in Abkhazia as part of the second stage of the rotation. Russia completed the first stage of the planned rotation by sending 600 peacekeepers into the conflict zone on December 10.


The new personnel from the Volga-Urals Military District motorized rifle division replaced the present contingent in the northern part of the security zone and in the lower Kodor Gorge, controlled by Abkhazia.


According to Russian military sources, the peacekeeping brigade currently deployed in the zone of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict, mostly in the Kodor Gorge area, totals about 3,000 personnel.


Abkhazia declared independence from Georgia following a bloody conflict that left hundreds dead in 1991-1992, and the CIS Peacekeeping Forces entered the conflict area in June 1994 under a ceasefire agreement signed in Moscow on May 14, 1994.


More than 100 Russian peacekeepers have been killed in the conflict zone since then.


There have been frequent and mutual accusations of ceasefire violations from both Abkhazia and Georgia. Peace talks broke off when Tbilisi sent troops into Kodor Gorge in July last year and established an alternative Abkhaz administration there.


12.21.2007  RIA Novosti


 No Chechen units within peacekeeping forces in Abkhazia, S. Ossetia - Russian Ground Forces deputy commander


Moscow, Russian Deputy Ground Forces Commander Lt. Gen. Valery Yevnevich has denied Georgia's claims that the Russian peacekeeping forces in Abkhazia and South Ossetia include units manned by Chechens.


"Supervising the peacekeeping forces as a deputy commander, I can declare with all responsibility that the Russian peacekeeping battalion in South Ossetia and the CIS Collective Peacekeeping Forces in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict zone do not include units manned by Chechens," Yevnevich told journalists on Saturday.


12.22.2007  Interfax


 RipCurl heads to Abkhazia


Rip Curl are offering YOU the unique opportunity to take part in an unbelievable snow expedition.


Rip Curl Pro riders: Per Loken, Remi Laazouere, Darius Heristtshian and Nils Arvidsson will be travelling to the undiscovered powder of Abkhazia, a Republic bordering Russia and Georgia.


A member of the public will be joining them. This is the first time ever Rip Curl has created this opportunity. To take part, go to Ripcurl.tv to create your profile and explain your motivation. The objective is to obtain the maximum number of votes.


Adventure awaits.


Hotzone Online 12.22.2007


 Moscow calls against military solution of Abkhaz, Ossetian conflicts


Moscow, Moscow urges Tbilisi and its sponsors to prevent a military solution of the Georgian-Abkhaz and Georgian-Ossetian conflicts, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with the news channel Vesti.


“In contrast to Kosovo, Abkhazia and South Ossetia are de facto functioning independently. This is not their choice, this is the choice of the Georgian administration. In fact, the Georgian side had tried to strip them of autonomy or even of their ethnic identity with the use of force,” he said.


“Abkhazia and South Ossetia do not want another breach of their rights. Their stance cannot change,” he said. “At the same time, Abkhazia and South Ossetia are adherent to the agreements reached at earlier negotiations, and Georgia is torpedoing these agreements.”


“Our peacekeepers in Ossetia and Abkhazia will do their best to prevent attempts of non-political settlement. They must stay vigilant,” he said.


“We call not only on Tbilisi but also on the sponsors of Georgian leaders to prevent such developments,” Lavrov said.


“Abkhazia and South Ossetia are seeking recognition of their independence. The State Duma has considered their appeals, this is a fact. We would like to avoid unilateral declarations of independence and, therefore, we emphasize that the Kosovo situation will inevitably set a precedent,” he said.


12.21.2007  Itar-Tass


 The Real Values in Kosovo


The price of the question


The problem of Kosovo is not unique. What is unique there? Everything is usual human affairs. Removal of autonomous status within the “mother state,” introduction of the troops of the “mother state,” ethnic cleansing and similar abominations by those troops, “disinterested” help from outside, repulsion of members of the “mother” ethnic group, poverty under the cover of friendly arms and the result? They can't live together and they can't live apart. Who is that? Kosovo? Abkhazia? Maybe Northern Cyprus or Nagorny Karabakh. It's typical everywhere.


The choices for settlement are typical as well. They are all to some degree flawed and the most contentious is the worst. That is declaring the rebellious former autonomy independent without the agreement of the “mother state.” The most dangerous precedent: If one can do it, they all can do it. In teaching states to multiply by dividing, who or what will stop the irresponsible separatists and their backers?


But that is theory. In practice, everything depends on who acknowledges the new “state,” only its sponsor and backer or the majority of neighboring states. In the first case, it turns into a legal pariah, like Northern Cyprus. In the second, a real new state, theoretically illegitimate and most likely nonviable and nationalistic, but in practice a national entity, at least in the eyes of those who acknowledge it.


In that sense, the acknowledgment of independent Kosovo, when and if it happens, will not be a precedent for Russia, which has long backed the Abkhazian separatists. Russia may have risen from its calloused knees, but not so high that it can attract other countries to its choice.


And if someone was able to steal a purse and go unpunished, does that mean we have to follow their bad example? Wouldn't it be better to become an example of a different kind? That of a country trying to help the rebels in the former autonomy cone to an agreement with the “mother” state? And ready to be the guarantor of their hypothetical agreement? There are models of such agreements in international relations. Look at the legal status of the Aland Islands within Finland.


The unbecoming fuss about Kosovo only increases the moral and political value of such a response from Russia. But first, it is necessary to stop the hysteria and ridiculous discussions about how Abkhazia or South Ossetia have as much grounds for independence as Kosovo. In the final analysis, honesty, principles and, a frightening word – disinterestedness are more valuable in international relations than cheap demagoguery and helpless buffoonery.


George Kunadze, senior fellow, Institute of the World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences


12.21.2007  Kommersant


 Georgia: Sliding towards Authoritarianism?


Europe Report N°189
19 décembre 2007



The government’s repressive and disproportionate response to peaceful protests in November 2007 shocked Western capitals, which had viewed Georgia as a beacon of democracy in a region of illiberal regimes. Since the Rose Revolution, however, President Mikheil Saakashvili’s administration has become increasingly intolerant of dissent as it has sought to reform inefficient post-Soviet institutions, stimulate a deeply dysfunctional economy, regain the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and deal with its meddling Russian neighbour. In an attempt to restore his democratic credentials, Saakashvili has called an early presidential election for 5 January 2008, which he is expected to win, but a free and fair election will not be enough to repair the damage. The West should press the government to abandon its increasingly authoritarian behaviour, engage in a genuine dialogue with political opponents and make the ongoing reform process transparent and accountable.


Georgia’s young and dynamic leadership came to power in 2003 with great Western goodwill and some tangible support. Having inherited a failing state, the government committed itself to democratic governance and liberal reforms, and actively pursued membership in the European Union (EU) and NATO. It has had significant success in rebuilding moribund institutions and implementing sweeping reforms that have transformed the economy.


Saakashvili’s administration quickly found itself dealing with a resurgent Russian neighbour flush with oil money. The Putin government reacted with increasing hostility to Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic orientation, particularly its NATO membership aspirations. It has sought to bludgeon Georgia into submission through economic embargoes and supported Abkhaz and South Ossetian secession ambitions. Saakashvili has responded with confrontational nationalistic rhetoric, while seeking to rally Western backing. Many of Tbilisi’s repeated accusations of Russian meddling are warranted, particularly with regard to the conflict regions, but claims of Russian involvement in domestic politics, which have been used to justify some of the infringements of civil liberties, are less credible.


The leadership has also cut too many corners. In particular, the concentration of power in a small, like-minded elite and unwillingness to countenance criticism have undermined its democratic standing. Cronyism is increasingly evident within the senior level of the administration. Checks and balances have been stripped back, justice arbitrarily applied, human rights too often violated and freedom of expression curtailed.


The government’s failure to engage constructively with demands of the opposition, civil society and ordinary citizens for transparency, accountability and credible investigations into disturbing cases of official abuse resulted in public protests throughout the country in late October and early November. These culminated in large rallies over six days in Tbilisi and a violent government crackdown on 7 November. Disproportionate use of force against peaceful demonstrators, the violent closure of a private television station and the imposition of emergency rule brought a halt to hitherto unquestioning Western support of the Georgian leadership.


Saakashvili sought to justify his response by labelling the protests as a Russia-inspired attempt to overthrow the government. The authorities charged several opposition leaders with conspiracy and subversive activities and aired television footage which they claimed proved links to Russian espionage. This and subsequent pressure tactics have deepened the rift in society.


Conscious of the damage done to his standing in the West, Saakashvili called a presidential election months before it was due. Seeking to suggest business as usual, he declared that Georgia “passed a very difficult test” and managed to “avert massive bloodshed and civil confrontation”, while warning that its foes – read Russia – would try to undermine the election. The government’s actions, however, remain troublingly authoritarian: the private Imedi TV was allowed to re-open only the day media campaigning officially started and was not on the air for several more days due to equipment damage; November protesters were arrested or fined; opposition activists continue to be targeted, state resources are being used for Saakashvili’s campaign, and the line between the governing party and the state is blurred.


Western friends of Georgia, notably the U.S., the EU and NATO, need to apply concerted pressure on Saakashvili and his administration to correct their increasingly authoritarian course. The U.S. in particular should make clear it supports democratic principles, not a particular regime. It is not enough to say that if the elections are free and fair, Georgia will be back on track. Deeper problems relating to the rule of law, corruption, lack of media freedoms, weak checks and balances and growing economic disparities can no longer be overlooked. Georgia does not face a choice between genuine reform or democratic openness, it must embrace both.




To the Government of Georgia:


1.  Ensure that the 5 January 2008 presidential election is free and fair, in particular by providing equal access to media for all candidates and by desisting from using government resources to help the incumbent.


2.  Respect media freedom, civil liberties and human rights in substance as well as form, including by stopping widespread phone-tapping of public figures and civil society actors, dissemination of intelligence material to smear opponents, and use of financial investigations and other intimidation tactics against non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and businesses perceived to be critical of the government.


3.  Ensure transparency and accountability in the implementation of reforms and pursue open and democratic governance, in particular by:

(a)  applying the rule of law without arbitrariness and ensuring the judiciary is independent and free from intimidation;


(b)  engaging in a constructive dialogue with opposition parties, treating them as legitimate participants in the democratic process and ceasing to make unsubstantiated claims about collaboration with the Russian government;


(c)  strengthening institutional checks and balances, amending the constitution to provide greater parliamentary powers and more effective decentralisation and making adequate resources available to opposition legislators;


(d)  investigating transparently and impartially all credible allegations of corruption, particularly at the highest levels of government, protecting property rights and reforming the privatisation process to ensure accountability; and


(e)  increasing the transparency of the defence budget and ensuring that the prime minister’s proposal to reduce defence spending in 2008 is implemented.

4.  Explore areas of potential cooperation with Russia, including on trade, transport, border control and fighting terrorism, organised crime and proliferation of weapons and drugs, while refraining from inflammatory anti-Russian rhetoric.


5.  Engage in genuine dialogue with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, including about their legitimate security concerns, while avoiding hostile and militant rhetoric and action against their de facto administrations, in particular by not setting aggressively ambitious timeframes for resolution of the conflicts.


To the Government of the Russian Federation:


6.  Take steps to improve bilateral relations and cooperation, including by lifting the economic embargoes, ceasing official discrimination against Georgian nationals in Russia and refraining from confrontational rhetoric.


7.  Work with Georgia to address security concerns of both sides, while accepting its sovereign right to pursue NATO membership if it wishes.


8.  Encourage Abkhazia and South Ossetia to negotiate constructively with Tbilisi.


To the U.S., EU, NATO and the Member States of Both Organisations:


9.  Support democratic governance, not a particular regime; apply stringent standards when assessing Georgia’s efforts to meet good governance benchmarks; apply pressure, including aid conditionality, if there is more backsliding; and increase support to civil society, the public defender and efforts to strengthen media freedom.


10.  Continue to insist on greater transparency in military expenditures and their reduction as a percentage of the overall state budget.


11.  Verify rigorously that Georgia is committed to and implementing NATO’s values of democracy, rule of law, individual liberty and peaceful resolution of disputes before offering a membership action plan (MAP).


Tbilisi/Brussels, 19 December 2007


12.19.2007  International Crisis Group


 Abkhazians remember victims of Lata calamity


Sukhum, The people of Abkhazia commemorated the 15th anniversary of the Lata calamity in which 84 people, including 34 children, were killed when a Russian helicopter was gunned down while it was set to join the work of rescue during the war between Abkhazia and Georgia.


The victims' relatives, war veterans and the local people joined the commemorative ceremonies in both Gudauta and Tkuarchal. The Georgian soldiers shot down on December 14, 1992, a Russian helicopter while it was carrying bunches of hopeless people from Tkuarchal to Gudauta. It was brought down while it was flying overhead in the Lata village of Gulprish province.


Among the victims burned to death were there eight pregnant women. Tkuarchal had been blockaded as long as the war between Georgia and Abkhazia continued for 413 days. Russian helicopters were carrying food to Tkuarchal and taking both women and children to Gudauta.


The victims were all buried in Gudauta. The ceremony here at the memorial erected for the Lata victims attracted people from all over Abkhazia.


The other ceremony in Tkuarchal was held exactly where the above-mentioned Russian helicopter took off. Abkhazian President Sergei Bagapsh joined the commemoration here and called for constant remembrance of the victims who died for the independence of Abkhazia.


12.17.2007  Agency Caucasus


 Train carrying 500 Russian peacekeepers arrives in Abkhazia


Moscow, A train carrying 500 Russian peacekeepers has arrived in Abkhazia, as part of a scheduled rotation of the Russian peacekeeping contingent.


The rotation is in line with a May 1994 ceasefire agreement, as well as a mandate on the peacekeeping operation in the conflict zone between Georgia and Abkhazia.


"At 9.30 a.m. Moscow Time (6.30 a.m. GMT) a train carrying 500 servicemen from the 15th peacekeeping brigade arrived at the Ochamchira station [on the Black Sea coast of Abkhazia]," a spokesman for the Russian ground forces said.


The new personnel from the Volga-Urals Military District motorized rifle division will replace the present contingent in the northern part of the security zone and in the lower Kodor Gorge, controlled by Abkhazia.


The rotation is expected to be completed by December 23, and no additional military equipment is due to be transported into the conflict zone.


According to Russian military sources, the peacekeeping brigade currently deployed in the zone of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict, mostly in the Kodor Gorge area, totals about 3,000 personnel.


On December 10, Russia completed the first stage of the planned rotation by sending 600 peacekeepers into the conflict zone.


Abkhazia declared independence from Georgia following a bloody conflict that left hundreds dead in 1992-1993, and the CIS Peacekeeping Forces entered the conflict area in June 1994 under a ceasefire agreement signed in Moscow on May 14, 1994.


More than 100 Russian peacekeepers have been killed in the conflict zone since then.


There have been frequent and mutual accusations of ceasefire violations from both Abkhazia and Georgia. Peace talks broke off when Tbilisi sent troops into Kodor Gorge in July last year and established an alternative Abkhaz administration there.


12.10.2007  RIA Novosti


 Russia to challenge any unilateral independence move by Kosovo


Moscow, Russia will contest any unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo in circumvention of the United Nations, Russia's envoy to the troika of international mediators said on Monday.


With the UN deadline for an agreement on the future status of Kosovo set to expire today, the Albanian-dominated province's leaders have begun talks with Western powers on a declaration of independence. Russia has warned of a chain reaction if the province permanently breaks away from Serbia.


"A unilateral declaration of independence would be in breach of UN Security Council Resolution 1244. In this event, Russia would demand a revocation and nullification of the decision," Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko said.


The envoy said the ongoing discussions were non-official, and that a formal debate at the Security Council was set for December 19.


He said Western partners do not want the failed negotiations between Serb and Kosovo Albanian leaders to continue.


"We know about this, but we have our own position, and we will stand by it," he said.


Serbia's first deputy prime minister said on Monday that Belgrade does not intend to back down and grant Kosovo independence in order to secure European Union membership.


"Serbia will never accept such a trade-off, particularly since no one has proposed this," Bozidar Djelic said.


The Contact Group's troika of diplomats - from Russia, the United States and the European Union - submitted to the UN Security Council a report on Friday saying that the parties had failed to reach an agreement after "120 days of intensive negotiations."


At the latest talks in Austria in late November, Kosovo continued to insist on full independence, while Belgrade was only willing to offer the province broad autonomy.


Pristina earlier said it would declare sovereignty unilaterally if no compromise was found by the deadline. Its stance has been backed by Washington and some European countries, with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calling independence for Kosovo "logical."


However, Russia, Serbia's traditional ally, maintains that independence for Kosovo could lead to a domino effect, causing other separatist regions to unilaterally announce full nationhood.


Kosovo has been a UN protectorate since 1999, when NATO's bombing of the former Yugoslavia ended a bloody war between Serb forces and ethnic Albanians.


12.10.2007  RIA Novosti


 Bagapsh denies allegations of state of emergency imposed in Abkhazia


Sukhum, Georgian media claims that a state of emergency has been introduced in Abkhazia have been described as "stupidity" by Abkhaz President Sergei Bagapsh.


"All this is nothing but stupidity. Nothing of this kind has happened. All this is absolute idiocy," Bagapsh told Interfax on Sunday, in comments on Georgian media reports claiming that a state of emergency has been introduced in Abkhazia ahead of the Georgian presidential elections.


"Peacekeepers and UN military observers are located in Abkhazia. Georgia should ask them, if it wants to get real information," Bagapsh said.


12.09.2007  Interfax


 Sergey Markov: OSCE and PACE furthered Abkhazia’s independence


Dec 7, a news conference of director of the Political Research Institute, member of the Public Chamber of Russia, deputy chairman of the Public Chamber’s commission for international cooperation and public democracy, professor at MSU Dr. Sergey Markov was held in the Abkhazian capital Sukhum. REGNUM publishes the conference transcript.


What is the purpose of your coming here: is it a private or official visit?


“My visit has a quite understandable purpose: first, we have for a long time been supporting the people of Abkhazia in their striving to establish an acceptable for them way of living on their land. We are trying to help them in doing this; in particular, by restoring normal transport communications, by ensuring that a normal trade is established, and other things: for example, there were problems with medications at our customs service. The task of the Public Chamber is to protect the rights of the Russian citizens, including those in the unrecognized neighboring republics.”


“We have an Expert Group at the Public Chamber that also deals with these matters. Ultimately, I believe that we will ensure that nothing would torment residents of Abkhazia and Russian citizens when they go through border terminals with their persimmon, mandarin oranges and some other cargoes, as they are tormented now, and that the Russian tourists would not be tormented at the peak of the tourist season. I think that we are able to solve the issue by common effort, together with other issues arising in the republic: you understand that these are communications, highways; I think that another bridge has to be built across the border so that you could cross it without a traffic jam.”


“Since the Olympic Games are to be held in Sochi, we need to take care of how Abkhazia is to join the big project. The Olympics in Sochi is a good reason to renovate the south of Russia, create new transport communications. There are a lot of questions in this sphere, including the way in which Abkhazia is to be included in the business.”


“But there is also another aspect to the visit that is very time-sensitive. We know that on Dec 10, the working group on Kosovo has to present some new results. We realize that Kosovo’s independence may be announced, and it is possible that Russia recognizes Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transdnestr. It is possible that Georgia reacts in a harsh way. That is why I am interested in the situation here, in Abkhazia, for from our point of view, we have to do our best to preserve peace.”


“There is yet another reason to my visit. We get controversial information about the election campaign going on there, about police dispersing a demonstration in Tbilisi – this apparently was one of the cruelest clashes of demonstrators with police on the post-Soviet space. And information we get from there is contradictory. We stand for the maximum preservation of peace. This is the reason of my coming.”


How democratic was election to the State Duma of the Russian Federation? International organizations disagree on the subject.


“I think that the election efficiently reflected the political will of the people of the Russian Federation. The political will of the people of the Russian Federation is for the policy of Vladimir Putin to be continued, regardless of who is the president. That is why the election had a nature of a referendum, which many have mentioned already. This is a referendum on the continuation of Putin’s political course. This is not a plebiscite but an election that creates an institutional foundation for the political course of Putin to be continued. The institutional system will be represented based on the parliamentary majority. There is a popular opinion that the Russian Constitution is pro-president; but actually the Russian Constitution assigns a great power to the parliament majority at forming a government. As a result of the election, a solid Putin parliamentary majority has been formed in Russia, on which foundation a Putin government will be built. This is the main political result of the election. It reflected this political will very precisely.”


“This is not to say that there were no violations. There were violations, but I would distinguish them by several types: 1) using an administrative resource at a regional level, especially in some national republics, in particular, in the North Caucasus ones; 2) unbalanced work of TV channels in reporting on the work of the ruling party and opposition. That is, speaking generally, one could tell that the Russian election was 80% democratic. Many compared it with the parliamentary election in Ukraine. Although there was more competition in the Ukrainian election, the election there was held based not on the Constitution but on an all-state coup performed by a group of radical extremists.”


“The legitimacy of the State Duma has increased. First, it is the large number of voters. Political parties are largely in their places. We can see stability of the party system. We have received statements of various observers, most of whom acknowledge that the election was quite democratic. There were several groups that doubted its being democratic: first, communists, second, parties of the pro-western orientation, and third, the international observers connected with the PACE and OSCE. All this is an evidence of the crisis of international monitoring system. Integrity of the international monitoring proved to be an order lower than the integrity and fairness of the election. This raises a very serious question about the role of Russia in the international organizations.”


Since presidential election is going to be held in March, what would the future of Putin be after such a tremendous success of United Russia at the Duma election, when the people voted not for the United Russia itself but for Putin, and this was taken as a referendum of trust to the Putin’s political course?


“I think that Vladimir Putin will be the most popular politician, leader of parliamentary majority based on which a government will be built, and a leader, also of the constitutional majority. He will be a symbol of a political course. Besides, I think, he will take some public office, like one of the speaker of the Federation Council. In his sphere of activities, Vladimir Putin could become involved in big business, not as a businessman. He might become a leader of Russia’s business club, for instance, a club of sponsors of Sochi Olympics. The least task that the president has to solve is preserving a continuity of political course, of political tasks, so that Russia could further develop without turmoil. The president’s ultimate goal is creating a model of political system.” “The legitimacy of the State Duma has increased. First, it is the large number of voters. Political parties are largely in their places. We can see stability of the party system. We have received statements of various observers, most of whom acknowledge that the election was quite democratic. There were several groups that doubted its being democratic: first, communists, second, parties of the pro-western orientation, and third, the international observers connected with the PACE and OSCE. All this is an evidence of the crisis of international monitoring system. Integrity of the international monitoring proved to be an order lower than the integrity and fairness of the election. This raises a very serious question about the role of Russia in the international organizations.”


With the Olympics in Sochi ahead, there are two opposing viewpoints on Abkhazia: that the Olympics will give an impetus to economic development of Abkhazia, lead to a certain consensus — or harm it?


“With the advent of Vladimir Putin, a decided position has been formed that one does not betray one’s own folk. From our point of view, the residents of Abkhazia are essentially our folk. They are legally Russian citizens, they became thrown into a military conflict by cataclysms, and we have not only a moral right to betray them, but we also understand that it would not be rational. It is not wise to betray your friends, and a country cannot be a great one if it does not support its friends. That is why I think that the destiny of Abkhazia will not be made a trump card in the struggle for the Olympics, especially since the opponent side is not behaving in a civilized manner.”


“The Georgian side broke certain agreements it made with the Russian leadership after Mikhail Saakashvili had come to power. By doing this, it has questioned its capacity to hold to its agreements. I think that the issue of recognition of Abkhazia is an undecided one so far. It can be solved very quickly in connection with the Kosovo casus, it can be postponed, but it is not closely connected to the Sochi Olympics. And the economic integration of Abkhazia is real. The Olympic movement is a peace movement, an international movement. All nations have to be involved in it, including the Abkhaz people. It cannot be isolated from the Olympic Games, for the latter are going to be held a few kilometers away from Abkhazian territory. So the very principle of the Olympic movement demands that Abkhazian economy and residents of Abkhazia be integrated in the process.”


To what extent the recognition of Abkhazia is dependent on the independence of Kosovo? How will Russia treat recognition of Abkhazia if the process of recognition of Kosovo is frozen?


“I think that these things are tied to each other very closely. We believe that Abkhazia’s and Kosovo’s issues are very similar ones, that if there is a difference, then it speaks rather in favor of Abkhazia’s, not Kosovo’s, independence. Because Abkhazians, unlike Kosovo Albanians, did not come to this land; they have lived on it for hundreds, thousands of years. Because Abkhaz people, unlike Kosovo’s Albanians, have no other statehood, and they have never succumbed to be part of Georgia. That is why we believe that Abkhazia has a bigger chance.”


’At the same time, it is not so easy for Russia to carry this burden. Many countries are lobbying interests of Kosovo’s Albanians. But if our partners decide to recognize Kosovo, I think that recognition of Abkhazia will become a realistic option. If Kosovo declares its independence, and the independence is recognized by Estonia, Latvia, and Poland, I don’t think that it will somehow change Russia’s position. But if Kosovo is recognized by the United States and Great Britain, then it will be a totally different story that will make us face the need to use this option.”


“It is not a neutral question for Russia. Not being ready to go to the end in supporting its allies will, of course, seriously undermine Russia’s international reputation. At the same time, I cannot say that we want to evade this problem. We think that there is no need to hurry. We need to ensure that such regions as Kosovo and Abkhazia develop normally, that their blockade is lifted and their normal economic, social, and political development is on the way.”


To what extent the possibility that Russia and US will be able to agree is real? That both Kosovo and Albania are recognized at the same time, on certain conditions?


“Not only Kosovo and Abkhazia but also South Ossetia, Transdnestr, CFE Treaty, Iran’s nuclear program, and many other pawns will be placed on this ‘chessboard’. If the agreement is reached, then most probably, it will state that nothing should be changed, that people should be allowed to live. And why there is a need of a Muslim state in the middle of Europe, I do not quite comprehend. OSCE and PACE have seriously contributed to the independence of Abkhazia by their unprecedented cynical assessment of the Russian election. They greatly contributed to the deterioration of relations, i.e., they have led the Russian leadership to a more decisive stand on Abkhazia – paradox, but it is a real fact.”


If recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia becomes a fact, in what borders will it be? In fact, a part of Abkhazia is now not controlled by its government. The same is true of South Ossetia. Will recognition mean some sort of war for the liberation of these territories?


“You have emphasized one of the real problems. There are all signs of a self-sufficient state in Abkhazia: control over a large part of its territory; the Abkhazians have managed to overcome such difficulties as election, democratic creation of the power structures. In the situation when everybody was teaching Georgians democracy – in tens of thousands of seminars – Abkhaz people have managed the situation on their own. I so far do not see a precise solution to this problem.”


How would you comment on the Russia’s introducing a moratorium on CFE?


“I think that Russia’s introducing a CFE moratorium is an attempt to preserve CFE Treaty. Russia is undoubtedly interested in CFE Treaty. CFE Treaty is a cornerstone of maintaining European security, and it has necessarily to be preserved. However, its preservation in its present form is absolutely unacceptable. CFE Treaty has to be ratified by all countries who have signed it. That is, it has to be of a legally binding nature for them. Other countries, too, have to join the treaty, particularly, the Baltic countries. And Russia has to be guaranteed a more free movement of forces in the North Caucasus region.”


12.08.2007  REGNUM


 Bagapsh accuses Georgia of stalling talks


Sukhum, Abkhazia's President Sergei Bagapsh harshly accused the Georgian administration of leading to the cessation of negotiations between the two countries.


Negotiations between Georgia and Abkhazia were stalled, Bagapsh told a press conference in Sukhum, because, he added, Georgia had sent military forces to Upper Kodor, had set up the Abkhazian government in exile, had created provocative situations in Gal, had plotted murders as well as kidnaps.


Peace talks between the two countries remain stalled since July 2006, when Georgia sent military forces to Upper Kodor, part of Abkhazian soil where Abkhazian rule is not in effect. Numerous statements of refusal to resume talks with Georgia came from the Sukhum administration until the Georgian forces withdrew from the area. The United Nations Security Council adopted a bill of call on Tbilisi to disarm the area of Kodor.


Both sides got together twice, first in Geneva on February 12-13 and then in Bonn on June 28-29, when the Georgian Group of Friends was asked by the United Nations Secretary-General to arrange the meetings in the hope that talks would resume. The first direct mutual talks came in September, months after the Bonn meeting, when Abkhazian Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba met with Georgia's State Minister David Bakradze to discuss the chances for releasing seven Abkhazian border guards who had been taken hostage by some Georgian commanders.


12.07.2007  Agency Caucasus


 EU wary of Russian response to Kosovo unilateral independence


Brussels, A top EU official said Thursday she hopes that if Kosovo unilaterally declares independence, Russia will not respond by recognizing the independence of breakaway territories in the former Soviet Union.


Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the European commissioner for external relations and European neighborhood policy, said that although no decision on the predominantly Albanian province of Serbia has yet been reached, she hopes that if Kosovo takes the unilateral route, Russia will not then recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent of Georgia.


The UN secretary general said Thursday that international mediators in talks on Kosovo would submit a report on talks on the province's status on Friday, three days ahead of schedule, but added that rescheduling the report was not politically motivated, but due to his upcoming trip to an international global climate conference in Bali.


The Contact Group troika of mediators - Russia, the United States and the European Union - concluded months of talks last week, and was due to report to Ban Ki-moon on negotiations geared towards a compromise between Belgrade and Pristina on December 10, a deadline set by the UN.


EU representative Wolfgang Ischinger told a news conference Monday that the report would state that Belgrade and Pristina had failed to reach a compromise on the status for the province. The document will also list the proposals made by both the Serbian and Kosovo delegations.


The troika denied that the report would contain any concrete proposals for a solution to the issue of Kosovo.


During the latest round of negotiations held in Austria last week, Serbia reiterated offers for broad autonomy while Kosovo, a UN protectorate since 1999, continued to insist on full independence.


Kosovo has threatened to unilaterally declare independence in January if no agreement is reached with Serbia, while Belgrade has warned it may impose an economic blockade on the small impoverished region if Kosovo Albanians carry out their threat.


The U.S. and some European countries back Kosovo's independence, while Russia, Serbia's long-time ally, says independence would have a knock on effect for other separatist regions, including in former Soviet republics, and insists on a resolution on the security and humanitarian problems in the region, particularly the return of refugees and displaced persons.


Parliamentary elections in Kosovo on November 17 were won by former rebel leader Hashim Thaci, who has vowed to declare independence for Kosovo. The province's ethnic Serb population (around 6%) boycotted the election.


A NATO bombing campaign against the former Yugoslavia ended a bloody war between Serb forces and Albanian separatists in 1999.


12.06.2007  RIA Novosti


 Recognition of Abkhazia in January '08, with Transdniester to follow


Russia will be ready for formal diplomatic recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in January, says the Duma's most powerful politician. If the outcome leads to recognition, as most analysts expect, recognition of Transdniester will follow almost immediately. The timetable can be moved if events in Kosovo merit it.


MOSCOW (Tiraspol Times) - When Boris Gryzlov speaks, unrecognized countries listen. The éminence grise of Russia's political scene has set January 2008 as the date when Abkhazia and South Ossetia can obtain formal diplomatic recognition, with Transdniester (Pridnestrovie) to follow shortly thereafter. At the same time, it is possible that the date can be moved up, depending on how events in Kosovo unfold.


" - South Ossetian and Abkhazian officials have applied to us many times to discuss recognition of their independence," Gryzlov told a press conference held shortly after elections closed in Russia this Sunday.


" - Talks about the issue is early at the moment, but the new convocation of Russian "Duma" will consider the issue in January," news agency Prime News reported him as saying.


According to Gryzlov, democratic results of legislative elections conducted in the two de facto republics were also very interesting for making the most relevant decision.


Following Abkhazian and South Ossetian recognition, Transdniestria (officially Pridnestrovie) will be next. If Kosovo declares its independence and is recognized unilaterally then it is possible this date may be moved up faster.


Close links to Putin


In earlier statements, Duma deputies such as Victor Alksnis, Sergei Baburin, Konstantin Kosachev and Konstantin Zatulin have repeatedly expressed the need for Russia to extend formal diplomatic recognition to the already "de facto" independent states as Transdniestria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.


With Boris Gryzlov publicly embracing the issue, it marks the first time that such a statement has come from a top-ranking Duma deputy and leading political figure with close and intimate ties to Russia's presidency.


Since 2003, Gryzlov has been Speaker of the the Russian parliament's lower house, the State Duma. As the top man among 450 deputies, his words would carry enough weight even without his second job: Leadership of Russia's largest political party.


Boris Gryzlov is also the head of the largest Russian political party, United Russia, which just cleaned up at last Sunday's parliamentary elections. Winning 64% of the popular vote, the party can now singlehandedly form a constitutional majority in parliament that is eligible not only to pass federal laws, by also to make changes to the Constitution if not vetoed by the Federation Council or the President.


Gryzlov is a close ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin, and the two are known for extensively coordinating their political moves and public statements.


12.06.2007  Tiraspol Times


 Humanitarian aid: Commission allocates €2 million for the most vulnerable people in Abkhazia, Georgia


Brussels, The European Commission has approved a € 2 million humanitarian aid package to support the people most affected by the unresolved conflict between Abkhazia and Georgia. The recipients will include returnees and vulnerable groups in Abkhazia. Assistance will focus on small income-generation projects and the basic rehabilitation of destroyed houses. Funds are being allocated via the European Commission Humanitarian Aid department under the responsibility of Commissioner Louis Michel.


Abkhazia continues to be characterised by forgotten humanitarian needs. As a result of the conflict, Abkhazia is a devastated region. Its population has shrunk from an estimated 500,000 people before the war to around 150,000 people currently (350,000 - APSUAA RIBJI), many of whom are considered destitute. Very few ethnic Georgians displaced by the war have returned to their homes in Abkhazia.


This new funding will ensure food security for the most vulnerable families through small income-generation projects for those who are able to work and who will thus become self-sufficient. This decision will also fund the basic rehabilitation of destroyed houses for people who have returned to the Gal district of Abkhazia. European non-governmental organisations will implement these tasks.


The conflict which erupted in 1992 in Abkhazia, led to the displacement of over 250,000 people. An UN-brokered agreement was signed by the Georgian and Abkhaz parties in 1994 putting an end to the fighting, but the situation still remains tense.


ECHO has been present in Georgia since 1993 to meet the needs of the most vulnerable communities. This new allocation brings the total of the Commission's humanitarian aid funding up to €104 million for Georgia.


12.05.2007  EU Press Releases


 Rotation of peacekeepers beginning in Georgia-Abkhazia conflict zone


Moscow, Rotation of servicemen begins in the CIS peacekeeping contingent in the zone of Georgian-Abkhazian conflict, a source at the press service of Russia’s Ground Troops told Itar-Tass.


“Scheduled rotation begins in the separate mechanized infantry battalion, engineering company and mortar battery deployed in the Northern Security Area of the zone of conflict,” the source said.


“Before December 10, they will be replaced by units from the same branches of the Separate Mechanized Infantry Brigade of Russia’s North Caucasus Military District,” he said. “The total strength of the units undergoing rotation is 600 men.”


The rotation envisions “the handover of service and combat tasks, weaponry, technologies and other hardware, observation posts and checkpoints within the area of responsibility.”


“All the weaponry, technologies and other hardware will remain at the sites of deployment, except for several armored vehicles and automobiles that will be removed to Russia for overhaul and replaced by armored vehicles and cars of the same types,” the source said.


Peacekeeping units are deployed in the zone of Georgian-Abkhazian conflict, the most active phases of which fell on the years 1992 and 1993, in line with the May 14, 1994 agreement on ceasefire and disengagement of forces, the 1994 decision of the Council of Heads of State of the CIS, and a mandate for the peacekeeping operation.


12.05.2007  Itar-Tass


 Moscow to Build Resorts in Jordan and Abkhazia


Moscow authorities intend to build tourist and sanatorium resorts in Jordan and Abkhazia, according to a statement made by the city Mayor Yuri Luzhkov at a session of the Moscow government on the 4th of December. He marked that the city owned property (including a number of sanatoriums) both in Russian regions and abroad.


“We are talking about purchasing pieces of land in Jordan and Abkhazia and about building tourist and sanatorium resorts there”, Yuri Luzhkov said.


On November 8, at the scientific conference “Russia and Abkhazia: toward a united economical space”, the Mayor of Moscow called the tourist potential of the Republic of Abkhazia strategic. He reminded that in the USSR times there were 130 sanatoriums in Abkhazia and now – only 50.


12.05.2007  Russia-InfoCenter


 Russia may recognize both Abkhazia and S. Ossetia


Moscow, The new Russian parliament may now recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, said Boris Grizlov, leader of the United Russia, the party that emerged triumphant in the December 2 elections of.


"Abkhazia and South Ossetia held separate referendums in 1999 and 2006 on independence. Both countries submitted the results to Duma. We have their proposals that they be recognized as independent," Grizlov told a press conference in Moscow.


"We will carefully investigate the process by which Russians both in Abkhazia and South Ossetia cast their votes. We will then possibly discuss in January the matters of recognition of independence and the status of both republics," added Grizlov.


12.05.2007  Agency Caucasus


 Sukhum to be extricated from war's legacy


Sukhum, Abkhazian President Sergei Bagapsh announced a series of plans to extricate the capital city of Sukhum from the legacy of war.


"It is now the time to erase the traces of war from the capital city, which is the face of both the people and the government," said Bagapsh.


The Prime Minister Aleksandr Ankuab will head a group of officials who will develop and implement projects to improve the silhouette of Sukhum, starting in the 15th anniversary of the 1992-1993 war between Abkhazia and Georgia.


Huge projects take huge amounts of time, said Bagapsh, but added that a significant portion of the work will have been done until the 15th anniversary of the war.


The Abkhazian president also called on the rich people to help financially to government to finish the projects soon.


The Georgian forces set fire to lots of buildings while they were withdrawing from Sukhum after the 1992-1993 war.


12.05.2007  Agency Caucasus


 Sukhum, Gudauta, Gagra cities vote in Abkhazia


The cities of Sukhum, Gudauta and Gagra (Abkhazia) are voting at the Russian parliamentary elections today. Despite heavy showers, the turnout is quite high. The situation at polling stations is calm, reports a REGNUM correspondent.


The rest districts of the republic have voted by absentee ballots. On November 28, those were residents of Gal, Tquarchal and Gulripsh districts. On November 29, the voting took place in Ochamchira District. On November 30, residents of Gudauta, Gagra and Sukhum districts (excluding their district centers) were voting.


Besides, Russian troops carrying out their peacekeeping mission in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict zone within the CIS Collective Peacekeeping Forces voted by absentee ballots. The Abkhaz president voted on November 29.


12.02.2007  REGNUM