Abkhazia to temporarily
supply Sochi with electricity
Sukhum, Abkhazia is to temporarily
supply Sochi with electricity.
"We will be able to start supplying power
from Abkhazia to the Krasnodar territory within the next hour," Abkhaz
president Sergei Bagapsh told Interfax on Wednesday.
"Abkhazia was also cut off from
electricity last night. However, we have already found out the reason
behind the problems and have rectified them," Bagapsh said.
The blackout in Abkhazia was caused by "a
thunderbolt that struck a high-voltage transmission line," he said.
anti-Abkhazian conspiracy a myth
Moscow, The world is closely
watching the political situation around Abkhazia. In the past six months,
the issue of the Caucasian republic has been discussed twice in the UN
Security Council, and Russia and the United States have worked out a
compromise on it.
Resolution 1716, which is highly critical
of Georgia, was approved almost unanimously when Russia agreed to vote
favorably on the issue of North Korea. In early 2007, UN Secretary
General Ban Ki-moon delivered a report on the ethnic and political
situation in Abkhazia. The week before the Security Council session, he
presented his view of the situation in the Gali district of Abkhazia,
where outbreaks of violence were registered shortly before the New Year.
Russian politicians and diplomats feared
attempts to "internationalize" the Abkhazian problem. But events of the
past few months showed that it will not threaten Russia's national
interests, on one condition: Russian diplomats must learn to choose
their priorities wisely.
This may sound paradoxical, but
internationalization can promote Russia's national interests if its
format is determined clearly. At any rate, it would be unreasonable to
reject the idea of external involvement in the Abkhazian settlement,
provided we know which forces should be involved and at which stages.
Russia should highlight the role of the UN
and its Security Council, which are the focal points of the
international community to which all countries, including Georgia,
appeal for justice. Russia has levers of influence in the UN, and the
Kremlin may use them to strengthen its own role and join the
The UN Mission in Georgia, which is
working in situ and knows everything about events in Abkhazia, has
become almost immune to Mikhail Saakashvili's PR projects. Russia should
maintain ties with Abkhazia's political and business elite and promote
contacts between Sukhum's third power and European state and private
structures that influence public opinion in their countries.
If the Kremlin wants Abkhazia to become a
national state de jure, it should stop trying to keep the breakaway
republic on a short leash and cut off from the international community.
Russia can recognize Abkhazia as an
independent state without damaging its own interests only if such
recognition is backed by a "a consortium of powers." In its absence,
Moscow should limit itself to political assistance to Abkhazia, whose
forceful incorporation into Georgia will destabilize the situation in
Russia and the North Caucasus.
In a word, the Kremlin will benefit from
internationalizing the Abkhazian problem. There is no "global
anti-Abkhazian conspiracy," but the world does not have an adequate view
of the situation in that republic. Foreign experts and NGOs have changed
their views on Abkhazia dramatically when they learned more about the
situation there. So, the Kremlin should do its best to provide an
accurate information on Abkhazia.
The peacekeeping operation in the zone of
the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict is a separate issue. Russia must not
give up its "exclusive role" there.
The idea of having "an international
policing unit or international policing force in Abkhazia - maybe not so
much in Kodor, but for certain in the Gali region," put forth by Matthew
Bryza, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for European and
Eurasian affairs, during his tour of the South Caucasus, cannot be
implemented without damaging Russian interests.
The deployment of an international
policing force there will create several clashing centers of power, with
the peacekeepers viewed as "pro-Russian" and the policing force as "pro-Georgian."
Instead of restoring peace, this would defreeze the conflict and involve
external forces in it.
The presence of Russian peacekeepers in
the conflict zone has ensured the return of some 60,000 refugees to
their homes in Abkhazia. Despite the political blunders the Kremlin has
made in Georgia, Russian peacekeepers have been a stabilizing force.
They prevented the reactivation of the conflict in May 1998 and in the
fall of 2001, despite strong prerequisites for that.
By combining military-political domination
in the zone of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict with the
internationalization of the Abkhazian elite's contacts and of political
debates on conflict settlement, and by complementing its peacekeeping
mission with an active involvement of the UN, Russia may greatly
strengthen its positions as the guarantor of peace in that turbulent
To attain this goal, it should create
situation alliances with the U.S. and EU countries, and pursue a correct
and more flexible policy. The matter at stake - stability in the North
Caucasus - is important enough to make the Kremlin policy there more
realistic and pragmatic.
Sergei Markedonov is head of the ethnic
relations department at the Institute of Military and Political
The opinions expressed in this article are
those of the author and may not necessarily represent the opinions of
the editorial board.
has nothing to do with uranium smuggling- FM
Sukhum, Abkhazia has nothing to do
with enriched uranium and smuggling of it into Georgia, Abkhazian
Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba said.
His comment followed the Georgian Foreign
Ministry’s statement asserting that the “smuggling of weapons of mass
destruction across stretches of the Georgian-Russian state border in
Abkhazia and South Ossetia is possible”.
“Nobody ever tried to smuggle weapons of
mass destruction across the Russian-Abkhazian border,” Shamba told
reporters on Thursday.
Abkhazia does not have such weapons, he
“We are worried not less than Georgia
about security in the region, and we are doing all we can for ensuring
Shamba said that “Georgian authorities are
once again trying to picture Abkhazia as some uncontrolled ‘black
“Most often tall stories of different
kinds are floated before the adoption of UN resolutions on the
Georgian-Abkhazian conflict,” Shamba said.
calls Georgia accusations of WMD smuggling provocative
Tbilisi, The foreign minister of
Abkhazia called provocative Tbilisi's speculations, voiced by the
Foreign Ministry, that weapons of mass destruction (WMD) could be
smuggled across Russia's borders with Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Georgia's fears are linked to a criminal
case against a Russian citizen, arrested in 2006 for attempting to sell
high-enriched uranium in the ex-Soviet republic. Three Georgian citizens
were also arrested in the case.
"Abkhazia is just as mindful of regional
security as is Georgia," Abkhazia's Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba said,
adding that Tbilisi has been trying to discredit Abkhazia by making
provocative statements just before or during UN Security Council
A Georgian court sentenced Oleg Khinsagov,
who was born in the Russian North Caucasus republic of North Ossetia, to
eight years in prison Thursday for attempting to sell 100 grams of
high-enriched uranium, according to the Georgian Interior Ministry.
Three Georgian citizens in the case were
also convicted and sentenced to between four and six years in prison,
the ministry said.
still plans to solve Abkhazia problem by force - Bagapsh
Moscow, Georgia has not given up
its plans to resolve the conflict with Abkhazia by force, the president
of Abkhazia said Thursday.
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili
said earlier that "it is time for Georgia's complete reunion by means of
returning Abkhazia and South Ossetia."
Sergei Bagapsh told RIA Novosti: "We have
always told the international community that Georgia is a military
oriented state. Georgia is an aggressor. Their only purpose is to
resolve the problem of territorial integrity by force."
Bagapsh said that if Saakashvili takes
that path, he will destroy his own country. He said that since Georgia
refuses to stop its provocations, all Abkhazian forces have been put on
"We will take all measures to prevent the
worst scenario," the Abkhazian leader added. He said the situation was
very serious, not only for Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but also for the
Caucasus as a whole.
He said Saakashvili only begins uttering
threats when his popularity rating is falling, and that his statements
on democracy are meant only for the international community.
Bagapsh said he hopes that Georgia still
has reasonable people who "understand that a military scenario is
unacceptable to all sides."
Russia denies considering status for S.Ossetia, Abkhazia
Moscow, Speculations about Moscow
drafting a proposal on Abkhazia and South Ossetia status are
"exaggerated," but if the sides agree on a solution for the conflicts
based on confederation principles Moscow will not object, the Russian
Foreign Ministry said on January 23.
The Russian daily Kommersant reported in
December, that Moscow is developing a plan for conflict resolution in
South Ossetia and Abkhazia based on the principle of a "united state" in
the form of a confederation uniting Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
"Issues related with the definition of the
status of Abkhazia and South Ossetia should be discussed at the final
stage of the Georgian-Abkhaz and Georgian-Ossetian conflict resolution
process," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in an information note.
Moscow will not make any hasty decisions
on the issue "and we do not recommend anyone to do so - this would be a
shortsighted step," the Russian Foreign Ministry noted.
It also said that initiatives about status
should be proposed by the parties concerned.
"If the parties agree, let's say on
unification based on confederation principles, naturally there will be
no objections from our side," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
But Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
and the South Ossetian leader both noted during the meeting in Moscow on
January 19 that speculations of this kind are "absolutely groundless,"
the information note reads.
"Both of them have stressed that the
existing reality and such a fundamental factor as expression of will of
the Abkhaz and South Ossetian people should be taken into consideration
while dealing with resolution of the conflicts. It is also important to
prevent protracted pauses and attempts to thwart the negotiating
process, which should develop in the frames of already existing
formats," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
Residents to Get Online
In the nearest future,
the residents of the Gal district will be able to use the Internet, said
Plenipotentiary of the President in the Gal district Ruslan Kishmariya
in an interview to the President's Official Site.
In his words, currently the installation
of the necessary hardware and equipment is being completed. The services
will be provided by a specially established company employing local
"At this stage the sponsors of the project
are waiting for a licence from the GosSviazNadzor (State Supervision
Authority for Communications)", Mr. Kishmariya said.
According to the President's
Plenipotentiary, the project costs will amount to $20,000. The project
is financed from state funds.
The Gal district remains the only region
of Abkhazia without Internet access. Recently, the country's Ochamchyra
and Tkuarchal districts were successfully connected to the Internet.
In Abkhazia, connecting to the Internet became possible in 2001.
Currently, there are four providers in the
Republic. The users are mainly residents of Sukhumand Gagra. Increased
competition influenced the tariff policy of the providers. Since 2001,
the service prices have decreased more than threefold.
Bartsits: Increased Investment into Abkhazia’s Economy are Irreversible
In 2007, foreign investment into the
country's economy will steadily increase due to a number of new projects
with foreign ownership. This was what Plenipotentiary of the Government
of Abkhazia in the Russian Federation on Investment Policy Oleg Bartsits
said in an interview to the Official Site of the President.
According to Oleg Bartsits, Abkhazia's
becoming increasingly attractive in terms of foreign investment. "Today,
we are gradually creating favourable environment for an investment flow.
In particular, it applies to tax allowances. On the CIS space there are
few places where the investors enjoy exemption from income taxes for the
term of three years", Mr. Bartsits maintains.
According to the Head of the Mission
of the Republic of Abkhazia in the Russian Federation on Investment
Policy, such factors as a fairly high level of economic freedom,
flexibility of state regulation of economy and a higher return
of invested capital as compared to Russia also encourage the flow
of investment into the Republic.
At the same time, Mr. Bartsits notes that
the main obstacle for more intensive investment is "the tethered
legislation". "The investor has to act under the legislation
of 1994 which are inapplicable in the current environment", Mr. Bartsits
believes. In his opinion, the new Parliament will primarily have
to concentrate on the legislative reform in the sphere of economics.
Further, Mr. Bartsits admitted that
political risks may discourage a potential investor. However, he noted
that the most significant concern of the investors is the regulatory
framework which does not agree with modern standards.
Presently, the Mission of Abkhazia in the
Russian Federation on Investment Policy participates in the
implementation of a number of Russian investment projects.
In particular, the "Alternativa" scientific-production association — one
of Russia's food industry giants will shortly enter Abkhazia's market.
The "Alternativa" scientific-production association is the owner of such
widely-known brands as "Russky Hit" and "Smak".
The Investment Policy Mission of Abkhazia
in the Russian Federation was established over a year and a half ago.
Since that moment, the Mission has implemented several projects,
including the arrangement of the Pitsunda International Economic Forum
attended by representatives of major Russian business enterprises
as well as prominent political personalities and experts.
Further Support the Development of Democracy in Abkhazia
Prime Minister of Abkhazia
At the end of its visit to Abkhazia, the
EU delegation met Head of the Government Alexandr Ankvab and the
country's NGOs and declared its determination to expand its
participation in the development of Abkhazia's democracy.
Meeting the EU representatives, Prime
Minister of Abkhazia said that the country's NGOs enjoy significant
authority in the political and public circles and that the Government
strives to maintain constant dialogue with them. "They are true experts
contributing to the cause of building a civilized society", Mr. Ankvab
Further, the Head of the Cabinet stressed
that the authorities makes every effort to facilitate the activity
of the NGOs. "There are no legislative barriers or other biases in terms
of 'Western funds'", Mr. Ankvab stressed.
The European Commission said that the
information obtained in Abkhazia related to the country's NGOs will
be the basis for new EU development programmes for Abkhazia.
Hugues Mingarelli, Director of the DG for
External Relations of the European Commission, stressed that the
European Union will further support the development of democracy
According to representatives of Abkhazia's
NGOs, the European Union could facilitate the implementations
of projects in the sphere of education, strengthening the European
values and democratic institutions.
At the meeting, Prime Minister Alexandr
Ankvab, as well as other representatives of the country's leadership
noted that Abkhazia's direct cooperation with the European Union should
not depend on the political settlement of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict.
The representative delegation of the
European Union visited Abkhazia on 17—19 January. The
delegation's seventeen members met the country's leadership, inspected
the Abkhaz customs and excise authorities. On 18 January, the EU Special
Representative for the South Caucasus Peter Semneby joined the
The main task of the delegation, as Mr. Semneby
put it, was to establish direct contacts with Abkhazia in terms of the
"changes in the EU policy conditioned by the expansion of the
welcomes EU assistance but without strings attached
Abkhazia welcomes assistance of the
European Union when there are no preliminary political strings attached,
Liana Kvarchelia, the deputy director of the Centre for Humanitarian
Programmes, said at the meeting of local nongovernmental organizations
with a delegation of the European Union in Sukhum on Thursday.
Abkhazian Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba
expressed the same view at the meeting with EU special representative
for the South Caucasus Peter Semneby on Thursday. “Linking assistance
and support of the European Union to Abkhazia in various areas to
political concessions will not do anything good,” he said.
The European Union’s delegation arrived in
Abkhazia on January 17 to assess the projects implemented and to set out
the trends of possible cooperation in the framework of the new programme
of European neighbourhood policy. The European Union has been the main
donor for several years in the implementation of projects of restoration
of the regional economy, rehabilitation of the infrastructure and
confidence-building measures between the parties to the conflict.
escalating tensions in conflict zone – Abkhaz minister
Abkhaz Foreign Minister Sergei
Shamba has accused Georgia of escalating tensions in the Georgian-Abkhaz
“The United Nations Organization has drawn
attention to the exacerbating situation in the Gal district of Abkhazia
with good reason. The statement was made in a report by UN Secretary
General Ban Ki-moon released earlier this week,” he said.
“We have already told the international
community that Georgia is escalating tensions in the Georgian-Abkhaz
conflict zone, and the UN Observation Mission in Georgia has already
said that Georgian actions undermine the regional stability,” Shamba
“The Tbilisi policy on the Georgian-Abkhaz
conflict mirrors the wish to maximum build up tensions. The UN Security
Council resolution that demands demilitarization of the upper part of
the Kodor Gorge is not being fulfilled,” he said.
Called to National Unity for the Country’s National Interests
President of Abkhazia Sergey Bagapsh
called on the country's different social and political forces to unite
for the national interests of the Republic.
"The year 2007 will be of critical
importance in terms of attaining our strategic objectives. We expect
significant progress in the sphere of recognition of our independence
by the international community, therefore we must join our efforts
to achieve this goal, which is the priority for our state", said the
President at the meeting with the country's intellectuals on Wednesday.
The Head of State called on Abkhazia's
political and intellectual elite to sink rivalries, personal ambition
and old grudges. "It does not matter to me whether you support the
government or the opposition. What really matters is how your potential
may be used for our country's future", said President Bagapsh.
The Head of State warned against
a possible political split-up in the society, especially n the eve
of the parliamentary election. "We are living in a world of new
realities. Today's Abkhazia is not governed from either Moscow
or Tbilisi. We ourselves govern our own state. If there is a split-up,
we will have only ourselves to blame", said Sergey Bagapsh.
Bagapsh: Abkhazia’s New Parliament Must be Multinational
Abkhazia Sergey Bagapsh
President of Abkhazia Sergey Bagapsh
called on all Abkhazia's ethnic communities to participate in the
parliamentary elections scheduled for 4 March 2007 by nominating their
"Abkhazia is a multinational country. The
interests of its entire population must be represented in Parliament",
said the President at the meeting with the country's intellectuals and
NGOs on Wednesday in Sukhum.
According to the President, the
legislative branch must serve the interests of the Abkhaz, the Russians,
the Armenians, the Georgians, the Greeks as well as of other ethnic
groups residing in the Republic.
The prosperity of the Republic is directly
related to social accord and preservation of the original mutual respect
between all the ethnic communities, the Head of State believes. "We are
not building a monoethnic state, and this fact must be common
knowledge", Sergey Bagapsh said.
The next election to the National
Assembly — Parliament of Abkhazia is scheduled for 4 March 2007. The
Parliament has 35 members (Deputies) elected for the term of 5 years.
The Deputies are elected on the basis of national, equal and direct
franchise in single-mandate constituencies (one electoral district — one
Deputy) by secret ballot.
Any citizen of the Republic of Abkhazia
who has reached the age of 25 and has the right to take part in the
election may become Deputy of the Parliament.
Bagapsh: All Population Strata Must be Represented in the Public Chamber
President of Abkhazia Sergey Bagapsh held
consultations with the country's intellectuals and NGOs on the
composition of the Public Chamber of the Republic on Wednesday.
The nominations suggested by the
participants of the meeting will be made public within two days.
Under the Law on the Public Chamber
adopted in December 2006, the presidential quota amounts to 13 persons.
Thus, the Head of State can appoint 13 members of the Public Chamber
by presidential decree. In this connection, the President decided
to hold consultations with the country's intellectuals and NGOs so that
they can suggest their nominations for approval by the President.
Sergey Bagapsh addressed the meeting
stressing the significance of the stage of forming the Public Chamber.
"The main challenge of the Public Chamber is the protection of rights
of Abkhazia's citizens", said the President.
The Head of State pointed out the
importance of establishing the civil society institutions. "This
institution is a vital necessity in terms of building an advanced civil
society, said Sergey Bagapsh. — It is up to you to decide how the
country will develop and what our strategies will be. The authorities
will have no decision-making monopoly. The Chamber is to bring
up specific issues and help find ways to resolve them as well
as to define the priorities".
The President stressed the significance
of ensuring the democratic character of the procedure of forming the
Public Chamber. "The whole process must be transparent. I would like the
Public Chamber to be a representative body. Every population stratum
must have representation in the Chamber. Only in this case it will
be a democratic institution", the Head of State remarked. "I fully
realize that it will mean extra headache for the executive, however,
there can be no other way", Sergey Bagapsh said.
The Law on the Public Chamber was adopted
early in December 2006. Under the legislation, 13 members of the Chamber
shall be appointed by Presidential Decree. Further, the 13 appointed
members shall choose another 11 members from the nominations suggested
by local self-government bodies. Finally, the 24 members jointly agree
on the remaining 11 nominations from the list submitted by political
organizations. In total, the Public Chamber will have 35 members.
The new body will operate pro bono. Under
the legislation, members of the Public Chamber may not hold public
Welcomes UNOMIG Investigation of the Incident in the Georgian-Abkhaz
President of Abkhazia Sergey Bagapsh sets
store by the expected investigation by the United Nations Observer
Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) of the incident in the Georgian-Abkhaz
conflict zone of 5 January, when unidentified persons attacked the
Georgian police checkpoint.
"We will appreciate it if the
UN identifies the actual perpetrators of this act of provocation", said
the President in an interview to his Official Site.
The Head of State regards the recent
developments as "terrorism exalted to state policy by Georgia".
"In 2006 we achieved a considerable
improvement in the situation in the Gal district in terms of crime
reduction. Recently, the crime level in the district has been higher
than, say, in Georgia? s near-border districts. Provocative actions
by the Georgian side are aimed at detonating the situation in the
region", said President Bagapsh.
In this connection the President welcomes
any efforts by the international community on stabilizing the situation
in the Gal district and averting the threat of terrorism.
Constitutional Reform Commission Must Intensify its Activity
The Constitutional Reform Commission must
intensify and properly arrange its activity, said President of Abkhazia
Sergey Bagapsh at the Commission's session on Tuesday.
The key issue of the discussion was
chapter 7 of the country's Fundamental Law, stipulating the procedure
of introducing amendments to the Constitution of the Republic.
"We must amend the Constitution block
by block. That is to say, first we deal with chapter 7 and then take
up the section related to the judicial power, and so forth. The main
thing is to ensure that all the proposals are thoroughly examined and
perfected", Sergey Bagapsh said.
Nugzar Ashuba, Speaker of Abkhazia's
Parliament suggested that the discussion and possible adoption
of several amendments begin before the end of the term of the current
"We have certain obligations to our
electorate in terms of constitutional reform", he said.
Abkhazia's Minister of Justice Ludmila Khodzhashvili noted that her
department will probably suggest its own wording of the amendments.
"Our Constitution must be adjusted to meet
European criteria. This is the main challenge of the Constitutional
Reform Commission", Sergey Bagapsh told his Official Site at the close
of the session.
The next session to discuss the proposed
amendments to chapter 5 of the Constitution developed by the working
group is scheduled for Thursday, 11 January.
Observers to Enhance Monitoring the Situation in Lower Gal
The UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG)
has issued a statement calling on the conflicting parties to "cooperate
to prevent any escalation of the conflict".
The statement condemns the incident which
took place on 5 January on the Georgian-Abkhaz border, when a Georgian
police checkpoint was attacked.
"This is the third act of violent incident
following the killings that occurred on 25 and 26 December in the Gal
district (when terrorist attacks resulted in the killing of three Abkhaz
police officers — Editor's note), which undermines the security in the
zone of conflict", says the document.
The UN stresses that the perpetrators
of the attacks must be apprehended and brought to justice.
To ensure security in the region, the
UN military observers will increase the number and frequency of their
patrols in lower Gal.
It was earlier reported that
Plenipotentiary of the President of Abkhazia in the Gal district Ruslan
Kishmariya has called on the international organizations to focus their
attention on the escalation of tensions in the Gal district.
Alongside with that, the CIS Peacekeeping
Force addressed the conflicting parties on Monday, calling them
to demonstrate "self possession and patience".
Abkhazia's Deputy Minister of the Interior
Vladimir Gaidukov in an interview to a state TV channel on Thursday that
on the New Year's eve not a single crime was committed in the Gal
district. "This is a success of our police. The entire territory of the
district is under control. We have not registered any violations of law
in this territory", Vladimir Gaidukov said.
of the President in then Gal District: Georgia’s Gearing Itself for a
New War in the Gal District
Georgia is preparing a police operation
in the Gal district, Plenipotentiary of the President in the Gal
district Ruslan Kishmariya told the President's Official Site.
In his words, the Georgian security
agencies are fully responsible for the complicated situation in the Gal
district, which is the result of terrorist attacks on the Abkhaz police
officers last December.
"Georgia's answer to our successful law
enforcement effort against crime was terrorism, killings of our police
officers, threats and provocations", Ruslan Kishmariya said.
He noted that last Friday's attack on the
Georgian checkpoint on the border with Abkhazia was engineered by the
Georgian security agencies themselves. "It was a pure provocation. The
UN observers monitoring the security situation in the district did not
register any movement on our side. We have achieved peace in the region
and have no intention to heat up tensions", said Plenipotentiary of the
Ruslan Kishmariya called on the
international organizations to apply pressure on the Georgian side
to prevent further police operations which will result in the renewal
of the conflict between the two states.
"I can not help wondering at the inertia
of the international intermediaries in the conflict settlement. They pay
no regard to the escalation of tensions by the Georgian side.
I am calling on them to use their leverage without delay and prevent
another bloodshed", Ruslan Kishmariya said.
Meanwhile, the senior officials
of Abkhazia's Ministry of Internal Affairs have recently commended the
successful efforts of the law-enforcement agencies in fighting terrorism
and crime in the Gal district.
min visit in Kodor upper part proves mil units stay there
Sukhum, Abkhazian Foreign Minister
Sergei Shamba believes that “Georgian Interior Minister Vano
Merabishvili’s visit in the upper part of the Kodor Gorge proves that
armed units are staying there violating all agreements.”
“The Georgian authorities ignore openly
the UN Security Council resolution on the situation in the
Georgian-Abkhazian conflict zone,” Shamba told journalists on Wednesday.
“The Abkhazian authorities will keep insisting on the withdrawal of all
Georgian armed units from the upper part of the gorge and the
demilitarization of this zone,” the foreign minister of Abkhazia said.
republics in the former Soviet Union live to see another year
(Alexei Makarkin for RIA Novosti) - In the outgoing year,
Russia-oriented self-proclaimed states on post-Soviet territory -
Transdnestr, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia have not only survived as
proto-state formations, but have also received a fresh impetus for their
Each of them conducted public votes,
designed to legitimize their status and confirm their viability.
Transdnestr coped with a customs blockade,
which was staged by the coalition of Moldova and Orange Ukraine. During
half a year, the republic was sustaining enormous losses until Viktor
Yanukovich's government came to power in Ukraine. The new Prime Minister
has a favorable attitude to Tiraspol (Transdnestr Ukrainians
traditionally vote for his Party of Regions).
The initiators of the blockade hoped that
Tiraspol would make concessions, and that the local elites would split
into the advocates and opponents of compromise. But their hopes did not
materialize - the referendum in the republic gave unreserved support for
the independence course of the Transdnestr leaders, and the elites
consolidated around President Igor Smirnov, whose position grew even
stronger, considering that at one time his supporters had lost the
parliamentary elections. At the end of this year, Smirnov was re-elected
for a new term without a problem.
A referendum on independence in South
Ossetia had the same outcome. It was timed to coincide with the
presidential elections, which produced the expected results, and brought
Eduard Kokoity to power. Former Georgian defense minister Irakly
Okruashvili once boasted about his intention to celebrate the New Year
in Tskhinvali, South Ossetian capital, which was interpreted as evidence
of Tbilisi's aggressive intentions. Now he has retired, while the
Kokoity regime has gained a firm foothold in Tskhinvali.
As distinct from Transdnestr, there was a
split in the local elites, but it did not have any dramatic
consequences. To the contrary, the opposition hugely discredited itself
in the eyes of their compatriots by appealing for help to Georgia, and
taking part in "alternative" presidential elections in South Ossetia
(held in Tbilisi-controlled Georgian villages). Okruashvili's threats
and Tbilisi's tactical games with the opposition have made the
Tskhinvali regime more authoritarian.
Although Abkhazia did not hold either a
referendum or elections in 2006, its people had a chance of making their
voices heard at a republican people's assembly, organized by influential
parties and public organizations. Participants voted for an appeal to
Russia to recognize Abkhazia's independence, and establish associated
relations with it. "All attempts to return Abkhazia to Georgia's
jurisdiction are totally hopeless," the assembly document read.
In the middle of the year, Georgia tried
to exert pressure on Abkhazia by bringing its troops to adjacent
Svanetia. As a result, President Sergei Bagapsh said that his republic
was ready to hold a referendum like South Ossetia did, all the more so
since it conducted republican voting in 1999. When Bagapsh won the
presidential elections, some considered him an all but Tbilisi stooge.
However, this view was not buttressed in the outgoing year - together
with the entire Abkhazian elite, Bagapsh advocates the independence of
Attempts by the former "metropolitan"
countries (Georgia and Moldova) to exert economic, political, and
military pressure on the breakaway republics has produced the reverse
effect, and impeded political democratization there. In Transdnestr, for
one, Smirnov's rivals abstained from the elections not to help Chisinau
by splitting the local political elite.
Regress is also obvious in South Ossetia,
where the past presidential elections were held in the atmosphere of
acute rivalry, and led to the change of presidents (this was when
Kokoity prevailed over his predecessor Lyudvig Chibirov).
Abkhazia is the only exception that proves
the rule. It is the strongest breakaway country both politically and
militarily. Having ensured its security, it can afford a higher level of
Rotation of leaders and parties is a
classic sign of democracy, but the permanent outside threat compels the
majority of the elites and the population to suspend democratic reforms
until better times. In the outgoing year, the self-proclaimed republics
were like besieged fortresses, which is not conducive to political
plurality. It is clear that only renunciation of pressure may gradually
turn them into more open societies, which would be capable of evolving
Alexei Makarkin is an expert at the Center
of Political Technologies.