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Shamba denies Russian citizens’ property rights restoration claims

By Mzia Kupunia
Monday, August 23
The de facto Abkhazian Prime Minister, Sergey Shamba denied the allegations of the Abkhazian media on August 20 about his support of a document proposed by Moscow on the restoration of property rights of Russian citizens in Abkhazia. The Abkhazian newspaper Nuzhnaya published an article previously on August 17, accusing the de facto PM, as well as the de facto President Sergey Baghapsh of having links with the “anti-state and anti-Abkhazian document giving legal grounds to the Georgian IDPs holding Russian passports to return to Abkhazia,” news agency Apsnypress reported.

The anonymous author of the article assumes that the implementation of the project titled “A concept of the joint work of Russian-Abkhazian commission on the issues of restoring the property rights of the Russian Federation citizens in the Republic of Abkhazia” would result in the return of “thousands” of Georgian IDPs, those holding Russian citizenship, to Abkhazia to restore their property rights.

The de facto Abkhazian Prime Minister told journalists that he first heard about the document in the article published in the Nuzhnaya newspaper. “The author of the article boils everything in one pot – the Geneva process, the concept, about which I learnt from the publication, and the return of the Georgian IDPs,” Apsnypress quoted Shamba as saying. “I don’t see any links between the Geneva consultations on security in the Caucasus and the abovementioned project. I did not know anything about this document until I read this article,” he added.

In his interview to Apsnypress news agency, Shamba said that he asked the President’s administration about the project and found out that the document was received from the Russian Foreign Ministry without any registration number of an attached letter. “It is not clear whose proposal it is. As I was told by President’s administration and by the President himself, the proposal was rejected immediately, without any examination. The document has the relevant resolution of the President,” the de facto Abkhazian PM noted.

According to Shamba, a number of documents and projects were proposed by the Georgian side during the Georgian-Abkhazian negotiation process together with mediators and observers. “However we never agreed to discuss documents not corresponding to the interests of our nation,” he noted “We did not accept Boden’s document and categorically rejected Georgia’s strategy on reintegration,” he added.

Shamba accused the author of the article of “direct slander of the government” and of spreading “biased” information. “I do not know who exactly wrote this article, but whoever he is, our law enforcement bodies and the Prosecutor’s Office should react to this publication. If what is written here is correct and the government has in fact agreed to such a betrayal, then someone should answer for this. If it is not so then someone should be held responsible for the slander,” the de facto Prime Minister said.

Some Georgian analysts suggest that the issue of restoring property rights to Russian citizens in Abkhazia shows a “conflict of interests” between de facto Abkhazia and Russia. “We will now see who is a real governor in Abkhazia – the de facto government or the Kremlin,” analyst Malkhaz Chemia told The Messenger. He said that if the document on restoring property rights to Russian citizens is adopted, Moscow will achieve two goals. “First of all it will show the Georgians, the refugees from Abkhazia that if they have Russian citizenship, their property rights are protected by the Kremlin. With this move Russia also wants to restore its reputation that was spoiled when it participated in the ethnic cleansing of Georgians,” Chemia noted. “It will be very interesting to see who will be the winner in this issue – Sukhumi or Moscow. If Moscow wins, it will be another slap in Abkhazians’ face,” he added.