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Abkhaz media: Russia demands 160 square kilometers from Abkhazia

By Mzia Kupunia
Tuesday, March 22
The Russian Federation has filed a draft package of “state border demarcation” between Abkhazia and Russia which envisages moving the Russian border 160 square kilometers inside the territory of Georgia’s breakaway region. The information was spread by Abkhazian media outlets and bloggers. According journalist Vitaly Sharia, who published a material on Radio Ekho Kavkaza website, the information has not been confirmed by the de facto Abkhazian authorities. However, Sharia writes, that its authenticity has not been denied by the de facto authorities. “The opposition-oriented newspaper, Novy Den writes, that Chairman of the [Abkhazian-Russian] Commission on demarcation, Valery Kvarchia has refused to comment on the issue. If we follow simple logic, the refusal to comment in this case equals confirming this fact, as far as if the rumors were false, then nothing would hinder him to deny it,” Sharia writes.

Citing “private talks” with the de facto officials, the journalist reports that the so called Ambassador of Russia to Abkhazia has requested to block any information on the subject of demarcation “until the document is signed.” “Lack of official information breeds speculation,” Sharia suggests, saying that according to some reports, Russian authorities are planning to build a “new Las Vegas [on this territory] for entertaining Sochi Olympiad guests.”

Meanwhile, Abkhazian journalist, Inal Khashig has suggested that if the de facto Abkhazian President, Sergey Baghapsh will “give in” to Russia’s demand it will equal “the death of Abkhazia.” “It seems like Sergey Baghapsh will face the biggest challenge in his political career,” he writes “the new challenge is directly linked with Abkhazia-Russia border demarcation issue.” The journalist writes that this might anger the Abkhazian population. “The arguments for making territorial concessions are more than enough and I am sure that reminding about the recognition of [Abkhazia’s] independence will not be the only lever at the negotiations table. The main lever is a material one. The financial aid, which has poured into Abkhazia has not been able to put Abkhazia’s economy on its feet, however has enriched the local bureaucracy,” Khashig claims, saying that Russia is “investing in Abkhazian authorities.” “It is a very profitable business. You invest one Ruble and get 100,” he writes.

According to the Abkhazian media reports, the Russian-Abkhazian commission on “border” demarcation is due to meet on March 28 in Moscow. Georgian authorities have repeatedly stated that the demarcation works between Georgia’s breakaway regions and Russia are “illegal.” Officially, Tbilisi has made no comments on the latest media reports so far.