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Russia winner in Abkhazian presidential elections

By Messenger Staff
Monday, July 25
After the death of the president of the so called Abkhazian independent state Sergey Bagapsh, new snap elections are to be held there. There are three candidates; all of whom must prove their ability to speak Abkhaz before standing. Georgia considers these elections illegal and so does the international community. For the Kremlin however and its puppet regime in Abkhazia, the results of the election will not make much difference. Whoever is elected will be the puppet of the Kremlin anyway. The Georgian position was once again outlined in a statement by the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It says that carrying out the elections in the territory from where most of the local population of Georgian ethnicity was driven out is cold-hearted mockery. It ignores all democratic procedures and institutions. The Sokhumi puppet regime representatives immediately responded to the Georgian remarks. They highlighted the issue of the alleged sovereignty of Abkhazia and the forthcoming elections which should be held on August 26 with the constitution of “independent Abkhazia.” They also repeated that Abkhazia is not occupied by Russia and that Russian armed forces are there on the request of the Abkhazian people and government. Of course Abkhazians know very well that Russians do not wait for an invitation before their armed forces appear in the territory. In reality Moscow does not care for the Abkhaz opinion at all that indeed this territory is occupied and the Kremlin is conducting a colonial policy there.

The show continues and all three candidates for the presidency are mainly concerned with presenting arguments to prove their loyalty to Moscow. Otherwise their fate could be as tragic as the late Bagapsh. Some analysts consider that Bagapsh died because of his visit to Turkey and there was intensive speculation about the possible return of ethnic Abkhaz people, the so called Muhajirs back to Abkhazia, which did not please Moscow. So, now three candidates court the Kremlin.

The programs of those candidates slightly differ from one another. As one analyst said Sergey Shamba will promote a pro Russian policy. Raul Khajimba simply favours a Russian policy while Alexander Ankvab may promote a marginally pro Abkhaz policy. Besides this rivalry there is one very significant incentive. The winner of this race will have access to the major assets of the breakaway territory, including land and real estate. It is also interesting to look at the candidates for the vice presidency. Khajimba named as his vice president the widow of Abkhazia’s first so called President Vladislav Ardzimba – Svetlana Jergenia. Sergey Shamba nominated as his vice president young politician Shamil Adzimba, who he hopes will secure the young generation voters for him. Ankvab nominated head of Gulripshi region administration Mikheil Logua, backed up by Gulripshi region's Armenian population and oligarch of Abkhazian origin Beslan Butba.

It is difficult to identify who of those three is the favourite at the moment. Some think that this will be Khajimba who during the 2004 elections was supported by then President Putin himself. There is speculation that interim president Alexander Ankvab also has a serious chance. But one thing is clear, whoever will be elected he will have to prove his loyalty to the Kremlin with appropriate steps giving rights to Russian citizens to purchase property in this territory. This was one of the problems with the late Bagapsh who was unable to resolve this in favour of the Russians.

Of course there will be representatives of the Georgian population of Abkhazia participating in the elections as well though their number is very low. So far only 7 000 ethnic Georgians are registered as voters, though before the separatists won in Abkhazia, the Georgian ethnic population was the biggest in the territory coming to almost 350 000. The campaigning may have only just begun but we already know that only a fiercely pro-Russian administration will prevail in present day Abkhazia.