The messenger logo

Ankvab – new leader of Abkhaz Separatists

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, August 30
The so called Presidential elections are over in breakaway Abkhazia, around 55% of registered voters of the region voted for Aleksandr Ankvab. There is fierce speculation that he strives for genuine independence for the region, however obviously he realizes that “independence” of Abkhazia is an illusion and Russia is pulling all of the strings.

During the pre election campaigning, all three candidates for this post spoke intensively about strategic partnership with Russia. Of course all of them speculated about complete independence for Abkhazia, denying even the slightest possibility of integration back to Georgia. Of course, the newly elected leader will continue talking about the independence of the area, however it is not hard to guess that the process would continue under Russian control.

The existence of the separatist region, its “independence” and further moves are all part of Moscow’s policy against Tbilisi. Whatever happens, the speculations in Abkhazia, concerning independence, the result is the same, the Kremlin rules everything there.

The position of Tbilisi, or different international organizations is clear for everyone, the elections are non legitimate, there could be no democratic elections when the territory is being occupied by foreign forces and more than half of the population has been kicked out of the region due to their ethnic origin. From this point, arises a question, who or what is Ankvab? Is he a real leader, is he a just a puppet? Leader of Free democrats, Irakli Alasania made a very bold statement: “the fact is that thousands of Georgians did not participate in the elections, but the fact is also that the Georgians should consider the choice of the Abkhaz population and steps should be taken for reconciliation of Georgians and Abkhazians.“ So what is the Abkhaz choice? There is spread opinion among Georgian analysts that those voted for Ankvab are more nationalistic, they consider that Ankvab will better protect Abkhaz national interests against Georgia and even against Russia. The so called Prime Minister, Russian backed Sergey Shamba, is more oriented on democracy, liberal values and promoting Abkhazia towards Europe. He considered that Abkhazia should try to integrate with Europe. The supporters of the third candidate, Raul Khajimba are mostly Russian oriented and less nationalistic.

Ankvab became popular after distributing Abkhaz passports among the population. This was done against the background of the reality that almost the entire Abkhaz population holds Russian passports, so it is obvious that Moscow considers this territory as inhabited by Russian citizens, therefore, logically Moscow considers that anyone holding Russian passports should have the right to obtain real estate and land in this territory. Analysts in Georgia, as well as Abkhazians understand that selling Abkhaz land today means that Russian, Armenians and anybody with big money could obtain the lands and properties in the territory very cheaply. Eventually, the Abkhaz population will lose their lands, many of them will leave the country for different reasons: to spend the money acquired from selling the land or to invest in business in Russia. So, eventually, the situation from the view of demography will change dramatically, to the disadvantage of the Abkhaz population. Of course, Abkhaz nationalists are fearful of this eventuality. Georgian opposition member, Paata Davitaia thinks that eventually so called previous Abkhaz President Sergey Bagapsh became the victim of nationalism, as he did not follow the dictate of the Kremlin. Davitaia also predicts that any Abkhaz leader who will oppose selling lands to Russian citizens will presumably suffer the same fate. As soon as elected, Aleksandr Ankvab made the statement that foreign citizens could buy real estate and that the land is the state's property.

On one hand Moscow has to respect the “Independence of a Sovereign state“ but on the other hand it wants its interest to be considered in Abkhazia. We should keep in the mind that the situation in the region is controlled not by tens of thousands of Abkhaz voters who elected their leader, but in reality it is controlled from the Kremlin.