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De-facto President of Abkhazia faces problems

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, July 7
The de-facto President of Abkhazia, Raul Khajimba, says he is ready to continue negotiations with opposition factions since they accused him of restricting freedoms.

Khajimba made this statement shortly after the problems with Interior Ministry started.

“The problem has not been resolved yet. The opposition has other requests. The negotiations will continue. If needed, we will gather MPs and discuss the situation. We should think about tomorrow and act according to the law. As for me, I am here until my term expires,” Russian media reports Khajimba as saying.

On July 5, opposition groups held a protest near the so-called Interior Ministry and tried to attack it. A total of 17 people have been injured, with 10 of them hospitalized in the subsequent violence.

The opposition accuses the so-called President of restricting freedom of expression in relation to the referendum that is to be held concerning early elections.

It is universally known that Kharjimba is a “pro-Russian” figure who was elected as president in 2014 after the ‘May Revolution’, when then de-facto President Aleksandr Ankvab resigned after hundreds of demonstrators stormed his office.

Since 2010, he has also been Chairman of the Forum for the National Unity of Abkhazia. Khajimba previously held the offices of de-facto Vice President (2005–2009), Prime Minister (2003–2004) and Defence Minister (2002–2003). He unsuccessfully ran for President in 2004, 2009 and 2011.

He is reported to have served in the KGB (Committee for State Security) during the Soviet era, and has long been backed by Moscow despite the fact that his initial three bids for the presidency Abkhazia failed.

Unlike the de-facto authorities of Georgia’s other breakaway region of South Ossetia, Abkhazians say they “want independence both from Georgia and Russia.”

They are also against the holding of a referendum over Abkhazia’s formally joining the Russian Federation.

It is possible that support for Khajimba is waning simultaneously with support for Russia in Abkhazia; the Abkhazians, so passionate in fighting for 'freedom' from Georgia, will surely not have wanted to trade one 'foreign' overlord for another. However, Khajimba is still backed by Russia, and will likely remain a significant power in Sokhumi.