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Putin plans to visit occupied Abkhazia

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, August 3
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin plans to visit Georgia’s western occupied Abkhazia region on August 8, the day when the Russia-Georgia broke out in 2008, Russian media outlets report.

The media announced that Putin will meet with the de facto leaders of the region recognized as an independent state by Moscow after the 2008 war.

Georgia’s Minister for Reconciliation and Civil Equality, Ketevan Tsikhelashvili, believes that Vladimir Putin’s planned visit to Georgia’s occupied Abkhazia region is a “part of the continued occupation and an attempt at formally annexing Georgia’s historic lands”.

“We must not be provoked. We should keep the peace, as it is vitally important for us,” Tsikhelahsvili stated.

A representative of Russia’s State Duma, Konstantin Zatulin, said Putin’s visit is connected with the tense situation in Abkhazia and US Vice President Mike Pence’s recent trip to Georgia.

Tsikhelashvili confirms that after Pence’s visit, such a provocation was expected.

Pence highlighted during his visit that the US “strongly supported” Georgia’s territorial integrity and NATO membership, and that President Trump would sign new sanctions against Russia.

Russia and Nicaragua recognised Abkhazia’s independence in 2008 in the wake of the Russia-Georgia war.

In 2009 Venezuela, Vanuatu, Nauru and Tuvalu took the same step.

After several years, Vanuatu and Tuvalu revoked their recognition and now declare Abkhazia and Tskhinvali are integral parts of Georgia.

The Russia-Georgia war lasted five days and resulted in the deaths of 228 Georgian civilians, 170 soldiers and 14 police officers.

The war displaced 192,000 people in Georgia, and while many were able to return to their homes after the war, as of May 2014 more than 20,200 people remain displaced.