06 October, 2011

What Kremlin won’t forgive Abkhazia
Izo  Rikadze

18 years ago on September 27 Sukhumi fell, on September 29 – Ochamchire, on September 30 – Gali. This was the end of fighting to keep hold of Abkhazia. Several days  ago on September 30, the so-called President of Abkhazia congratulated the population with ‘the day of liberation from the Georgian occupation army’, adding that the victory was a righteous result of the liberation struggle. Neither the Russians forgot to congratulate the day of

‘liberation from Georgian occupation’, presenting the Abkhazs with the recognition of their independence by Tuvalu, a state with the population of 11.000. At the same time the Abkhaz criminal group made a present to the so-called President Aleksandr Ankvab, staging two explosions in the center of Sukhumi that resulted in the death of  Kabardinian Arsen Bzheshkiev, a ‘hero’ of Abkhazian war.
We asked Mamuka Areshidze, expert in Caucasian issues to share his point of view on the situation in Abkhazia:

M.A. – As it turned out, although secretly but all the same, a group of Russians assisted Ankvab in elections. They didn’t repeat the mistake they made in 2004 – they didn’t count on Abkhaz electorate that took their interference rather aggressively and staked on Armenians. The result is in evidence – Ankvab won.
As soon as he came to power, Ankvab declared that he’d pursue firm internal policy. He confronted political clans and criminal business groups who have divided Abkhazia into the zones of influence. That’s why they staged two explosions prior to Ankvab’s inauguration. It was a demonstration of their strength. Since his inauguration Ankvab hasn’t spent two days in his house due to the fear of reprisal.
In case Ankvab doesn’t exterminate the criminal hydra, their unification and spontaneous assault on Ankvab isn’t excluded. Russians will certainly help him but it isn’t the guarantee of his security. Lately the cases of beating, looting and raping of Russian tourists became frequent and in all this method of opposing on the part of criminal groups is evident. They are creating problems purposefully, artificially.
Q. – How do you view Abkhaz-Russian-Georgian relations from now on?
M.A. – Ankvab is the kind of man for whom diplomatic moves aren’t intrinsic. He bows to Russia but cheating of opponents and public isn’t characteristic of him. It’s noteworthy that Ankvab didn’t stress the return of muhajirs that was the major part of Baghapsh’s policy and to which, to my mind, he fell victim. Russians will pardon everything to Abkhazs – beating and even looting and raping of its tourists, everything except the return of muhajirs.
Q. – Why?
M.A. – This will be a blow on Russia’s interests and increase of Turkey’s influence on the region, which is rather strong as it is.
Ankvab is starting to purge cadres but he doesn’t have enough resources. He is looking for the cadres everywhere, even among muhajir offsprings. On the one hand, he doesn’t declare that their return will be one of the cornerstones of his policy and on the other, he is doing it. Bringing of muhajir offsprings to Abkhaz government means that Ankvab will have qualified, financially well-to-do government, which won’t be entangled in clan relations.
We have to intensify our relations with Abkhaz people and build up dialog with NGOs and peoples’ representatives. This has to be achieved with the help of our Western friends; the dialog should be permanent, not occasional.     If we offer something useful, Abkhazs may take unexpected steps.
Q. – Russians have recognized Abkhazia’s independence; what more can we offer them?
M.A. – Abkhaz people are striving to get closer to the West and they know quite well that without the return of refugees to Abkhazia their closer relations with it will be impossible. That’s why we must begin talks with Abkhazs about withdrawal of Russian army, return of IDPs and offer a dialog on the issue of independence.
Muhajir in Abkhazia started in the first half of XIX century due to the political defeat of the policy of pro-Turkish minded Abkhaz feudal lords and brutal crush of popular uprising. During the Crimean War (1853-1856) the occupation of Abkhazia by the Turks was followed by their mass resettlement to Ottoman Empire. In 1867 big wave of muhajir followed the elimination of Abkhaz princedom and mass revolt of 1866. Mass resettlement started during the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878 (about 50 thousand people). As a result of muhajir process, considerable part of Abkhaz territory was devastated. Biggest part of resettled people still live in Turkey, some reside in Syria, Jordan and other countries; smaller part of them live in the north Greece. Number of muhajir in Turkey comes to 100 thousand and in Arab countries - to about 15 thousand.

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