Voice of the Abkhatzians

-------------------- News from Abkhazia --------------------

 Russian forces in Abkhazia, S Ossetia guarantee peace - Rogozin


The Russian military presence in Abkhazia and South Ossetia protects these two nations against aggression from Georgia.


Russian NATO Ambassador Dmitry Rogozin was speaking about this in a media interview Sunday after the US Senate passed a resolution with calls for Russia to end what the Senators termed its occupation of the two South Caucasus territories.


The United States, the European Union and NATO stubbornly refuse to extend security guarantees to Abkhazia and South Ossetia.


08.01.2011  The Voice of Russia


 Russia, USA, EU guarantee no use of force between Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia


Russia, USA and the EU may guarantee no use of force between Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said, ITAR-TASS reports.


Russian and French Presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Nicolas Sarkozy initiated 16 rounds of talks in Geneva. However, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Georgia were not represented.


The talks in Geneva contributed to progress. But Tbilisi ignores proposals of Tskhinval and Sukhum to conclude bilateral agreements. Karasin believes that Georgia is trying to blame Russia for the war in August 2008, calling it the aggressor.




 Abkhazia: Wants Better Relations With Georgia, Georgia Doesn’t – Abkazian PM


Sukhum, Abkhazia wants to normalize relations with Georgia but Tbilisi’s current authorities have blocked all paths to dialogue, Abkhazia’ s Prime Minister Sergei Shamba said on Saturday.    Read more >>>


 A meeting with the Geneva Discussions co-chairs was held


Sukhum, On the 21st of July 2011 a meeting between Abkhazian representatives and Geneva-talks co-chairs Pierre Morel, the EU Special Representative, Antti Turunen, Representative of the UN Secretary General, and Giedrius Cekuolis, the Personal Representative of the Chairperson-in-Office of the OSCE was held at the MFA office. Abkhazian side was presented by Maksim Gunjia, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Viacheslav Chirikba, Ruslan Kishmariya, Garry Kupalba and Lana Agrba who are the regular members of the Geneva Discussions.


The meeting was held in the working environment; the sides discussed recent meetings of the co-chairs in Moscow, Tbilisi and Tskhinval as well as the agenda for the forthcoming Geneva Discussions. Abkhazian side informed the representatives about the overall situation in the country and expressed concerns regarding the resolution on Abkhazian and South Ossetian refugees adopted by the UN General Assembly. According to the Minister, the discussion of this issue makes sense only when all interested sides are participated.


Pierre Morel along with his colleagues promised to take into account this information and also added that nature of the resolution should not affect the Geneva Discussions process as for today they are the only foothold for the joint discussions.


Maksim Gunjia also raised a question regarding the difficulties that Abkhazian citizens face when travelling to Europe. As a result, it was decided to include this issue on the agenda for the next round of Geneva talks.


07.21.2011  MFA of Abkhazia


 Abkhazia holds presidential election


The three candidates who were nominated on Sunday are the incumbent vice president, Alexander Ankuab, Prime Minister Sergei Shamba and opposition leader Raul Hajymba. The snap poll in Abkhazia, caused by the death of the former head of state, Sergei Bagapsh in Moscow at the end of May, is on August 26. The Abkhaz parliament has invited Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Northern Cyprus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus as well  as the Inter Parliamentary Assembly of the Euro-Asian Economic Union to monitor  the election.


Election campaign starts today, July 18 with the publication of the programme of the candidates, after which the chances of each of them can be analyzed, says Arda Inal-Ipa of the Center of Humanitarian Programme of Abkhazia, who  spoke to VOR in an interview:


“It is politically significant for Abkhazia that each poll, this being the third, is always characterized by uncertainty. It is evidence of a truly evolving civil society where the electors freely choose their president. The three contesting candidates are well known public figures, but regrettably, no new faces have emerged on the horizon of the young republic. It’s the same old faces that we have seen since 2004. Of course, they are experienced politicians and the voters know well what they can do, but it is difficult to pick the best from the three contestants in terms of solving the arduous economic problems the republic faces. Whoever wins on August 26 will undoubtedly work hard to further improve ties with Russia, thanks to which Abkhazia is today an independent country."


Russia is watching closely the political developments in a neighbouring state and in an  interview for VOR,  Maria  Lazutova, head of the office of the State Duma’s Committee for CIS affairs and links with compatriots had this to say:


“Russia sees Abkhazia as a friendly and predictable state, and that was why Russia was the first to recognize its independence. Russia would like to see Abkhazia a stable country with a strong economy, and most importantly, a nation whose independence is recognized by more countries”, said Lazutova.


After the sad events of August 2008, Abkhazia became an important element for stability in the region, and Russia backs it in its new role. Russian and Abkhaz officials are presently discussing the possibility of making the airport in Sukhum a standby airport during the Sochi Olympic Games in 2014.


07.18.2011  The Voice of Russia


 Abkhazia to improve security


Abkhaz officials are going to improve social security in the country on the verge of the coming presidential elections. Issues of security were discussed recently during a meeting of the republic's law-enforcement agencies' chiefs, Apsnypress reports.


According to the decision reached at the meeting, law-enforcement agency chiefs are now going to report weekly on how the situation is developing.




 Comment on an article in the Vanuatu Independent: To Tamar Vashakidze and the people of Vanuatu


Facts can be discussed in an objective and meaningful way. Then there are the ‘facts’ disseminated by Georgian lobbyists, which are neither meaningful nor (by definition) objective. Sadly, the contents of Tamar Vashakidze’s article, which was recently published in the Vanuatu Independent, fall into the latter category.


Vashakidze places quotation-marks around the phrase ‘national self-determination, raising a question thereby about the legitimacy of the use of this term with reference to the Abkhazians. But for us Abkhazians our self-determination is a crucial counterpoint to the colonialism and imperialism practised against us over the decades by Georgia, and understanding this is crucial to reaching a peace-settlement.


We Abkhazians have our own self-designation in our native tongue; this is ‘Apswa’ (plural ‘Aspwaa’). When Georgians and their foreign supporters refer to us in this way, it is not to honour our ethnonym but to cast aspersions on our historical entitlement to our native territory. The reason for this is the gross distortion of history (propounded in Georgia since the 1880s but mostly associated with a notorious publication from the time of Stalin’s and Beria’s repression of the Abkhazians by the Georgian literary specialist Pavle Ingoroqva) is to insinuate that the ‘true’ Abkhazians of history were a Georgian-speaking tribe, whilst the nation to which we are proud to belong came relatively late to the territory of Abkhazia, dominating and taking over the name of the territory’s ‘true’ autochthons. The determined revival of the ‘Ingoroqvan Hypothesis’ in the late 1980s was a factor that led inevitably to the Georgian-Abkhazian war of 1992-3. 


That war broke out when the Georgian authorities of the day, which, by the way, totally lacked any democratic mandate but which was led by the West’s darling Eduard Shevardnadze, invaded Abkhazia and occupied most of the towns and villages, including the capital our Sukhum, on 14 August 1992.  During the first months of the conflict, when the West preferred to look the other way, it was the non-‘Georgian’ [ non-Kartvelian] civilians who were attacked and had to flee as they were beaten, robbed and killed, their houses and apartments looted. 


The Commander-in-chief of Georgian troops in Abkhazia, General Giorgi Karkarashvili, issued the following chilling threat in a formal televised address to the Abkhazian and Georgian people in Sukhum on 24 August: “No prisoners of war will be taken...If 100,000 Georgians lose their lives, then [on the Abkhazian side] all 97,000 will be killed...The Abkhazian nation will be left without descendants.” http://www.youtube.com


Regretfully, when discussing the problem of Kartvelian refugees, no-one bothers to remember the above-mentioned facts and that the Kartvelian population of Abkhazia mostly greeted Shevardnadze’s tanks and soldiers with joy.


Specific attacks were directed against Abkhazian political, cultural, intellectual and community leaders. In addition to the disappearance or killing of Abkhazians, removal or destruction of the principal materials and buildings of important historical and cultural importance to Abkhazians took place in what appears to have been an organised attempt to destroy the very cultural and national identity of the Abkhazians.


The Report of the Commission of Experts Established Pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 780 (1992), 27 May 1994 (S/1994/674), English page33, Paragraph 129 states with regard to ethnic cleansing that it is:


"the planned deliberate removal from a specific territory, persons of a particular ethnic group, by force or intimidation, in order to render that area ethnically homogenous. Those practices constitute crimes against humanity and can be assimilated to specific war crimes. Furthermore, such acts could also fall within the meaning of the Genocide Convention"...


Medical authorities in Gudauta (northern Abkhazia) reported that virtually all men who had passed through the Gudauta hospital, after having been held prisoner by Georgian authorities, appeared to have been severely tortured. Many had sustained multiple broken bones and burns from cigarettes or other objects on various parts of their bodies. Some had their ears partially or completely torn off. See UNPO's Abkhazia Report, November 1992, b. Human Rights and Cultural Destruction  at http//www.unpo.org/downloads/AbkGeo1992Report.pdf


Tamar Vashakidze, Head of Advocacy and Communications in Georgia, stated in the article that the Apswaa are a small ethnic group which formed less than 20% of Abkhazia’s pre-war population and which carried out severe ethnic cleansing, wiping out or deporting some 75% of the ‘Georgian’ [recte Kartvelian] population of Abkhazia. For whom is this kind of brainwashing intended? Is it credible that 20% Abkhazians could pose such a threat to 75% Kartvelians?  The demographic threat in Abkhazia came rather from the artificial increase of the territory’s Kartvelian population, largely as a result of population-transfers during the Stalin-Beria period, in order to swamp us Abkhazians in our homeland.


The readers of the Vanuatu Independent should know that Abkhazia’s status was downgraded to that of a mere ‘autonomous republic’ in 1931 within Stalin’s home-republic, the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic.  In those days all problems were solved by central diktat, in which the former republics of the USSR dragged out their existence in an atmosphere of total fear and in which violations of human rights were the norm. The geographical borders of the Soviet socialist republics were redrawn, and, in the case of Abkhazia, this was done in favour of Georgia. Although for most of the Soviet period Abkhazia had the status of an autonomous republic, it has NEVER been a Georgian region and no one is supposed to incorporate it into the  Russian Federation.


The Russian Federation, followed by Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Nauru have recognised Abkhazia as an independent state; the same applies in the case of South Ossetia. Any country is free to do the same (or not), but their decision should be based on proper appreciation of the facts and not on self-serving propaganda emanating from Tbilisi, the capital of the aggressor state.


07.14.2011  ALLS Independent Media Monitoring Team


 Alexander Rahr: Abkhazia and South Ossetia will not return to Georgia


The well-known German political scientist and expert gave an interview to Vestnik Kavkaza. He touched on the full spectrum of political themes between Russia and the Caucasus, as well as basic geopolitical aspects of the current world. We publish the first part of the interview on relations between Russia and Georgia.

- Mr Rahr, let’s begin with the most painful point of the Caucasus – the absence of Russian-Georgian relations. This situation came about after the war of 2008. Do you think it is possible to restore the relations without the resignation of any of the ruling regimes?

- I must say it is possible, and the neighbours should strive to improve relations, especially in the situation between Georgia and Russia. Today they are still on the brink of serious conflicts. How can this problem be solved? The situation might be improved if the current heads in Russia or Georgia, who were directly connected with the war of 2008, resign.

- Do you think it is possible in the near future?

- In Georgia the elections will take place in 2013, as far as I know, and Saakashvili won’t participate. So I believe that any new president of Georgia will try to stabilise relations with Russia . In Russia this process is more difficult. Mr. Putin will not give up power: he will be the next president of Russia or continue running the Russian government. However, it is not beneficial for Russia to have bad relations with Georgia. Many Georgians live in Russia, and they are treated positively in the country. The problem of the approach is about Georgia all in all, as I think Abkhazia and South Ossetia will not return to Georgia.

- So you think Russia will never cancel its recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia?

- The problem is not only about Russia, but also about Abkhazia itself, which will never agree to give up its independence. It is building its own state. I think that, little by little, Abkhazia will be recognized by other countries, including Turkey. If Georgian policy remains directed at making Abkhazia and South Ossetia come back, the problems between Russia and Georgia won’t be solved.

As for South Ossetia, this problem is more difficult and the solution is less obvious. It is possible that the republic will come back to Georgia of its own good will. For this, the Georgians have to cooperate with the Ossetians closely and prove their economic superiority. This will be difficult to do.

- Especially considering the strong ties between South Ossetia and North Ossetia…

- Geography is against these ties. It hampers the inclusion of South Ossetia into the Russian Federation. I believe that geography defines the development of the republic. After the resignation of Eduard Kokoyty, part of the population might move to North Ossetia, and South Ossetia might change its foreign policy toward Georgia, if Tbilisi proposes an interesting economic project. But Abkhazia is lost for Georgia, I think…

- Georgia actively strives for European integration, for example, entering the EU. Do you think this prospect is realistic?

- Unfortunately, geography also plays a negative role for Georgia. Without Turkey, Georgia won’t be a member of the EU. If Turkey manages to enter the union, Georgian chances will slowly grow.

- You used to say that recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by Russia was a “cowboy” deed. What do you think now, was it an emotional decision or a strategic political step?

- That's a very interesting question, but I have no answer to it yet. We don't have full information about the events which took place in 2008. Russia has been supporting Abkhazia and South Ossetia for 18 years of the conflict with Georgia. There was probably a provocation in 2008 and Saakashvili was trapped. If that is true, the aim of Russia was to prove that it is the main factor in the former Soviet space and Western countries must not interfere, and that there would be no expansion of NATO there. On the other hand, recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia was implemented through emotional measures. Probably Russia had to… however, I understand why Russia did it, but…

- Because of Kosovo… as revenge?

- No. Russia might have waited several months and gone through international courts to achieve recognition of the republics, as the EU experts proved that the initiator of the conflict was Georgia. In this case their independence was more legitimate. South Ossetia was defending itself from Georgia, but what about Abkhazia? Its independence was recognized as well.

Now let’s imagine another variant of the development of events. Saakashvili wanted to spread panic among the South Ossetian population. As a result, thousands of refugees would block the Rocksky tunnel and Russian tanks wouldn’t be able to reach the south of the republic and help Russian military personnel. Saakashvili counts on asking NATO to send its army to the region and control it instead of Russian peacekeepers. For Russia, this scenario was a disaster. In order to avoid it, Russia probably provoked Saakashvili. From historical, geopolitical and legal points of view the Russian actions were reasonable. Interview by Orkhan Satarov