Pulling Teeth and Pushing Presidents

The Abkhaz are growing restless with their President, Raul Khajimba.

There is still unrest in the occupied region of Abkhazia. One year after the “Tangerine Revolution,” people have rioted against the revolutionary hero and current president, Raul Khajimba. The Abkhazian elite in Sokhumi is demanding the removal of Khajimba from the government or else they are threatening a mass protest and the assembly of the Council of the Elders, which practically means that drawing a verdict and the fulfillment of that verdict is obligatory for any Abkhazian.

After the presidential post of the former governor of occupied Abkhazia, Alexander Ankvab, was lost to the so-called “Tangerine Revolution,” President Putin’s favorite Raul Khajimba came to power in Sokhumi. Not much changed with his coming, just like in any corrupted governmental verticals: old ones replaced with new and life continues as it did but with one different ‘figurehead’. In the local church conflict, Raul Khajimba chose to stand on the pro-Russian side. “Taking a position in the Abkhazian church conflict? Even Khajimba’s predecessor Alexander Ankvab did not make such a mistake,” people say in Sokhumi.

Khajimba made a crucial mistake when in spring, the Orthodox world celebrated the Day of Prophet Svimon Kananeli. Despite the fact that St. Svimon Kananeli’s Day is the main holiday of the New Athoni Monastery, representatives of the government, led by Khajimba, attended the service, which was led by Father Besarion (representative of the Abkhazian Orthodox Church), a person close to the Russian Patriarch Kirill and who did not go to the New Athoni Monastery. Bishops of the New Athoni Monstery Complex attribute themselves to the Abkhazian Mitropolity and Constantinoples Patriarchy. Abkhazia’s Holy Mitropolity unites many people, and the majority of the Abkhazian intelligentsia supports it, regardless of their affiliation – whether they are Khajimbists or Ankvabists. Against a background of strategic partnership with Russia, Abkhazia’s Holy Mitropolity is one of the brightest symbols of at least spiritual independence from Russia. Recently, Khajimba has showed many signs of supporting the priests who are under the guidance of Priest Besarion. At all Mass events, the priest stands beside the President. Confrontation with the local elite, which does not accept the “provincial” guy from Tkvarcheli, adds to Khajimba’s strategic mistakes. In Abkhazia, Abkhaz from Gudautha (next to Sokhumi) are considered to be the elite. All predecessors of Khajimba came from Gudautha.

In Tbilisi, people are certain that Khajimba will not manage to stop the development of events in Sokhumi. Paata Davitaia, Head of the Georgian European Democrats, is certain that Khajimba will have to resign. Davitaia told Prime Time News that in occupied Abkhazia, former president Alexander Ankvab stands behind the rallies of the so-called opposition. “Ankvab stands behind these rallies. This is a process that Khajimba will not be able to stop because the process is initiated by the force that is called ‘Amtsakhara’. Warriors are part of this force and they enjoy high respect. Behind the process stands the Council of Elders whose words have always been decisive in Abkhazia. Recently, Khajimba is in practical terms not obeying that Council. An example of that is the signing the so-called Association Agreement with Russia, which they opposed. Thus, the process of government replacement has started,” Davitaia says.

No one knows how the events will play out in Abkhazia. However, one thing is clear – local political experts were saying back in spring that by autumn the situation would be so grave that the situation might lead to a change of authorities… So far, it has only been recognized that Abkhazians have to visit Zugdidi and Tbilisi more often. What they used to categorically deny in previous years, they do not hide now. Speakers at rallies held in Sokhumi often mentioned this fact and laid accusations against Khajimba. For example, according to leader of the oppositional grouping ‘Amatskhara,’ Merab Jopua, people run to Georgia even to have their teeth pulled out. “We are moving towards a worse situation every day. The country is governed by criminals; local population run to Georgia to have their teeth pulled out; drug abuse has almost become the rule of life for young people here. Demand for education was lost; there is no such thing as law. And after all that why do we need such a government that can do nothing?… This is why it has to resign – we have nothing to lose, Khajimba’s flat statements that we hinder the country’s development are words said for saving ourselves,” Jopua said.

However, it does not seem that Khajimba intends to resign from the government just yet. As he says, his so-called presidential term expires in 2019 and he will resign only after that. Whether Khajimba’s prognoses will prove right is hard to say. Everything will depend on the 205 million USD which Putin promised to Khajimba and which is still only on paper, and not yet in the actual budget of occupied Abkhazia.

Zaza Jgharkava

29 October 2015 22:35