Game of Mandarin Thrones


The hassle continues in the occupied Abkhazia. This time protestors demanded a change to the date of the referendum planned for July 10th, the resignation of the so-called Minister of the Interior Affairs and also the right to vote with the so-called expired passports. The de facto President partly satisfied the demands, though the date of the referendum has remained unchanged. “I can’t dismiss myself. The only thing I can do is to resign, but I will not violate the law. What kind of President would I be then?” Khajimba told his opponents. Khajimba dismissed the de facto Minister of Interior Affairs on July 5th and recognized expired passports as effective. It will soon be made clear whether the population of the occupied territory trusts de facto President Raul Khajimba or not at the referendum.

Although observers should have no questions regarding the referendum, they say in Sokhumi that together with this upcoming one, the ghost of yet another referendum lurks in Abkhazia, directly connected with Russia, and that these protests are in fact towards the latter. The Opposition fears that after winning this referendum, Khajimba will automatically begin privatization of real estate, everything will be handed over to foreign citizens and the process will become irreversible.

The Opposition does not exclude the fact that after the referendum, Russia might ask Abkhazians to hold a referendum about joining Russia, like South Ossetia. There is no smoke without fire and this issue has been leaked not only on the social networks, but in official Abkhazian and pro-Abkhazian Russian language media as well. The Kremlin is keeping a close eye on it all, hoping that the existing problems will be resolved through constitutional means. According to Russian media, the Press Secretary of the President of Russia, Dmitry Peskov, declared: “The Kremlin is paying close attention to the events taking place in Abkhazia. We want to see Abkhazia, which borders the Russian Federation, as a stable and developing state.”

Moscow rules out the possibility of events developing according to the Ossetian scenario in Abkhazia, saying that this lie is spread and fueled by street press, Khajimba’s opposition and foreign agents. Russian political analyst, Dmitry Kulikov is confident that for many the strategic partnership between Moscow and Sokhumi is inconvenient and that they are using every method possible to radically change these relations, blaming especially Turkey in this political game, as, after downing the Russian bomber, it has led a more active policy towards Abkhazia. “Shallow and obscure publications from unknown authors can be seen all over the internet talking about Abkhazia playing games with Turkey behind Russia’s back, and Russia in turn striving to swallow Abkhazia and planning to use the referendum to this end,” Kulikov said in an interview with the agency Sputnik Abkhazia.

Official Tbilisi has not commented on the ongoing turmoil so far and is playing the card of disinterest in these issues. No guesswork needed to predict that Tbilisi will declare the referendum of 10th July as illegitimate. Therefore, it seems that Khajimba’s fate does not matter. However, in reality, the battle for power in occupied Abkhazia is approaching a crucial phase and whether pro-Russian Khajimba or one of his more neutral opponents will be in charge of the de facto government should by no means be of no interest to Georgia.

The former Minister of Justice of the autonomous Republic of Abkhazia, Paata Davitaia says that the ongoing protests were predictable and no surprise. “Former President Alexander Anquab is trying to regain power by supporting the Amtskhara party, an attempt to repeat what Khajimba did to Anquab. The fight against Anquab was based on the economy, while that against Khajimba is based on the frustration about him handling all control to Russia. Whether the upcoming referendum will become the root for yet another Mandarin Revolution will be clear in a few days, but before that Russian tourists are leaving occupied Abkhazia, which for ordinary Abkhazians means a failed tourist season and being stuck without income until next year.”

Zaza Jgarkava

07 July 2016 20:15