Alexander Ankvab at a meeting with Russia’s PM Vladimir Putin in
Sokhumi on June 2, 2011. Photo: Kremlin website.
The Abkhaz society and political landscape is "mature" enough to avoid turbulence in upcoming early presidential elections, the breakaway region's acting president, Alexander Ankvab, said in an interview with Russian news magazine the New Times.
"Elections will be held as scheduled [on August 26] and there will be no turbulence despite of some dark predictions. We have quite mature society, quite mature political forces and quite democratic electoral law," he said.
Ankvab, 58, who has been the breakaway region's PM since 2005 and the vice president after re-election of late Abkhaz leader Sergey Bagapsh in December 2009, is one of the potential presidential candidates.
But asked whether he would run for presidency or not in the August 26 election, Ankvab declined to answer saying it would "not be nice" to speak about it now as "we have just buried" Bagapsh.
Deadline for nominating candidates expires on July 17.
Asked how the upcoming election would influence on relations with Tbilisi, Ankvab said that "no matter who comes into power in Abkhazia, the peace treaty [with Georgia] will be the major issue."
"Peace treaty - that's our future," he said. "We want to live in good-neighborliness. We do not want war... Such a document can be signed, If there is a political will on the part of the Georgian leadership too."
Speaking on Georgia, Ankvab recalled May 26 break up of street protest in Tbilisi by the riot police and said it was "a humiliation of dignity" of the Georgian society.
"Such thing has never happened here [in Abkhazia]. And what for this 'drastic measures' were needed? For a military parade - that is for propaganda purposes. That's the style of [the Georgian] leadership. I do not refer to the Georgian citizens."
On predominately Georgian-populated Gali district of the breakaway region, Ankvab said that "situation is getting better there" and that the district would be integrated into the Abkhaz economy in five years.
"There are many problems [in Gali], but they are not as dramatic as Georgia and some other countries want to portray it,"he said.
There have been at least four, or possibly five, attempts on Ankvab's life since 2005 with the most recent attack carried out in September, 2010.
No one has ever been arrested for these attacks.
Ankvab said in the interview with the New Times, that investigation was still ongoing and that "internal" Abkhaz forces were behind these attacks; he, however, declined to elaborate on the issue.
In February 2005 a group of unknown gunmen opened fire on a convoy carrying Ankvab, then PM, outside Sokhumi. His car was hit by 17 bullets, local television reported at the time. Ankvab, however, was riding in his deputy’s car and survived unharmed.
In April 2005, Ankvab again survived unharmed when unknown gunmen opened fire on his convoy near Sokhumi in which Ankvab’s driver was wounded.
A roadside land mine, found in June 2007 on a road between Sokhumi and Gudauta, a regular route of Ankvab’s convoy, was also believed to have been aimed at him.
In July, 2007 Ankvab was slightly injured with shrapnel after his car came under grenade attack on a road between Gudauta and Sokhumi.
In September, 2010 Ankvab, was wounded in leg and hand after a grenade hit his house in Gudauta.