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Moscow Reaffirms Support to Sokhumi
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 3 Jun.'14 / 18:14

Russia has reiterated readiness to “develop and strengthen” relations with new leadership in breakaway Abkhazia to be elected in snap presidential election on August 24 after Alexander Ankvab had to step down following opposition’s protests in Sokhumi.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on June 2 that Moscow “will respect” the choice of the Abkhaz voters.

It also said that after opposition’s protest rally on May 27 “process of internal political struggle” in Abkhazia “went beyond legal framework.” The Russian Foreign Ministry said that violent scenario was possible to prevent thanks to Ankvab and other Abkhaz leaders.

Speaker of the parliament, Valery Bganba, who is now an acting president of the breakaway region, said at a news conference on June 2 that lawmakers are working on a bill providing “security guarantees to ex-president,” Abkhaz news agency Apsnipress reported. He also said that Ankvab had left the Russian military base in Gudauta, where he was staying after he had to flee his presidential administration on May 27, and is now in his house in Gudauta district.

Central Election Commission of the breakaway region said on Tuesday that political parties and initiative groups will be able to apply for registration of their presidential candidates starting from June 25; deadline will expire on July 14.

Asked about participation of voters in predominantly ethnic Georgian populated Gali district in upcoming election, Valery Bganba responded, according to Apsnipress, that it’s now difficult to answer that question.

In April legislative body in the breakaway region passed a resolution saying that Abkhaz passports distributed upon “recommendations of commissions, established in violation of the law on citizenship of Abkhazia in Gal[i], Ochamchira [Ochamchire] and Tkuarchal [Tkvarcheli] districts should be deemed issued in violation of set procedures and cannot serve as proof of citizenship of the Republic of Abkhazia.” The resolution called on the breakaway region’s authorities to start issuing new passports from January 1, 2015.

“We continue working,” Bganba said. “Criminal cases have been initiated in connection to illegal issuing of passports. We also have to hold political consultations. They [population of Gali] are our residents. I am not saying citizens, they are residents of Abkhazia. We will think. It is very difficult to answer that question.”
    
In his capacity as acting leader of the breakaway region, Bganba sacked on June 2 heads of Tkvarcheli and Gali districts and asked the parliament to dismiss chief prosecutor Safarbei Mikanba. Resignation of these officials were among original demands of opposition demonstrators, when they gathered in Sokhumi afternoon on May 27, which later on the same day grew into demands of Ankvab’s resignation. On June 3 Bganba dismissed vice-premier Beslan Eshba.

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