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Moscow Fails to Solve Abkhaz Crisis
/ 4 Nov.'04 / 13:18
Giorgi Sepashvili, Civil Georgia

Opposition leader Sergey Bagapsh says
Moscow mounted pressure on him.
Russian NTV television footage

Despite two days of talks in the Russian capital of Moscow, the two main rivals for the Abkhaz presidency keep pursuing uncompromising stances - opposition candidate Sergey Bagapsh is preparing for his presidential inauguration on December 7 while pro-governmental candidate Raul Khajimba insists on a re-vote being held in December.

Some details of the talks between the two men and Russian officials became known on November 3, upon the arrival of Raul Khajimba’s and Sergey Bagapsh back to Sokhumi.

The opposition candidate Sergey Bagapsh told reporters in the Abkhaz capital that he held talks with Secretary of the Russian National Security Council Igor Ivanov and with chief of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Nikolay Patrushev while visiting Moscow on November 1-2, reports Russian news agencies.

Speaking with his supporters in Sokhumi on November 3, Sergey Bagapsh made a clear hint that the Russian officials, who support pro-governmental candidate Raul Khajimba, mounted pressure on him by threatening economic sanctions against Abkhazia.

"We accept the advice and respect the position of the Russian authorities, but we can not accept pressure. Someone tried to threaten us by warning that they might close down the Russian-Abkhazian border at the river of Psou if we do not agree on repeat elections. But if they think that it is possible to intimidate us by these threats, they are making a mistake," Russian Kommersant daily quoted Sergey Bagapsh on November 4.

"Representatives of the Russian National Security Council and Raul Khajimba had similar positions and I was alone. But I told them that I am not an enemy and am not representing myself, but the Abkhaz voters who cast their ballots for the opposition," he added.

According to the Kommersant daily, Sergey Bagapsh is ready to propose a portfolio to Raul Khajimba in his cabinet in case the latter gives up his intentions to take over the presidency. Particularly Bagapsh is offering Khajimba either the Security or Defense Minister’s position. But Bagapsh is against offering the Prime Minister’s post to Khajimba.

Sergey Bagapsh also ruled out the possibility of holding repeat presidential elections and said that he will prepare for the presidential inauguration, which will be held on December 7.

On the other hand, Raul Khajimba, who also returned back to Sokhumi from Moscow on November 3, said at a news conference on the same day, that the repeat elections in Abkhazia will be held in December. "At least we hope," Khajimba added.

He said that outgoing Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba has already issued an order regarding the holding of a re-vote. "This order should be fulfilled," Raul Khajimba added.

Ardzinba issued the ordered on October 29, following a controversial ruling by the Supreme Court, which annulled the Central Election Commission’s decision to declare Bagapsh president-elect, and instead ordered repeat elections. But later a presiding judge, Giorgi Akaba, admitted he was under pressure by Khajimba’s supporters to adopt this latter decision. Hence, almost no room for a legal solution has been left for the current crisis.

But Sergey Bagapsh said on November 3 that he will protect his victory in the polls only within legal frames, adding that there are two ways to peacefully solve the current crisis. "The first one is to solve [the problem] in the Parliament. And if the Parliament fails to adopt a decision, we will convene an all-Abkhaz National gathering [Convent]," Sergey Bagapsh said.

Meanwhile, reports say that the Parliament building remains blocked by Khajimba supporters. Bagapsh’s supporters say the legislative body is "paralyzed," while the only television building in Abkhazia remains under the control of the opposition.

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