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Russia Threatens to Blockade Abkhazia
/ 1 Dec.'04 / 15:43
Civil Georgia

Russia increases pressure on Abkhaz opposition leader Sergey Bagapsh, by threatening with blockade of breakaway region, as the latter intends to be inaugurated as the President of unrecognized republic on December 6.

Assistant to the Prime Minister of Russia Gennady Bukaev said on December 1 that Russia is closing the railway communication with Georgia's breakaway province of Abkhazia starting on December 2, Russian news agencies reported.

He also said the "regime of border protection is being strengthened, including the maritime border."

Bukaev added that Russia is ready to fully close the border with Abkhazia "in case of further unconstitutional actions by Sergey Bagapsh." The leadership of Russia supports the actions of President Vladislav Ardzinba to stabilize the political situation in Abkhazia, said Russian official.

“Vladislav Ardzinba is the legitimate President of Abkhazia and Russia supporters his efforts to stabilize public-political situation in the republic, as well as his decision to hold repeat elections of the Abkhaz President,” Itar-Tass news agency reported, quoting aide to the Russian Prime Minister.

This is the highest-profile statement regarding a possible economic blockade of Abkhazia from the Russian authorities. A similar statement was made last week by the governor of the Russian region of Krasnodar, bordering Abkhazia.

This toughening of official Moscow's stance follows the Abkhaz parliament backing of the opposition candidate Sergey Bagapsh's claims for victory in a contested October 3 presidential election. Russia openly backed pro-government candidate - Raul Khajimba, who insists on re-vote of elections.

Similar messages of warning were sent by Russia to the Abkhaz opposition, when Sergey Bagapsh was visiting Moscow early in November. “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,” Bagapsh said after visiting Moscow on November 4.

On December 1 Sergey Bagapsh criticized Russian authorities for meddling in Abkhaz elections, particularly he commented over the visit of Russian top-level Interior Ministry officials and representatives of the Russian Central Election Commission to Abkhazia in order to examine documentation of the Abkhaz CEC concerning October 3 presidential polls.

“Of course, they can get acquainted with the current situation in Abkhazia. We can acquaint our Russian guests with the materials regarding the elections, however examination of these documents is not the prerogative of Russian law-enforcement agencies and the CEC of another state,” Regnum quotes Bagapsh as saying.

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