Subject: Separatist Abkhaz Closes Polls Amid Blasts Date: Mon, 25 Nov 1996 18:38:13 -0500 From: Your_user_name@osu.edu Organization: OSU Newsgroups: soc.culture.rep-of-georgia http://www.russiatoday.com November 25, 1996 Separatist Abkhaz Closes Polls Amid Blasts SUKHUMI, Georgia -- Sporadic explosions disturbed the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia on Sunday, a day after similar blasts failed to derail a controversial election organized by the independence-minded local government. Abkhaz leaders blamed the Georgian authorities, who strongly disapprove of the election, for Saturday's explosions. Authorities in the Georgian capital Tbilisi deny involvement. The Abkhaz Interior Ministry said at least seven blasts, mostly from land mines armed with timing devices, rocked an area near the de facto frontier between the unrecognized state and Georgia proper overnight. It did not have details of casualties. The border area, where violent incidents are common, is patrolled by Russian peacekeepers and U.N. military observers. The separatist government of self-declared president Vladislav Ardzinba successfully conducted voting for a 35-member parliament in defiance of vociferous Georgian objections that it was "illegal" and U.N. pressure to call it off. Georgia, despite having little or no influence over the subtropical Black Sea region for the past three years, says Abkhazia can never have the independence it demands and is offering only a form of autonomy. Tbilisi lost control in 1993 after a year-long war in which Georgia's disorganized armed forces waged a losing battle against Abkhaz fighters who received military help from Russia. Some 10,000 people died in the war, which began when Georgian troops swept in to put down a drive for more autonomy. The Abkhaz central election commission said more than 80 percent of the 219,000 electorate had turned out and that 30 of the 35 seats had been filled in the first round. Five run-off contests will be held in a fortnight. Ardzinba hailed the vote on Sunday as "the first democratic elections in Abkhazia," which he said would "facilitate the peace process" with Georgia. But he railed against a continued joint Georgian-Russian partial blockade of his land of palm-fringed beaches and snow-capped mountain peaks, saying it had set back negotiations. He suggested that he would not contemplate allowing some 150,000 refugees to return to Abkhazia until it was lifted. Ethnic Georgians once accounted for about 45 percent of the population but most fled the war, fearing mistreatment. Electoral officials in Tbilisi said some 230,000 refugees took part in a parallel referendum in Georgia. Only 70 said they approved of the holding of the Abkhaz elections. In an official statement, the Russian ambassador to Georgia condemned the vote. "Russia considers it necessary to observe the principle of Georgia's territorial integrity and with believes it impossible for Abkhazia to act as a subject of international law," RIA quoted ambassador Felix Stanevsky as saying. Although food and most basic goods can still be imported, the blockade has cut Abkhazia off from the outside world and devastated an economy once based on tourism and citrus exports. Russia, now backing Tbilisi, no longer allows the wealthy sun-worshippers who once flocked to the region to cross its border with Abkhazia. Air and even most telephone links are cut. With pensions of just 2,500 Russian rubles ($0.45) a month, the old rely on charity handouts or gather fruit. One old woman at the market in the capital Sukhumi said she took two meals a day at local soup kitchens run by a relief agency and a group of Hare Krishna devotees. She also sometimes sells food parcels from the Red Cross and other groups. "The Red Cross gives us these tins of cheese and cooking oil but usually I can't even afford to eat them, so I try to sell them down here," said Olga, dressed in a filthy man's jacket adorned with World War II medal ribbons. "If I'm lucky I can make 5,000 rubles ($0.90) a day." (Reuters, RIA Novosti) ======================== Subject: Pawn used and forgotten? Date: Mon, 25 Nov 1996 19:12:44 -0500 From: Your_user_name@osu.edu Organization: OSU Newsgroups: soc.culture.rep-of-georgia Folks here's a bit older article on the great Russian ally now finding out what others in its place have realised long time ago. I doubt even with the presidential government they can expect much from Russia, who blindely bombed entire chechnia killing who know how many ethnic Russians. Regards Levan Kverenckiladze.firstname.lastname@example.org --- Daily Telegraph International News Thursday May 23 1996 Ghost town state forced to cower in the Caucasus Selina Williams in Sukhumi, the Abkhazia capital, reports on the pawn in a local power struggle IN THE Soviet era, Georgia's Black Sea region of Abkhazia, with its palm-fringed beaches and endless sunshine was the favourite holiday spot of the communist elite. Now, more than two years after Abkhazia won a vicious separatist war against Georgian government troops, the burnt-out remains of luxury hotels and seafront pensions once full with more than eight million tourists a year stand empty. Mortar shells lie embedded in the deserted highway along the coast and the capital's streets are virtually empty. Abkhazia looks and feels like a ghost town. Most of the Georgians, more than half of the population before the fighting, were killed or fled leaving the Abkhazian minority of about 90,000 to live in the abandoned towns and villages. In the attempt to escape Georgia's orbit, Abkhazia has also become entangled in Russia's manoeuvres for influence over the oil-rich and strategically important Caucasus region. Abkhazia is politically and diplomatically isolated as there is no recognition of its independence and little international sympathy for it. A partial blockade on the northern border with Russia and in Sukhumi's port makes it impossible for Abkhazia to trade normally. Analysts say Moscow, increasingly concerned by the Georgian President, Eduard Shevardnadze's pro-Nato stance and interest in joining the European Union, is using Abkhazia as a pawn to wield control over this corner of the former Soviet Union. "Russia is using Abkhazia to blackmail Georgia," said David Darchiashvili, an analyst at Tbilisi's Caucasian Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development. "For Georgia the most important political issue is the return of 200,000 refugees to Abkhazia and a resolution of the situation there. Russia uses this to extract concessions from Georgia - like military bases, influence over the pipeline from Azerbaijan through Georgia and membership of the Commonwealth of Independent States." The mountainous Caucasus region is no less crucial to Russia than it was to the Soviet Union. Even in Tsarist times, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia - the countries between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea - acted as a military buffer against Russia's old imperial rivals Turkey and Iran. The trade routes between Europe and the Middle East and two pipelines from oilfields in the Caspian Sea to ports in the Black Sea run through the Caucasus. Many diplomats believe Russia keeps the region unstable to prevent the formation of a unified Caucasus bloc. "The Russians are unpredictable and it is impossible to trust them," said a western diplomat in Sukhumi. "They supported the Abkhazians during the war and now they are acting as peacekeepers, but at the same time Russian border guards sit in the port at Sukhumi. It is obvious that they are trying to regain control over this area." Russia has been playing on both sides since the war began in 1992. After an incident in March when Russian soldiers and Abkhazian coastguards exchanged warning shots as a Turkish boat laden with consumer goods attempted to dock at Sukhumi, the Abkhazians and Russians made an agreement to allow boats in. "It is a paradoxical situation," said a Russian peace keeper in Sukhumi. "Russia has made two contradictory agreements - one with Georgia to blockade Abhkhazia and one with Abkhazia to allow boats in." The outcome for Abkhazians is black market prices for food, a non-existent economy and psychological stress. There is no work and the Abkhazians cannot leave because they only have their old Georgian passports. Many feel that the only alternative to break the vicious circle is another war. Vladislav Ardzinba, Abkhazia's president, is offering a "federative union" with Georgia in an attempt to end the stalemate. It would retain the same borders, but give Abkhazia more autonomy in deciding their own affairs. Ultimately the fate of the Caucasus countries, hangs on the outcome of the Russian presidential elections next month. A victory for Boris Yeltsin could mean a continuation of the current policy, while a communist victory could signal a more aggressive approach. =================== Subject: Dog in a manger doing what it knows best Date: Mon, 25 Nov 1996 19:23:35 -0500 From: Your_user_name@osu.edu Organization: OSU Newsgroups: soc.culture.rep-of-georgia With its Siberian riches either buried unused or being squandered inefficiently, Russians are trying to disrupt other peoples' chances of getting rich. This time, however, they might have gone too far for their own good. Not that it's for the first time they shot themselves in the foot :-) Levan Kverenckiladze.email@example.com --- Article: 30505 of clari.world.europe.russia Subject: Ethnic conflicts make Caspian oil a political game MOSCOW, Nov 25 (Reuter) - From Russia's volatile Chechen republic to Georgia's separatist Abkhazia region, Caspian Sea oil faces an increasingly tough obstacle course of geopolitical hurdles as it seeks safe routes to Western markets. A multinational consortium that will soon begin tapping oil in the sea's Azeri sector will use a dual-route option -- one through Chechnya, one through Georgia -- for its early oil to avoid being sidelined by explosive regional politics. But both routes are a cauldron of ethnic tensions that have put the regions on a collision course with Moscow and threatened the export of all future Caspian oil to world markets. ``All of the routes are equally difficult,'' said Peter Houlder, managing director of the CentreInvest consultancy in Moscow. ``Georgia is not particularly any better than Chechnya.'' A weekend peace deal between Chechnya and Moscow could ensure there are no delays in the transport of up to 100,000 barrels per day of early oil from the $8 billion Azerbaijan International Operating Company (AIOC) project in the Caspian >from August 1997. The peace agreement included a promise by the Chechen rebel government to safeguard local refineries and pipelines, and Ivan Rybkin, secretary of Russia's Security Council, told a news conference on Monday that Chechnya would conclude a final agreement on oil issues by December 1. Wary of long-term instability, the 13-member AIOC will use two routes for its early output -- one through the wartorn Chechen capital Grozny to Russia's Black Sea port of Novorossiisk, and a second to Georgia's Black Sea Batumi outlet. The consortium, led by an alliance of British Petroleum Co Plc
and Norway's Den Norske Stats Oljeselskap AS (Statoil) 1/8STAT.CN3/8, has sought to give the Chechen route priority in order to appease Moscow, which wants to earn oil transit fees. But in the long-term the group plans to build a new pipeline to the Turkish Mediterranean coast, probably via Georgia, for its main output up of to 800,000 barrels per day. While the Chechen peace deal could make the transport of early oil safer, weekend separatist events in Abkhazia could complicate the Georgian option both in the short- and long-term. Abkhazia, which has run itself as an independent state since 1993 when it routed government troops after a year-long war, held a weekend parliamentary poll, which Georgia and Russia condemned as a further blockage to the peace process. In yet a third sign of regional instability, the mostly ethnic Armenian population of Azerbaijan's embattled enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh held its own weekend presidential election, two years after the end of a six-year war with Azerbaijan. The events could leave 13-member AIOC with tough choices. The Abkhazian poll could make the Georgian oil transport route, which runs just south of the breakaway region, an increasingly unstable option. Georgia and Russia have imposed an economic blockade of Abkhazia. ``No one is going to risk sending oil along any single route,'' Houlder said. But the Chechen route is uncertain too. ``It is still not clear how the Chechen side will receive its share from the transport of oil across its territory,'' said Ravil Polyanin, spokesman for Transneft, which owns and operates Russia's entire pipeline network. ``We have not had contact with them on the Caspian pipeline issue -- that is a question for the future. And you can't exclude the possibility that they'll be tough negotiators.'' He said Chechen rebels had not harmed the oil pipeline crossing their territory during the 21-month conflict with Moscow because they did not want to cut themselves off from a major source of income. ``The Chechens haven't blown it up yet, and there's no reason they should in the future,'' Houlder said. ====================== Subject: U.N. Deplores Vote in Breakaway Abkhazia Date: Wed, 27 Nov 1996 14:52:41 -0500 From: David Chelidze Organization: Nonlinear Dynamics Lab Newsgroups: soc.culture.rep-of-georgia UNITED NATIONS -- Security Council members on Tuesday deplored the holding of "so-called parliamentary elections" in the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia despite a council warning that they should be canceled. But a statement read to reporters by council President Nugroho Wisnumurti of Indonesia welcomed direct contact last week between the "so-called foreign minister of Abkhazia" and Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and expressed the hope this would lead to progress. The statement followed a private briefing for the council by the U.N. special envoy for Georgia, Ambassador Edouard Brunner, and his deputy, Liviu Bota. "The members of the Security Council deplored the fact that the Abkhaz side held the so-called parliamentary elections on Nov. 23, 1996, in spite of the warning by the Security Council on Oct. 22, 1996, that the conditions for holding such elections did not exist and called on the Abkhaz side to call off the elections," the statement said. "The council members are of the view that only through the resumption of dialogue can an overall solution to the conflict be found," it added. The government lost control over the Black Sea region of Abkhazia in 1993 after a year-long war in which Georgia's disorganized armed forces waged a losing battle against Abkhaz fighters, who received military help from Russia. Saturday's vote, set up by the Abkhaz separatist leadership, was for a 35-member parliament. At the same time, the Georgian government held a parallel plebiscite among Georgian refugees from the conflict and Shevardnadze said they had made clear their opposition to the election. (Reuters) -- firstname.lastname@example.org http://coriolis.esm.psu.edu/david/.
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