Information about illegal elections in Abkhazia

This information was posted to Newsgroup:soc.culture.rep-of-georgia

Subject:  Separatist Abkhaz Closes Polls Amid Blasts 
Date:       Mon, 25 Nov 1996 18:38:13 -0500 
Organization: OSU 
Newsgroups:  soc.culture.rep-of-georgia

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

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

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

"If I'm lucky I can make 5,000 rubles ($0.90) a day." (Reuters, RIA

Subject: Pawn used and forgotten? 
Date:     Mon, 25 Nov 1996 19:12:44 -0500 
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. 

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

"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 
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 :-) 


Article: 30505 of
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
         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

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. 


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