Moscow Fails to Solve Abkhaz Crisis

–Opposition leader Sergey Bagapsh says Moscow mounted pressure on him

(Civil Georgia)–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-government candidate Raul Khajimba insists on a reelection.

Some details of the talks between the two men and Russian officials became known on November 3–after the return of Khajimba and Bagapsh to Sokhumi.

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–according to Russian news agencies.

Speaking with his supporters in Sokhumi on November 3–Bagapsh made it clear that the Russian officials–who support pro-government 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 to hold a reelection. But if they think that it is possible to intimidate us by these threats–they are making a mistake," stated Bagapsh on November 4–according to the Russian Kommersant daily.

"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–Bagapsh is ready to offer a cabinet position to Khajimba in the case that he agrees to halt his campaign for the presidency. Bagapsh has indicated that he will offer either the Security of Defense Ministerial post–but not the Prime Ministerial position.

Bagapsh also ruled out the possibility of holding a reelection and said that he will prepare for his official inauguration in December.

On the other hand–Khajimba stated at a November 3 news conference that reelections 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 reelection. "This order should be fulfilled," Khajimba said.

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 the president-elect–and instead ordered repeat elections. But later–a presiding judge–Giorgi Akaba–admitted that he was under pressure by Khajimba’s supporters to pass forth the ruling. Due to the conflicting rulings–little room has been left for a legal solution.

But Bagapsh said on November 3 that he will defend his victory only through legal means–adding that there are two ways of peacefully solving 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," he noted.

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


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