Rejeanne Lacroix | FairObserver.Com | Aug 23, 2019
An old dilapidated building of parliament of Abkhazia in Sukhumi © Gans33
The disputed existence of the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia has come into focus again in the context of the ongoing diplomatic dispute between Russia and Georgia and the August anniversary of the 2008 Russo-Georgian War. Abkhazia remains at the heart of discussions because its upcoming election on August 25 is reflective of the duplicity of post-Soviet electoral spectacle and a hope for positive change that seems to escape citizens. Elections in breakaway republics shift the focus away from geopolitics and toward the idiosyncrasies inherent in political cultures unique to all nations.
A Deterioration of Relations
In June, a series of anti-Russian protests broke out in the Georgian capital Tbilisi and across the country. The appearance of high-ranking Russian politician Sergey Gavrilov at the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy and his consequent seating in the speaker’s chair inflamed Georgian sensibilities. But to identify this act as a catalyst for the protests is to oversimply matters, as deeper frustrations with the Georgian Dream ruling party are a factor as well.
The Georgian Dream attempted to balance relations with the West while at the same time ensuring a mutually beneficial relationship with Russia. Voters within the country are increasingly displeased with internal political affairs. The sight of a Russian politician occupying the chair of the speaker of parliament could easily be construed as Moscow’s long arm reaching toward its southern neighbor, or as an act of occupation. It was viewed through this lens when Georgian commentator Giorgi Gabunia went on a televised expletive-ridden rant labeling Russian President Vladimir Putin a “miserable creature” and “stinking invader.” Further, Gabunia crossed even the lowest of professional lines by mocking Putin’s deceased parents.Continue reading “An Election Brings Abkhazia Back into Focus”