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The Weekly Tripwire – Issue 11

Russian troops parade in Sokhumi, September 30, 2017. Photo: mil.ru

September 25 – October 1

NATO threats trouble Karasin – Moscow’s friends tour Abkhazia: Assad’s cronies, Tiraspol leader visit – Sokhumi Enthusiastic about Catalonia Referendum – Russian troops parade as September 27 marked in Sokhumi – UN Human Rights Commissioner laments lack of access – Bibilov fealty tour in North Caucasus – Abkhazia is South Russia?

Dispatch from Moscow – Karasin complains about NATO activities: Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told the Geneva talks co-chairs how concerned he was about the NATO activities in Georgia, such as the military exercises, saying they pose “a serious threat” to the security of Russia. Karasin thinks that NATO’s role in the South Caucasus is “increasingly active,” with the Alliance’s military infrastructure “expanding in Georgia.”

Sokhumi Happenings – Syrians come to Abkhazia:
An Assad regime delegation returned a visit to Abkhazia, after members of the Russian-backed Sokhumi authorities had gone to Syria back in August. The group of Syrian officials from both legislative and executive branches was entertained by Sokhumi “parliament speaker“ Valery Kvarchia, who told them that Russia was their common ally, and by “prime minister” Beslan Bartsits, who expressed confidence that “in the nearest future Syria will be cleansed of international terrorism.” 

Sokhumi Enthusiastic about Catalonia Referendum: The day after the controversial independence referendum in Catalonia, the Abkhaz “foreign ministry” said it was watching it “with particular interest,” condemning Spain for using “rude physical force” against the independence supporters. The Russian-backed Sokhumi authorities added they were “saddened, seeing how the apparently civilized European countries, claiming adherence to the democratic norms and principles, are trying to forcefully suppress any dissent.” They also believe that by “trying to suppress the aspiration of the people of Catalonia for independence,” the Spanish government “is committing a serious crime.”

View from Tbilisi – Georgians remember the fall of Sokhumi: The anniversary of the fall of Sokhumi to the Russian-backed armed groups during the 1992-1993 War in Abkhazia was commemorated in Georgia on September 27. Georgian President, Prime Minister and Parliament Chair all made statements regarding the occasion. The siege and fall of the city in September 1993 was accompanied by the ethnic cleansing of Georgians, which resulted in destruction of the formerly vibrant and numerous Georgian community in Abkhazia, with a partial exception of the region’s Gali District.

…while Russian troops parade in Abkhazia: Troops of the Russian military base in Abkhazia took part in a parade in Sokhumi, marking the anniversary of defeat of Georgia in the war of 1992-1993. In the conflict, Russian-organized militant groups, backed by the regular Russian military, defeated Georgian forces, precipitating loss of Tbilisi’s control over Abkhazia and the ethnic cleansing of Georgians in the region.

Western Voices – UN human rights report on Georgia: The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a report on human rights in Georgia during the 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council, based in Geneva. Large portions of the report are dedicated to the state of affairs in Georgia’s two occupied regions, highlighting numerous human rights violations, as well as refusal of the local Russian-backed authorities to allow access into Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia for the UN and other international human rights monitors.

The Military Aspect – Russian base in Abkhazia is well-equipped: According to the Russian military, 80 per cent of the armaments of the Russian enhanced mechanized brigade-sized base in Abkhazia consist of “the newest and modern” military equipment.

Russia’s Network – Bibilov visits Russian region, swears loyalty to Moscow: In the North Caucasian region of Karachai-Cherkessia, visiting Tskhinvali leader Anatoly Bibilov used the occasion to express his undying loyalty to Moscow, once again. “The choice of Ossetia is to be with Russia,” asserted Bibilov.

Russia’s Network – Transnistria leader in Abkhazia: Another Russian proxies’ meet took place in Sokhumi, when Moldova’s Transnistria region “president” Vadim Krasnoselsky visited Russian-backed Abkhaz leader Raul Khajimba. The two pledged, yet again, to be good friends, and confirmed their shared intentions to have “full-format cooperation” with Russia.

Russia’s Network – Abkhazia in South Russia: The Abkhaz “parliament” delegation attempted to participate in a conference of the South Russian Parliament Association – a consultative body consisting of representatives from the legislatures of the Russian Federation’s southern regions. The conference took place in Crimea, and the Abkhaz attempt to get there failed when the bad weather blocked the Kerch ferry route.

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