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The Weekly Tripwire – Issue 27

Valeriy Pshenichniy, chief of staff of the Russian 4th military base stationed in Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, February 15, 2018. Photo: screengrab from TV Ir

February 12-18

Georgia in the DNI report – There is a voters club for Putin’s election in Abkhazia – Bibilov visits Russian MIA – Transnistria delegation in Abkhazia – Search for kidnapped Turkish citizen – Bibilov’s historical insights.

Western Voices – Georgia in the DNI report: The U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued its Worldwide Threat Assessment document for 2018, stating that “Russia’s continued occupation of 20 percent of Georgia’s territory and efforts to undermine its Western integration will remain the primary sources of Tbilisi’s insecurity.”

Russia’s Network – There is a voters club for Putin’s election in Abkhazia: Eager to hold Vladimir Putin’s March 18 re-election as the Russian president in Abkhazia, a group of local officials and representatives of various organizations discuss how to facilitate the election at gatherings called “the voters club.” Besides meeting in Sokhumi, “the voters club” also held its sessions in the towns of Bichvinta, Gagra and Ochamchire. 19 polling stations will function in Abkhazia on March 18 during Putin’s re-election polls.

Russia’s Network – Bibilov visits Russian MIA: Russian-backed Tskhinvali leader Anatoly Bibilov was in Moscow last week, meeting Russian Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Igor Zubov in the latter’s ministry building. The two talked about implementation of Russia’s 2015 “alliance and integration” treaty with its Tskhinvali proxies.

Russia’s Network – Russian military base “a city within a city”: Chief of staff of the Russian 4th military base stationed in Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia Valeriy Pshenichniy said, during an event with local officials, that the base “can be called a city within a city.” “All conditions are there for placing troops and their families. Construction of a high school is close to completion, two kindergartens were opened for the troops’ children in 2017, and this year completion of a sports complex with a swimming pool is planned,” added Pshenichniy.

Russia’s Network – Transnistria delegation in Abkhazia: Representatives of the Russian-backed authorities in Transnistria went to see their Abkhaz colleagues, vowing to keep up cooperation between the two regions.

Sokhumi Happenings – Court member controversy: The Russian-backed Sokhumi authorities have finally chosen the final member of their “constitutional court,” allowing the institution to start functioning. The procedure, however, apparently was incorrect, since reportedly only 23 members of the local “parliament” voted for the court membership candidate, instead of the required minimum of 24.

Sokhumi Happenings – Search for kidnapped Turkish citizen: A citizen of Turkey Kaya Selim had been kidnapped in Ochamchire town on February 9, with the local officials searching for him unsuccessfully during the past week.

Tskhinvali Happenings – Bibilov’s historical insights: Russian-backed Tskhinvali leader Anatoly Bibilov spoke at a rally dedicated to the 29th anniversary of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan on February 15, with the “Russian ambassador” Marat Kulakhmetov also attending. Bibilov offered some insights on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, saying the Soviet troops “were respected by the enemies who considered them honorable opponents and warriors.” “What other armies of the world are now doing in Afghanistan is not a war but a murder of peaceful population. This tells us that the Soviet leadership always approached solving military questions humanely,” Bibilov added.

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