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Leader of Occupied Abkhazia Resigns

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Raul Khajimba, Moscow-backed Abkhazia’s leader resigned the post of the “president” on Sunday evening. The announcement comes as hundreds of protesters moved from occupied “presidential headquarters” towards the “presidential residence.”

Earlier today, Abkhazia’s “election administration” announced snap presidential elections to take place on March 22. The announcement came two days after “the appeals chamber” of the “Supreme Court” ruled on Friday around 22:45 Tbilisi time, that the results of September 8 ‘’presidential runoff” were invalid.

Protesters however demanded immediate voluntary resignation from Khajimba, who would otherwise remain as the leader of the occupied region until the new leader’s election through the snap polls.

Amid Thursday’s unrest that demanded Khajimba’s resignation and snap polls, Abkhaz “parliament” asked Khajimba step down, but the latter refused.

Khajimba vowed on Friday to appeal top “court’s” ruling that declared September runoffs void in “the Presidium of the Supreme Court.”

Meanwhile, Russian security official Rashid Nurgaliyev intervened to break Abkhazia deadlock.  Nurgaliyev, Deputy Secretary of the Security Council of Russia, arrived in the occupied region on Friday and held meetings with Khajimba on Friday and Saturday, as well as mediated Abkhaz leader’s Sunday afternoon meeting with opposition’s Aslan Bzhania and Alkhas Kvitsinia.

Russian media reported on Sunday evening that Russian President’s aide Vladislav Surkov arrived in Abkhazia.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin appointed Vladislav Surkov as his aide to oversee Moscow’s relations with occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia regions of Georgia in September, 2013.
Raul Khajimba, graduated KGB’s academy in Minsk in mid-1980s, served in the KGB unit in the town of Tkvarcheli in Abkhazia before 1992. During the armed conflict in the region in 1992-1993, Khajimba served as chief of military intelligence on the eastern front. In late 1990s he was appointed as chief of state security service and then served as defense minister of the breakaway region since 2002 before being promoted by then Abkhaz leader Vladislav Ardzinba as prime minister in 2003.

He served as breakaway region’s vice-president in 2005-2009. Khajimba took that post as a result of a power-sharing agreement with then Abkhaz leader Sergey Bagapsh following a fiercely disputed presidential election in 2004 in which Khajimba was openly supported by the Kremlin.

Khajimba first became Abkhaz leader in August 2014, after three unsuccessful attempts to win presidency in three previous polls since late 2004. “Snap elections” of 2014 that brought Khajimba to power was called as previous leader Alexander Ankvab was forced to resign after the opposition broke into the “presidential headquarters” in Sokhumi.

Georgia and most of the international community consider Abkhazia as part of Georgia and do not recognize elections in the region. In August, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili called Abkhaz “presidential polls” as illegitimate, dubbing it a “sham process.”

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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