On November 12, Moscow-backed leader of occupied Abkhazia, Aslan Bzhania, met in Sochi with President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, discussing political, economic and COVID-19-related issues, such as Russian medical aid to the occupied region.
According to the Kremlin, President Putin noted that Moscow remains “the number one partner” of Abkhazia, as 70% of the region’s total economic turnover is with Russia. “We have very significant areas of cooperation, not only tourism, there are other components as well: agriculture, telecommunications,” Putin underscored.
Bzhania, in his turn, personally thanked Putin for his support to Abkhazia and underlined that the leaders were meeting in this format for the first time. Abkhaz leader expressed special gratitude to Russia for the provided assistance amid the pandemic.
Bzhania also noted that Abkhaz leadership intends to implement the agreements signed between Sokhumi and Moscow, as they “meet interests of Abkhazia, strengthen its statehood and sovereignty.”
The meeting between Bzhania and Putin came as political tensions had risen in Abkhazia regarding the allegedly “illegal” construction of a suspension bridge by Russia connecting village Aibga of occupied Gagra Region with Adler District of Sochi Municipality.
Abkhaz opposition claimed that the construction was not agreed with Sokhumi, calling on Bzhania to raise this issue at the meeting with Putin.
Bzhania visited Sochi at the invitation of President Putin. Two weeks earlier, on October 26-30, Bzhania visited Moscow, meeting with Russian authorities, not Putin, however. Dmitry Peskov, Russian President’s spokesperson, then told reporters that President Putin had not planned any meeting with Abkhaz leader “in the coming days.”