Friday, March 09, 2012

Abkhazia: Abkhazia under Russia's wing When Alexander Ankvab won presidential elections in 2011 after the death of his predecessor, Abkhazia was still recognised by only a few countries - Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua and some islands in the Pacific, as well as some entities that are only partially recognised themselves.

The rest of the international community considers Abkhazia a region of Georgia - integrated into it in 1931, under Stalin.

Georgia's independence from the disintegrated Soviet Union came in 1992. Georgian troops entered Abkhazia to prevent it from separating. After a bloody war, most Georgians left by 1993. Only 20 percent of the region's inhabitants were fully ethnic Abkhaz.

In 1999, Abkhazia formally declared its independence. Since then its population of around 250,000 has lived under an international embargo, their economy completely Dependant on Russia. They use the rouble and Russian passports.

In August 2008, Georgia tried to take another pro-Russian separatist region by force, South Ossetia, and Russia went to war over it.

Abkhazia took advantage of this to send its forces into the Kodori Gorge, strategic border territory that had been under Georgian control, and a weak point if it came to invasion of Georgia.

In September 2008, Russia began pulling its troops out of some of Georgia, but they stayed in Abkhazia. Later Russia recognised Abkhazia as independent and said it would protect its borders, with opposition voices saying this is de-facto Russian occupation.