Russia harasses international organizations and limits area of their activity in Abkhazia. All international organizations except for International Committee of the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) are asked to limit their activities just to the Gali district.
Editor-in-chief of the Abkhazia-based Chegemskaya Pravda newspaper Inal Khashig said in an interview to Ekho Kavkaza that as a result of the position of the Abkhazian leadership international organizations might altogether leave Abkhazia. Although he fully understands that “the position of the Abkhazian authorities” is dictated by Moscow.
“This is yet another step taken in the direction of self-isolation. In my opinion, official Sukhumi is doing this at the request of Moscow. It is difficult to find another explanation”, - said Khashig.
According to him, the international organizations have done a lot for Abkhazia after the war and today their “expulsion and berating is ingratitude”.
The Chief editor of the Chegemskaya Pravda states that back in the period of Vladislav Ardzinba the Abkhazian authorities asked the international organizations to extend their activities not just to the Gali district but on the entire territory of Abkhazia. And today, as Inal Khashg says the opposite is the case.
In this context it should be noted that in Russia itself international organizations were officially and legally labeled as “spies” that resulted in many international organizations ceasing their activity on their territory, namely, such organizations as USAID and RFRL.
One should not get surprised that the Russian leadership, even today living with the Cold War mentality, sees spies everywhere. But interesting fact is that their fears are not limited to the territory of Russia and includes Abkhazia as well. It seems that so far they refrain from kicking foreigners out altogether but then after the Russian intervention against Georgia in August 2008 they did not shy away from expelling OSCE and UN missions from Abkhazia and South Ossetia after which not one foreign observer was left on the occupied territories. We cannot rule out that they may well be asked to leave even the Gali district in the near future.
As to those organizations that were allowed to continue their activities on the entire territory of Abkhazia such as the International Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders, their activities will be significantly limited in the near future. Doctors Without Borders help the Abkhazian side in solving the Tuberculosis problem and since next year it is planned to open special treatment facility Abkhazian leader Alexander Ankvab asked this organization to continue their activity on the occupied territory. Presumably, when the facility is opened and Doctors Without Borders complete their consultation and technical support works they will have to leave Abkhazia. As to the Red Cross their niche today is search for missing people and since this problem will not be solved in the near future they will have to remain for a long period. All the more that this organization assists them in conduction of DNA tests in European labs.
It should be noted that in 2014 Russia is holding the Olympic Games near the occupied territory and the question of security of the games are high on the agenda. Thus, presumably starting from the second half of the next year number of Russian security service workers in Abkhazia will start to grow and area of movement for foreign nationals will be even more limited. After all, in Russian view, they all are spies.
It would not be right to think that this decision was made by the Sukhumi regime. Neither Inal Khashig nor other Abkhazians believe this. And especially against the backdrop when whenever meeting foreign diplomats the Abkhazian regime stresses the question of de-isolation of Abkhazia and asks the West to make direct contacts with them. Some “patriot” Abkhazians when talking about this issue directly repeats the Russian version and state that “majority of international organizations are engaged in gathering of information for western security services. They record, film everything, study public opinion and it is obvious where this information goes. They all come here from Georgia”.
On the internet we can also see views from which we might think that they are talking about another planet and not Abkhazia. “Of course, Abkhazia does not need funds, Abkhazia is developing at a great speed and Russia’s help is important, and we clearly see how purposely this aid is being distributed and spent… There are no destitute and hungry people in Abkhazia, when in Georgia beggars are lining up at church entrances and their number goes up to 1,5 million…”.
One way or another, displeasure with a decision to limit activity area of the international organizations are expressed by those who have crossed paths with them, have taken advantage of their guaranties and still do, and those who have at least small understanding what is behind this decision. The rest are either less interested or demonstratively and hotly defend Russian interests. And their conclusion after all this would have been laughable were not it so sad – “we do not shut ourselves off the world it is the world that shuts us off. And we are not to be blamed for this at all”.