Hot summer in Sukhumi is not very pleasant in political sense either. Russian-Abkhazian games continue in the same way. While Abkhazians demand surrender of Kitovani from official Tbilisi Russia is engaged in drafting more and more new documents to juridically "register" of Abkhazia. Work has already finished on the concept about protection of interests of Russian citizens in Abkhazia, namely their property rights.
The president of the Club of Experts and former security minister of Abkhazia Levan Kiknadze thinks that the concept that was drawn up by the joint Russian and Abkhazian commission aims at causing even more tensions between Georgians and Abkhazians.
Levan Kiknadze: The first clause of the concept says that the commission should coordinate issues of restitution of property rights of those citizens of Russia who left Abkhazia during the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict. At a first glance there is nothing to argue about. Against the background of this shackling agreement between Russia and Abkhazia full implementation of which will signal the end of so-called independence of Abkhazia, the said concept should not be very threatening for the separatists. All the more that it refers to those citizens of Russia who left Abkhazia during the war. If we look at the issue more closely we will see the following. During the Georgian-Abkhazian war none of those that lived in Abkhazia were citizens of Russia, all of them were Georgian citizens and only the constitution of Georgia applied to them. Given that the above concept has no juridical power and it is thrown in by the Russian Foreign Ministry to even further aggravate the situation between Georgians and Abkhazians. And it is achieving this goal by the stir that was raised in the media.
Why it became necessary to draw up such a concept for Russian citizens only and is this concept really necessary? It is hard to believe that rights of Russians citizens are violated in Abkhazia more grossly than those of others.
Russia is only concerned about fate of ethnic Russian citizens. Russia really had reason and pretext for creation of the concept as the process of illegal deprivation of real estate from ethnic Russian citizens and their expulsion from their homes in Abkhazia started to become irrevocable. Verbal instructions to rectify a situation that were caused by frequent court cases and complaints sent to high level officials of the Russian government did not have desirable effect. The Club of Experts wrote about this along with Georgian, Abkhazian and Russian media. I am sure that another useless "concept" that was written to deceive people cannot rectify the situation and will not satisfy the appetite of "prodigal sons".
How dangerous is this document for Georgia?
All documents that seek deepening of the confrontation between Georgians and Abkhazians are dangerous. Clear demonstration of this is the article published in the quite popular Abkhazian newspaper – Nuzhnaya by certain Nesterenko and petition addressed to opposition leaders that was written by certain person under the penname of Jij Sayer Gech. There is also a statement that was made by Sergei Shamba who said that they should prevent Georgians from returning to Abkhazia.
Official Sukhumi has already criticized the concept that came from Moscow. What do you think why the Russian document was not liked in Abkhazia?
It appears and Sergey Shamba also conforms this that the document was prepared in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia and representatives of Bagapsh had a big fight there because of this document. When the final document were given to them for signing people of Bagapsh were not content with main wording and they demanded to change "protection of property rights of citizens of Russia.." into "protection of property rights of citizens of ethnic Russian origin" or something like this in order to rule out possible demands restitution of property rights from ethnic Georgian citizens of Russia. It should be noted though that Russia did not consent to such obvious display of Nazism as it would have been a clear violation of universally acknowledged fundamental human rights and the first version remained. Only it was stipulated that in this case it would be not the wording of the concept that would be important but something that have long been decided by the separatist regime with regards to Georgians - not to allow their return to Abkhazia.
The Russian authorities know perfectly well that if the said document works, it will affect only people of Russian nationality, despite mentioned term "citizens of Russia", and will not extend to people of other nationalities, especially Georgians. Armenians whose property rights have also long been violated should not put too much hope in it either, all the more that their number has already exceeded the number of Abkhazians. Therefore "stir" that erupted around this document in both official and opposition circles is illusory and Bagapsh and Shamba really do not intend to go in a serious confrontation between the Kremlin.
- Does disapproval of official Sukhumi of the concept mean that this issue will be off the agenda? Or, will it be a subject of discussion again?
- This is really interesting. Let's see how events will unfold. This document was made just for one purpose - to check the reaction of the separatist authorities and it was achieved. I do not think that Bagapsh and Shamba did not know that this document was in the process of preparation but they have chosen this form. They thought they should put forward the idea, make "opposition" talk, and then say to Russia that they are consent although the form of it is unacceptable and some other form should be found. They might refuse to sign an official document and give Russians a verbal promise – not to do anything against citizens of Russian nationality, and defend their rights. It will be interesting to see what Russia will do then. If the conception is not approved in Abkhazia it will affect the image of Russia as that of a democratic country.
Then it turns out that she was unable to pass a document which at a first glance serves a purpose of establishment of justice and protects interests of citizens.
- Lately Abkhazians are insisting on signing of non-aggression treaty between the Georgian and Abkhazian sides. Who benefits from such document?
Signing of such document is in the interests of the Kremlin and its puppet regimes, since the signing of the document by the Georgian side means that by that, in the first place, we recognize independence of the occupied regions, and secondly, and what is more important, this document will not guarantee that Russia will not repeat aggression against Georgia like the one that happened in 2008.
17 years after the end of the war in Abkhazia, Abkhazians demand from official Tbilisi to surrender Kitovani. Why do you think that issue has become such relevance today?
- They are accusing Kitovani of genocide of Abkhazians, but they have proof of this. While Georgia has 200 volumes of materials on ethnic cleansing of Georgians. Even documentaries that were shot by Abkhazians show that it were latters who detained Zhiuli Shartava and his people and later shot them. This is genocide. At the time the detention these men were not soldiers, they were unarmed civilians.