Parliamentary elections are being held in the separatist territory of Abkhazia, which broke away from Georgia in a bloody war in the 1990s. Today there is a fragile ceasefire between Abkhazia and Georgia but some worry that signs of instability are growing in the region again. A burning car and a road strewn with machine guns and cartridges – that was the scene a few weeks ago, after Abkhazia’s President Alexander Ankvab was attacked in an ambush. He was on his way to work when a bomb blew up his car and men hidden behind the trees started firing with machine-guns. The president survived but his two bodyguards were killed. Mr Ankvab, who became president in August, says his main aim is to fight corruption. But in this region, that can be a risky undertaking.
Georgian political analyst Archil Gegishidze said the ambush was just the latest sign that powerful criminals within Abkhazia do not want to lose their influence. “It’s a symptom of the existing instability,” he said. “Generally the situation is tense. More fear, more uncertainty about the future. This is why the outcome of the upcoming elections is not that easy to predict.”
When it was part of the Soviet Union, Abkhazia was a tropical playground for the empire’s elite. And when you are on the beach in the centre of the capital, Sukhumi – surrounded by palm trees and with the snow-covered Caucasus mountains overlooking the bay – you can see why it was so popular. But today, since fighting its war of independence with Georgia, Abkhazia is cut off from most of the world.
Full Article: BBC News – Abkhazia election: Breakaway Georgia region votes.