The Black Sea region that broke away from Georgia more than 20 years ago might serve as a prime example of Russia‘s ability to impose its will on its neighbours through separatist movements. The Georgian breakaway province of Abkhazia is holding snap presidential elections on Sunday that might not pass unnoticed. Russia‘s annexation of Crimea and its covert military support for the insurgents in eastern Ukraine reminds many of the war in the early 1990s that led to Abkhazia‘s secession from Georgia. But the ouster of president Alexander Ankvab, who quit on June 1 after protesters stormed his administration building in the regional capital Sukhumi, also reminded observers that the lush subtropical region has its own unresolved problems.
Four candidates are vying to replace Ankvab, whom the opposition had accused of allowing poverty levels to rise and corruption to grow.
Observers agree that Abkhazia, which has a strong debating culture, has over the past 20 years developed a healthy democratic system unlike many other post-Soviet regions.
The front-runner in the polls is Raul Khadzhimba, who led the uprising against Ankvab. The former KGB agent has, since 2004, unsuccessfully stood for president three times.