Abkhazia: Abkhaz Contender Bagapsh says Moscow Mediation in Election Dispute fails
Moscow’s heavy pressure in favor of preferred candidate and Prime Minister Raul Khadzhimba alienated many voters, who ended up voting for the more independent-minded businessman Bagapsh. The region was plunged into chaos when outgoing leader Vladislav Ardzinba contested the Bagapsh victory and ordered a rerun.
On Tuesday both candidates came to Moscow for talks on a possible compromise. But on Wednesday Bagapsh made clear that Russian mediation had failed, Reuters reported.
“Khadzhimba’s camp and many in Russia believe that the polls should be held anew,” Bagapsh said on Russia’s NTV television. “There is a ruling by the electoral commission and the supreme court. What else does one need to make the polls valid?”
“We have our priorities, and Russia is one,” he added. “Its opinion is important for us, but the opinion of our own people, who have expressed their will, is no less important.”
Georgian leaders say they see no difference between Khadzhimba and Bagapsh, but were wary of Moscow’s interference, Reuters reported.
Russian influence over Abkhazia and another breakaway Georgian province, South Ossetia, along with power supplies to the region are a strong tool in Moscow’s dialogue with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili.
Moscow has resisted Saakashvili’s plans to win back control over the two rebel provinces, lost in bloody post-Soviet wars.
Russia is the main sponsor of Abkhazia, which broke away from
Georgia in 1992 and is not recognised internationally. Three quarters of its
population have Russian passports.