By Stephen Blank
November 15, 2023
Russia has recently announced that it has obtained a new naval base on the Black Sea at Ochamchira. The base is located in Northwestern Georgia in the Abkhazian territory Russia conquered from Georgia in 2008, close to several other Russian army bases there and in neighboring South Ossetia, another region conquered in the 2008 war. This new base represents another example of Russian imperialism in progress. This imperialism is the same force that drove and now drives Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine.
By Tomáš Baranec
May 12, 2023
On March 6, 2023, the de facto General Prosecutor’s Office (GPO) of Abkhazia confirmed violations of local legislation in the interstate agreement on the lease of land in Pitsunda (Bichvinta in Georgian) to Russia. This factual rejection of the agreement in its current form seemingly closed a controversial topic that has been affecting Abkhazia for several months. However, it merely closes one chapter of the dispute, which has launched processes that are beginning to push the Russia-supported de facto President Aslan Bzhania into an increasingly open conflict not only with local society but also with the originally pro-presidential parliamentary majority.
By Tomáš Baranec
November 18, 2022
Abkhazia’s de facto authorities have agreed with Moscow that Russia will lease 186 hectares of land and 115 hectares of the sea in the city Pitsunda (Bichvinta in Georgian) for a period of 49 years. During the period in question, Russia is to receive direct ownership of leased buildings and infrastructure as well as lands that in the past constituted the private recreation complex of former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. The deal, which might have severe consequences for the already limited factual sovereignty of the de facto government in Sokhumi, was met by protests from local activists and opposition figures.
By Tomáš Baranec and Tengiz Gasviani
July 12, 2022
The second round of Abkhazia’s de facto parliamentary elections took place on March 26. Although the Abkhaz parliament and the political parties enjoy little influence in the local power vertical, this year’s elections could significantly affect the further development of the political situation in the region. A likely “constitutional majority” of pro-president MPs in the parliament does not only complete the concentration of power in the hands of the de facto president Aslan Bzhania, but also allows for constitutional changes. At the same time, it can make Abkhazia more vulnerable to pressure from Russia.
By Tomas Baranec
September 28, 2020, the CACI Analyst
On August 1, 2020, Sukhumi reopened its border with Russia. The border had been closed since early April to halt the spread of the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The decision was driven by Abkhazia’s economic concerns, given the region’s heavy dependence on the flow of Russian tourists. However, the development of the epidemiological situation in Abkhazia in the first three weeks after the border reopened indicated that the combination of a massive influx of tourists from the world’s third most infected country and a lack of medical infrastructure in the region could have a negative impact overriding any economic gains from tourism.
The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst is a biweekly publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a Joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center affiliated with the American Foreign Policy Council, Washington DC., and the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Stockholm. For 15 years, the Analyst has brought cutting edge analysis of the region geared toward a practitioner audience.