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Russia will hardly choose to break the existing political system in Abkhazia - opinion

After Russia recognized independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Georgia will hardly be able to fight them back. But here we have another problem: internal political conflicts in both republics. This problem has become a serious headache for the Kremlin as it sees no effective ways for solving it.

In Russia, inter-elite conflicts generally grow into information wars or local protest actions. In Abkhazia, they usually burst into mass demonstrations and attacks on administrative offices, like was the case in 2004, 2014 and summer 2016.

In Abkhazia, economy cannot guarantee political stability as local authorities have no big economic facilities that could ensure them control over the country. Black economy in Abkhazia is prevalent. In early 2015, according to expert Khatuna Shat-Ipa, it made up 53% of GDP and was equivalent to the country’s budget.

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The police cannot be a guarantee either as during protests Abkhazian policemen often join the protesters. In Nov 2004, they refused to support Ardzinba in his conflict with the winner of the presidential race Sergey Bagapsh.

Economic reforms and big projects involving investors from Russia might help to improve political culture in Abkhazia. One of such projects is offshore oil production. But this plan may have a reverse effect due to its environmental risks.

So, the risk of new public conflicts in Abkhazia is high and the Kremlin has almost no means to reduce it. Just remember the political crisis that followed the presidential election in 2004.

So, they in Moscow will most probably prefer stopgap measures to global political reforms.

Mikhail Neyzhmakov, specially for EADaily

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31.05.2018

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