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Abkhazia: living in power vacuum

Monday morning, on November 21, mainstream media in Abkhazia have published a new list of the people awarded with various government awards.

In the meantime, the previous days appeared to be really bloody. A series of road accidents in Gagra claimed lives of a woman and her 9-year-old daughter. Several people were injured in other accidents last weekend. A local criminal boss escaped from a psychiatric hospital, where he was sent from remand prison over having conflicts with other defendants. Moreover, this list of crimes is not complete.

The authorities ignore the situation. Actually, a period of power vacuum has started in Abkhazia. Now, it is a transitional period. The current formal government structure will be trying to retain its current status. It does not mean that it will manage to do it, but the incumbent president and his proxies may so far retain their grip on power.

It is already evident that the authorities will try their best to survive. Consequently, it is senseless to speak of any drastic measures to develop the country.

The above government awards can be considered as part of the government’s endeavors to remain in power.

No matter how the current “revolutionary period” in the history of Abkhazia will end, the current period will be dramatic, as the government is no longer a single administrative body, specifically, there is still “traditional” hierarchy in the Abkhazian government system. Despite many domestic conflicts, various trends, the system is still managed and controlled, including by the first person.

However, we can see the first, so far non-public symptoms of fragmentation, when hostile political and security groups will be controlling various levels of both the executive power, up to separate departments, and the government agencies. When, for instance, any of the security agencies demonstratively disobeys “not its” president, or when groups fight for control over the National Bank, for instance.

Coup attempts may be undertaken shortly, which will inevitably boost degradation of power. Even if this not happens, the current dangerous trend cannot be stopped.

As for the political environment, perhaps, it is time to stop dividing it into “pro-governmental” and “oppositional” forces. Any attempt to draw at least some ideological difference between groups and forces will become useless soon.

Describing the ongoing fight for power in Abkhazia, one should take into account that there can be no complete political and security forces, since there is permanent mutual influence among them. However, there are forces that permanently and, rather by inertia, fight for power, though in the country where the government system has collapsed it no longer makes sense to have power.

This is about Amtsakhara Party as a certain center of power. The situation inside the party is not stable; there are discrepancies and different wings. In case this party somehow manages to come to power in any form, internal conflict and splitting is inevitable.

Another force striving for power is the group of the former president Alexander Ankvab’s supporters. This group is more organized than others are, has supporters and activists throughout the country and a kind of harmonious flat hierarchy.

As for Aslan Bzhania, the formal leader of the opposition and the former chief of Abkhazia’s security service, he has no much weight and can lead just a consensus-based alliance of forces.

It is important that no political force in the country is powerful enough to claim power independently. Now they operate in an alliance trying to organize a coup. However, coming to power, they will fail to make a monolith system, since these are very different forces having nothing in common.

Separately, the group of forces called “ardzimbovtsi” (Ardzimba’s supporters) has enough capacity to stay up at any situation, but not enough to return power like 15 years ago.

Irrespective of the developments, a group of President Raul Khadzimba’s supporters will be able to influence the political situation.

There are forces that have consolidated around traditionally influential persons in Abkhazia’s political field. These are Mirab Kishmaria, the former defense ministers, Leonid Dzyapshba and Raul Lolua, the former interior ministers and a number of other politicians.

There are forces that have recently consolidated around the country’s several still profitable economic sectors and specific enterprises. They will suffer most of all. It is evident that the current fight is inherently for control over the still functioning economic sectors amid deepening economic crisis.

Therefore, at some stage, these forces will try to grab hold of something from those who controls these sectors today.

At the same time, the situation in the Abkhazian political field is fundamentally new, as there is no longer space left to set up permanent alliances, at least for a while after coming to power.

Division of forces basing on ideology and wings helped establishing traditional “management teams” that despite permanent discrepancies in the political field managed to keep power. Now, it is impossible.

Even if the country avoids revolutions, the fight for resources will undermine the relative stability of the “management system” and big forces such as Amtsakhara will start “feathering their own nest,” and then the country will face more severe reality when the government agencies controlling the budget will be in turn controlled by specific groups. In addition, the permanent fight for influence between them is what will remain from the political field in Abkhazia.

Since there are no premises for development, the resources will be shrinking. Amid extremely stiff competition, more and more forces will be claiming their “pieces of the cake.” One can only guess when shootings will become an integral part of the Abkhazian politics: whether in few months or in several years, at best.

Anton Krivenyuk for EADaily

Permalink: eadaily.com/en/news/2016/11/21/abkhazia-living-in-power-vacuum
Published on November 21st, 2016 09:23 PM
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