In Abkhazia, Russia’s Attack on Ukraine Gets Lukewarm Support
Some 2,600 people, largely coming from military, security, and law-enforcement ranks, packed this afternoon the west-stand of Dinamo Stadium in Abkhazia’s main town Sokhumi, to support Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The rally, pushed by the authorities of Sokhumi city, came after Abkhaz public offered a seemingly lukewarm support to Moscow, the occupied region’s chief benefactor.
“I, as the head of state, all the leadership of the Republic of Abkhazia and our multi-ethnic people fully support Russian President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin,” Kremlin-backed Aslan Bzhania addressed the attendees.
“We realize how difficult it was for Russia’s leadership and personally for Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] to make the decision to conduct a special military operation,” Bzhania said.
The Abkhaz leader continued that the presence of various political party and civil society representatives at the rally indicated that “we are united in the issue of development of Abkhaz-Russian relations.”
“Unfortunately, Ukraine has become a tool through which the so-called collective West implements the policy of imperialism aimed at establishing a unipolar world,” Bzhania claimed, while endorsing Putin’s 2007 Munich Security Conference speech over the need to end the unipolar world.
The event marked the first noticeable gathering to support Russia’s actions in Sokhumi — town of some 60,000 people — coming only after two weeks since Moscow attacked Ukraine. Earlier, on March 7, reportedly 30 Abkhaz joined car rally to support Russia.
Also on March 7, a demonstration in support of “Russia’s special operation” was held in western Gudauta town. The rally was organized by several candidates taking part in March 12 “parliamentary” polls – Leonid Lakerbaia, Ahra Pachulia, Beslan Khalvash, Almaskhan Bartsits, Alisa Gularia, Parid Kobakhia.
The lack of enthusiasm in Abkhazia to support Russia’s actions in Ukraine was echoed in the remarks of key opposition leader, Adgur Ardzinba, who earlier called on Bzhania to ramp up public mobilization to support Moscow.
“People are tense, there’s a lot of contradictory information and people don’t know what is going on. And the head of the state [Bzhania] must tell people what is being done, what to expect,” Ardzinba told Respublika Telegram channel on March 6.
Giorgi Kanashvili, Tbilisi-based long-time Abkhazia watcher, said the Abkhaz public has mixed reactions to the ongoing invasion in Ukraine. “In Abkhazia, the war, Russia’s attack on Ukraine is perceived as so unjust, that it enjoys no common support there,” he told Civil.ge.
However, Kanashvili argued, the Abkhaz public is not eager to see Russia failing in Ukraine, fearing that changed geopolitical realities and weakened Russia may result in Tbilisi moving to retake control over the region.
In Tskhinvali/South Ossetia, Georgia’s another Russian-occupied region, the de facto authorities were more prompt to mobilize popular support for Moscow’s attack against Ukraine.
On March 2, the ruling United Ossetia party reportedly gathered a few hundred people in downtown Tskhinvali in support Putin’s decision “to conduct a military special operation to protect the Donetsk and Luhansk Peoples’ Republics.”
“Our thoughts and forces are with Putin and Donbas. Glory to Russia,” Kremlin-backed leader Anatoly Bibilov addressed the attendees that waved Russian and Soviet flags, among others.
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