The Other Election Crisis

by Nathan Hamm on 11/26/2004

As the struggle over the presidency continues in Ukraine, it’s important to remember that Russia is embroiled in another foreign election crisis. There is still no resolution to the disputed election in Abkhazia, and now Russia is threatening to blockade the region.

Russia threatened on Tuesday to halt all economic aid to the rebel Georgian region of Abkhazia if a political crisis in the region is not resolved.

The strategically important region, which depends almost entirely on cash from Moscow, was plunged into crisis last month when opposition leader Sergei Bagapsh won a presidential election.

Officials loyal to Moscow-backed candidate Raul Khadzhimba refused to allow him take power, prompting Bagapsh supporters to seize government buildings. The police have refused to obey government orders and a Russian mediation attempt has failed.

“We cannot send humanitarian and financial support in a situation when we do not have the possibility of controlling the use of these means,” Interfax news agency quoted a Russian government spokesman as saying.

“The political situation in Abkhazia is not stable, and individuals are seeking to exploit this to come to power by illegitimate means,” he said.

This certainly would strand Abkhazia as there’s no love lost between the region and Georgia.

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Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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