Abkhazia – November-December 2015


Abkhazia in the context of Russia-Turkey relations, Abkhazian display at an international exhibition; budget discussions, and VAT law


In December, the media actively discussed strained relations between Russia and Turkey and their impact on Abkhazia. President of the International Fund “Apsny” Soner Gogua, who repatriated from Turkey and participated in the 1992-1993 war, expressed concern that the disagreements between Russia and Turkey will affect the economy of Abkhazia. He underlined that “what is now happening in the relations between Russia and Turkey directly affects Abkhazia. All these years we have said that Russia is our strategic and economic partner, our good neighbor, who has been supporting us all these time. At the same time, the Turkish Republic is our second economic partner and, most importantly, it is home to a large Abkhazian diaspora”. Soner Gogua thinks that the legislative order signed by Vladimir Putin will have economic consequences for Abkhazia. “It is not a secret that we work with Turkey. Trade between Turkey and Abkhazia comes up to about $200 million. If you look at investments, more comes from Turkey through our diaspora than from Russia. These are the areas of agriculture, tourism, fishing activities, forestry – in all these spheres, there are Turkish investments”, said Soner Gogua. At the same time, according to Gogua, the Turkish government made a big mistake, and in the fight against international terrorism, Abkhazia supports the Russian Federation.

The news on Georgian media outlets claiming that at the International Tourist Exhibition “GreekTourismExpo” in Greece, the Abkhaz-language sign was removed from the Abkhazian display and replaced by a Georgian flag has resonated strongly in Abkhazia. President of the Chamber of Commerce Gennady Gaguliya said this information was not true, according to the news agency “Sputnik Abkhazia”. He said, “We were participating in the exhibition until the very end, and no of such thing happened”. He also pointed out that Georgia was against the participation of the Abkhazian delegation in the exhibition.


The main economic news was related to the discussions of 2016 budget, which was adopted by the government on November 19 and should be reviewed by the parliament in the near future. The budget will be 13.5 billion rubles, of which almost one third is assistance from Russia, writes the agency “Apsnypress”. Minister of Finance Amra Kvarandzia said, “The share of own revenues has increased. They have increased more than twice”. At the same time, she said that tax revenues are foreseen to be more than 2 billion rubles, and non-tax revenues will make up more than 1 billion rubles. In addition, the total amount of revenues from import VAT will amount to almost 2 billion rubles.

The parliament of Abkhazia also adopted the law on VAT as reported by “Nuzhnaya Gazeta”. According to Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Serikov, the VAT law solves the problem of the fiscal component of the replenishment and increase of Abkhazia’s own budget revenues, and also allows to build up the entire system of taxation harmoniously in order to pull the economy out of the shadows. Serikov expressed the opinion that as a result of the adoption of the VAT law, the price of goods will rise by not more than 9 percent, and a list of goods that are not subject to this tax, such as basic foods and medicine, will be created. Member of Parliament Aslan Kobakhia believes that the question on the application of this law on trade in oil products should be deferred and further developed.

In November the tangerine harvest that is in high demand in Russia began in Abkhazia. This year the harvest of tangerines is much smaller than last year, reports the agency “Sputnik Abkhazia” quoting Minister of Agriculture Temur Eshba. According to this outlet, the poor harvest is mainly the result of the summer drought. The same news agency, referring to the Southern Customs Agency, writes that as of December 7, Sochi customs has cleared 10,200 tons of citrus fruits since the beginning of “tangerine season”. Last year during the same period, 11,700 tons of citrus fruits were cleared.

Due to Russian sanctions against Turkey, President Raul Khajimba declared readiness to increase the supply of products to the Russian Federation, reports the agency “Apsnypress”. He called for actions that would ensure that Russian partners have a better understanding of the agricultural potential of Abkhazia. In his opinion, Abkhazian entrepreneurs successfully participate in agricultural exhibitions in Russia. He also underlined that “Abkhazia is ready to increase the supply of agricultural produce to Russia as the domestic production increases”.


According to the mass media, the Prosecutor General’s office of Abkhazia ruled the issuance of Abkhazian passports to residents of the Gal district illegal. They are considered to be citizens of Georgia and the Prosecutor’s Office opened a criminal case against the officials of the passport and visa services. The issuance of passports to the residents of the Gal district, became one of the main causes of political unrest in May and June 2014, leading to the change of power in Abkhazia. Due to changes in the approach to the issuance of passports, on December 8 Minister of Interior Leonid Dzapshba ordered the reorganization of the Ministry of Interior and the reduction of the personnel, reports the agency “Apsnypress”.

At the beginning of December, one of the most discussed news became the escape from a prison located in the village Dranda of Gulripshi district. Bachuki Lataria accused of kidnapping for ransom escaped from the detention center early in the morning of December 10. The entire structure of the Interior Ministry was alerted and the plan “Interception” was put into action. The fugitive was arrested in the evening, and the head of the detention center was temporarily dismissed for the duration of the official investigation. On Saturday, December 12, Dranda jail inmates staged a rebellion. The reason was the seizure of items prohibited in places of detention and removal of the superintendent. According to the press service of the Ministry of Interior, all the prisoners were returned to the cells in the evening, and the detention regime was restored.

Culture and Sport

The gala concert dedicated to the Constitution Day of Abkhazia was held at Freedom Square in the city of Sukhum on November 26. Artists from Abkhazia and the Russian singer Polina Gagarina performed at the concert, reports “Nuzhnaya Gazeta”. President of Abkhazia Raul Khajimba, ministers, and Parliament members attended the concert.

Sukhumi State Musical College named after Aleksey Chichba is celebrating its 85th anniversary this year. The gala concert celebrating the anniversary was held on December 1 at the Philharmonic theater after R. Gumba, reports the agency “Apsnypress”. The Chamber Orchestra, the Chapel Choir, as well as graduates and students of the College performed at the concert. The concert opened with the cantata “Apsny” composed by Aleksey Chichba.

The 4th World Championship of national wrestling Koresh and the 12th World Championship of belt wrestling were held in Moscow. Temurlan Tebuev, representing Abkhazia, became the bronze medalist.

A young athlete from Abkhazia Kvarchia Erica won the first place in the open championship in table tennis, which was held in Slavyansk-on-Kuban. Around 500 athletes from different cities and regions of Russia participated in the competition. The Sukhum team was represented by ten athletes of the tennis club of the Committee for Youth and Sports of the Administration of the city of Sukhum, reports the agency “Apsnypress”.

The views expressed in the Review may be different from the views of the editors of the Caucasus Edition.

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