Firstly, regarding the humorous matter, an 'Open Letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin' has recently been circulating on Abkhazian social networks.
Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich, I am writing to express my concern regarding the decision made by the Parliament of the Republic of Abkhazia on the night of 27-28 December 2023 to transfer a piece of land with great historical, ecological, and cultural significance to the FSO of the Russian Federation.
Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich, I am writing to express my concern regarding the decision made by the Parliament of the Republic of Abkhazia on the night of 27-28 December 2023 to transfer a piece of land with great historical, ecological, and cultural significance to the FSO of the Russian Federation. As a citizen of Apsny, I am deeply troubled by this decision. The land in question is the state dacha located in the town of Pitsunda, which is situated on the territory of a relic pine grove. This decision has caused serious concern and tension in society, which is not subsiding.
It is believed that decisions that can cast a shadow on the good and partnership relations of our two countries were taken without your knowledge. It appears that steps have been taken behind your back, which, to our great regret, can harm the interests of our two States. Today, the Abkhazian authorities are attempting to shift responsibility for the decision entirely onto the Russian side, claiming that it was the Russian side that insisted on its adoption.
They are unfairly labelling disagreement with the authorities as 'anti-Russian sentiments', even though such sentiments do not exist. The Abkhazian authorities are attempting to artificially cultivate these sentiments in our society, which is a waste of their efforts. It is important to note that the territory in Pitsunda occupies approximately 180 hectares and is leased from the Russian side under the agreement of 14 September 1995. No one in Abkhazia is claiming to change this status.
The Abkhaz people appreciate the valuable help and support provided by the Russian State, both in the past and present. The relationship between Russia and Abkhazia serves as an exemplary model for the world. This example demonstrates that a great power can selflessly protect and assist a small state that has suffered from a brutal war, guided by a sense of justice. Furthermore, we acknowledge and appreciate that you have established a relationship based on mutual trust, respect, and partnership.
We hope that as a prominent world leader, you will comprehend our concern and distress regarding the encroachment of a protected area, which is significant in the scale of Abkhazia. We find ourselves in a situation where only your authoritative intervention can alleviate the tension and restore normalcy.
We hope for your understanding.
Sincerely, Tsiza Gumba,
Citizen of Abkhazia.
12th January 2024.”
This letter elicited a bitter reaction from many Abkhazians who understand the situation. The separatist authorities have repeatedly informed the residents of Abkhazia that the demand to cede Pitsunda is a personal request of Russian President Vladimir Putin. His puppets are obligated to fulfill this request, otherwise they will not survive. Unfortunately, there are still naive Abkhazians who believe that they can appeal to Putin and regain control of Pitsunda.
Georgia is recognised by the international community as having the right to return Pitsunda to the Abkhazian people. Georgia has already declared that the alienation of Abkhazian Pitsunda from the Abkhazian people is inadmissible.
Therefore, if Abkhazian Tsiza Gumba cares about Abkhazian land, she should work together with Georgia and the brotherly Georgian people to fight for it. This is the only way to have a chance of getting it back. It is not advisable to request the leader of invaders, who seized your house by force and deceit, to refrain from oppressing you too much and to complain about the grassroots executors of his own authorized actions.
The appetites of both the Kremlin and the top brass of the Russian Federation, as well as the Hay settlers who have become the majority in Abkhazia, are unlikely to end with Pitsunda.
It is crucial to note that the Kremlin views Abkhazia as its 'booty' or 'spoils of war' and has no intention of returning it. The division of the trophy, known as Abkhazia, has only just begun.
Even some separatist telegram channels have started to realise this. For instance, the telegram channel ABKHAZIA-CENTRE recently published the following information:
Opponents of the Abkhazian authorities have uncovered a new fact regarding the sale of real estate - a boarding house in the Sukhumi district, which is owned by a Russian individual. This has caused conflict with local residents.
The boarding house, known as 'Shitskvara', is a dilapidated Soviet-era building that is scheduled for demolition. However, the land on which it stands is of greater value.
- The sanatorium was given to RZD as a gift, and they subsequently sold the property to a private owner.
- Have you written 'BUSY' on your fence? Be prepared to see a similar inscription on your own fence...
Regarding the inscriptions 'BUSY', most Abkhazians understand their meaning. However, it is important to note that these inscriptions were used during a violent period when separatists and Hay fighters from the Bagramyan battalion were killing and expelling peaceful Georgian population. They wrote 'occupied' on the houses and flats of the victims.
Unfortunately, at that time, Abkhazians did not yet realize that these inscriptions would eventually cover all of Abkhazia. Abkhazians fear that their lands, houses, and flats will eventually be taken over by those who instigated the fratricidal war to gain control of Abkhazia.
To assert its dominance, Russia is constructing a naval base in Ochamchira, Abkhazia, which is expected to be operational by 2024. Secretary of the separatist 'Security Council' Sergei Shamba confirmed this development. Shamba states that Abkhazia has assumed certain obligations and is fulfilling them by the agreement on the deployment of the Russian fleet.
Abkhazians appear to have only one obligation towards the occupiers and their military facilities: to act as a 'human shield' and absorb the blows that will likely occur during the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian conflict. On 11 January 2024, the commander of the Ukrainian Navy, Oleksiy Nejapa, referred to the Russian base in Ochamchira as a 'legitimate target'. He stated that the Ukrainian armed forces have the right to strike Russian ships and coastal infrastructure, including those in Abkhazia.
To potentially intimidate dissatisfied Abkhazians regarding the occupation of Abkhazian lands, Russia has conducted 'anti-terrorist exercises' in Abkhazia. The Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation reported a recent exercise to repel an attack by illegal armed groups. If Abkhazians continue to resist the occupation of their land in an organized manner, they will be destroyed and labeled as 'saboteurs' or 'foreign agents'.