Georgia has told Russia not to meddle in its internal affairs after Moscow threatened it would defend its interests in Georgia’s separatist Abkhazia region, where disputed elections have turned violent.
Thousands of supporters of victorious presidential candidate Sergei Bagapsh stormed government buildings after his Moscow-backed rival claimed irregularities in the vote and demanded a re-run. Georgian Foreign Minister Salome Zurabishvili said: “Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls on the group of friends and the international community to give the proper reaction to such Russian declarations, to reiterate their support for Georgia’s full sovereignty and territorial integrity and to warn Russia to abstain from any interference in Georgia’s internal affairs.”
Abkhazia is home to just a few hundred thousand people but is the cause of considerable friction between Russia and Georgia and could upset the fragile stability of the region.
Abkhazia broke away from Georgia after a war in 1992-93. The separatist region’s electoral commission declared Sergei Bagapsh the winner of recent presidential elections.
However, with Russia’s favourite Raul Khadzhimba demanding the election be run again, politics in Abkhazia has gone through six weeks of stalemate and paralysis.