Russia is said to be concerned over unrest in Abkhazia where thousands of protesters have stormed the presidential palace, forcing the president of the breakaway Georgian region to flee.
Many in Moscow-backed Abkhazia are unhappy with the ailing economy and lack of reforms and accuse President Alexander Ankvab of cronyism and misrule.
From an unknown location, the president has called for calm:
“We still have a chance to return the situation using the legal path. From the legal point of view what is happening now is an attempted armed coup,” he said.
The Black Sea region broke away from Georgia after a civil war 20 years ago and declared independence in 2008. Russia is one of the few countries to recognise it as a state.
Although at one time considered a tourist destination , these days Abkhazia relies financially and militarily on Russia whose forces patrol its de facto border with Georgia.
Bloodshed or protracted unrest in the region could be an embarrassment for the Kremlin which is said to have sent an envoy in response to the protests.
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