Last week, something happened that has not seemingly attracted the attention of English-language media, but which may turn out to be quite important for the development of Abkhazian society. On 11 November, President Ankvab signed a decree authorising Abaza TV to broadcast throughout Abkhazia, where until now it had been limited to Sukhum only. Abaza TV is Abkhazia’s only private TV channel, and while it is not really independent, it does provide an important platform for political dissent. (Abaza TV is owned by opposition politician Beslan Butba, which is why it is a good thing he lost the 2009 and 2011 Presidential elections.) Until the arrival of Abaza TV, newspapers were the most important media of Abkhazia — State TV is not that relevant, with most viewers preferring Russian TV.
The fortunes of Abaza TV from its founding in 2007 are traced in an article by Vitali Sharia over at Ekho Kavkaza. It had been refused permission to broadcast outside Sukhum for several years now. Ankvab had promised to change this, but reportedly, even after the death of President Bagapsh, Ankvab deliberately waited until after the August 2011 election to make good on his promise.