Analysis, book reviews and photography from Abkhazia and the wider Caucasus — updates when time permits

Sergei Matosyan elected Vice Speaker of Abkhazia’s People’s Assembly after all

Last May Albert Hovsepyan resigned as Vice Speaker of the People’s Assembly of Abkhazia. At the time, he was the highest ranking Armenian in Abkhazia, and I posited that it represented a setback to Armenian integration into the Abkhazian state. All the more so since he had not been succeeded by another Armenian (or anyone else for that matter). The prime candidate would have been Sergei Matosyan, whom Hovsepyan had originally defeated when he was elected Vice Speaker.

Now it appears that Sergei Matosyan did in fact succeed Hovsepyan, albeit with some delay: on 24 September. It is notable that unlike Hovsepyan, Matosyan is a member of the opposition. He was Deputy Minister of the Interior under Abkhazia’s first President Vladislav Ardzinba, and he very briefly became Minister for Emergency Affairs in December 2004. During the October 2004 Presidential Election, he supported Sergei Shamba’s candidacy and he was one of the leaders of his Social-Democratic Party. When the opposition war veterans organisation Aruaa was founded on 17 May 2007, Matosyan was elected to its supreme council.

Being a member of the opposition probably explains why Matosyan was elected with only 22 votes (the assembly has 35 members, of which 24 cast a vote). On the other hand, Matosyan is a Hero of Abkhazia due to his achievements in the 1992-1993 war with Georgia. It is not clear whether there were any other candidates. The only other Armenian member of the Assembly is Valery Mayromyan, who seems to have a comparatively modest track record.

Filed under: Abkhazia, Elections, , , , , , , ,

Grenade attack mars Chuburxinji by-election in Abkhazia

After the death of People’s Assembly member Yuri Kereselidze on November the 1st, the resulting by-election for the Chuburxinji constituency was held Sunday the 9th of January. It was won by Ruslan Kishmaria, the President’s special representative for the Gali district. Kishmaria has long been seen as a moderate figure who has a relatively good understanding with the Mingrelian population.

But the election took a violent turn when a grenade exploded on election day close to Kishmaria’s opponent Gocha Jalagonia, while he was leaving a local church. Jalagonia stated that his relationship with Kishamaria is good, but there seems to be no doubt that he was the target of the attack. Rather incredulously, this is being denied by the public prosecutor, who put the incident down to ‘hooliganism’. Jalagonia was hospitalised with a severe headache, and released on the next morning.

According to the election commission, Kishmaria won 69% of the votes, with the turnout at 42%.

Filed under: Abkhazia, Elections, , , , , , ,

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