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Situation tense in Goergia`s Russian-backed province of Abkhazia

28.05.14 15:40

Situation remains tense in Goergia`s Russian-backed breakaway province of Abkhazia, where demonstrators stormed the presidential headquarters and demanded the resignation of a leader they accuse of corruption and misrule.

Several thousand opposition supporters gathered in the capital of the Black Sea coastal region to vent anger at President Alexander Ankvab`s government and demand reforms.

Some opposition representatives later held talks with Ankvab in his office but others broke windows and doors, and about 30 entered the building.

Raul Khadzhimba, an opposition leader who lost a presidential election to Ankvab in 2011, said that opponents would press for officials to step down.

"We believe that it is vital to keep calm, to place this government compound under reliable security so any of those who until today call themselves the leaders of the country would not have any moral right to step their foot into this compound," Khadzhimba told opposition leaders at a meeting.

Abkhazia broke from Georgian rule in a 1992-1993 war after the Soviet collapse. Moscow recognized it as an independent state after Russia fought a five-day war with Georgia in 2008, and at the same time strengthened control over the region.

Only a handful of other nations recognize Abkhazia as an independent state.

Speaking at a meeting, President Alexander Ankvab described Tuesday`s events as an attempted coup.

"There were outright demands that I should resign, then they came back to the demand that the whole government should resign, that the prosecutor-general should be sacked too."

He said there was still time to use the legal system to avert the government from being overthrown.

"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," Ankvab said.

Opponents of Ankvab, a former prime minister and vice president who has survived several reported assassination attempts, accuse him of corruption and authoritarian rule over the lush region that borders the Russian resort city of Sochi.

Some critics including Khadzhimba have also accused Ankvab`s government of mishandling the relationship with Russia and relying too much on Moscow, while others want Abkhazia to become part of Russia.

Russia`s representative to Abkhazia told Rustavi 2 today that the province`s possible joining to Russia is not being considered.

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