Vice President Ankvab wins Abkhazia presidential election

MOSCOW, August 29 (Itar-Tass) — This weekend the results of the early presidential election that took place in Abkhazia last Friday were summed up. Vice President Alexander Ankvab won even in the first round. Experts say that this demonstrates not so much Ankvab’s victory as the defeat of Prime Minister Sergei Shamba who was supported by the Kremlin.

Alexander Ankvab received 55 percent of votes (55,657 voters cast their ballots for him), Kommersant reminds. Prime Minister Sergei Shamba came second in the race backed by 22,456 voters. The leader of the oppositional Forum of the National Unity of Abkhazia, Raul Khadzhimba, came third with 21,177 votes. Experts noted a surprising fact that the elections ended with the first round.

Famous blogger Akhra Smyr quoted by the business daily expressed confidence that people voted not so much for Ankvab as for “good roads, for law and order, for senior officials to change their expansive jeeps for less costly cars and to begin real work instead of wearing out the seat of their trousers.” A member of the Public Chamber, Inal Hashig, believes that a wrong PR campaign of Sergei Shamba helped Alexander Ankvab to win. “Russian aggressive political technologies with billboards, campaigns with songs and dances are not for the Abkhazian society, which values simplicity and modesty. This is a small country, where everybody knows each other and where it is impossible to deceive anyone,” the expert said.

Meanwhile, on Saturday Alexander Ankvab gave a news conference focusing on freedom of speech. Ankvab who positioned himself as a tough leader has been instilling fear in the country’s independent media sources that express concern over his possible authoritarian rule and pressure on journalists. However, Ankvab hurried to dispel these fears. “This is not our style,” he told the news conference referring to the law on media that nobody plans to violate. When asked whether Abkhazia will face dictatorship, he underlined that “there will be no dictatorships.” “But the Abkhazian society also does not want to have weak leaders without principles.”

Analyzing the election results, political scientist Stanislav Belkovsky quoted by the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper wondered “What does this mean for Russia?” “On the one hand, there is nothing special.” The expert believes that Abkhazia will remain in the orbit of Russia’s influence. Nevertheless, Ankvab’s victory should be perceived in Moscow with a slightly bitter flavour, because the Kremlin has not been hiding its sympathy for Sergei Shamba and wanted Abkhazia’s prime minister and ex-foreign minister to win the presidential race, helping him in every possible way.

Belkovsky noted that Russia once again should admit that despite Abkhazia’s 100-percent dependence on Moscow, the Kremlin cannot appoint its president in Sukhum.

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