Russia is interested in democratic presidential elections in Abkhazia to be held “in a calm situation without destabilization,” Semyon Grigoriev, who serves as Russia’s ambassador in Sokhumi, said in an interview with RFE/RL’s Russian-language service, Ekho Kavkaza, on August 15.
Asked if Russia had learnt the lesson of 2004 events when after Russia’s public backing to one of the presidential candidates led to a confrontation and crisis after the election, the Russian diplomat responded: “I think, obviously, in elaborating its policies towards Abkhazia, Russia is taking into account all of its experience of working on this direction, including the experience of 2004.”
“I would call Russia’s position not equidistant, but equally close to all the candidates” he continued. “We know all three candidates very well; we know that they are sincere adherents of developing strategic relations with Russia and we have no reason to give preference to any of [the candidates] and by doing so influence on the choice of the Abkhaz people.”
Grigoriev said that at the moment there was no reason to think that the August 26 presidential election would grow into destabilization.
In the same interview the Russian diplomat said that at the moment Russia had about 3,500 army troops and 1,500 border guard troops from the Federal Security Service (FSB) deployed in Abkhazia and that Moscow had no intention to increase its military presence in the region.