August 28 – September 10
Tskhinvali Happenings – Bibilov and the shining Russia: Moscow-backed Tskhinvali leader Anatoly Bibilov offered some stirring words about Russia in one of his latest interviews. Answering the question about his assessment of Russia’s role in the world, Bibilov said that “Russia represents shining of the good,” and is “a positive thing, which is sown everywhere.” He thinks Russia “is doing everything for the world to be in order,” fighting against the “hegemony of the unipolar world.” Vladimir Putin personally, posits Bibilov, “plays dominant role in the world,” and “would win the American elections, if he participated.”
Western Voices – Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region in the Freedom House report: The document, titled Freedom in the World 2017, speaks of discrimination against ethnic Georgians, and stresses that South Ossetia/Tskhinvali Region, in particular, “remains almost entirely dependent on Russia,” with Moscow exerting “a decisive influence over politics and governance.”
Russification of Gali schools advances: The transfer of the last 11 Georgian language schools in Abkhazia to the Russian language instruction is advancing. The process had been launched in 2015 for the first to fourth grades. The fifth grade was added in 2016, and now so has been the sixth. The process of Russification of the last Georgian schools in Gali District is estimated to be finalized by 2023.
The Military Aspect – Russian troops in the Georgian occupied regions are busy exercising: Russian garrisons of the military bases stationed in both territories, each one size of a mechanized brigade, keep polishing their skills. Especially so in Abkhazia, although the Russian forces in Tskhinvali Region are not quite idle either. Various exercises included those for the occupying forces’ artillery, air defense, tanks, anti-tank units, snipers, and even flamethrowers.
The Military Aspect – New Russian officers arrive: Green lieutenants, fresh out of military schools, are joining the Russian bases in both Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region, as a part of the continuous rotation of the personnel at the Russian military bases in both territories.
Russia’s Network – Kids at the military base: The Russian base in Abkhazia appears to systematically engage with children. Following a two-week “military-patriotic” camp for teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17, hosted by the base, it staged an event where about 20 children joined the ranks of the “All-Russia "Young Army" National Military Patriotic Social Movement Association,” also organizing a drawing competition for children called “Tankmen in the Eyes of a Child.”
Russia’s Network – Khajimba visits Russian Federation regions: Adygea and Kabardino-Balkaria, two regions in the western part of the North Caucasus, were the destinations of a visit by the Moscow-backed Abkhaz leader Raul Khajimba. He met the heads of the two Russian regions, and thanked the local fighters who took part in the war against Georgia in 1992-1993.
Russia’s Network – Sokhumi wants a new road tying it to Russia: The Abkhaz “vice-president” Vitaly Gabnia expressed wish for a new road, connecting Abkhazia to the Russian North Caucasus.
Russia’s Network – Tskhinvali keeps cozying up to the Donbass rebels: The now well-established tradition of the Russian-backed Tskhinvali authorities’ close ties to the Moscow’s proxies in the eastern Ukraine keeps developing. This time, the Donetsk “transport ministry” signed a cooperation agreement with a delegation from Tskhinvali.
Russia’s Network – The Eagle returns a visit: Anatoly Bibilov keeps up his relations with “the Russian historical enlightenment society “Two-headed Eagle.” After a July meeting with the reactionary pro-imperialist organization’s leader Leonid Reshetnikov in Russia, Bibilov hosted in Tskhinvali the Two-headed Eagle’s “specialist on Caucasus and Middle East” Artur Ataev. Their conversation was attended by the rector of the Tskhinvali university, and emphasized the Eagle’s role in the South Ossetian education system.
Moldova turns away Tskhinvali visitors: an attempt by a Tskhinvali delegation to visit another Russian-backed entity of Transnistria for the annual celebration of its secession from Moldova met a hurdle when the Moldovan authorities refused entry into the country to visitors from Tskhinvali. The landlocked Transnistria is situated between Ukraine and the rest of the Moldovan territory.
On the Line – IPRM meeting in Ergneti: The 80th meeting of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism was traditionally held in village Ergneti, situated in very close proximity to the occupation line. Issues discussed included the hotline between the sides, the announced changes to the language of instruction in Georgian schools in Akhalgori District, and cases of detention of Georgian civilians, including the continuing imprisonment of Giorgi Giunashvili.