MOSCOW, May 28 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow is concerned by the political tensions in Abkhazia and believes the crisis should be resolved through legal means, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin and Abkhaz Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Chirikba held a phone conversation earlier in the day to discuss the situation in the republic, where anti-government protesters seized official buildings on Tuesday.
“Karasin expressed his concern about the deterioration of the political situation in Abkhazia,” the ministry said. “The Russian side follows the events in the friendly republic with attention and concern, [and] considers it important to [ensure] that political processes there develop solely within the framework of the law,” the ministry said.
Crowds of protesters seized administrative buildings in Sukhumi late on Tuesday, following an outbreak of mass rallies. The mob demanded that President Aleksandr Ankvab step down.
Abkhaz security chiefs have issued a joint statement vowing allegiance to the legitimate president, who described the events as "an armed coup attempt."
Abkhaz Security Council Secretary Nugzar Ashuba said the president is now in Abkhazia and is controlling the situation.
Abkhazia broke away from Georgia following an ethnically tinged war in 1992-1993, just after the Soviet collapse. More than a decade later, in 2008, Russia formally recognized the province as an independent state after a brief war with Tbilisi over another disputed Georgian region, South Ossetia. Many Abkhaz citizens have Russian passports.