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Putin's Aides Meet Abkhaz Leader, Opposition Over Crisis

Demonstrators storm the building where the president's office is located in Sukhumi on May 27.
Demonstrators storm the building where the president's office is located in Sukhumi on May 27.
Officials from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s administration have been meeting with the de facto president of Georgia’s breakaway Abkhazia region, Aleksandr Ankvab, and with opposition leaders who have seized control of Ankvab’s headquarters in Abkhazia's capital, Sukhumi.

The opposition still was in control of the presidential building in Sukhumi early on May 29 after the meetings.

Russia's Deputy Security Council Secretary Rashid Nurgaliyev met on the night of May 28 with Ankvab, who describes the storming of his office building by his political opponents as an “armed coup attempt.”

Ankvab said in an interview with Abhaz television broadcast earlier on May 28 that "there was still a chance to bring the situation back into the legal framework."

Ankvab also said that "a large number of people, some of them armed" had seized state television.

Ankvab’s office says Nurgaliyev also met late on May 28 with security officials within Ankvab’s administration.

Meanwhile, reports say Ankvab also met on May 28 with Putin’s aide Vladislav Surkov, who had traveled to Sukhumi with Nurgaliyev for talks on Abkhazia’s crisis.

Surkov also met with opposition leaders Raul Khajimba, Sergei Shamba, Akhra Bzhania ,and Vitaly Gabny on May 28, as well as with lawmakers in Abkhazia’s parliament.

Those talks were all conducted behind closed doors in the parliament building.

The opposition is demanding the resignation of the government, the prosecutor general, and heads of eastern districts.

Protesters on May 27 stormed the building where Ankvab's office is located after a demonstration by several thousand people.

Ankvab had agreed to the demonstrators' demand to dismiss the government, but the demonstration continued with the opposition demanding that Ankvab also step down.

Khajimba told the crowd of demonstrators on May 27 that the opposition was “temporarily taking over the reins” of power.

The opposition accuses Ankvab of authoritarian practices and is demanding reforms.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia are breakaway regions of Georgia that have declared independence.

But they are recognized as independent states only by Russia and a handful of other countries.

Tbilisi insists the two regions are part of Georgia. Georgia's parliament in 2008 passed a resolution declaring Abkhazia a Russian-occupied territory.

A large part of the internaitonal community also considers Abkhazia to be occupied by the Russia military.

Russia refuses to allow observers from the European Union Monitoring Mission into Abkhazia.
With reporting by Reuters, Rossia 24,, Interfax, and ITAR-TASS
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