Russia appoints new ambassador to Abkhazia
The new Russian ambassador to Abkhazia, Mikhail Shurgalin, previously served at the Russian Foreign Ministry, in a department that also dealt with Abkhazia.
Prior to his appointment as an ambassador, Shurgalin served as deputy director of the fourth department of the CIS countries of the Russian Foreign Ministry, which is in charge of the South Caucasus.
Shurgalin became the third Russian ambassador to Abkhazia. Before him, this position was held by Alexei Dvinyanin, whom Putin dismissed from this post in March.
Inal Khashig, editor of JAMnews / Chegemskaya Pravda
“The appointment of Mikhail Shurgalin as an ambassador to Abkhazia can hardly be linked to the scandal caused by the recent statements of the chairman of the State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Relations with Compatriots Leonid Kalashnikov.
At a briefing for journalists on May 24, Kalashnikov said that Russia was proposing to eliminate the only Psou border crossing on the Russian-Abkhazian border, as was the case with Belarus”.
In addition, Kalashnikov went through the amendments to the law on the election of a deputy adopted in April by the Abkhazian parliament.
According to the new rules, the deputy is required to speak Abkhaz and Russian. Kalashnikov saw this as an indirect threat to the Russian language in the territory of Abkhazia.
Both statements of the Russian deputy were recieved painfully in the Abkhazian political environment.
Now the new ambassador will have to resolve this situation right off the bat and other cases of “misunderstanding” between Sukhum and Moscow, which will most likely arise in the context of the plan approved a few years ago to harmonize the legislation of Russia and Abkhazia.
Mikhail Dvinyanin, Shurgalin’s predecessor, obviously failed to resolve this issue, and, therefore, was recalled by the Kremlin ahead of time.
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