DRI: The fuel crisis in occupied Abkhazia continues: What versions does the society have?
The crisis related to oil products in occupied Abkhazia and the Russian monopoly on the fuel market are still relevant. As far as the Democracy Research Institute has been informed, there are several different opinions in the Abkhazian society and among experts regarding the real causes of the crisis, which may complement each other.
According to one of the versions, which seems even more credible after the appeal of Abkhazia's de facto parliament to the Russian Duma, along with the aggravation of the energy crisis in Abkhazia, the shortage of energy carriers was caused by the fact that according to the decision of the Russian Government, only the state company Rosneft should provide fuel to Abkhazia. This means that Russia imposes a monopoly on the Abkhaz market of energy carriers and oppresses local entrepreneurs. However, the monopolization of fuel import alone could not become the cause of its shortage, if not for the so-called malfunction of the customs procedures at the Abkhazian-Russian border, which probably also hindered the timely delivery of the required amount of fuel to Abkhazia.
According to another version, there is a crisis in the market of energy carriers in the southern regions of Russia, which is caused on the one hand by Russia's aggression and war in Ukraine, and on the other hand, by the fact that the legitimate targets of the Ukrainian Defence Forces are the logistics and economic infrastructure of Russia in the bordering regions. As a result, a number of oil refineries and fuel storage facilities in the Krasnodar and Stavropol regions were damaged or destroyed. Obviously, these reasons can explain the decrease in the amount of fuel production in the southwestern regions of Russia and the increase in prices, which also affected the occupied region of Abkhazia. A similar situation was indicated by the sources of the Democracy Research Institute from South Ossetia, where the car park of de facto state agencies also faces problems with fuel supply.
According to the third version, which dominates the Abkhaz society, Russia uses the fuel issue to put pressure on Abkhazia. According to the information available to the Democracy Research Institute, locals think that Russia is not supplying energy resources to Abkhazia intentionally, so that the severe winter breaks their resistance and the issues of Bichvinta cottages, Russian apart-hotels and the bill on "Foreign Agents" are resolved quickly. The fact that only a few of the dozens of gas stations were working in the eastern part of occupied Abkhazia (Ochamchire, Gulripshi, Tkvarcheli and Gali), gives locals the feeling that the Russian Federation is using the energy crisis as another lever to humiliate and tame Abkhazians. The above version is supported by the aggravated energy crisis in February - instead of the promised 4 hours, the electricity outage lasts for 8 hours a day; Often, the water is not supplied either. The popularity of this version is noteworthy against the background of the upcoming elections of the President of the Russian Federation, which are being prepared with extreme caution in Abkhazia and for which all the administrative resources are diverted to express the gratitude and loyalty of Abkhazia to Putin.
De facto president Aslan Bzhania declares his support to Putin in open sources and promises full support from Abkhazia - 130,000 votes. On its part, Abkhazia is trying to use the pre-election situation to solve problems - the parliament of the de facto republic of Abkhazia sent an official letter to the State Duma of the Russian Federation and requested a revision of the resolution of the Government of the Russian Federation of December 16, 2023, which determined Rosneft as the only exporter of oil products in Abkhazia. At the same time, in the Tskhinvali region, where the monopoly of Rosneft was not followed by protest in the market, no information has been spread about the crisis after the stocks of petroleum products were filled in the region.