Russia plans to completely isolate Abkhazia for its annexation
Russia is methodically approaching the annexation of Abkhazia. Each step of the Russian policy serves the above-mentioned strategic goal - establishment of complete Russian control in Abkhazia.

Currently, there are two important issues on the Russian agenda in relation to Abkhazia: destruction of the civil sector and establishment of police control over the entire territory of Abkhazia with the direct involvement of the National Guard of the Russian Federation. Russia has been acting consistently towards the above-mentioned goal - in 2020, in exchange for significant subsidies and aid, the Kremlin forced Abkhazia to sign an agreement on harmonization with Russian legislation and appropriated Abkhazia's strategic facilities (Ochamchire naval base, airport, Bichvinta).

On February 7, 2024, Aslan Bzhania submitted to the parliament the draft law "On Non-Profit Organizations and Individuals Performing the Function of Foreign Agents". Until now, the draft law has been halted in the de facto ministry of justice due to the efforts of public pressure. According to the information available to the Democracy Research Institute, people in Sokhumi are already openly talking that Russia is actually behind the law and its goal is to completely stop the financing of the civil sector and the activities of UN agencies in Abkhazia. The draft law on foreign agents provides for the creation of the so-called black list of legal and natural persons. According to the draft law, any person can be considered in the register of natural persons - a businessman who opposes the monopolization of certain industries can be put on the "list of untrustworthy people"; a journalist or just an active person. 

Civil society representatives in Abkhazia may find themselves in a desperate situation. According to the information available to the Democracy Research Institute, some of the local civil society organizations have stopped their activities due to extremely increased pressure and attack.

In parallel with intensifying pressure on civil society organizations, from March 1, 2024, persons with "dual citizenship" will be able to cross the border at Psou only with a Russian passport, which puts Abkhazians in a hopeless situation - a large part of the population is unable to go to Europe or move to the Tbilisi-controlled territory. Russia has done its best to leave only one option to the Abkhazian population, i.e. traveling to Russia only, and now it is even depriving them of the right to enter Russia without obtaining a Russian passport.

At the same time, according to the information available to the Democracy Research Institute, an agreement has already been signed between the de facto ministry of internal affairs of Abkhazia and the Russian FSB, according to which, if necessary, a group of 500 Russian elite special forces will enter Abkhazia "to help"; In addition, Russia is considering bringing in additional military forces in case civil protests and unrest start in Abkhazia; Information is also spread in the society about the special agreement prepared between the de facto ministry of internal affairs of Abkhazia and the Russian Rosgvardiya, according to which, based on the request of the Abkhazian side, the units of special forces of Rosgvardiya will enter Abkhazia to help their Abkhaz colleagues in maintaining "order". According to the agreement, the Russian side will help Abkhazians in the following directions:
  • Protection of public safety
  • Fight against terrorism and extremism
  • Protection of property of individuals and legal entities.
At the same time, for several weeks, the "interviewing" of young people, persons employed in the civil sector and opposition politicians on the border and the dividing line, by the Russian border guards, has taken on a mass character, both on the Enguri and Psou sides. The "interviews" last from half an hour to an hour. The questions mainly concern education and fields of activity (where did they graduate from school, where did they work, did they have any contact with the non-governmental sector, did they participate in any exchange programme).
It is obvious that Russia is methodically approaching the annexation of Abkhazia. Each step of the Russian policy serves the above-mentioned strategic goal - the establishment of complete Russian control in Abkhazia:
  1. In 2020 - the "Plan of Measures for the Formation of Common Socio-Economic Space" was signed between the Russian Federation and Abkhazia, which was aimed at the "harmonization" of Abkhazian and Russian legislations;
  2. In 2022 - intensive efforts were launched in the de facto ministry of justice on the so-called "foreign agents" bill;
  3. In 2023 - a bill was drafted on apart-hotels, which is currently suspended due to protests;
  4. In 2023 – an exploitative agreement was signed on the transfer of Sokhumi Airport to Russian investors;
  5. In 2022-23 - Bichvinta territory was handed over to Russia for the purpose of building Putin's residence;
  6. In 2023, energy crisis worsened in Abkhazia, probably in order to increase pressure on the population;
  7. In 2023 - oil supply crisis was created in Abkhazia, probably also for the purpose of putting pressure on the population;
  8. In 2023 - preparations for the deployment of the Russian navy began in Ochamchire;
  9. In 2024 - the Russian Guard was given full authority to control Abkhazia and protect civil order;
  10. In 2024 - the delay of any active person living in Abkhazia for the purpose of "interviewing" him took an intensive character at Psou and Enguri.
  11. From March 1, 2024, Abkhazians will be able to enter Russia only with a Russian passport;
In  coclusion, the Democracy Research Institute believes that Russia is legally formalizing the annexation of Abkhazia; Russia knows that if a referendum is held at this stage, population will not support the accession to Russia, so it is marginalizing civil society organizations and people who are on guard for the protection of human rights and development of socio-economic spheres; The Russian draft law on foreign agents aims to label all those who care about the awareness and assistance of the local population in Abkhazia as agents.
In the wake of the activation of the annexation processes in Abkhazia, the complete inaction of the Georgian authorities and the disregard for the most acute problem are disturbing.
The Democracy Research Institute calls on the executive and legislative authorities of Georgia, in the near future, at least:
  • to plan real and issue-oriented actions together with international actors in order to prevent the annexation of Abkhazia by Russia;
  • to develop a state strategy and its enforcement mechanisms in order to reduce/retain Russian influence on the entire territory of Georgia;
  • in connection with the ongoing processes in Abkhazia, within the framework of the National Security Council, to start working on a new national security policy document and to promote the de-isolation of Abkhazia;
  • to adapt the state vision in accordance with the new challenges, especially in the direction of freedom of movement, including temporarily;
  • to issue a neutral travel document under the auspices of international organizations, where the state symbols will not be mentioned and information about the person will be written only in the international language;
  • the Parliament of Georgia should review the current processes in Abkhazia and adopt relevant documents within its competence;
International organizations:
  • In order to alleviate the current difficult situation, international organizations should act proactively, prevent the deterioration of the situation in Abkhazia, continue the support programmes for the population of Abkhazia and strengthen the process of moving closer to the European Union.