Open Democracy

Abkhazia Pawns its Independence

They've been dreaming about independence for years. In 1999 Abkhazia's citizens voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence in a national referendum. When I met top Abkhaz politicians only few weeks ago, "independence" and "sovereign state" were terms they used frequently and longingly. For them, a return to Georgia was simply unacceptable. They called Russia their "window to the world". However, they also remembered periods during the Yeltsin years when their neighbour to the North did not always seem to be a reliable ally.

Georgia's President Saakashvili, on the Eve of War

TBILISI, Georgia -- For the Russians he is a scary figure. A cunning eastern despot whose main purpose is to humiliate and to outsmart them. They have disliked Mikheil Saakashvili, young president of Georgia, since he grabbed power following the famous Rose Revolution in November 2003.