“Democracy must be digestible”

Agency WPS
What the Papers Say. Part A (Russia)
October 5, 2004, Tuesday


SOURCE: Izvestia, October 5, 2004, p. 1

by Natalia Ratiani


“I voted for independence of our state and for its future,” candidate
for president of Abkhazia Raoul Khadzhimba said at the polling
station, last Sunday. Exit-polls indicate that Khadzhimba came in
first. Here is an exclusive interview with Raoul Khadzhimba.

Question: What tasks will the new president of Abkhazia find himself
facing first and foremost?

Raoul Khadzhimba: Recognition of our sovereignty is the foremost
task. Abkhazia may be small as countries go, but it is a state. I
already said and repeat it again that return to Georgian jurisdiction
is out of the question. We were a part of Georgia once. Enough is
enough. Neither is absorption by Russia on the agenda. But associated
relations Abkhazia means to develop with Russia are quite possible
between two independent and recognized states. History of
civilization knows examples when states fell apart in a decent and
civilized manner and produced several independent states. The Czech
Republic and Slovakia are such an example, or the states formed on
the ruins of former Yugoslavia.

I refuse to understand why this turn of events cannot be applied to
the Caucasus. Why must Georgia insist on remaining the only one and
integral state? Why not develop neighborly relations with the state
that was a part of Georgia for only 60 short years? Can Georgia still
be unable to grasp that solutions to the problem of Abkhazia
currently discussed in Tbilisi are impossible?

Question: What do you think is Georgia’s worst misunderstanding with
regard to Abkhazia and what is Russia’s?

Raoul Khadzhimba: Georgia goes on insisting that Abkhazia is a part
of its territory. We joined the Russian Empire on our own volition in
1810. Georgia did so before us. How could it forget about Abkhazia
then? This is the worst misunderstanding cherished by Georgia. As for
Russia, there was a period when it erroneously though that if it was
to take something back, it should take back absolutely everything.
I.e. all of Georgia along with Abkhazia. Hence Moscow’s attempts to
promote the leader of Georgia who would turn to Russia. Still, the
whole history of the Russian-Georgian relations should have taught
Moscow that Georgia turns to face it only when it finds it rewarding.
As I see it, Abkhazia and Armenia are what Russia should be first and
foremost interested in nowadays. Still, it requires that Russia
formulates its policy with regard to these countries.

Question: If you are elected the president, what will be your first
moves in the sphere of domestic politics?

Raoul Khadzhimba: I will decree a reorganization of law enforcement
agencies. What has been done these past 11 years aims at
fortification of external security. We concentrated on prevention of
another conflict. Time has come to pay attention to internal security
as well. I’m not saying that we need a reduction in this or that
ministry or structure. The Interior Ministry, prosecutor’s office,
court – all of that are necessary attributes of every state. But
everybody should mind his own business. It’s a height of absurdity
when the prosecutor’s office has the right to suggest legislative
initiatives. And this is what we have in Abkhazia nowadays. The new
legislative foundation has to be created. Every structure should
observe the law within the framework of its own jurisdiction.

Question: What legislative initiatives did the prosecutor’s office

Raoul Khadzhimba: Had at least one of them been normal, we would not
be facing so many problems. Even the Constitution does not specify
the arrangement of forces between the parliament and executive branch
of the government. The prime minister is appointed by the president
and answers to the president alone. This is wrong. It is the
parliament that should endorse the premier and be responsible for the
government. As things stand, nobody wields the power to disband the
parliament. The parliament interprets the very laws it itself passes.
It is an absurdity too.

Question: Do you mean that the Constitution has to be amended?

Raoul Khadzhimba: Order should be restored everywhere. Every branch
of the government should be responsible for its own sphere.

Question: Do you expect the people to support you?

Raoul Khadzhimba: I think they will.

Question: Your opponent Sergei Bagapsh claims readiness to cooperate
with you, given a chance. What kind of relations with the opposition
do you intend to build? What if the opposition decided to form a grey

Raoul Khadzhimba: I do not think it will go that far. We are a small
state where everybody knows everybody. Whatever positive ideas the
opposition comes up with will be accepted. But democracy must be
“digestible” for society. When there is too much by way of democracy,
it is not all that great.

Question: But the opposition claims that the election is not
legitimate, that it is invalidated by numerous violations and black

Raoul Khadzhimba: Whoever spent these days in Abkhazia knows that the
election was at a maximum transparent. It only proves its democratic
nature. I regard statements made by the opposition as another
indication of democracy.

Translated by A. Ignatkin