Murphy's Law: The Secret Policeman's Beach Resort

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September 14, 2010: Poverty stricken Abkhazia is having its economy rescued by the Russian army and secret police. Just like the good old days. During the Soviet period, Abkhazia was made an autonomous part of Georgia. The Abkhazians are ethnically dissimilar to Georgians (different language and customs), but Abkhazia was too small to be an independent province.

Abkhazia prospered during the Soviet period because its semi-tropical climate on the Black Sea coast made it an attractive vacation spot. And the most frequent vacationers were members of the KGB (secret police) and other senior government officials. But when the Soviet union collapsed, Abkhazia found itself part of an independent Georgia, which was, in turn, on bad terms with Russia. Worse, the new state of Russia was broke, the secret police were much reduced in size (and budget). Finally, Abkhazia sought to make itself independent from Georgia, which produced over a decade of economic isolation. Finally, two years ago, Russia invaded Georgia, and made Abkhazia a part of Russia. Sort of.

Last year, Russia took over border security in South Ossetia (population 50,000) and Abkhazia (population 200,000), two areas formerly part of Georgia. Last year, these two ethnic separatist areas have declared themselves independent, but they have actually become part of Russia. Georgia has a population of 4.6 million, and a hostile relationship (going back centuries) with Russia. Now Georgia has to live with the fact that Russia annexed six percent of its population and territory, and no one can do anything about it. This annoys the UN, as Russia has, in effect, taken two provinces from neighboring Georgia, and gotten away with it.

Abkhazia already has a Russian garrison of 3,000 troops. But now the Russian secret police are moving back in and reclaiming, and refurbishing, the vacation resorts they had long used. Abkhazians now have Russian passports, and the protection (from Georgia, or anyone else) of Russia. The seaside resorts are coming back to life and Russian officials, especially those in the FSB (the new KGB) and other intel and security agencies, are buying or renting vacation homes in Abkhazia.

While all this does not give tiny Abkhazia political independence, it does provide security, and prosperity. Two out of three ain't bad.

 

 


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