: RFE/RL: Russian return to 'Soviet Riviera' brings hope, concern to breakaway Abkhazia

17:25 Jun. 19, 2016

RFE/RL: Russian return to 'Soviet Riviera' brings hope, concern to breakaway Abkhazia

Tourists from Russia are seen on the beach on July 22, 2015 in New Athos, Abkhazia (Getty Images)

Abkhazia broke from Georgian government control in a fiercely fought war in 1992-93

On the evening of April 16, a lawmaker who was battling to prevent Russians from buying property in Georgia's breakaway Abkhazia region stepped out of his car by the decaying Soviet-era port and set off down the palm-lined Black Sea waterfront.

Moments later, the sedan was engulfed in an explosion powerful enough to be heard in the foothills above Sukhumi, the sleepy capital of the Moscow-backed region. Two nearby vehicles were also mangled in the blast and belched black smoke into the sky. 

Read also International Court to probe 2008 Georgia-Russia conflict for alleged war crimes

But Almas Djapua was unhurt - and his cause has won out, at least for now: A bill that would have allowed the sale of property to foreigners, including Russians, was withdrawn, soothing those who feared the Abkhaz themselves would be crowded out amid a Russian buying spree in the small coastal territory. 

The dispute over foreign ownership in a lush region once known as the Soviet Riviera has highlighted Abkhazia's predicament. Shunned by most of the world, it is so heavily reliant on Russia that gratitude for Moscow's support is tempered by concern Russia's embrace could tighten into a choke hold. Full story 

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