Abkhazia, the Billion-Ruble Baby
Separatist Abkhazia and South Ossetia may be politically and financially tied to Moscow’s apron strings, but, lucky for them, there is no sugar daddy like Russia. Moscow just told breakaway Abkhazia that it has 1.1 billion Russian rubles to spend by year’s end. That’s a staggering $33.7 million for a tiny piece of mostly unrecognized territory. The high-maintenance Russian protégé promised it will spare no effort to use up the cash.
Ever since Russia claimed guardianship of what it calls the young and independent states of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008, the twins have been a money pit for the Kremlin. Last year, South Ossetia showed up saying that it can’t seem to find $27 million that Russia spared, prompting Moscow to tighten the financial oversight, but not its wallet.
Abkhazia, apparently, has been using the aid more responsibly, though Russians auditors complained earlier in the year that Sokhumi was behind schedule with the spending of the aid. The latest 1.1. billion is what’s left of 10.9 billion rubles ($334 million) that Moscow gave to the separatist territory for 2010-2013 to get in shape.
Russia may especially need Abkhazia looking good for the 2014 Winter Olympics that will be held next February in the next-door Russian city of Sochi. Recently, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Khloponin visited Sokhumi to check out the facilities that are being renovated with Russian rubles.
He said he is happy with the way Abkhazia is using Russian money and promised to give more.This blog was updated on July 13, 2013 to correct the ruble-dollar conversions.