Abkhazia is more than 2,400 miles from Barcelona, but last weekend’s Catalan referendum on independence was closely watched in Abkhazia, a partially-recognized territory that broke away from Georgia in the early 1990s.
Abkhazians feel a natural affinity with other secessionists, and many there hope that greater international attention on the question of self-determination might have follow-on political benefits for their own picturesque slice of Black Sea territory.
“We feel for the people of Catalonia, because we have been in a similar situation,” said Asta, a 21-year-old international relations student at the Abkhazian State University. She was one of a small crowd of students who gathered October 5, on Sukhumi's idyllic seaside promenade, to express support for Catalonia. “Youth of Abkhazia with Catalonia” read one banner; “Freedom” declared another.
“When I first saw the news [about Madrid's crackdown on the referendum], I thought – ‘where did the democracy and human rights go, to which the European Union is so committed?’” Asta said. Her messages of support on social media elicited appreciation from Catalans, she said.
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