Abkhazia Separatist Leader Meets Syrian President In Damascus
By RFE/RL's Georgian Service May 20, 2021
The de facto president of Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia, Aslan Bzhania, has wrapped up a three-day visit to Syria, his office said on May 19.
According to Bzhania's press service, he had breakfast with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on May 19 at the end of what Abkhazia's separatist government called an "official visit."
Some politicians in Georgia have criticized the government in Tbilisi for not officially denouncing the trip.
After a short war between Georgia and Russia in August 2008, Moscow recognized Abkhazia and another Georgian breakaway region, South Ossetia, as independent countries.
Only a handful of other states, however, have followed the lead of the Kremlin, which has kept Russian forces in both regions.
Assad's government, an ally of Moscow, recognized Abkhazia's independence in May 2018.
In October 2020, the Abkhaz separatists opened an "embassy" in the Syrian capital.
Russia, along with Iran, has provided crucial military support to Assad in the Syrian conflict, which began with a crackdown on anti-government protesters in March 2011.
More than 400,000 people have since been killed and millions displaced.
Copyright (c) 2021. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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