Alexander Ankvab

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Alexander Ankvab
Алеқсандр Анқәаб
ალექსანდრე ანქვაბი
Александр Анкваб
Alexander Ankvab - 06.10.2011.jpg
President of Abkhazia
In office
29 May 2011 – 1 June 2014
Acting: 29 May 2011 – 26 September 2011
Prime Minister Sergei Shamba
Leonid Lakerbaia
Vice President Mikhail Logua
Preceded by Sergei Bagapsh
Succeeded by Valeri Bganba (Acting)
Vice President of Abkhazia
In office
12 February 2010 – 29 May 2011
President Sergei Bagapsh
Preceded by Raul Khadjimba
Succeeded by Mikhail Logua
Prime Minister of Abkhazia
In office
14 February 2005 – 13 February 2010
President Sergei Bagapsh
Preceded by Nodar Khashba
Succeeded by Sergei Shamba
Minister of Internal Affairs of Abkhazia
In office
24 June 1992 – 1993
Preceded by Givi Lominadze
Succeeded by Givi Agrba
Personal details
Born (1952-12-26) 26 December 1952 (age 61)
Sukhumi, Soviet Union
Political party Aitaira
Alma mater Rostov State University
Signature

Aleksandr Ankvab (Abkhaz: Алықьсандр Анқәаб, Georgian: ალექსანდრე ანქვაბი, Russian: Алекса́ндр Анква́б; born December 26, 1952) is an Abkhaz politician and businessman who was President of Abkhazia from May 29, 2011, until his resignation on June 1, 2014. Under President Sergei Bagapsh, he previously served as Prime Minister from 2005 to 2010 and Vice-President from 2010 to 2011.

In the 4 October 2004 presidential election, Ankvab supported Bagapsh's candidacy following his own exclusion by the Central Election Commission;[1] he was subsequently appointed as Prime Minister by Bagapsh in February 2005. Ankvab was appointed acting President of Abkhazia after President Bagapsh underwent an operation on May 21, 2011. Following the operation, Bagapsh died on May 29, 2011 and Ankvab served as Acting President[2][3] until winning election in his own right later in 2011.

Ankvab survived six attempts on his life from 2005 to 2012, last time as a president on February 22, 2012, when his convoy was ambushed in Abkhazia, killing two of his guards.[4]

On May 27, 2014, Ankvab's headquarters in Sukhumi were stormed by opposition groups led by Raul Khadjimba, forcing him into flight to Gudauta in what Ankvab denounced as an "armed coup attempt".[5] The Abkhaz parliament declared Ankvab "unable" to exercise his presidential powers on May 31, 2014, and Ankvab resigned on June 1, 2014.[6]

Early life and career[edit]

Born in the Abkhazian capital Sukhumi, Ankvab graduated with a degree in law from the Rostov State University in southern Russia and worked in the Komsomol, the Justice Ministry of the Abkhaz ASSR, and the Interior Ministry of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic until his resignation in 1990.

He was elected to the Abkhazian Supreme Soviet in 1991. He was appointed interior minister of Abkhazia's separatist government during the 1992–1993 conflict with the Georgian central government. Following the Abkhaz victory, he moved to Moscow in 1994 and became a successful businessman.

2004 Presidential election[edit]

Ankvab returned to Abkhazian politics in 2000, setting up the movement Aitaira ("Revival") in opposition to the government of President Vladislav Ardzinba. In 2004 he announced that he would run for president, but was disqualified as ineligible on the grounds that he could not speak Abkhaz (a requirement for public office in the republic) and had lived in Abkhazia for too short a time. Ankvab decided to support Bagapsh instead and was crucial to the latter's electoral success. His appointment as prime minister was widely predicted.

2009 Presidential election[edit]

Ankvab was Sergei Bagapsh's Vice Presidential candidate in the 12 December 2009 presidential election.[7] As required by law, Ankvab was therefore officially suspended from his post on 11 November, his duties to be carried out by First Vice Premier Leonid Lakerbaia.[8] Bagapsh and Ankvab won the election, and they were sworn in on 12 February 2010. The following day, Ankvab was succeeded as Prime Minister by Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba.[9]

2011 Presidential election[edit]

After Bagapsh's unexpected death after lung surgery, Ankvab became an acting president. He was nominated for presidency by an initiative group for a snap presidential elections held in the region on August 26, 2011. During the election campaign, on August 15, supporters of Ankvab's opponent Sergei Shamba organized an outdoor screening of a video interview of Moscow-based retired Georgian general Tengiz Kitovani, a Georgian commander during the 1990s war in Abkhazia, in which he claimed that Ankvab had cooperated with the Georgian intelligence service during the conflict. Ankvab accused Shamba of resorting to black PR, while Shamba's campaign team issued a statement calling on the prosecutor's office to investigate Ankvab's war-time activities.[10] According to the preliminary results Ankvab garnered up to 55% of votes, defeating Shamba and ex-vice president and opposition candidate Raul Khajimba.[11]

Assassination attempts[edit]

Alexander Ankvab has survived six assassination attempts since becoming Prime Minister in February 2005: in February and April 2005, in June and July 2007, in September 2010 and most recently in February 2012. The last assassination attempt killed two of Ankvab's security guards,[4] he himself was injured in the two previous attacks. Only after the February 2012 assassination attempt arrests were made. Former Interior Minister Almasbei Kchach was one of two suspects who subsequently committed suicide.[12] One man was subsequently indicted and arrested for the July 2007 attack.[13]

Downfall[edit]

On May 27, 2014, thousands of protesters, led by Raul Khadjimba, rallied against Ankvab in Sukhumi, accusing him of "authoritarian" rule, inappropriate spending of Russian aid funds, and of failure to tackle corruption and economic problems, and demanded his resignation. Within hours, the protesters stormed the presidential headquarters and forced Ankvab to flee Sukhumi to a Russian military base in Gudauta. Ankvab denounced the events in Sukhumi as an "armed coup attempt" and refused to resign. The Russian government dispatched Vladimir Putin's aide Vladislav Surkov to mediate between the opposition and Ankvab's government. On May 31, the Parliament of Abkhazia declared Ankvab "unable" to perform his presidential duties, appointed the parliamentary chairman Valery Bganba as an interim president and called snap presidential election for August 24. On June 1, 2014, Ankvab stepped down as president.[6]

References[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Nodar Khashba
Prime Minister of Abkhazia
2005–2010
Succeeded by
Sergei Shamba
Preceded by
Raul Khadjimba
Vice President of Abkhazia
2010–2011
Succeeded by
Mikhail Logua
Preceded by
Sergei Bagapsh
President of Abkhazia
2011–2014
Succeeded by
Valery Bganba
Acting