Raul Khajimba

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Raul Khajimba
Рауль Ҳаџьымба
რაულ ჰაჯიმბა
Raul Khajimba.jpeg
President of Abkhazia
Incumbent
Assumed office
25 September 2014
Prime Minister Beslan Butba
Vice President Vitali Gabnia
Preceded by Valeri Bganba (Acting)
Vice President of Abkhazia
In office
12 February 2005 – 28 May 2009
President Sergei Bagapsh
Preceded by Valery Arshba
Succeeded by Alexander Ankvab
Prime Minister of Abkhazia
In office
22 April 2003 – 6 October 2004
President Vladislav Ardzinba
Preceded by Gennady Gagulia
Succeeded by Nodar Khashba
Minister of Defence
In office
19 December 2002 – 22 April 2003
Prime Minister Gennady Gagulia
Preceded by Vladimir Mikanba
Succeeded by Viacheslav Eshba
Personal details
Born (1958-03-21) 21 March 1958 (age 56)
Tkvarcheli, Soviet Union
Political party Forum for the National Unity of Abkhazia

Raul Khajimba (Abkhaz: Рауль Ҳаџьымба, Georgian: რაულ ჰაჯიმბა; born 21 March 1958) is the current President of Abkhazia, having been elected in 2014 after the May Revolution. He has also since 2010 been Chairman of the Forum for the National Unity of Abkhazia. Khajimba previously held the offices of Vice President (2005–2009), Prime Minister (2003–2004) and Defence Minister (2002–2003). He unsuccessfully ran for President in 2004, 2009 and 2011.

Early life and career[edit]

Raul Khajimba was born on 21 March 1958 in Tkvarcheli, where he went to school and worked as a mechanic at the power station. From 1976 until 1978, he served in the Soviet Air Defence Forces. From 1979 until 1984, he graduated from the Law Faculty of the Abkhazian State University. From 1985 until 1986 Khajimba studied at the KGB school in Minsk, and he subsequently served as a KGB agent in Tkvarcheli until 1992.

During the 1992–1993 war with Georgia, Khajimba was the head of the military intelligence and counterintelligence operation on the eastern front. For his work, he was awarded the Order of Leon.

From 1996 until 1998, Khajimba headed the anti-smuggling division of the State Customs Committee. In 1998, he became its Deputy Chairman.[1]


In government (1999–2004)[edit]

Security Service Chairman, First Vice Premier and Minister of Defence (1999–2003)[edit]

After a bomb attack on 13 December 1999 in Sukhumi targeting government officials, President Ardzinba dismissed Astamur Tarba as Security Service Chairman and appointed Khajimba in his stead.[2] On 18 June 2001, he additionally became First Vice Premier.[3] On 1 November he was succeeded as Head of the State Security Service by Interior Minister Zurab Agumava.[4][5] On 16 May 2002, Khajimba was appointed Defence Minister, replacing Vladimir Mikanba, while remaining First Vice Premier.[6]

Prime Minister (2003–2004)[edit]

In the evening of 7 April 2003, Prime Minister Gennadi Gagulia filed for resignation. Early in the morning of that day, nine prisoners had escaped, four of which had been sentenced to death due to their involvement in the 2001 Kodori crisis.[7] President Ardzinba initially refused to accept Gagulia's resignation, but was forced to agree on 8 April.[8] Vice President Valery Arshba denied on 8 April that the government's resignation was due to the prison escape, and stated that instead it was caused by the opposition's plans to hold protest rallies on 10 April.[9] On 22 April 2003, Raul Khajimba was appointed the new Prime Minister.[10][11] He remained Prime Minister until October 2004.

As then-President Vladislav Ardzinba was seriously ill and did not appear in public during his term, Khajimba acted as a de facto head of state in his absence. In this role, he met a number of political leaders, including Igor Ivanov, foreign minister of Russia. He has been a sharp opponent of reunification with Georgia, and vehemently condemned Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili's proposal for a two-state federation in May 2004.

2004 and 2005 Presidential elections[edit]

Khadjimba was tipped as the favourite to win the October 2004 presidential elections, and was strongly endorsed by both outgoing president Ardzinba and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Both men campaigned on his behalf and dedicated significant resources to assisting the Khadjimba campaign. However, opposition candidate Sergei Bagapsh polled more votes on election day, in what was widely attributed as a backlash against the strong Russian influence in his campaign.

After the election, both Bagapsh and Khadjimba claimed victory, with Khadjimba alleging that electoral fraud in the pro-Bagapsh Gali region had been responsible for Bagapsh's win. Ardzinba soon dismissed Khadjimba as Prime Minister, replacing him with a compromise candidate, Nodar Khashba, and two months of drawn-out disputes followed, involving public protests, court action and parliamentary proceedings.

In December 2004, Khadjimba and Bagapsh came to an agreement which would see the pair run as part of a national unity ticket in repeat elections, with Khadjimba running as Bagapsh's Vice-President. As part of this deal, the position of vice-president was given expanded powers covering defence and foreign affairs. The joint ticket easily won the January 2005 election, winning more than 90% of the vote.

Vice Presidency (2005–2009)[edit]

However, in the aftermath of the election win, many analysts have suggested that Khadjimba's executive authority would be somewhat limited under the new arrangement, with Bagapsh and his Prime Minister, Alexander Ankvab, likely to maintain ultimate control over the areas of policy nominally assigned to the vice-president.

The controversy resurfaced again in June 2008, when Khadjimba attended a congress of the Aruaa veteran organisation, of which he is a member. The congress issued a statement criticizing the Bagapsh administration’s “multi-vector foreign policy”, referring to the talks with Georgian and Western diplomats, and called for greater ties with Russia. The pro-Bagapsh politicians from the Amtsakhara veteran organisation described Khadjimba’s criticism of the government, in which he was a vice-president, “immoral”. Later that month, Khadjimba reiterated his stance towards Bagapsh’s foreign policy, stating that Abkhazia’s only protector could be Russia and using force would be inevitable for gaining control of the upper Kodori Valley in northeastern Abkhazia, the only part of Abkhazia under Georgian control at the time.[12][13][14][15] In August 2008, the Abkhazian military did take the upper Kodory Valley by force during the August 2008 war over South Ossetia.[16]

On 18 May 2009 the Forum of the National Unity of Abkhazia and Aruaa issued a press statement and on 20 May they gave a press conference with several other opposition parties, on both occasions voicing severe criticism over the achievements of the government and recent foreign policy decisions.[17] On 28 May Khajimba resigned, saying that he agreed with the criticism,[18] but attributing his failure to tackle corruption and improve security to lack of room for maneuvre and no support from the president Bagapsh whom he also accused of violating the 2004 powersharing agreement and criticized him for signing a border protection agreement with Russia in 2009.[19]

Opposition leader (2009–2014)[edit]

2009 Presidential election[edit]

The Russian newspaper Kommersant reported that during the summer of 2009 Khajimba had entered negotiations with Beslan Butba over forming an alliance for in the presidential election, but the pair fell out following the visit of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to Abkhazia. Putin had met with Khajimba, but not with Butba, and Butba considered this an unfriendly act on the part of Khajimba. During the nomination period for candidates, Khajimba then tried to form a team with Ardzinba. The alliance would have combined Ardzinba's backing by part of the business community and his financial resources with Khajimba's electoral popularity. The pair said they would run together during two meetings with voters, and the idea was that they would receive the joint nomination by the Forum of the National Unity of Abkhazia. According to the Kommersant, in the end the pair could not agree on what positions they would get. Khajimba wanted the Presidency, and offered Ardzinba to become Prime Minister, but this was not acceptable to the latter. The congress of the Forum of the National Unity of Abkhazia planned on 29 October was called off, and Ardzinba was instead nominated by an initiative group that day.[20]

Khajimba had already been officially nominated for the Presidency by an interest group on 19 October,[21] and received the additional support on 20 October of the Forum of the National Unity of Abkhazia, Aruaa and Akhatsa.[22] Khajimba picked Vasilii Avidzba as his Vice Presidential candidate.

Nevertheless, on 18 November Khajimba and Ardzinba announced that they would continue to coordinate their campaigns, and that they had appointed chairman of Aruaa Vadim Smyr to lead this coordination.[23] On 20 November, Khajimba stated that he and Ardzinba had different visions on coming to power, but that he didn't consider Ardzinba his opponent, and that in the case of a second round, he, Ardzinba and Butba would support each other.[24]

A second round proved to be unnecessary, since incumbent President Sergei Bagapsh won a 61,16% first round victory. Khajimba came in second place with 15,584 votes, 15.32% of the total number cast.[25]

Chairman of the Forum of the National Unity of Abkhazia[edit]

On 12 May 2010, Raul Khajimba was elected Chairman of the FNUA, after the party congress had reduced the number of Chairmen from 2 to 1.[26]

2011 Presidential election[edit]

Khajimba again ran for President in 2011, after the death of President Sergei Bagapsh. His running mate was Svetlana Jergenia, widow of first President Vladislav Ardzinba. The pair was first nominated by an initiative group on 28 June and then by the Forum for the National Unity of Abkhazia on 16 July.[27][28] They received the additional support of Akhatsa (5 July), Aruaa (7 July), former Prime Minister and 2004 Presidential candidate Anri Jergenia (27 July) and the Union of the Cossacks of Abkhazia (5 August).[29][30][31][32]

The pair scored a 19.82% third place, losing to Acting President Alexander Ankvab.[33]

May 2014 revolution[edit]

Khajimba led opposition protests that forced Alexander Ankvab to resign as President on 1 June 2014. Khajimba won the subsequent Presidential election with a slim 50.60% first-round victory.[34]

President (since 2014)[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Government of President Khajimba.

Khajimba was inaugurated as president on 25 September 2014. Two months into his presidency, he signed a controversial treaty with Russian president Vladimir Putin deepening ties between Abkhazia and Russia. Provisions of the agreement included placing the Abkhazian military under the direct control of Russia's armed forces and committing Abkhazia toward bringing its trade laws into alignment with the Eurasian Economic Union. The treaty was widely condemned in the West and by the Republic of Georgia, with U.S. newspaper The New York Times suggesting the Abkhazian government had no choice but to agree to Putin's terms. However, Khajimba hailed closer ties with Russia as promoting "the full scope of guarantees for the safety of our state and extensive opportunities for the social and economic development".[35]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Хаджимба Рауль Джумкович". Caucasian Knot. 25 September 2014. Retrieved 1 October 2014. 
  2. ^ Fuller, Liz (7 January 2000). "Caucasus Report: January 7, 2000". RFE/RL. Retrieved 15 January 2012. 
  3. ^ Apsnypress (in Russian). 18 June 2001 http://coffeenews.narod.ru/ArchiveOfNews/APSNYPRESS/AP18-06-01.htm |url= missing title (help). Retrieved 11 May 2011. 
  4. ^ ООН: поделите мандариновую страну. Caucasian Knot (in Russian). 1 November 2001. Retrieved 12 May 2011. 
  5. ^ Абхазский парламент не поддержал вотум недоверия правительству. Caucasian Knot (in Russian). 2 November 2001. Retrieved 12 May 2011. 
  6. ^ Назначен новый глава министерства обороны Абхазии. Caucasian Knot (in Russian). 16 May 2002. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  7. ^ Gordienko, Anatoly (9 April 2003). Правительство Абхазии уходит в отставку (in Russian). Nezavisimaya Gazeta / Caucasian Knot. Retrieved 21 December 2009. 
  8. ^ "Breakaway Abkhaz Government in Crisis". Civil Georgia. 9 April 2003. Retrieved 21 December 2009. 
  9. ^ "Abkhaz de facto Premier Remains on Post". Civil Georgia. 8 April 2003. Retrieved 21 December 2009. 
  10. ^ Выпуск № 075. Apsnypress (in Russian). 22 April 2003. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  11. ^ Alexander Skakov. "Abkhazia at a Crossroads: On the Domestic Political Situation in the Republic of Abkhazia.". Iran and the Caucasus 9 (1): 159–186. doi:10.1163/1573384054068088. Retrieved 2008-07-10. 
  12. ^ Abkhaz VP: Force May be Needed to Regain Kodori. Civil Georgia. 21 June 2008.
  13. ^ (Russian) "Нам следует заручиться военно-политическим союзом с Россией": Обзор СМИ Абхазии (“We need to secure a military-political alliance with Russia”: Review of the Abkhaz press). Regnum. 20 June 2008.
  14. ^ (Russian) Депутат парламента Абхазии считает действия вице-президента Рауля Хаджимба аморальными (Member of the Parliament of Abkhazia considers Vice-President Raul Khadjimba’s actions immoral). Regnum. 12 June 2008.
  15. ^ (Russian) Оппозиция во власти и власть в оппозиции: Абхазия встает на выборные рельсы (Opposition within authorities and authorities in opposition: Abkhazia on the election track). Regnum. 11 June 2008.
  16. ^ "Kodori Under Abkhaz Control". Civil Georgia. August 12, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  17. ^ Fuller, Liz (2009-05-24). "Abkhaz Leadership, Opposition Exchange Accusations". Caucasus Report (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty). Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  18. ^ ВИЦЕ-ПРЕЗИДЕНТ РАУЛЬ ХАДЖИМБА УШЕЛ В ОТСТАВКУ (in Russian). Apsnypress. 2009-05-28. Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  19. ^ Split emerges in Abkhaz government. Moscow News №20. May 28, 2009
  20. ^ Allenova, Olga (2009-11-02). Сергей Багапш столкнется с поддержанными конкурентами (in Russian). Kommersant. Retrieved 2009-11-15. 
  21. ^ Kuchuberia, Anzhela (2009-10-19). Рауль Хаджимба примет участие в выборах президента Абхазии (in Russian). Caucasian Knot. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  22. ^ Kuchuberia, Anzhela (2009-10-20). Оппозиционеры поддержали выдвижение Хаджимбы кандидатом в президенты Абхазии (in Russian). Caucasian Knot. Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  23. ^ Выпуск №555-556-557-558 (in Russian). Apsnypress. 2009-11-18. Retrieved 19 November 2009. 
  24. ^ Kuchuberia, Anzhela (2009-11-20). Рауль Хаджимба пожаловался на власти Абхазии в Центризбирком (in Russian). Caucasian Knot. Retrieved 21 November 2009. 
  25. ^ Kuchuberia, Anzhela (14 December 2009). ЦИК Абхазии: на выборах президента победил Сергей Багапш (Видео). Caucasian Knot (in Russian). Retrieved 20 May 2010. 
  26. ^ Kuchuberia, Anzhela (13 May 2010). Рауль Хаджимба возглавил оппозиционный "Форум народного единства Абхазии". Caucasian Knot (in Russian). Retrieved 19 May 2010. 
  27. ^ "ЦИК Абхазии зарегистрировал инициативную группу по выдвижению кандидатом в президенты Рауля Хаджимба". Apsnypress. 28 June 2011. Retrieved 2 July 2011. 
  28. ^ "Рауль Хаджимба и Светлана Джергения дали согласие баллотироваться на пост президента и вице-президента Абхазии". Apsnypress. 16 July 2011. Retrieved 31 July 2011. 
  29. ^ ""Ахьаца" поддерживает тандем Рауля Хаджимба и Светланы Джергения". Aiaaira. 5 July 2011. Retrieved 6 July 2011. 
  30. ^ "Заявление Высшего Совета "АРУАА"". Aiaaira. 7 July 2011. Retrieved 11 July 2011. 
  31. ^ "Анри Джергения о выборах, санаторном вопросе и о прочем...". Nuzhnaya/Aiaaira. 27/30 July 2011. Retrieved 5 August 2011.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  32. ^ "Союз Казаков Абхазии поддерживает кандидатуру Рауля Хаджимба". Apsnypress. 5 August 2011. Retrieved 5 August 2011. 
  33. ^ "Final results of the presidential elections in Abkhazia". Abkhazian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 27 August 2011. Retrieved 4 September 2011. 
  34. ^ "Центризбирком подвел окончательные итоги по выборам президента РА". Apsnypress. 26 August 2014. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  35. ^ "Pact Tightens Russian Ties With Abkhazia". The New York Times. 24 November 2014. Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Vladimir Mikanba
Minister of Defence
2002–2003
Succeeded by
Viacheslav Eshba
Preceded by
Gennady Gagulia
Prime Minister of Abkhazia
2003–2004
Succeeded by
Nodar Khashba
Preceded by
Valery Arshba
Vice President of Abkhazia
2005–2009
Succeeded by
Alexander Ankvab
Preceded by
Valeri Bganba
Acting
President of Abkhazia
2014–present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
Daur Arshba
Leader of the Forum of the National Unity of Abkhazia
2010–present
Incumbent
Preceded by
Astamur Tania