Ajaria’s Failed Secession and Russia’s Caucasian Choices

Journal article

Baev, Pavel K. (2004) Ajaria’s Failed Secession and Russia’s Caucasian Choices, CACI Analyst.


It was not only Mikhail Saakashvili who was taken by surprise with his overnight triumph over mutinous Ajaria on May 6. When besieged Ajarian leader Aslan Abashidze in a very physical way destroyed his bridges just a few days prior to his escape to Moscow, many observers in the U.S., Europe and Russia saw yet another violent secessionist conflict in the Caucasus as a nearly unavoidable prospect. Ajarians, however, were of a different opinion – and rose in thousands to insist on it. There are still many questions about this miraculous conflict resolution, and some of the most puzzling of those concern the role of Russia. Indeed, why did Moscow wash its hands over Abashidze and what is the game-plan behind its self-restraint?

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