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The Russian Consul killed in Abkhazia was trying to resolve disputes overhousing

TV Rain - The Russian consul in Abkhazia may have been killed because of conflicts over real estate. As "Kommersant" reported today, Embassy First Secretary Dmitry Vishernev earlier sought to resolve disputes over housing. According to one version, it was for that he paid with his life. Meanwhile, the police have already drawn up an identikit portrait of the presumed killer.

The Identikit portrait exists, but no one has posted it to the net. They say only that the killer was of Slavic appearance.  In the local prosecutor's office, they say the criminal acted with confidence and did not even try to hide his face. He opened fire on Vishernev’s car when it exited the garage. The consul himself was killed on the spot, his wife is now in hospital in a critical condition. A bomb was also found at the scene of the murder but it reportedly turned out to be a dummy.

The Abkhaz authorities are seriously concerned following the death of the consul. [The TV station] RAIN managed to get through to Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Irakli Khintba. He stated the official position of the government and said what the murder may be connected with.

Irakli Khintba, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia: Of course, everyone in Abkhazia is shocked by what happened. On the morning of 9 September, the President of Abkhazia convened an emergency meeting and designated the crime an extraordinary event. We regard the murder as a threat to peace and stability in the region, an attempt to destabilize the situation. As a kind of provocation that may have various goals, including political ones. The [possible] motives for this crime vary widely – they could be [the consul’s] professional activity, or [his] non- professional activity.

That means the authorities are not saying anything about the motives for the murder. Abkhaz President Aleksander Ankvab gave orders to check out all possible angles. He ordered every imaginable agency to work on the investigation, and to report to the President several times a day on their success. In other words, serious attention is being focussed on the problem.

The primary version was political, after all, the murder took place on the day Russia and Abkhazia were celebrating the anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. That was in 2008, exactly five years ago. And for some reason it was on that day that the first consular officer at the Russian Embassy was killed. But today, completely different information surfaced: Dmitry Vishernev was previously seriously engaged in real estate, including resolving disputes. The problem of housing and real estate is one of the most acute in Abkhazia. The most common situation is that the Georgians left the republic during the war, but remained the formal owners of apartments. Today completely different people, who also have property rights, live in those apartments. This is a common problem in Sukhum. And it was this kind of dispute that Vishernev helped to solve, which could explain why he was killed. But it is not certain that this story is accurate. The editor in chief of the Abkhaz newspaper "Chegemskaya pravda," Inal Khashig, was acquainted with the murdered Vishernev and says that the consul was not the most important person.

Inal Khashig, chief editor of "Chegemskaya truth": He participated in the joint commission, but his voice did not carry any weight. Rather, he made recommendations. The apartment question is a very difficult one. There are even cases where people won court cases right up to the highest level but no solution was handed down.  Even though Vishernev was the first secretary of the Russian embassy, even that position was not enough to solve the problem. Sometimes even the president of Abkhazia is powerless [to resolve] such problems, let alone a Russian diplomat.

Just recently, the President of Abkhazia made a statement regarding the real estate problem: he said that we should legalize the sale [of real estate] to foreigners. That is currently forbidden in Abkhazia, even for Russian citizens. Primarily in order to prevent Georgians starting to return to Abkhazia en masse  -- that would undermine stability in the region. President Ankvab said that such bans gave rise to shadow schemes on the market, and they must be dispensed with. It is not known whether Vishernev’s murder is somehow connected to that statement. At the very least, we can say that the Russian consul murdered on September 9 in Sukhum had a direct relation to one of Abkhazia’s most important and significant problems.

This interview was published by TV Rain and is translated from Russian.

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