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Russian tours to Abkhazia ‘cancelled’ amid safety concerns

4 August 2017
Advertisement for tours around Abkhazia (Dominik K. Cagara/Archive)

A number of travel agencies operating in Abkhazia have claimed that Russian citizens are cancelling tours there, Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti has reported. This follows an explosion at a military warehouse near Gudauta on 2 August which killed two Russian tourists.

RIA Novosti quoted Irina Tyurina, spokesperson for the Russian Travel Industry Union (RST), as making the claims on 4 August. RST includes more than 1,000 travel agencies.

Tyurina said that companies had been receiving a lot of calls from Russians who had cancelled tours to Abkhazia the day before.

RST head Sergey Romashkin said that ‘no more than a dozen bookings were cancelled, but sales compared to the previous day decreased by 25%’.

Tyurina did not exclude that the explosion in Abkhazia contributed to this.

Two people died and 60 were injured in the explosion, thirty-five of the injured were from Russia.

Abkhazia has also been concerned about what the media describes as a sharp rise in crime causing difficulties in tourism sector.

A Russian tourist was killed while being robbed by an armed group on 11 July.

Just a day before the murder, a drug-store was robbed in Abkhazia.

The Russian embassy made a statement about the incidents calling for Russians to be more cautious while visiting Abkhazia.

Some in Abkhazia hope that establishing a controversial joint centre for Abkhazian and Russian police could offer a solution, as some in Abkhazia have been dissatisfied with the performance of the local police force. The joint centre will include officers from both Abkhazia and Russia. The project has faced criticism in Abkhazia amid concerns of ‘losing sovereignty’, as some see it as part of a growing dependence on Russia.

For ease of reading, we choose not to use qualifiers such as ‘de facto’, ‘unrecognised’, or ‘partially recognised’ when discussing institutions or political positions within Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and South Ossetia. This does not imply a position on their status.

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