Solution of puzzle delayed
Two weeks ago, the Abkhaz president signed a decree, appointing education, interior, and social welfare ministers. Daur Nachqebia, Otar Khetsia, and Olga Koltukova respectively will work in these posts.
Using chess terminology, the new government is being shaped under time pressure. If we take a look at the speed of appointing ministers, the deadline of one month provided for by the law may prove to be insufficient.
Ministers are not being appointed at the same time. Decrees to appoint new ministers are issued by small doses: as the saying goes, a spoonful a day. The process is advancing with such trouble that one would think a puzzle, which is to show the final picture, is being assembled with numerous fragments that look like each other. At the same time, given the fact that there is no final picture, which is to be shaped from this puzzle, the impression is that the master is acting blindly or on the basis of his instincts.
Whether this country's leadership likes this or not, each fragment is passing through the indispensable procedure of public assessment. In some cases, like, for example, the appointment of Vladimir Delba as vice prime minister and finance minister, the public assessment was positive: "appropriate". However, in other cases, the reaction to the appointment of Indira Vardania as first vice prime minister and Beslan Kubrava as head of presidential administration, was indignant: "missed the mark". In conditions where TV media outlets are not free, well-known Brekhalovka, a seaside place where people drink coffee and tell each other rumours, and forums on Abkhaz websites are the only indicators of public opinion. Here, you can learn even most insignificant details linked to each appointment.
There are instances, when the president realises without prompting that separate fragments of the puzzle do not fit in the final picture and he even says that in advance. Social welfare minister Olga Koltukova, who they had unambiguously let know that there was no room for her in the new government, had effectively said good-bye to her personnel. However, having unsuccessfully searched for another candidate, president Ankvab reverted to the inappropriate "fragment" and albeit reluctantly, put it back in the new "picture". Olga Koltukova is now minister of the affairs of pensions again.
Among newly appointed ministers, only education minister Daur Nachqebia (physicist by education and lyric poet by vocation) can be regarded as a new face in the authorities. However, given the fact that Nachqebia was one of Ankvab's most loyal team members in the Aitaira socio-political movement. the president remained true to his principles in this case too. He prefers to work with people, who he knows well and it is not so important whether he trusts them or not. The number of people, whom Aleksandr Ankvab trusts, was restricted from the very beginning. Only prime minister Leonid Lakerbaia, his first deputy Indira Vardania, and some other figures can be regarded as being from the "particularly trusted circle" of Ankvab.
Close control of all others' activities will presumably compensate for distrust in them. It is probably due to this that many refused to agree to the offer to occupy a ministerial post. Rejecting a post is effectively nonsense in Abkhazia. Not all self-confident professionals would work in conditions, where it is known in advance that all kinds of creative approaches will be crushed by directives coming from the bosses.
The delayed process of the government formation provides the opportunity to draw one more conclusion: this makes it clear that "Aleksandr Ankvab's team" has never existed as such. He seems to have been quite frank, when he appeared almost always alone before voters during the election campaign and did not even disclose contours of his future team to them. It is clear that there was not even a "working" plan. It seems that these plans in both the direct and indirect sense are being made only now. There is only one question remaining and hardly anyone except the president himself can answer it: Is the government being shaped in accordance with a specific strategy or is the president acting on the basis of the situation?
Decrees to appoint new ministers are issued by small doses: as the saying goes, a spoonful a day. The process is advancing with such trouble that one would think a puzzle, which is to show the final picture, is being assembled with numerous fragments that look like each other.
De facto Abkhaz president Aleksandr Ankvab