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26 Jan, 2009 23:27

Enveloping rage: Georgia starts a postal war with Abkhazia

Although Abkhazia has not yet been widely recognized, this small republic by the Black Sea issued a set of postage stamps, dedicated to its history and independence anniversary.

An 8th century AD Abkhazian kingdom map, a picture of Mery Avidzba – the first Abkhazian female war pilot, a 15th anniversary of republic’s independence – no matter what postage stamp you look at, you discover new facts about this small Caucasus republic.

Mery Avidzba, first Abkhazian female war pilot

Although they still cannot be used outside Abkhazia due to postal blockade, Eduard Pilia, one of the authors of the Abkhazian stamps project, says collectors from Russia and other countries already consider these stamps as rare and valuable.

“Unfortunately, you can’t buy them in Russia yet, but we give these stamps free to many collectors who travel to Abkhazia to get them”, Pilia says.

Georgia says Abkhazian stamps are illegitimate.

Formerly, a part of Soviet Georgia, Abkhazia declared independence from Tbilisi in the early 1990s. A violent conflict followed, claiming thousands of lives. Russian peacekeepers stopped the bloodshed. But the simmering conflict lasted for 15 years.

In August 2008 Russia recognized Abkhazia’s and South Ossetia’s independence, starting direct cooperation with both former Georgian breakaway territories.

Georgia maintains the blockade of Abkhazia. Sanctions include economic, military and diplomatic measures, since Tbilisi considers the republic a part of its territory.

Georgian senior officials say that since the Universal Postal union (UPU) – a specialized agency in the United Nations, also considers Abkhazia a part of Georgia, only Georgian ministry of economic development has right to issue postage stamps.

Abkhazian authorities are hoping that sooner or later Russia, Georgia and the UPU will recognize the legitimacy of the new postage stamps.