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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Georgia Targets Abkhazia Cash

TBILISI, Georgia -- Georgia's Central Bank will ask foreign banks to close down the accounts of Russian firms and individuals that buy assets in the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia, its chief said Friday.

"We must go to the banks with a request that they should not cooperate with, or open accounts for, those organizations that are operating on the territories not under [Tbilisi's] control," Central Bank chief Roman Gotsiridze said.

"These transactions are not controlled, and they contradict international law covering money laundering and the financing of terrorism," he said.

He was speaking after Georgia's minister for refugees and internally displaced persons, Georgy Kheviashvili, who is responsible for thousands of people who have fled conflict in Abkhazia, said senior Russian officials and ministries had bought property in Abkhazia.

Kheviashvili said Russian organizations had bought a total of 31 major assets, including a wine factory and holiday villas. "This is an attempt to legalize ethnic cleansing," he said.

In Moscow, the Foreign Ministry said it had no comment and referred queries to the ministries that Tbilisi said had bought assets in Abkhazia.

Abkhazia, which broke away from Tbilisi's control in a 1990s war, has no international recognition, but Georgia accuses Russia of flouting its borders and propping up the separatists.