The 4th CIS Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, the 4th CIS Department (4ДСНГ) is responsible for conducting relations with Georgia and its occupied regions. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mikhail Galuzin, who is responsible for formulating policies towards Georgia, is curating the work of the Department. The fields of the Department’s responsibility include Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and, since 2008, occupied Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region as well.
Since April 4, 2019, the Director of the Department is Denis Gonchar. Within the Department, Gonchar’s Deputy, Mikhail Shurgalin is also actively working on the issues of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region, together with the Head of the Division for Abkhazia and “South Ossetia”, Andrei Starkov.
The Department curates the work of the Russian “Embassies” in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region. The “Embassy” of Russia to Abkhazia was officially established on February 9, 2009. On April 30, 2009, the first “Ambassador” of Russia to Abkhazia, Semyon Gregoriev, arrived in Abkhazia together with his five colleagues. Apart from Abkhazia, the “Embassy” of Russia is also in operation in Tskhinvali Region. Russian “Embassy” to Tskhinvali started its work in April 2009.
The careers of most of the “Ambassadors” of Russia working in the occupied Georgian regions are connected with the 4th CIS Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia. The policies of the Ministry make it clear that Russia gives Abkhazia more political significance than to Tskhinvali Region, appointing experienced diplomats with good knowledge of South Caucasus, including Georgian affairs, as “Ambassadors”. Both “Ambassadors” of Russia to Abkhazia were, at some point in their careers, were responsible for relations with Georgia.
The First “Ambassador” of Russia to Abkhazia, Semyon Gregoriev, was curating Russian-Georgian relations in his position as the Deputy Director of the 4th CIS Department in 2003-2006 and was working on the removal of Russian bases from Batumi and Akhalkalaki together with the Russian delegation. In February-December 2008 he was the Deputy Director of the 4th CIS Department. He was curating the issues regarding Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region.
The second and third “Ambassadors” of Russia to Abkhazia also worked at the Department: Aleksey Dvinianin and Mikhail Shurgalin. Before their appointments to the position of “Ambassador”, both of them served as the Deputy Directors of the 4th CIS Department.
In 2007-2008, the Senior Advisor to the 4th CIS Department was Russia’s first “Ambassador” to Tskhinvali Region, Elbrus Kargiev, who was appointed to this position on September 25, 2008 and was performing his duties as “Ambassador” until May 2017 – his retirement.