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Abkhazian Foreign Minister fired and ‘summoned for questioning’

7 May 2024
Inal Ardzinba. Official photo.

Abkhazian President Aslan Bzhaniya has fired foreign minister Inal Ardzinba, with Ardzinba reported to have been summoned for questioning by the State Security Service.

Bzhaniya issued a decree dismissing Ardzinba on Tuesday, stating that Deputy Foreign Minister Irakli Tuzhba would head the ministry in the interim. Bzhaniya’s website did not reveal the reasons behind Ardzinba’s sacking.

Shortly after his dismissal, local Telegram channel Apsny Portal cited sources as saying that Ardzinba had been summoned for questioning by the State Security Service, and that President Bzhaniya had imposed a travel ban on him.

Later on Tuesday, Ardzinba told Russian state news agency RIA he was in Moscow and had resigned to take up another job.

Ardzinba is a former Russian official who has maintained close links to Russia. A relative of Abkhazia’s first president, Vladislav Ardzinba, he became Abkhazia’s top diplomat in November 2021. 

Prior to entering Abkhazian politics, Ardzinba worked in Russia’s Presidential Administration, where, between 2014 and 2018, he led a department working on socio-economic relations with Ukraine. 

Reports floated about his possible resignation in September 2022, with employees of his ministry telling OC Media on the condition of anonymity that Ardzinba had bid his colleagues farewell. However, Ardzinba denied rumours of his departure shortly after, claiming that his announcement of his departure was a ‘joke’. 


[Read more: Confusion in Abkhazia as foreign minister ‘resigns’ and returns]

Ardzinba’s public reputation has been contentious since taking office in 2021. 

He was also known to have supported deeper integration with Russia, which many in Abkhazia consider a threat to its sovereignty. 

He was an ardent supporter of the controversial Pitsunda state dacha agreement, the law on apartments, and Abkhazia’s foreign agent bill.

Ardzinba’s tenure as foreign minister saw the further straining of relations with international organisations operating in Abkhazia, including the UN and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

[Read more about this here: Abkhazia bans USAID and peacebuilding projects amidst new restrictions on foreign aid

 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.

Read in Armenian on CivilNet.