Abkhazian MPs stripped of immunity after firing weapons in air

19 October 2021
Almaskhan Ardzinba. Photo via Abaza TV.

Two MPs in Abkhazia have been stripped of their immunity from prosecution by the Supreme Court following a confrontation with police.

Independent MPs Garry Kokaya and Almaskhan Ardzinba, both frequent critics of the government, were stripped of their parliamentary immunity on Monday. 

Judges Roman Kvarchia, Lia Avidzba and Esmа Korsaya found signs of criminality in the MPs’ actions on 30 September.

On 30 September, which is celebrated as victory day in Abkhazia, police officers confronted a group of veterans after Kokaya fired a pistol into the air in celebration.

After police arrived on the scene, Kokaya refused to hand over the weapon, leading to a fight in which he and seven veterans were injured. According to the head of Aruaa, a group of veterans associated with former President Khadzhimba, those injured were left lying on Sergei Bagapsh Square.

[Read more on OC Media: Veterans call for dismissal of Abkhazian interior minister after brawl with police

Later that night, his colleague, Almaskhan Ardzinba, drove to the Interior Ministry building and fired several shots into the air. According to the Interior Ministry, he fired 20 shots from an illegally acquired Kalashnikov from an assault rifle while shouting profanities.

Authorities have said that Kokaya has cooperated with the Prosecutor's Office, testified and on 4 October publicly apologised for ‘letting his emotions get the better of him’. Ardzinba has refused to cooperate with the investigation.

The Supreme Court found that there was evidence that Kokaya had broken laws against ‘insulting the authorities’ and ‘hooliganism’ while Ardzinba may be guilty of ‘illegal acquisition, storage and carrying of weapons’ and hooliganism.

The primary geographic terms used in this article are those of the author’s.  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.

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