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Abkhazian veterans to hold ‘indefinite protests’ unless Interior Minister resigns

21 October 2021
Members of Aruaa and other veterans announcing their demands. Photo: Marianna Kotova/OC Media.

A group of veterans has vowed to hold ‘indefinite protests’ unless the Minister of Internal Affairs, Dmitry Dbar, steps down over a confrontation between police and veterans several weeks ago.

Around 25 veterans of the 1992–1993 War in Abkhazia gathered at the Association of Media Workers of Abkhazia on Thursday to demand Dbar’s immediate resignation.

The calls follow an incident on 30 September, which is celebrated as victory day in Abkhazia, which left several veterans injured. Police officers had confronted the veterans after MP Garry Kokaya fired a pistol into the air in celebration. Kokaya refused to hand over the weapon, leading to a fight with police.

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

MP Givi Kvarchia, a member of Aruaa, a group of veterans associated with former President Khadzhimba, read out the group’s appeal at the briefing. 

The appeal said they did not wish to politicise the incident but that the way events were unfolding it was inevitable to talk about politics.

They criticised the Prosecutor General for promising to pursue charges against one deputy minister and one Interior Ministry employee while ruling out the participation of the Interior Minister in the incident.

‘According to the victims, it was he [the Interior Minister] who was the initiator and active participant of an event disproportionate to the level of offense’, added Kvarchia.

The participants of the meeting noted that the commander of the Special Rapid Response Unit, Rash Tsvizhba, and his deputy, Dadin Chachkhalia, whom the prosecutor brought charges against, had still not been detained. In contrast, they said, MPs Garry Kokaya and Almaskhan Ardzinba, were already being stripped of their immunity by the Supreme Court. 

‘Such a pattern can only be seen as a provocation aimed at getting them to kill each other in the street. Such a level of provocations are aimed at pitting and turning them against each other, getting rid of them all at once’, said Kvarchia.

According to the statement, these actions were an attempt to remove two MPs who were critical of the government, especially from matters concerning the sale of state property.

Independent MPs Kokaya and Ardzinba, both frequent critics of the government, were stripped of their parliamentary immunity on Monday.  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 President has embarked on a path of dangerous intrigues, provocations, and the final destabilisation of the situation’, said Kvarchia, ‘that are reaching threatening proportions for our state’.

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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