Abkhaz opposition threatens protests if citizenship is restored to resident Georgians
The Abkhaz opposition has expressed its discontent over a quote from PM Alexander Ankvab, who told state news agency Apsnypress that he believes that “no Georgians living in Abkhazia, including those in Gali District, are fighting against us, as [they are] our citizens”.
Ankvab made this statement in response to an article titled Separatist Government Promises to End Discrimination Against Ethnic Georgians, published on Voice of America.
The issues arising from the government’s approach to the inhabitants of Gali District have a history of many years and have caused a political crisis.
In 2014, the Abkhaz Parliament annulled the previously-issued Abkhaz passports of the 27,000 inhabitants of Gali District, due to the dual-citizenship of the inhabitants of Gali (all of whom are ethnic Georgians) with Georgia, which is illegal under the laws of Abkhazia.
The parliament returned its verdict on the basis of a special parliamentary committee. Alexander Ankvab, at that time the president of Abkhazia, was categorically opposed to depriving Gali inhabitants of Abkhaz citizenship, and sought to block the law as far as possible.
The political crisis ended in mass protest by the opposition and the removal of Alexander Ankvab from power.
It is for that very reason that the phrase about the inhabitants of Gali District as “our citizens” caused so much displeasure for Aruaa, the strongest opposition organization, composed of veterans of the war with Georgia.
“We state once again, as a warning, that any attempt to contradict the constitutional law On Citizenship of the Republic of Abkhazia, which provides for dual citizenship only with Russia, will be regarded by us as an antinational act intended to rewrite the history of our Victory.
If the government of Abkhazia undertakes the unlawful act of offering citizenship of Abkhazia to citizens of Georgia, then we will call on all the veterans of the war to start protesting throughout the entire country”, stated Aruaa.