Lead: An overwhelming number of anonymous accounts, slander and libellous accusations has given rise to the idea" />

Abkhazia considers banning social media sites

Lead: An overwhelming number of anonymous accounts, slander and libellous accusations has given rise to the idea

Social media platforms in Abkhaz has become inundated with anonymous users since the political events of May 2014. These accounts have formed groups wherein the policies of the authorities are harshly criticised.

 

On 27 May 2014, the Abkhaz opposition held a rally in Sukhum demanding the resignation of the president and his government. Protesters blocked off access to government buildings, laid siege to the presidential administration building and declared that they were temporarily in control of the republic. On 1 June 2014, Alexander Ankvab declared he was stepping down as president of Abkhazia. The sixth presidential election in Abkhazia, held on 24 August 2014, was won by the then opposition leader and current president Raul Khajimba.

However, this is not the reason why some have put forward the idea of banning social media sites; in these groups, some users openly threatens the authorities.

The issue regarding anonymous accounts has come up on a number of occasions. People who have been on the receiving end of such threats and insults have demanded that the real identities of these individuals be revealed. Ideas on preventing people from registering with fake names have also been proposed.

Now however, the authorities are talking about banning social media completely for which several MPs are responsible. The topic was also commented upon by Abkhaz President Raul Khajimba during a meeting with residents of Sukhum district.

“I have long become accustomed to the fact that I am represented in various ways … But when they do the same to the heads of governments with whom we are trying to build relations … when they offend and humiliate them, this is a shame for the entire Abkhaz nation.

“We are shoveling dirt on one another, practically without any limitations. And many have appealed to me to close down [block access to] social media sites. A decision will be made which will solve this issue,” Khajimba said.

This statement gave rise to widespread discussions on social media. The number of those who agree with the president and those who are categorically against the idea are, so far, about equal.

“President Khajimba made a strange suggestion. [It’s as if] he said that either we have to close down social media sites or else we’ll have to go around to people’s houses and beat them. Maybe we could decide ourselves: begin collecting signatures to close down Facebook, or to get beaten?”

“Of course you can’t close down social media sites. But you can bring those who are purposefully spreading disinformation in society to accountability … that is in fact entirely necessary. Yes, this is a new issue, a new challenge, but it must be met,”

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