Abkhazia: two opposition leaders summoned by State Security Service after criticizing president
Two leaders of the opposition organization were summoned by the State Security Service of Abkhazia after criticizing President Aslan Bzhania.
The SGB invited two leaders of the Forum of Popular Unity (the party of ex-president Raul Khadzhimba) – party chairman Aslan Bartsits and a member of the organization’s political council, former head of the presidential administration Daur Arshba.
- Op-ed: Private sector is the only solution to Abkhazia’s energy crisis
- Op-ed: Abkhazia will have to transfer its power system to Russia or live without electricity
During the conversation, it became clear that the security service did not like the party’s statement which criticized the president for the possible transfer of two “Perepadnye HPPs” on the Ingur river to foreign investors. “Perepadnye HPPs” are part of the Ingur HPP complex – Abkhazia’s main source of electricity.
The statement itself and the quote regarding criticism of the president’s energy plans were quite standard, and not much different in style from other statements of the opposition:
“One and a half years of current government’s rule clearly showed people that instead of reforms, the country and the people are continuously presented with the thesis that only foreign investors will be able to improve everything, and the citizens of the Republic of Abkhazia are assigned the role of observers in the process of plundering the country’s national wealth.
President Bzhania’s references to energy shortages as the main argument for the transfer of the country’s energy facilities to foreign investors do not stand up to criticism, since he himself created the energy crisis by publicly supporting the legalization of cryptocurrency mining. And his repeated meetings on combating the illegal activities of crypto farms where threats were made against the officials involved in these processes, ended in vain”.
Aslan Bartsits described the meeting with the State Security Service not as an interrogation, but as a conversation.
Nevertheless, he believes that there was an attempt to put pressure on the part of high-ranking officials, whose names he does not specify, and the opposition “was persistently offered to change their point of view”.
The leaders of the Forum do not exclude that the initiative for holding the conversation may come from the top leadership of Abkhazia.
Energy crisis – the cause of political differences
Abkhazia has been experiencing an energy crisis since last autumn. The 40% share of electricity that Abkhazia receives from the Ingur hydroelectric power station, the only station supplying electricity to the republic, is no longer enough due to the dramatically increased consumption.
To save energy, a two-hour power outage schedule has been in effect since June throughout Abkhazia. With the end of the holiday season, according to the statements of power engineers, these outages will be increased to 6 hours a day.
Despite extremely low tariffs for energy consumption (the price of 1 kW / h is 40 kopecks for private traders and 80 kopecks for legal entities – approximately 0.5 cents and 1 cent in US dollars), consumers pay no more than 30% of the electricity provided.
The president’s plans to transfer non-operating Perepadnye HPPs to Russian investors, even in the current energy crisis, is a very unpopular measure. The privatization of large facilities in Abkhazia has always been accompanied by a political resonance since hydroelectric power plants are considered strategic objects.
The unresolved energy crisis has already become a pretext for mass protests announced by the opposition in the fall.
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