Protest in Abkhazia over 'secret negotiations' conducted with Tbilisi by presidential aide
More than 200 people have gathered outside the parliament building in Sukhum in protest after reports that the presidential aide for economic affairs Benur Kviraia had left Abkhazia for secret talks in Georgia.
On social media, information spread that Kviraia left on February 25, accompanied by two people.
“Starting with the election campaign, President Bzhania has been consistently trying to instill in the public consciousness the idea that our new path is a multi-level dialogue with Georgia. And these ideas [were implemented] immediately after [his] coming to power. Bzhania surrounds himself with people who share his views on Georgia. There is no longer any doubt that this is a direct surrender of national interests,” the Abkhaz People’s Movement opposition organization, headed by the leader of the united opposition Adgur Ardzinba, said in a statement.
The opposition said it was waiting for an explanation from the president. “Bzhania crossed the red line, which deprives him of the moral right to have the powers prescribed in Article 53 of the Constitution of the Republic of Abkhazia, especially in terms of determining the directions of the foreign policy of the state.”
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Tension has been further stoked by a video circulated on social media in which Benur Kviraia raises a toast to his friend, a certain David Kvaratskhelia, who is a Georgian by nationality who fought in the Georgian-Abkhaz war of 1992-93 on the side of Georgia. Benur Kviraia in the video claims that he built a new park in honor of Kvaratskhelia.
The authorities reacted promptly to the developing scandal.
According to the press service of the president, Benur Kviraia on February 19 “resigned from his post as assistant to the president and no one gave him instructions to negotiate with the Georgian authorities.”
This is not the first scandal involving the presidential aides of Aslan Bzhania.
In August 2020, Akhra Avidzba, Assistant to the President of Abkhazia for International Relations, rammed the gates of the checkpoint on the Russian-Abkhaz border with his car.
Later, Akhra Avidzba was detained by a court in Sochi, Russia for ten days and was fined 100,000 rubles [approximately $ 1,500] for illegally crossing the Russian border.
In the same month, with the assistance of another presidential aide Lasha Sakania, the leaders of the Georgian party “Alliance of Patriots of Georgia” Irma Inashvili and Giorgi Lomiya illegally entered Abkhazia and handed over the icon of the Mother of God to the Ilor temple.
The result of both scandals was the voluntary resignation of the presidential aides.
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