Why the Abkhaz authorities are afraid of a former field commander
Akhru Avidzba is considered the first political prisoner of Abkhazia
Akhra Avidzba is the first political prisoner in Abkhazia. This is the opinion of the supporters and friends of the well-known commander of the volunteer detachment in Eastern Ukraine and an Abkhaz political activist who has been imprisoned for three months in the detention center of the State Security Service of Abkhazia on charges of illegal possession of weapons.
His friends and family say he is innocent and the authorities are persecuting him for his political activities.
Despite attempts to change the measure of restraint to house arrest, neither the Supreme Court, which ruled to detain Akhra Avidzba, nor the Gulrypsh District Court, which is also involved in the case, has granted the defense’s motion.
Even the hunger strike that Akhra Avidzba announced in protest to accusations of possession of weapons in collusion with a group of persons, did not help. He does not deny the presence of ammunition. In Abkhazia, a home arsenal is not something out of the ordinary, but Avidzba flatly refuses the accusation of conspiracy.
“My friends came to me, my comrades in arms, to whom I offered to work as my guard. They arrived in Abkhazia as guests and were here on vacation. And they had nothing to do with my weapons. I am tormented by my conscience only for the fact that these people ended up in jail instead of on the beach, and instead of work they face a term in prison,” Akhra said at the first court session.
Among Akhra Avidzba’s friends who ended up behind bars with him are citizens of Ukraine and Russia. These are Stanislav Kulta (Ukraine), Telekh Hasanov (Ukraine), Aslan Guatizhev (Russia), Andrey Laktionov (Ukraine), Vladimir Shcherbakov (Ukraine).
Who is Akhra Avidzba
Akhra Avidzba is a close relative of the famous Abkhaz thief in law Alkhaz Avidzba, one of those who was killed during the scandalous shooting at a restaurant in Sukhum in November 2019.
Akhra Avidzba fought in Eastern Ukraine on the side of the regions that unilaterally declared their independence from Kiev, and is known in Abkhazia as a “hero of Donbass” with the call sign “Abkhaz”.
It was Akhra Avidzba who actually became the generator of the change of power in Abkhazia in January 2020. He and a couple of hundred men stormed the presidential palace and forced then-President Raul Khajimba to resign.
The new elections were won by Aslan Bzhania, then the leader of the opposition, and today the President of Abkhazia.
Akhra Avidzba received the post of Assistant to the President of Abkhazia for International Relations.
However, he soon resigned from this position. “We didn’t change the government so that later nothing would change,” he said, and at the end of 2020 he resigned.
Akhra Avidzba was detained by the State Security Service on March 4.
Weapons in Abkhazia are not compromising evidence
Since there is a Russian citizen among the defendants in the “Abkhaz case,” as this process is called, a representative of the Russian consulate in Abkhazia, as well as Russian defender Sergei Belyak, who was involved in the case by friends and relatives of Akhra Avidzba, is present at the court sessions.
Sergei Belyak specializes in protecting Russian citizens abroad and deals mainly with those cases where there is a political component, such as in Latvia, where a group of Russians were accused of terrorism.
In his opinion, the case is undoubtedly of a political nature. Belyak connects the criminal prosecution of Avidzba with the creation of a new public organization “New People”, which he did not manage to present, but managed to voice his intention to fight for power and take the presidency.
“It is not news that the authorities are eliminating political opponents in the CIS countries with the help of law enforcement agencies, the case with Akhra is not unique. But there are many other ways. And Akhra is not a stupid guy, it was possible to come to an agreement with him, but the authorities preferred to open a criminal case, which later can only play into Akhra’s hands and become a plus in his biography and a starting point in his political career, ”the human rights activist said.
In the “Abkhaz case” Sergei Belyak is portrayed not as a lawyer, but as a defender, this term is applied to foreign citizens who work without the accreditation of the Ministry of Justice. Belyak believes that today there is every reason to believe that if Akhra Avidzba is charged, it will be only under the article “possession of weapons,” since it is very difficult to prove a conspiracy that aggravates the crime.
According to Belyak, this can be seen from the materials of the case. And according to the way the state prosecution behaves in the process, we can conclude that the prosecutor’s office is committed to constructive work.
“At the first session of the court, the representatives of the Prosecutor General’s Office were very gloomy and found fault with everything. Then I saw that they adequately respond to the defense’s petitions, see logic in them and support them. This means that they are ready for fair justice. And the judge, in my opinion, is absolutely impartial. And this, you know, is not a frequent occurrence in such processes, ”says Sergei Belyak.
According to the lawyer, the possession of weapons for Abkhazia is a fact that does not in any way affect the reputation. “This is not murder, not rape, not drugs, so even a criminal record does not threaten his career,” the defender is sure.
It was not possible to get a comment from Akhra Avidzba’s opponents. Representatives of the prosecution are not allowed to comment on the situation by their official position. As for the former colleagues of “Abkhaz” from the presidential administration or representatives of political parties, they also refuse to comment on the situation, dispensing with such phrases: “If he’s sitting, then someone needs it”, or “The court will figure everything out”, or “He brought me here fighter and armed to the teeth, what he wants now. “
Akhra Avidzba’s friends are more talkative. For example, the war correspondent Semyon Pegov, who knows the “specifics” of Abkhazia, as he worked for three years on local television. He and Akhra know well, they call each other front-line comrades. According to Semyon, the authorities are getting rid of Akhra as a serious competitor.
“The Abkhazian authorities see him not only as a political rival, but also as a real physical threat … If it came to this odious detention, then the paranoia of the authorities, in my opinion, is frankly painful.
Akhra was not going to “eliminate” anyone and, on the contrary, began to take concrete steps to create a healthy competitive environment in Abkhaz politics, starting to form a new opposition force and administrative elites. Even this itself – just a step in this direction – makes the power shake. So she acts this way, ”says Semyon Pegov.
According to Pegov, the “Abkhaz case” caused a resonance in Russia as well. And it may not have the best effect on Russian-Abkhaz relations.
“That part of society that is rooting for the“ Russian world ”and its ideas – and this, first of all, the return of Crimea and assistance to Donbass – of course, take everything that happens with hostility. This is especially true of the volunteer movement, of which Akhra was a representative. For me, there is no doubt that if a war starts in Abkhazia, thousands of volunteers from Russia will come to help. Without a command from the Kremlin or the FSB, simply because of their own convictions.
Therefore, of course, this category of people looks extremely hostile at the arrest of Akhra and sees traitors in those who organized this persecution. Including the Russian-Abkhaz friendship, ”the journalist says.
Akhra Avidzba’s wife Yulia in social networks and in comments to various media has repeatedly complained about the inaction of the Russian consulate in Abkhazia. But, as it turned out, the diplomatic department in such situations can only be involved when the case is submitted to the court. The consular officer monitors the process and the objectivity of the investigation, without interfering in any way if everything is going on as usual.
Avidzba himself is inclined to cooperate, he actively participates in the process, asks questions to witnesses.
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