At Least Four Detained Over Sokhumi Unrest

The “prosecutor’s office” in occupied Abkhazia said late on January 8 that four people were detained over December 21 unrest in Sokhumi against Aslan Bzhania’s administration.

The detainees – reportedly Ramazan Jopua, Chicha Inapshba, Beslan Tsvizhba, and Aslan Tania — are accused of participating in mass riots and the use of violence against the authorities.

It also said the Abkhaz security service and the “ministry of interior” are continuing probe against other persons involved in the unrest.

Meanwhile, pro-opposition media reported that the fifth person, Bagrat Surmava, had been arrested over the December 21 events. There are also unconfirmed reports of sixth detention.

Opposition Reacts

The People’s and Patriotic Union of Abkhazia (NPSA), a group uniting several key opposition outfits, that led tense December 21 protest, condemned yesterday the arrests as “reckless and short-sighted move.”

The group said the detention of opposition activists by Bzhania’s “regime” on the eve of January 9 – a date marking two years since then opposition leader Bzhania’s supporters stormed the presidential office that facilitated his rise to power – was “cynical.”

“It was [Aslan] Bzhania with his supporters who shook up the state authorities for six years without any remorse… These are people who from the first days of their ascent to power cynically flouted all the written and unwritten laws of Abkhazia and Abkhaz society.”

At the joint press conference today assessing the detentions, one of NPSA leaders, Akhra Bzhania, as well as opposition lawmakers Givi Kvarchia and Garri Kokaia vowed to address all political methods to pressure the authorities.

Akhra Bzhania asserted that by detaining political opponents Aslan Bzhania’s administration sought to facilitate implementation of his controversial initiatives.

“This includes the sale of energy [sector], real estate and the sale of coastal zones,” he noted, alluding to the Abkhaz leader’s endorsement of the sale of Abkhaz properties to the Russian citizens.

Lawmaker Kvarchia said two of the detainees – Jopua and Inapshba – were his assistants. Claiming that the two men were arrested with procedural violations, Kvarchia stated his aides were detained for their outspoken positions on “the issues of sovereignty, energy, real estate.”

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