Abkhaz Activists Pressured Over Ukraine Appeal – Report

Abkhaz public defender Asida Shakryl addressed today Kremlin-backed leader Aslan Bzhania to express concerns over the region’s security committee pressuring civic activists for their recent appeal to end the bloodshed in Ukraine.

“Over the past year, civil society people have been increasingly summoned to the state security service for hours-long so-called ‘conversations.” It is disturbing that people are summoned after they have publicly voiced their opinion on this or that issue,” reads Shakryl’s critical missive to Bzhania.

“The reasons for such conversations apparently are various, though not always understandable. In recent days, those who have signed a public appeal calling for an end to the bloodshed in Ukraine have been summoned.”

The Abkhaz rights defender said summoning activists for “conversations” represent an attempt to put pressure on citizens and a threat to freedom of speech and other freedoms in the region.

In her appeal, Asida Shakryl recalled the Great Terror by Joseph Stalin, Soviet dictator: “Stalin’s terror in Abkhazia was directed primarily against educated people, against the Abkhaz intelligentsia, which eventually led to the destruction of the best and the brightest of our nation.”

She asserted that “the so-called ‘conversations’ in the state security service offices cannot but remind of the NKVD working methods of Stalin’s times.”

The occupied region’s ombudsperson said “this is an alarming sign that there is a creeping retreat from the essential norms of democracy that underlie” the Abkhaz constitution.

“We should remember our history in order to exclude the possibility of even the slightest repetition of the pernicious injustice and lawlessness of those years.”

In her missive, the Abkhaz public defender also called on Aslan Bzhania to check the legality of these actions and to find the motivation of those leading these actions against activists.

Some two dozen activists and public figures in Georgia’s Russian-occupied Abkhazia region recently published a rare appeal over the Russo-Ukrainian war, calling “for sanity and responsibility of all those who can stop the bloodshed.”

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