Former Abkhaz ‘Culture Minister’ Arrested over Corruption

Abkhaz authorities arrested yesterday recently resigned “culture minister” Gudisa Agrba over the alleged cases of corruption, involving large-scale misappropriation and embezzlement.

The arrest came a day after prosecutors of the occupied region have launched a criminal probe against Agrba, as well as entrepreneur Nadir Jinal, who allegedly aided Agrba in committing the supposed crimes.

Sokhumi-based Apsnypress news agency cited prosecutors as saying that in early 2021, then “culture minister” Agrba made a deal to purchase from Jinal equipment for 8 mln rubles (USD 100,000) instead of the actual cost of 3 million (USD 37,000). Jinal cashed 4.3 mln and handed it over to Agrba.

Soon afterward in May 2021, Agrba signed with Jinal a new contract worth of 19.9 million rubles for the supply of audio equipment, while its actual cost amounted to 6.3 million. The prosecution said Agrba misappropriated 10 mln. rubles through the deal.

The Abkhaz prosecutor’s office said the material budgetary losses amounted to 14,3 million rubles (USD 180 thousand) in total.

Prosecutors are now demanding pretrial detention for Agrba, as the “city court” in Sokhumi, Abkhazia’s chief town, has 72 hours to decide on the preventive measure for the suspect.

Comments by Agrba or his defense lawyer over the arrest were not immediately available.

37-year-old Agrba resigned in February. Aslan Bzhania, current Abkhaz “president,” appointed him to the post in June 2020.

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