New owner of Abkhazia’s only independent channel is pro-government businessman

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Abkhazia’s TV changes owner

The sole independent TV channel in Abkhazia“Abaza-TV,” has changed ownership. This was revealed when a young businessman, Zakhar Agrba, presented founding documents to the channel’s director, Ruslan Khashig, announcing that the channel had been sold and he was now the new owner.

This has raised concerns among some in the republic due to Agrba’s reputation as being close to the authorities.

The previous owner, well-known Abkhaz businessman Beslan Butba, founded the channel in 2007 and did not interfere in editorial affairs. Eight years ago, Butba moved to Europe, and his influence dwindled to zero, especially since he stopped funding the channel due to financial problems.

The new owner of “Abaza-TV,” Zakhar Agrba, is from Moscow and has never lived in his historical homeland. In opposition circles, he is considered close to president Aslan Bzhania, and consequently, there are fears that the channel will now become pro-government.

However, there is currently no confirmation of this. Zakhar Agrba assured the staff of “Abaza-TV” during a meeting that there would be no change in editorial policy.

The channel’s employees also consider the panic unfounded and the threat overstated.

“Firstly, there’s no need to bury us. There will be no change in leadership or creative team, no matter what some may wish.

Secondly, there’s no need to sensationalize the sale of a private channel. If it were a state-owned channel being sold, that would be news.

And thirdly, it’s too early to draw conclusions. If anything unexpected happens, we’ll let you know right away,” says one of the channel’s leading journalists, Marianna Kotova.

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