Who and what is undermining Abkhazia?

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This article was originally published on the “Ekho Kavkaza” website. The text and terminology of the article have been transferred without changes. All rights belong to “Ekho Kavkaza”. Date of publication: December 14, 2023.

Author: Vitaly Shariya

A week ago, on December 7, Abkhazian Foreign Minister Inal Ardzinba reported on new approaches to interaction with international NGOs and UN agencies.

According to him, the need for this approach was dictated by “non-transparent activities and attempts to misinform the Abkhazian Foreign Ministry”. In addition, the head of the USAID (US Agency for International Development) mission in the South Caucasus John Pennel was declared persona non grata in Abkhazia.

It was specified that the questionnaire of the project of the UN Development Program “Partnership for Sustainability”, where the donor of the project is USAID organization, received by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, contained deliberately “blurred formulations of goals and objectives of the project”.

This was another step in the activities of the young head of the foreign ministry of the republic, who, having barely started this work about two years ago, began a consistent attack on international non-governmental organizations, which is suspected of subversive activities against Abkhazia.

Soon the director of the Center for Humanitarian Programs Arda Inal-ipa reacted sharply in a commentary to the Apsny social information agency:

“In fact, Inal Ardzinba is not engaged in diplomacy at all, as his mandate requires; on the contrary, he undermines the achievements of our previous ministers and their colleagues in achieving complex, not merely straightforward relations with various organizations.”

Representatives of Abkhazian non-governmental organizations have repeatedly engaged in public polemics with this minister, and before his move from Moscow, suspicions were expressed on the internet by average citizens, often anonymous. And such polemics are quite predictable. But this time there were also many responses from those who clearly have nothing to do with NGOs:

  • “When John Pennel heard the news that he would not be allowed into the Russian Federation, he fell on his bed in a five-star hotel and burst into tears, not from grief, but from laughter! Then he called his buddies at the Russian Foreign Ministry and for half an hour could not explain what he wanted to convey to his colleagues, because a second wave of laughter came. And then came the third, when the Russian Federation understood him and all together burst into a fit of laughter. Here’s a political joke! No need to be shy, take everything they give you – and follow the old scheme of subsidized development.”
  • “Margarita Simonyan scolded USAID, Inal Ardzinba issued a “red card” to John Pennel. Everything is logical.”
  • “I, for example, never understood what USAID is doing to Abkhazia, except that it causes Simonyan’s personal dislike. To me, Simonyan and Inal do more damage than the unknown John Pennel.”
  • “Isolation leads to degeneration. Why is this minister trying to close us off from the world? What are his aims?”
  • “You yourselves have closed yourselves off from the world with your mono-ethnic policies. Or do you need the US to bring the world ‘Western values’ – gay parades and pedophilia?”
  • “You don’t need to fight them, you need to chase them away, as they did in Russia. USAID promises one thing, thinks another, and does another. It’s a rotten office, a CIA nest.”

These were all comments under nicknames. But a Facebook post by a blogger Anatoly Otyrba, who lives in Moscow and is well known in Abkhazia, attracted the attention of many:

“In this matter I support the minister with both hands. I am glad that the Foreign Ministry has finally started to take concrete measures to protect the political sovereignty of Abkhazia. I understand that these measures will hit the pockets of many of our citizens, as our grant-grabbers have put many of them on the financial hook of masters of the West. This should sober many of them up. I hope that they will realize that parasitic life on grants will not ensure development of Abkhazia and that the masters of the West, preventing recognition of Abkhazia, will continue to do everything possible to hinder the development of the country. It is time to move from parasitism to creation of conditions for development, without which it is impossible to preserve political sovereignty.”

Today “Ekho Kavkaza” turned to social and political activist and blogger Astamur Kakalia in connection with all of the above:

“I am sure that our humanitarian organizations, NGOs do not conduct subversive activities. The only thing is that they receive some money for projects, salaries, some jobs for themselves. And they carry out some projects – very useful for children and so on. So this is essentially a question of employment for our citizens.

And if there are actually huge or even small amounts of money that are used to undermine the foundations of the state and so on, then our services, the State Security Service, are not able to uncover where, what, to whom ⁠— if they are not able to do this, then it is a complete failure in work. In terms of our NGOs… to look for some traitors there… I don’t know at all. If someone is actually conducting subversive work, which is financed by the West, by Georgians, then prove it at the end of the day. Or stop talking – somewhere, someone, something”.

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