The Abkhazian government accuses local NGOs of engaging in subversive activities. Civil society representatives argue that authorities are attempting to discredit the protest movement, which opposes the transfer of the famous state dacha in Pitsunda to Russia.
The Abkhazian parliament is scheduled to convene on December 28 to discuss the ratification of the Russian-Abkhazian agreement on the state house. The united opposition and civil sector representatives oppose ratification, claiming that certain clauses of the agreement contradict the current constitution of the republic. If president Aslan Bzhania does not withdraw the document, the opposition threatens to bring its supporters to the walls of parliament.
In response, the authorities initiated a campaign to discredit particular participants of the protest movement, specifically targeting non-governmental organizations.
Deputy chairman of the state security service, Zaal Khvartskia, asserted that all projects implemented by NGOs in Abkhazia are coordinated “in strict accordance with the national interests of Georgia.”
He also identified grant recipients, including well-known figures in the republic such as the co-directors of the Center for Humanitarian Programs, Arda Inal-ipa and Liana Kvarchelia; historian and former assistant to the first president of Abkhazia, Vladislav Ardzinba, Astamur Tania; lawyer and member of the presidential commission on reforming the constitution, Said Gezerdava; and several activists from the youth organization “ҲARAҲPITSUNDA” (“Our Pitsunda”).
Following the state security service, foreign minister Inal Ardzinba also leveled accusations against NGOs.
According to him, many non-governmental organizations employ humanitarian projects as a cover to conceal the tasks and goals of the USAID, whose activities were prohibited by the Abkhazian foreign ministry a month earlier.
“The primary goal of USAID is to restore the so-called territorial integrity of Georgia through the so-called reintegration of Abkhazia into Georgia. This task is entirely unacceptable, and we will not allow it to be realized. The second task is to counteract the so-called harmful influence of the Kremlin,” stated Inal Ardzinba.
“The struggle between good and evil”
In response, members of the youth movement “ҲaraҲPitsunda” stated that, during the organization’s existence, they have encountered “meanness in its various forms,” but such “brazen, disgusting, and easily refutable slander” for the first time.
“We demand public proof of the facts he cited because we are ready to be accountable for every action he mentioned. We view this as a struggle between two ideologies: moral and immoral, good and evil. In this situation, good has fists. And we demand a public apology today,” stated “ҲaraҲPitsunda” in a statement.
According to activist Alexandra Barganjia of ҲaraҲPitsunda, “the methods of pressure chosen by the authorities are not capable of breaking, intimidating, vilifying, or silencing the members of the organization.”
“Labeling others won’t aid the authorities”
The public response did not favor the authorities either, with social networks filled with outraged posts.
Economist Akhra Aristava believes that by choosing the method of labeling with the intention to question the reputation of their opponents, the authorities are attempting to manipulate public opinion.
“For Abkhazia and our citizens, this approach is a dead end, dangerous, and will lead to nothing good. The state dacha in Pitsunda is in perpetual use by the Russian Federation. No one in Abkhazia has declared an intention to take the state dacha away from Russia. Everyone says only that the new agreement should be mutually beneficial and reflect the interests of the Abkhazian side,” he explains.
Psychologist Elana Kortua compares the current situation with the repressions of the 1930s when the Abkhazian nation’s identity was destroyed by the hands of their own compatriots.
Journalist Eleonora Giloyan sees it as a dispute where “the one on whose side there are no arguments, neither truth nor conscience slides into personal insults“:
“Your every next move drowns you. Every throw-in you make shows your weakness. Every new move proves that you know it all yourself.“